Both Genders Drive Adoption

For some time now, my husband has been making use of old photos to create slide shows as a screen saver. I enjoy looking at these . . . memories. One of my current favorites is of my husband lying on his chest looking at our oldest son as a 3 month old infant lying on the bed. They are both smiling at one another. Clearly, there is a real connection between them, an energy. And it is true, while my husband does honestly love both of his sons, he does a lot of work around our farm with the older boy. They seem to be in-sync so well. Of course, the older one, now 21 years old, is more mature but over the last several years, they have replaced roofs, planted trees and both worked for the 2020 Census and could share stories each night when they got home. Just as I saw with my in-laws respect for my husband’s opinions, there is a respect on my husband’s part for each of his sons’ perspectives. It is a beautiful thing to see. For my part, I am inspired by both of them and who and how they are developing into maturity.

Becoming a father came at the right time for my husband in his own maturity. When we first married (my second marriage), he was not interested in having children. He was glad I had been there and done that – so no pressure on him. And it is also true that because I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 19, I had already known motherhood. Indeed, she has made me a grandmother twice. She was there for me each time one of my parents died (only 4 months apart) and through the challenges of being the executor of their estate, including giving me the benefit of her expertise in real estate selling and negotiating the final contract with a buyer.

Even though my early motherhood was a good experience for me, I was totally blown away when after 10 years of marriage, my husband did a 180 on me and wanted to become a father. Unfortunately, it turned out that age had produced in me secondary infertility and we had to turn to assisted reproduction and an egg donor to have our sons. 20 years ago, no one saw inexpensive DNA testing and the matching sites 23 and Me as well as Ancestry becoming so popular in use. Fortunately, we have handled the situation of having two donor conceived sons as well as any ignorant parents could (both had the same genetic sources and so, are true genetic and biological siblings). By handling the situation, I mean we have always been honest about their conceptions with our sons. They really did need to become older to understand the details. Getting their DNA tested at 23 and Me (where their egg donor also had her DNA tested) gave us the opening to fully describe the details, which does not seem to have troubled them at all. Before we had theirs tested, I also gifted my husband with a kit from 23 and Me.

For me, having lost the privilege of actually raising my daughter when she was 3 years old due to my own poverty and her father’s unwillingness to pay child support (and even so, he ended up paying for her support by raising her himself) – these second chance opportunities to prove I could mother children throughout their growing up years has been a true blessing for me. Experiencing motherhood now has healed much – including a decision to have an abortion after my daughter’s birth and the subsequent discovery that I carried the hep C virus – thanks to pre-treatment testing related to my oldest son’s conception. (BTW, this week I will finally complete, after living with this virus for over 20 years, a very expensive treatment regime which required a grant for the co-pay as well as Medicare Part D because otherwise, I still could not have afforded to have that virus treated).

All this just to share that this morning, I was reading an accusation about infertile women driving adoptions. One woman noted this – “we seem to be letting the guys off scot-free. The dudes who want a Daddy’s Little Girl or to play football with their own Mini-Me. I am not saying that childless woman are not a huge factor in the adoption industry, but I am saying that we live in a patriarchy and men also have a macho thing going on from birth … carrying on the family name, the stereotypical being the breadwinner for their very own brood instead of watching other guys’ families from the sidelines as a failure. And sometimes it isn’t the woman’s inability but the guys’ faulty minnows and that is definitely a macho & emasculating situation that they can rectify by sheer force (IVF or adoption are ways no one else will really be the wiser if they keep these secrets). They can be saviors and still be Daddy Dearest at the same time win-win.”

I know that in the case of infertility, the “blame” is statistically equal – one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, one-third by female reproductive issues, and one-third by both male and female reproductive issues or by unknown factors according to the National Institutes of Health. Clearly in our case, because 50% of each of our son’s DNA clearly establishes that their father’s sperm did the deed, the problem was my age. We didn’t start our efforts until I was already 46 years old.

Heal Yourself First

Couples need to heal from their infertility and come to grips with not being able to conceive a child before inflicting themselves on a traumatized adoptee. Much of what you will read in today’s blog comes from an adoptee writing on this issue – The Importance of Fully Grieving Infertility. I have chosen what I share here selectively and have added my own thoughts as well. You can read the original blog at the link.

