Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adoption Class #2 - Grief, Loss, and Infertility

Okay! Second week of adoption classes. "Grief, Loss, and Infertility." Cheery title eh? If that weren't enough, all of the tables of this classroom were randomly peppered with tissue boxes. Dun dun duuuun.

I had actually already read a few other blog entries about this very class so at least I was somewhat prepared for how it would go. I knew we'd be discussing how grief and loss has played into our adoption decision, and I knew we'd have to share our story. I just didn't know how I'd get through it without bursting into tears...which is probably why they provide tissues.

I know that the typical adoption class group is filled with couples who have struggled for years trying to get pregnant. Our particular class is unique in that almost all of us have children, and our struggles come mostly from either secondary infertility or the inability to carry another pregnancy to term ( There are two or three couples in our class who are considered "infertile" (I seriously hate that term), but the majority of us have different issues or reasons that brought us to the adoption decision.

At the beginning of this class, we all watched an oooooooold Oprah episode (we're talking, like, one of her very first episodes. Boufont hairdo and all.) where she talked to couples who struggled with infertility. I am not a fan of Oprah, and this particular episode pretty much confirmed those feelings. She interviewed the couples with what I consider pretty insensitive and totally uneducated comments and questions. She didn't understand why couples would go to such lengths to have children, why it would possibly be worth it. One comment struck a chord with me that I don't think I will ever forget. When speaking to a couple who struggled for years to get pregnant and ended up adopting a gorgeous little boy who you could tell hung the very moon for them, Oprah introduced them by saying, "Meet Jack and Jill so-and-so, who after years of infertility, finally gave up and just adopted." Um, OUCH. Ouch for every single adopted child, every single adoptive mommy and daddy, every single orphan hoping someone comes to get them.

I hope my child never, ever feels like Josh and I "gave up and just adopted" him. I hope they know from the very moment I kiss their sweet baby cheeks that they were always, always in the plan, always. That, when God was forming me in my mother's womb, He already knew I would someday be his mommy. That through every birth, every loss, God was just waiting for me to get there. To get to a place where I would be ready to bring my baby home through adoption.

It was obvious to me throughout our class that it took a lot to bring some of those couples to the adoption decision, but none of them felt like it was somehow second best, or a consolation prize of sorts. We were all so, so excited to meet the child God has been planning to give us since the beginning of time, He's just been waiting for us to be ready!

After the Oprah video, we discussed a few things they had talked about, such as the different triggers when struggling with having a(nother) child. How baby showers, pregnancy announcements, birthday parties, holidays, and even the mere sight of a pregnant woman can create emotions in you that are simply not pretty. We talked about how we have each been there, the place where you hear another friend is pregnant and somehow you feel a perfect mixture of anger, hatred, happiness, grief, and jealousy. For those who had never been pregnant, they talked about when they'd hear how easily people would get pregnant, bragging about how they weren't even trying, it would sometimes send them off the deep end. Why? Why is it so easy for some people, and so insurmountably impossible for others? They talked about how powerless and hopeless it would make them feel. They talked about all they had tried, all they had been through, the many times they'd heard thoughtless remarks from others about how they should try this or try that, or how if they'd just stop trying altogether, they'd probably get pregnant.

For those of us who had a different kind of struggle, the kind where getting pregnant wasn't an issue, but staying pregnant was, we discussed some of the exact same issues. Even though I have two beautiful, healthy, perfect children, I have always wanted a bigger family. I talked about how it was shocking for me to have loss after loss, when having the twins had been so easy. How it caught us off guard, how each one was so painful in a very unique way. We talked about how our decision to continue trying got so much more difficult after each loss, because it wasn't just us we were making decisions for, we had to consider our kids too. Was it fair to put them at risk for more pain and sadness if we lost yet another baby? Could they handle that? Was it fair to even ask them?

We talked about how attending baby showers was nearly impossible for us as well, how the sight of a healthy pregnant woman could make us burst into tears, even for those of us who had healthy children. Josh and I have been trying to have a baby for two years now. When we first made that decision, my kids were four years old. I knew I'd get pregnant easily (I was one of those women after all) and that was the exact age gap I wanted. Yet the months go by, the years go by, and my children continue to get older, and sometimes, that widening gap between them sends me into a full on panic. This is not how I planned it! This is not what I wanted! They're going to be five years apart! They're going to be six years apart! They're going to be seven years apart! I'm going to have to have another baby just to keep this one company, if I can ever have one to begin with! Come on!!!!

We weren't the only ones who had experienced loss. One couple lost twins, another had countless miscarriages, another had an ectopic which she described felt like a "forced abortion". Josh asked me on the way home if I would have rather struggled for years to get pregnant at all, or been able to get pregnant but continue to have losses. I honestly cannot answer that. The pain in these women's and men's eyes was deep, no matter what they had struggled with. It's hard, it is all hard, each one of our paths has been so very hard. But. (There's a but, yay!) But...our paths all led us here, to adoption. And we are all so very excited to be here.

We talked about the importance of moving through our grief and making sure we were in a healthy place before pursuing adoption, how if you haven't worked through past pain you are putting the bond with your new child at risk. Our instructor gave different examples of how we might encounter our grief and how it is something everyone has to work through in their own way. She compared the grieving process to riding a roller coaster blindfolded. There are highs, lows, fast drops and slow inclines, and you never know when any of it will hit. You might have an amazing day, then, for no reason at all, you will be hit hardcore with some serious pain. I have experienced that firsthand, so has Josh. We move through most days just fine. We have a very healthy (in my biased opinion) outlook on what we've been through. We loved our babies, we lost our babies, we'll see our babies again. But every once in awhile, something will happen or nothing will happen, and one of us will be face to face with our grief.

A few weeks ago, seemingly for no reason at all, I just really, really missed Lily. I felt her absense. I knew exactly how old she was supposed to be, how big she was supposed to be, the exact way I would be holding her at that exact moment on the couch while the kids played with their toys. I could see what she'd be wearing, how her beautiful bald head would have an adorable giant flower headband on it made by her nana. I just felt the absense of all that I was supposed to have, and it made me very sad. Sometimes that happens. And I never see it coming.

Our instructor talked about how grief and loss and usually infertility almost always plays a role in adoption. But that does not mean that adoption wasn't the plan all along! Maybe not our plan, but definitely God's. Sometimes couples always planned on adopting and nothing imparticular brought them down that road. Sometimes it takes a lot to get a couple to finally see adoption the way God sees it, as the best plan for them!

I had, like, the best dream last night!!! I dreamt we finally got our baby! But it wasn't just one, it was two! A boy and a girl, who we named Casey and Cason (very weird and irrelevant but interesting nonetheless...), but the thing I remember most was the baby girl's adorable dimples, and the feeling I had when I held those babies. It was sheer joy, total peace, the feeling of finally getting there. I woke up SO excited! I just felt SO excited that it isn't that far off! I can feel us getting closer, and I'm just really happy about it.

I never in a million years would have chosen this road for myself, but when we are finally holding our baby, I know I'll look back on all of this and thank the Lord He put me on this path, that it led to that particular child at that particular time. Our child!

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