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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More on Gucci Gucci Goo

Adoption has been on my mind. In regards to my whole feeling of natural is nice. In regards to laying out a possible path in family building. I have been reading adoption blogs and talking about adoption and scouring the Internet for information. I have been making a list of books to read. I have been trying to be active without actually being active.

If we're supposed to believe that natural-born babies are the designer purses and A.R.T. babies are the knockoffs, then what are adoption and third-party reproduction: stealing the pocketbook off the back of the truck?

And this is what bothers me: don't you want your own child? And those words echo inside my head every time I click on an adoption information web site because I know that's what other people are going to be thinking about my decision. And on one hand, I don't care. And on the other hand, I care very much but I'm pretending I don't care. And on one hand I believe that their feelings are small and insignificant and on the other hand, even if I know that their beliefs are wrong, I can't wave them away and pretend they don't exist. If you're keeping count, I currently have four hands. And we're not even delving beneath the surface yet.

Because this is how I view adoption. Adoption is a gift, possibly the largest gift that one can give and much much more meaningful than a multimillion dollar endowment. It is a designer purse that goes from your hands to mine. I'm not borrowing it. I'm not watching it for you. It's now mine. It's my Prada purse and I promise that I will always recognize its worth and never leave it under a table at a restaurant. And when you give me a gift, that object becomes mine. And when you give me a child, that child becomes mine. It is my own child. No less a part of me than a biological child. Just as a baby created out of third-party reproduction is no less a part of me. Once that child becomes mine, it enters my heart and becomes part of my blood just as much as a child that is entirely genetically mine that has grown inside my womb. And those are my feelings.

But I know that there are others who will never see my purse analogy--either because they don't understand women's fashion or they're small-minded and have strong feelings about things that don't affect them. And what do you do about the people who will never understand that becoming a parent is more than just genetics and biology. It is an emotional process. Giving birth doesn't make you a mother. Being able to procreate doesn't make you a mother. Loving and raising a child makes you a mother.

I am bothered by the "you can always adopt" comment that people flippantly offer when you talk about infertility because it's not true. You can't always adopt and this is something I am realizing as of late and blogging about in regards to Domar's message of hope. Because even if you get past all of the steps, even if they judge you to be a fit parent, there is always the financial aspect biting you in the ass. At the end of the day, we're not sure we can afford adoption and still live the life we're living. And that's partly the effects of secondary IF. If this was primary IF, we would probably be making different decisions. But as much as we say, "we'll make it work," I also know that we can't afford to take out an adoption loan because we can't afford to pay it back. In the same way that I'm realistic enough to know that we can't afford a new car right now and we can't afford to move houses.

At the beach, my husband and I engaged in one of our favourite games: which country. As in, which country do we want to choose for adoption. We haven't outruled domestic adoption, but for a host of reasons, we're leaning toward international adoption. I think it's important to chart a path--you wouldn't start driving without knowing directions to your destination, and I think it's important to view compromised fertility in the same way. I like to know the next few steps--to know they're in place even if we never use them. So we spend the evening throwing out countries and stating why we like the idea of the place or not. And this is based on the idea that when you adopt a child, you are forever tied to that country of origin. And we want to make sure that we are tied to a country that holds our interest so that we can do it justice when we teach our child about his/her roots.

As we drove home from the beach, I started thinking about this game and why we play it. Because it's emotional preparation. Because it's fun to daydream about a future child. Because it doesn't cost anything to talk about it. Because we have the utmost respect for the adoption process (both the birth parents and the adoptive parents) and talking about it makes us feel like we may one day get there ourselves. But is it healthy? It's not like how we talk about buying a beach house one day. If I never own a beach house, I will still be a complete person. My emotions are not tied up in owning property. But my emotions are extremely tied up in family building. And if it's never going to be a possibility for us, I don't want to talk about it like it will be. And maybe that's the point of the game. To realize our own feelings about adoption and how badly we want another child. How much we would be willing to sacrifice. How much we would be willing to take an alternative path.

We are so ingrained to hold onto the idea of "natural means better" (breast is best) that some ignore the possibility that there is much good to be found on a different path. And that path isn't a lesser path, it is just a different path.

Natural born children are the Prada purses. A.R.T. children are the Kate Spades. Adoptive and third-party reproduction children are the Gucci. All purses. None above the other in quality with the idea being that you end up with one within your means. With the understanding that a purse is a purse and it's meant to hold items. And a parent-child relationship is a parent-child relationship (with all its joy and pain) regardless of family building methods.


Piccinigirl said...

I could have written this post, mostly because sitting her wondering if this IUI worked , I know that my road might be very different in 2 months or 2 years. I don't want people to think that I didn't try hard enough and yet if we do adopt (which in my mind means that child is mine) I don't want people to think that I should have made that decision before we spent all this money on IUI/IVF. It can be double edged , but in the end when someone hands me my son or daughter, whether in a birthing room or the airport of another country, I will know deep down in me that the child I am holding is mine and was wished for for more than "people think"

serenity said...