Receiving a diagnosis of infertility is a devastating loss. It’s natural to feel angry, sad, disappointed or a combination of a bunch of different feelings. You may want to start the process of becoming a parent through other means as soon as possible, in an effort to fill that aching, empty space in your heart.

Please don’t start the process of adopting a child until you have fully grieved your infertility, let go of your initial dream of having a biological child, and are truly ready to adopt.

Why? Because, when you pursue adoption, your infertility journey will affect more than just you.

Adoption is not a solution for infertility. Pretending it is — without doing the hard, personal work — will just set you and your future adopted child up for failure.

You’ve probably heard it time and time again from your infertility counselors and adoption professionals. But I think you should hear it from an adoptee — someone who will be forever changed if you are unable to move forward from your losses.

As an adoptee, I’ve watched infertility take its toll on my parents, friends and family members. Even just having seen the effects secondhand, it’s clear that this is often a diagnosis that causes lasting emotional and psychological damage.

About 1 in 8 couples will struggle with infertility. That’s a lot of people walking around with a lot of pain in their hearts.

This is a loss, and as such, you may experience the stages of grief. As hard as it is to believe, this is actually a good thing, because it means you are processing your loss and are on the road to the final stage: acceptance. And only once you feel acceptance should you start considering adoption.

If you don’t resolve your experience with infertility, it could cause serious mental, emotional and physical harm to yourself and to those around you. You may start to resent your partner, your emotions might develop into depression, you risk not feeling able to find happiness because of the lingering hopes and dreams of “maybe we’ll still get pregnant,” and all of that stress can take a toll on your physical health.

Unresolved issues can affect all of your relationships — the relationship with your partner, with yourself, with your friends (who all seem to easily have children) and eventually, upon your adopted child. Moving forward into adoption under these circumstances may feel like you are “settling” for your “second-choice” way to build your family, and that’s not fair to the child you may adopt.

I don’t write this blog to promote adoption (I think it is all around a harmful choice). So I can hope that adoption isn’t your own answer for building your family. I do know that you staying stuck in grief isn’t good for you or the ones you love either. You may ultimately decide to live child-free. What is important here is seeking a good quality of life by working through your feelings and letting the unproductive perspectives go. 

Adopting a child does not fix anything. There is no replacement for your original dream of conceiving and giving birth to a biological child. When you’re an adoptee, viewing the world’s preoccupation with having biological children is hard. It’s probably hard for couples who discover they are infertile. That is one of the reasons it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that you will never have a biological child. It is unfair and unrealistic to believe any infertile, potential adoptive set of parents will no longer experience grief over not having biological children after they adopt. One of the reasons I don’t believe adoptions are actually a good thing. Honestly (and adoption is ALL over my own birth family – both of my parents were adopted and each of my sisters gave up children to adoption – I wouldn’t exist but for my parents’ adoptions and even so . . . my perspective has changed over the last several years, obviously).

Infertility and Adoption

Erin Brockovich has an op-ed in The Guardian about this book by Shanna Swan with the alarming prediction that by 2045 her research suggests sperm counts could reach zero. Though I have known for a very long time what an awful influence the chemical industry has and that the pervasive chemicals in our environment are not good for reproduction in general, my thoughts after reading this article, went in the direction of this blog where I consider issues related to adoption.

I realized that increasing infertility will put increasing pressure on the availability of adoptable babies. This is not a happy thought for me. From personal experience, I know that medical science has the ability of offset fertility deficiencies with assisted reproductive techniques, so there is that as a natural counter for decreasing reproduction among humans without tearing babies away from the mothers who conceive easily.

I remember my own science experiment with our aquarium. The snail population had spiraled into filling the entire space with snails. I didn’t take any actions but to my utter surprise, the snails quit reproducing and eventually there were none, their dying bodies happily goggled up by our albino catfish who yet lives solitarily now in our aquarium. So could a major die-off of humanity simply be a natural event, much like there are no dinosaurs left on the earth today ?

