The other day at work, I had a pretty intense conversation with a fellow co-worker about loss. It started out with my congratulating her about becoming a new grandmother by way of adoption. The two of us have shared our experiences with infertility in the past; hers as it relates to her son and daughter-in-laws struggles. And mine, well I’ve mentioned it in previous blog entries. So when I found out that she was finally going to be a grandma, I expressed how happy I was for her and her family.
Of course the next question that inevitably came out was, “Have you guys thought of adoption?” And of course, I gave her the answer that I have given to everyone else that asked that same question. Which is … yes, we have.
It’s strange. I can remember that the subject of adoption had even come up during my Hubby and my engagement. However, it was more in the context of adding on to an already-existing family that we made all on our own. Adoption would be a way for us to expand our family; to give our son a brother or our daughter a sister. Both of us never grew up with another sibling of the same sex and, therefore, never experienced a brotherhood or a sisterhood bond. Little did we know then that adoption would be our only option to have that large family that we wanted.
We know that adoption is our only chance of starting that family. We’ve even been to a few adoption agencies to get an idea of what the process for an international adoption would entail. We came out of each of those agencies excited … and completely overwhelmed. There’s just so much involved in an international adoption. There’s the massive amount of paperwork that needs to be completed to exact precision. There’s the stressful home-study that’s required by each agency. And there’s the cost involved in going through each one of these processes. Not to mention the wait and the anxiety of worrying that we might not be chosen by one of the overseas adoption agencies just because the paperwork wasn’t filled out right or that our dossier might not fit the profile of a couple that they would allow to adopt.
Obviously, all the things that are required to go through the adoption process is do-able. Especially if hundreds of couples in a given year adopt internationally. So why aren’t we diving head first into adoption?
Well, first of all there is the financial aspect of it. Although it’s been over three years since our failed IVF attempt, we are still struggling financially to overcome that loss. And, if this gives you any idea … the amount it cost us to go through the IVF cycle is less than half the amount we would have to come up with to adopt internationally.
And then there’s the emotional aspect of it. I can’t deny this … I’m absolutely terrified of the whole process. And a lot of it has to do with the anger I have over my infertility issues. Too many “why’s.” Why can’t I have the family I that I always wanted? Why can other’s get pregnant so easily? Why is my body failing me? Why do I have to go through an intense home-study to prove that I’m a worthy parent when there are “natural” parents out there that harm their own children? Why? Why? Why?
It all has to do with loss. I feel like I’ve lost a part of me. I feel like I’ve lost the battle on having that “perfect family” that I always dreamed about. And because of that, I’ve lost all sense of pride in feeling like I’m a successful woman. Quite frankly, I’ve lost my self-esteem.
My co-worker made this one comment during that discussion about loss that stuck with me. She said that she once asked a friend of hers who just lost her son in a car accident how she was feeling. Her friend described it as living with a hand after its thumb had been severed off … the hand was still functional, but yet there was this feeling of something missing. Not only was it missing, but trying to pick things up without that opposable thumb now took twice as long and was doubly difficult.
So as that comment sunk in, I related it to my own issues of loss. I’m functioning, that’s for sure. It just takes me twice as long and makes things twice as difficult to get through any major life events. And that includes adoption. It’s definitely something that I’m not “opposed” to doing … in fact, as I mentioned above, I know that adoption is our next step and our only chance to start that “dream family.” But right now, I just need to work through my loss … my inability to have a child of my own … and learn to function without my “opposable thumb.”