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01 October 2010

On the baby issue

Thank you so much for the supportive comments, both here and privately.

This is another "rant" - and if you'd prefer to skip it i understand.  I've written another post for today.

Please know that i know i am not alone in this struggle.  Wanting children is part of (most) of us.  Since Biblical times women agonize over the inability to have children.  The stories in the Bible are of women who desired children, were denied for a time, and then were granted children.  It doesn't always work out that way.  We aren't told stories of women who prayed for children but were never granted their desire to be mothers. 

There are many, many blogs of women or families who are going thru the heartache of miscarriage and/or infertility, or on the adoption path.  There are a few blogs as well of people learning to live a "childless not by choice" life.  I certainly am not alone.

Pamela Tsigdinos has written a book entitled Silent Sorority about the issue of childlessness.  I've not yet read it, tho i've followed her blog for some time now.  She has also written a number of articles about this issue as well.  What has surprised and shocked me is the amount of vile and angry comments she receives at some of these articles.  She is simply stating how she feels unacknowledged as a childless woman in a world of child-centric culture.  Nothing more.  But people attack her for not choosing to adopt and any number of other things.  Some of the people who do adopt attack her for considering adoption "second-class families" when she has said nothing of the kind.  I don't know her reasons for not adopting.  I don't need to know.  

I wish i had a dollar for every person who has said to me, "You can always adopt," or "Why don't you just adopt?"  People who say such things are completely unaware of the very complex issues surrounding adoption.  There is not any "just" about it.  It is not as though there is some place that people can go pick out a child like picking up a puppy from the pound.  

Currently, adoption procedures are very complex.  And very political.  Social workers look into every detail of your life.  It is very stressful, very expensive, and often very heartbreaking.  I've followed the trail of some folks on this quest.   

Denifay has posted about their heartbreak.  They believed they would be having a baby this past summer.  Turns out that they were the victims of a nefarious person who fooled several people for money by promising them her child.  Denifay is also having to deal with the politics of agencies.  A number of agencies bill themselves as "Christian" and have very strict standards.  Tho Denifay and her husband are both Christians, they are attending different churches, and this by default kicks them out of the running with several agencies.  

I do know of people who have had adoptions go smoothly.  They made it thru and have their family.  But i also know many, many heartbreak stories where it doesn't work that way.  I know of a family who actually had the baby for a month when the mama changed her mind.  

Very close to us here, i know another story.  A young woman was in relationship with a young man.  The relationship was not going well, and she purposefully chose to get pregnant in order to "save" the relationship.  It did not work, and that was clear to her very soon.  She chose to put the baby up for adoption.  She chose a family.  They prepared a nursery.  They came (from Hawaii to Big Bear) to be near when the baby was born.  Her mama, the grandma, talked the young woman out of adoption and into keeping the baby.  She was not prepared emotionally or financially to be a mama.  That child is now 5 and has bounced around between grandparents, aunts, and the mama.  He is not a stable child.  He has no discipline in his life and much of the time is out of control.  Choosing to keep the baby was a very poor choice both for the mama and the child, but such things are done every day.

We are not opposed to adoption.  We most certainly do not consider families created by adoption as "second class."  But we also know quite clearly that we would not survive the heartache of navigating the adoption procedures.  We also cannot support, financially, the application and home study of $6,000 when there is no assurance we would ever have a child.  In fact, even if we went thru this process, i would say that the chances of having a child placed with us is very low indeed.

There are other ways to adopt.  There are many, many children in "the system" who are older and very much want to be part of a family.  And my heart desires for them, too, and breaks to know they don't have a family.  But taking older children has inherent challenges as well.  Ones that we don't feel prepared to take on that kind of challenge to inexperienced "parents."  Particularly with my energy level, it is an impossibility.