Of course, we do need to care about our environment !! The truth of the matter is – the Earth does not need saving but humanity might. However, I also happen to believe there are more than enough people, as regards sustainability and resources, and that is why I am in favor of allowing any woman who does not want to commit herself to 9 months of pregnancy to have an abortion. Not that women should be coerced to have abortions and any woman who wants to carry, birth and then give her baby up for adoption will find an eager and more the willing market to accommodate her. Not that I am in favor of adoption as I have expressed in this blog many many times.

Swan’s book includes statistics such as these – “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35.” and “A man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had.” Swan’s research finds that these chemicals are also shrinking penis size and volume in the testes.

And of course, aggressive regulation is lacking in the United States in no small part due to lobbying by chemical industry giants. Chemicals are killing us, literally, but also by harming and attacking the very source of life: our reproductive capacities. And not only are they doing that but this will likely guarantee there will be more couples looking for that baby to love that they can’t birth themselves. So that is the relationship between chemicals, infertility and ultimately adoption.

Surrogacy

I first became of gestational surrogacy while going through reproductive assistance. One of the women in my mom’s group had cancer and so her twins were birthed through a surrogate. I remember her stressing about what medical staff would think of her because she wanted to be in the delivery room and would have to wear a head covering at the hospital because her hair had all fallen out from treatment. She died when the twins were only 2 years old.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law had tried for years to conceive and due to the serious pharmaceutical medications my sister-in-law was on for the treatment of manic-depression symptoms, it wasn’t safe for her to go off of those prescriptions. For some time, they tried using assisted reproduction with her eggs and it always failed. They were eventually successful and they did use a surrogate. As our two families became estranged after the deaths of my in-laws, I don’t know if the baby has her genes or not.

Both of these occurred before I started learning so much about adoption. My husband and I have two sons with the same genetic background but none of my own genes. They do have my husband’s DNA and they had the same egg donor. What I have learned is that the baby becomes bonded with the mother the fetus is developing within. I remember how my OB always reassured me that I was playing an important role in my developing children’s lives – the foods I ate primed their taste buds, my emotions affected them in the womb. I was every bit as ecstatic when they were born, every bit as much in love with them as my infant, as I was with my daughter who does carry my genes.

From what I have learned, I do have grave concerns about the effect on infants of gestational surrogacy. I was directed today to explore Severance magazine’s website by my adoption community. I pass that on to my readers here. Their byline is “Severance on the aftermath of separation” and they seem to speak to all related issues. The reality is that in this age of widespread availability of DNA testing, many argue that anonymity is no longer sustainable and that a child can never possibly consent to donor anonymity or waive their right to know where they came from.

We had a private agreement with our donor and have maintained an open relationship with her. Our sons have met her on several occasions. Not long ago, she informed me that she had done a 23 and Me test. Therefore, I gifted my husband with a 23 and Me first, then the oldest son and then his brother. This reality gave us an opportunity to fully discuss their conception, even though we had always been open about it, it had never dominated our family’s life. The donor is open to contact from the boys should they ever want that. She has always been very rational about the whole situation and she does have 3 children of her own that she gave birth to. Our sons know that there are at least those children who are genetically half-siblings. It is also possible another one they won’t know about in advance may turn up someday. They would not exist but for. It is their own unique, individual reality and existence.

Severance Magazine Website

Carmen Martinez Jover

Here my newfound values related to all things adoption and foster care bump up against my decidedly new age tendencies and personal experience.  It’s always about the bunnies in my household.  Though these bunnies have human hands.  Oh my.  That part is a travesty.

The adoption group I am a part of does not appreciate Carmen Martinez Jover because of her books on adoption.  One adoptee writes – “My thoughts to you Carmen Martinez Jover: I did not chose this, I did not want this, I reject this, fuck adoption!”  This is tough ground.  I am not an adoptee but I know too much now to ever dismiss the feelings and trauma an adoptee experiences in being separated from the mother in whose womb they grew.

Her books seek to explain adoption to adopted children.  She and I also share an interest in past lives.  The manuscript I have in process is actually about reincarnation and being given a mission to deliver a message in a Syrian refugee camp.