What bugs me most about the "you can always adopt" comment is that they look at adoption as a last resort. Like no one would want to adopt a child unless they *couldn't* conceive a child. I expect that if we tell people that we are planning on adopting, they'll automatically assume that we CANNOT have a baby of our own - when rather it was a CHOICE we made. That out of all the options before us, we believed that adoption was best for us.

I don't think it's wrong to care about what other people think. It drives me, anyway, to try and educate people about infertility and hopefully change someone's belief about "breast is best." Of course, I don't hold my breath - there are a lot of ignorant people out there.

But when we think about adoption, what those people might think about our choice does not figure in the equation. Like Kir said - when someone hands me a baby - whether from my womb or from an orphanage in Russia - I will be a mother. It will become MY baby. And we will be parents - which is all we ever wanted in the first place.

Gwen said...

Interesting...I'm an adoptive mother of 3 and I have been through the infertility route. These same things came across my mind and heart as we got to a place where adoption was where we wanted to be. I can attest to the fact that when you adopt (especially if it is obvious and mine is) people will ask, people will make comments you will see as rude, people will think what they will think. I have heard all the adoption comments that you can imagine. Sometimes I'm still floored by them. Other times I use it as an opportunity to educate others on adoption. Adoption was not last resort, it was just another means to become a family for me. Others comments do still bother me at times but you know ladies are all the end of the day I am these children's mother and they have brought me so much joy that nothing else really matters!

BTW...I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know but this helped us out greatly where finances were concerned. You are aware of the adoption tax credit right?

andee said...

I dont know if the "what country" game is healthy...but I do know that it cant be any unhealthier than the chemicals and hormones we have all pumped into our bodies trying to have a baby. Adoption has a higher success rate than any form of A.R.T.....
I understand the challenge secondary IF gives the decision process ("how can you rationalize the cost of IVF since you already have a child"- yes-someone actually said that to me...sadly enough- rationlization didnt play into the decision as much as finances did)
and come to think of any part of this crappy IF process healthy?

Murray said...

I don't think that there is anything 'unatural' about adoption. What is more natural than taking a child into your home and being it's mother when it doesn't have one?

It is not natural for children to grown up in the world without love, without parents, without a safe, happy and loving home.

It always, always amazes me when people feel that they have the right to comment on how other people are living their lives.

Some people's thoughts about adoption come from a very similar place where prejudice and racism comes from. Fear. Fear of things that are different, fear that they don't have hearts big enough to give of themselves to a child that is not 'of their blood'.

It sucks that we sometimes give other people 'power' over us by caring about what they think. This is something I struggle with but really it's fuck them. It's not their lives.

Bobby and Ivy said...

What you are saying is totally true. I'm an adoptive mother, but I also believe that you have to be ready to go that route. It is a tough decision and it may not be for everyone. It's not something you can push. You just have to be able to say, okay, this is it. It's time to adopt. For me, that decision came early, for some it takes years, for others, it never comes. And that's okay. You have to do what's right for you.

Here's one more peice of information: adoption does not have to be expensive. My total costs for the adoption of my three children this year are $0!!!

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

what a powerful post! i totally agree and understand with what you are saying and with your purse analogy!

I am new here. just discovered you from Babes in Blogland.

I am not "infertile" but I have been touched by it. My identical twin struggled for three years to get her daughter and I am struggling to have a second child. (I lost one last year and have been unable to gt pregnant again so far.)

Adoption has been a big discussion for us both. We researched it a lot when Susan was going through her infertility. But I agree with your comment about how adoption is not always possible. Due to some health problems I have, I am not sure if I could get a baby. As well the costs are so horrific! (I noticed the last commentor said she got hers for free - so I am going to go check her site out.)

Good luck with whateve path you walk - or whatever purse you carry :)

Thalia said...

The 'of our own' thing really really bugs me. I see it a lot, in the press etc., and it annoys me, and then I see it on the blog of an infertile and it troubles me even more. I know by the time they get to their child, they will realise that it's a child of their own, but it's sad, although perhaps not surprising, that it feels that way when they start the journey.

It's not surprising because we are trained, both at a base biological level, and at a social level, to believe that one of our most critical functions - after eating, drinking etc. - is reproduction. So of course it takes a tremendous force of will, processing, mourning, for most of us to recognise that biological reproduction just isn't going to work out for us.

Sparkle said...

Well I want the Marc Jacobs purse because I'm difficult!

We are debating this right now. We have failed spectaclularly at getting pregnant so this is one of the next logical steps on our journey. We always said it was never a question that we would have a family - just a question of how.

Right now I don't want to leave any doors or windows closed - our baby is out there somewhere.

As far as I'm concerned, anyone that has an opinion on adoption can just remember how much they debated every moral issue they considered before their baby arrived.