The reality is, and we have looked at this seriously from every angle, we are not going to be parents.  Not here on earth, anyway.  We can be aunt and uncle, mentors, friends.  But if i can't manage more than an hour or two with an 8 year old, there is no way i'll be able to take on 24/7 with a child for whom i'm mama.  

We KNOW this.  But it doesn't change the heartache and disappointment.  It does not change the desire in my heart.  It only means that i have to accept where we are at and where our lives are going.  

Because i am struggling with the death of a dearly held desire, i am struggling.  I KNOW with all my being that i haven't the energy to provide what is needed for my husband, who is an adult, much less helpless children.  I have the love and desire, but that is not enough.  I KNOW these things; it doesn't make it any easier to accept.  

At this point in time it is hard for me to imagine that it ever won't hurt, that i will in fact be somewhat indifferent to it, that i will, in fact, "come to terms."  At this point, it is painful to hear of the pregnancy of an acquaintance, friend, or relative.  The birth of a child is a happy time, but it is hard for me to fully share in that happiness.  

Therefore, for someone to say very casually to me, "I know a mama who is going to put her baby up for adoption," or "I could carry a baby for you," is a knife to the heart because i know that i cannot have the very thing i so deeply desire.  It is worse than a carrot on a stick, it is more like bait in a trap that will break my back if i reach for it.  

I saw John this week.  I told him of the off-hand offer to carry a child for us.  He told me that if the issue was merely financial that we would discuss it at great length.  However, he said what i already know and struggle to accept, "If you were given the desire of your heart, how would you be able to care for it (him or her)?"

This is not an issue of me finding a way to make this happen.  In fact, i think it would be very selfish and unloving.  It is an issue of making myself accept what i wish not to face.  But that doesn't mean that casual comments or remarks don't hurt.  ("Why don't you adopt?" or "I know someone who wants to place their child.")



That corgi :) said...

hugs to you; I totally understand what you are saying. I think people who haven't walked the path of infertility or not being able to have a child for other health issues don't "get it". They may sympathize with you but they can't empathize since they haven't experienced that thing you are dealing with. I can empathize with you since I have dealt with infertility and I can also empathize with you on your thoughts about adoption because I've adopted. I know it is very hard to get a baby should one work with a reputable agency and can take years and is very expensive. And yes you are right, you are scrutinized very closely by agencies when they do your home study. I equate infertility like an old friend; when we were in our child bearing years (assuming we could bear children) it was an old friend that reared up its ugly head often when I heard of others being pregnant, etc. As I grew older and in raising the two kids we adopted, the old friend came by less often and didn't stay as long and didn't hurt as much. And now in my early 50s, it briefly comes but goes just as suddenly. But dealing with it was very hard for so many years so I understand your sadness and pain about it and your grieving associated with it. And yet I can't empathize about your health issues and how hard it would be to raise a child with them,but I truly know that although I haven't "known" you long, this is something you have considered all angles of and although it is painful you came to the conclusion you did that you likely will not be parents this side of heaven. It would be nice if we lived in a world where people would get it, but there are those well meaning people who feel they have to fix everything and that's why I'm sure you get approached with those statements that you do of people knowing someone who wants to place their baby for adoption, etc. I hope I made a little bit of sense


Mrs. Mac said...

My heart is breaking for you.

Kathryn said...

Thank you for your understanding Betty. Glad your story turned out well. I know adoption does for many people.

Oh, Mrs. Mac, we all have our heartaches! I don't find that a "lifelong sorrow" is as romantic as Anne of Green Gables used to think of it!

Rosemary said...

I'm a sorority sister too, and I never really wanted to pledge this one, I admit that ruefully. I can empathize entirely with the "why don't you just adopt" mentality, they mean well but sometimes I wish they'd just leave a person alone. It's an issue that comes and goes for a lot of us, there are even days when I don't think about it - but then there are times when whoosh, it hits me as though it all just happened and the depth of the loss is hitting me all over again.

I wish you peace, this is such a difficult (and that doesn't even come close to what it really is) situation.