As a matter of fact, her theory is that adoption occurs by the choice of the child’s soul.  This is hard because we really can only theorize about consciousness before physical life.  However, due to my own personal beliefs, I find it difficult to criticize her on that point.  I see this belief structure as being about empowerment, not fault finding.

Here’s one quote –

“The soul is with its soul group, then goes and visits the Elders who give the soul advice on how to be happy when it’s born. The soul is then shown glimpse of possible lives and chooses the parents it wants. Understanding that it cannot be born in a conventional way and is born in another woman’s womb and with the help of adoption lives happily with its chosen parents.”

I do realize that such thinking is not for everyone.  Jover has experienced infertility firsthand and is a fan of Dr Bruce Lipton, who I once met in person and also deeply appreciate.

What I do know about adoption has led me to feel that, of all the options for addressing infertility, egg donation is the kindest to the child.  That is my lived experience thus far.  My obstetrician suggested it to my husband and I when an attempt to jumpstart my very last egg failed.

I would not call it a fully informed decision based on what I know now.  Both of my sons know as much as they are interested in as teenagers about their conception and we are fortunate because the egg donor for each of them was the same woman.  There is some sadness in my youngest son that he doesn’t have any of my genes, though my emotions and the foods I ate throughout his pregnancy contributed to the body his soul inhabits.  My sons would not be who they are otherwise.  This is the bottom line truth.

There is some adjustment needed in my own feelings and emotions as we have all done 23 and Me.  My grown daughter (who is biological to me and my first husband and thus carrying our genes) is also there at 23 and Me.  I see her shown accurately as my daughter.  That feels good.  But I do not see my sons.  The woman who donated her eggs also has a 23 and Me DNA result account and she is shown as their mother.  Genetically, that is the truth that I can’t deny.

This is the world modern medical science has made possible.  I loved my pregnancies with both sons.  I loved breastfeeding them each for over a year.  I love that I have been here for them from day one and will continue to be in their lives until I die (hopefully, before either of my boys).  It means a lot to me to have mothered them because I have faulted myself for being a horrible mother.  Due to poverty and my ex refusing to pay child support, my daughter ended up living with him.  He remarried a woman with a daughter and together they had a daughter.  This gave my daughter a family with two sisters, the same family structure I grew up within.

I paid a steep price for not raising her, I lost so much and know it, and I continue to pay a price for the choices I made as a young adult.  Though I have a good relationship with my daughter now, her childhood wasn’t as good as I once believed but I didn’t know the truth then.  Just like once upon a time I didn’t know anything about adoption.  Just like I never saw inexpensive DNA tests changing everything for donor conceived children.  I do still believe in eternal souls.  I do believe there is much more to this thing called Life than any one person can know or understand.  Only the “All That Is” intelligence can know that.  Some people call that God.  I am good with whatever anyone wants to call what I have discovered for myself somehow exists.

CoParentaLys

This is something I did not know existed before today.  However, I belong to a mom’s group, all of whom conceived their children by some method of assisted reproduction.  In our group are more than one single woman who was aging and gave up on waiting for a suitable partner to mother a child and these women – each and every one of them – is a strong, capable, loving and effective parent.

In this age of on-line dating, it should not surprise me that since 2014, an internet site has existed to facilitate several unconventional kinds of yearnings.  There is the Co-Parenting by Choice aspect for a single person wishing to meet another person of the opposite sex that is willing to become the parent of a child with the seeker.

There is the aspect of someone who both wants to conceive a child but also find love as part of that effort.  In this case it is a kind of dating site that pre-selects for a willingness to start a family.

There is an aspect for men willing to donate sperm so that a single woman can conceive a child.

There is finally an aspect for homosexual co-parenting in which a gay couple who want to have a child team up with a single person or another homosexual couple.  Suggesting, they surround that child with love by becoming three or four parents together.

I find this very interesting.  They say they have 25,000 members.  It is noted that since the creation of their site, thousands of families have been created and hundreds of children have been born (maybe even thousands …).

There are YouTubes related to the effort and Facebook page.  There seems to be a strong international component to this community.  You may wish to consider this woman’s experience in a video sharing – The Life of a CoParent.

Desperation Revealed ?

I did not know this kind of public revelation was a thing until this morning.  At least they are honest that it is an adoption.  Still, this method of sharing the reality reveals some desperation underneath the celebratory joy.  I have dealt with infertility myself.  I have tried and tried to get pregnant naturally only to face the truth that my body had become too old to do that anymore (I did give birth to a daughter when I was 19 years old).

This phrase, “No Bump, Still Pumped”, seems to be the response of someone who has not fully faced their infertility.  The problem with this is in making a pregnancy reference, when you’re not doing anything like pregnancy.  It could be that the grief involved with not being able to conceive hasn’t been fully dealt with.  From a kinder perspective, maybe it is an attempt to honestly alert friends and family that the baby they will see soon came from someone else, and not this couple’s own parentage.  Really, it all depends on the couple’s true perspective on the matter.  Some couples that are adopting may make an announcement that says something like “Paper Pregnant”.

In publicly saying such things, a prospective adoptive couple is celebrating someone else’s trauma, though they may not be willing to fully acknowledge that reality.  And it also indicates that they only want babies, not older children at risk of aging out of foster care without any further supports.  Such concepts are celebrating the tearing apart of a family. Celebrating without any awareness, the trauma the children will experience.

Such public pronouncements make the adopted child sound like a second choice.  They were not the first choice for the couple, which would have been to conceive naturally.  I understand this and it is the truth.  So, the couple only wants to adopt because they couldn’t have children out of their own natural biological processes.  Many adoptees struggle with the knowledge that they were the runner up choice.

Most adopted children will crave their biological families and their mothers generally regret not keeping and raising their children.  It took some time and exposure to honest adoptees and their original mothers for me to join the “non-rainbows/unicorns non-rah rah version” of the adoptive narrative.  Yet, I have become convinced that no matter how hard it is to accept, adoption is a painful reality for most of those directly affected by its promotion and acceptance.

No, You Don’t Deserve A Baby

Regarding adoption, one prospective couple wrote – “I want a baby not a full grown kid. My husband and I deserve a baby. We both crave a baby to raise as our own”.

I get that.  Not that I believe they deserve someone else’s baby but that they are hoping for that blank slate that Georgia Tann always advertised her babies as being.  Science has determined that isn’t the truth but anyway.

Another prospective adoptive couple stated, “Older children come with so many issues. You can’t mother an older child like an infant. Especially as first time parents”.  Though I was not a first time parent, my husband was.

When my husband decided he wanted to be a father, we did talk about adoption but decided that we wanted a truly blank slate as our beginning position.  We wanted to conceive and for me to carry our baby in my womb, give birth and breastfeed that baby for a reasonable length of time.  We did need considerable medical assistance and there was a compromise involved that seemed reasonable but still must be faced fully and accepted.  Which I believe I have for the most part.

Regarding the expense of adoption, someone was quoted as saying, “Adoption should be free like abortion is”.  Now that does blow my mind because abortion is not free.  I know.  I had one back in the mid-1970s.  There is a cost in dollars at the time and over the long run a cost mentally and emotionally with making such a significant decision.  I continue believe it was the right decision at the time I made it but that doesn’t equate to the reality being easy to live with.

Here is another statement that is absolutely not true – “If adoption wasn’t so expensive, there would be more kids who find homes”.  Fact is there are 4 couples wanting to adopt for every child available to be adopted.  That is one of the reasons that over the most recent decades, many couples have gone out of the United States to obtain a child to raise as their own.

One of the major interests among the members of the adoption community – original parents and adoptees – is reform.  Part of reform is actually raising awareness and changing perspectives.  That is the hope and the purpose for which I write a blog on related topics each day.

It Is Odd Now

Twenty years ago Genealogy was not a consideration in my own mind.  After 10 years of marriage, my childless husband decided he wanted to have children after all.  For those first ten years, he was glad I had been there and done that and there was no pressure on him to become a father.  We had seen a short news piece that said that woman who conceive at an older age live longer.

Over Margaritas in a Mexican restaurant he boldly told me that he wanted to become a father.  My mouth fell open in amazement and then I said “okay”.  So began our adventure together.  We used ovulation kits and did it faithfully as much as possible at the appropriate times.  Nothing resulted.

One day at my general practitioners office in consultation about my cholesterol with the nurse practitioner, I told her about our efforts to become parents.  She said to me, “I’m not saying you are infertile but at your age you don’t have time to waste.”  Then recommended her gynecologist to me.

I made an appointment and just before that we saw another news piece that informed us of our low odds of success at my age.  I was devastated and went to the place where I often poured my heart out to my God, the place where I had stood to marry my husband, and lamented that he married such an old woman.

At the gynecologist’s office, we saw on ultrasound that I had an egg developing, so the doctor prescribed a shot to jump start my chances.  It was the very last egg I ever produced.  When the doctor’s effort failed, he said there is a way and we rejoiced.

Thanks to advances in medical science we have two wonderful sons.  When they were conceived I knew nothing about my own genetic roots and so it was not an issue to me.  Fast forward twenty years and inexpensive DNA tests are available.  My whole family has had our DNA tested at 23 and Me.

On my page there, I see my daughter, my nephew and a whole slew of cousins.  I have also been able to discover who all 4 of my original grandparents were (both of my parents were adopted and died knowing next to nothing about their own origins – my mom did have her DNA tested at Ancestry, as did I, but it didn’t help her during her lifetime).

I carried my sons in my womb and they nursed at my breast.  No one could be more their mother than I am.  I’ve been with them almost every day of their lives, though I have had to be away from them occasionally.  My husband has never been away from them.  He is genetically related to them.

It is odd to wrap my own mind around the truth.  They are not related to me genetically nor to anyone else I am related to genetically.  There have been times, when in an argument with my husband, I have felt keenly he has more right to them than I do.  Even so, I love them with all of my heart.  My youngest son did lament to me that he has none of my genes but he would not exist otherwise.  The reality has to be absorbed by each of us.  In fundamental ways, nothing has changed.

Stigma Isn’t The Issue

If I had never learned about the trauma of separating a mother from the baby she has carried in her womb, I would have more support for surrogacy.  Because I have learned about this (as part of my own journey coming to terms with all of the adoptions that are part of my immediate family’s experiences) I cannot condone it.

A woman recently posted a very compelling op-ed to The Washington Post about why surrogacy became necessary for her.  First of all, she does have a child.  She writes that she is a genetic carrier of HY-restricting HLA class II alleles and goes on to explain that this means her son’s Y chromosome lingers and attacks all subsequent pregnancies. In essence, she had this small genetic component and she gave birth to a boy.  From then on, her odds of successfully carrying another child became slim to none. Her husband and she found they could create an embryo, but her body could not carry it. So the couple started down the rabbit hole of surrogacy.

My own sister-in-law did eventually become a parent by surrogacy.  I am happy for my brother-in-law that he has a son.  I also know there is a deep subconscious issue that they are unlikely aware of.  In our family, we were not supportive of this couple becoming parents because the woman always was a basketcase full of all kinds of psychotropic drugs.  They also acted as though creating a child was simply creating another possession and intended to have a nanny after the baby was born.  And they did but she didn’t last long and my brother-in-law has ended up the primary caregiver for this young boy.

A developing fetus is constantly bonding with the mother in who’s womb the infant is growing.  That bonding process continues after birth for months/years into the young child’s life.  The case described in this op-ed is of a surrogate who is carrying twins for this couple.  There is a definite bond between twins and multiples.  Maybe that will help but will not entirely remove the wounds of losing their gestational mother.

One can argue that genes matter and I know this.  I assume the soon to be parents do have a genetic connection to these twins based on other details in the op-ed.  However, there is more to this situation than genes alone.

I do not wish any child to be stigmatized because of the details of their conception.  I have a lot of personal compassion for that issue.  This woman admits that surrogacy is more political than she realized but I know she still doesn’t realize the full import of their choice.  She admits to knowing that there is an array of advocates trying to end surrogacy on a national level.  I understand why.