Snowflake Babies

These IVF Embryos do look like Snowflakes

Seems there is always a trendy term or a label given to everything these days – GenZ – for example. Today I learned one I had not heard before but I have had personal experience with.

Embryo donation seems to be in vogue these days with couples experiencing infertility issues. In the religious community sphere embryo donation seems to have become yet another pro-Life issue. Elle Magazine published a feature, The Leftover Embryo Crisis, in 2017 that indicated there were an estimated 1 million frozen embryos in storage at that time.

Both of my sons were conceived via IVF. The youngest was born in 2004 and so, when 2005 rolled around, knowing we had no intention of attempting another pregnancy at my advanced age (and honestly there are very real risks in giving birth at age 50 that I am glad we didn’t understand at the time but I knew then about the potential risks and would not have done that to yet another child at that point – I will say we are all grateful that my youngest son is in our lives) we were faced with paying another year’s storage fee on the leftover frozen embryos.

A woman in my mom’s group told me about Miracles Waiting. We felt we needed to at least give these potential children an opportunity to be born. We just couldn’t simply destroy the embryos. The response to our listing was overwhelming. Quickly we were matched. The couple put us and our original egg donor through a LOT of hoops but eventually everything was agreed to, including the recipients agreeing to share in some of our original expenses directly connected to the creation of their embryos. There was also communication about their hoped for child eventually having a relationship with our two sons.

The woman did conceive and we were all very happy for her chance to experience pregnancy, give birth and maybe even breastfeeding her baby (which I did for over a year with both of our sons). It had been her lifelong dream to have those experiences. Sadly, it did not end well. She had transferred all 3 of our only leftover embryos and so, there was no second chance for her in that regard.

Almost 2 months after that attempt and a positive pregnancy test, her husband wrote us. “I just wanted to let you know that the baby did not survive. The ultrasound today showed only the gestation sack but no yoke sack, and they did not grow as much as the doctor wanted. In a nut shell, . . . We are very devastated as we now know that our chances for conceiving are past us.”

About 1 month later, the woman wrote us – “Thanks for your continued kind thoughts.   The past weeks have been very difficult for me.   The baby not surviving was my last chance to experience pregnancy.  Sorry that I haven’t written sooner, I just haven’t been able to put any of my thoughts into words.”

“As a blessing from above we have been given the opportunity to foster parent, if only for a short time, a baby boy that was abandoned by his birthmom at birth.   This 17 year old gave birth at home, put this sweet little boy into a plastic trash bag and threw him over a fence into a retention pond area.   Within an hour people heard his cries and rescued him.   Caring for another is a good way to stop thinking about your self.”

“I am so saddened. It still is hard for me to accept. I was going between denial and anger.   Now, with feeding the baby every two hours round the clock, I don’t have time to think about it.”

I do believe they eventually adopted the baby. I also believe that God always answers our prayers. Maybe not the way we thought they would be answered. To my understanding, even a “No” is an answer. I do not regret donating the embryos. Of course, I am sad for this couple that it did not bring the results they hoped for.

Sharing this experience is not intended to support nor deny the option to donate one’s frozen embryos or acquire someone else’s. Compared to adopting a newborn infant, I do believe that a baby growing in the womb of the mother who will be raising the child pretty much eliminates 100% mother/child separation trauma. Some donor conceived persons do have issues with the way they were conceived and I am well aware of them. Though my husband and I did not see inexpensive DNA testing coming, it seems in our good hearts and ignorance, we have handled our own family’s situation almost perfectly. Someday, our sons may view their own conceptions differently than we do but, at almost 18 and 21, they seem to understand clearly and have no issues with it. They know – bottom line – they would not exist otherwise. They know they are loved and that they live in a “very close at heart and 24/7 everyday” life family. And I do think that as boys, their 50% genetic connection to their father matters as genetic mirrors for them. Some sadness in my youngest son that he doesn’t have any of my genes but our love for one another seems genuine.

Fertilization or Implantation

It didn’t take long for the concerns over the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade to leap over into In-Vitro Fertilization. Some states, including Louisiana, are already contemplating laws that would define a fertilized egg as having the same rights as a live child which will definitely have the same chilling effect on IVF clinics as the escalation of anti-abortion laws at the state level has had on clinics that perform abortions.

The Catholic Churches inconsistency regarding when life begins hasn’t helped matters. Among Catholics it is NOT clear – does life begin at fertilization or at implantation ? One Catholic said, “It’s actually not disputed. For example: the official stance of the Catholic Church is that life begins at IMPLANTATION, not fertilization. Additionally, you can’t turn a pregnancy test positive without implantation. So again, many would consider ‘conception’ to mean successful implantation.”

In 2006, under Pope Benedict (before the current Pope Francis), it was affirmed during an international congress on scientific aspects and bioethical considerations of The Human Embryo Before Implantation that embryos are “sacred and inviolable” even before they become implanted in a mother’s uterus. The Pope said the Church had always proclaimed the “sacred and inviolable character of every human life, from its conception to its natural end.” adding, “This moral judgment is valid from the start of the life of an embryo, even before it is implanted in the maternal womb.”

In 2021, Washington’s Cardinal Wilton Gregory spoke at the National Press Club, during which he fielded questions about President Joe Biden’s support for abortion. “The Catholic Church teaches and has taught that life — human life — begins at conception. So the president is not demonstrating Catholic teaching in that,” Gregory said. “Catholics should take care not to believe the myths and lies that are produced by those influential individuals and institutions that want to confuse people about the true nature of abortion or who wish to exploit the bodies and lives of unborn children. For example, the myth that ‘pregnancy begins at implantation’ is a deception that has caused misunderstandings for decades.”

Another Catholic noted – Our vicar general was very confident that when the church says “conception” they are referring to implantation, per his actual priesthood teachings. But, that most Catholics assume conception means fertilization, but that isn’t correct. My discussions on this topic with him were in 2010 for reference. I know the pope said prior to that that it’s before implantation, but the actual documented definition in church literature is apparently implantation.

At the end of the day, this is splitting hairs and I’m pro-choice. But, it’s clear even the church can’t figure out a cohesive stance, and none of this is dogma anyway. Also, just because “life” begins at conception it’s doesn’t address the bodily autonomy issue (the Church doesn’t support forced organ donation to save another adults life, but they are ok with a pregnant person being forced to give up their body?).

I don’t know anyone who would say they are trying to “conceive” and mean that they are just trying to fertilize an egg. For all practical purposes, fertilization alone just isn’t conception. And these old white men can believe otherwise, but if my egg is fertilized but doesn’t implant, I would never say I conceived because I wouldn’t even know the egg was fertilized, unless I went through IVF anyway.

Leaving aside religious arguments, Wired had an article by Sarah Zhang in 2015 titled – Why Science Can’t Say When a Baby’s Life Begins with a subtitle – If anything, science has only complicated the personhood debate. The article notes – When life begins is, of course, the central disagreement that fuels the controversy over abortion. 

In the 19th century, abortion in Britain was legal—until the quickening. The “quickening” was the first time a woman felt her baby’s kick, it was the moment the baby came alive, the moment it got a soul. Ultrasound imaging made quickening, a concept that had been around since at least Aristotle, a relic. In a 2012 vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan explained that after seeing their unborn daughter on ultrasound, they nicknamed her “Bean.” My husband jokes about our youngest son being “LumpT” before he was born. Ryan actually sponsored a bill for fetal personhood, giving full legal rights to a zygote after fertilization.

After fertilization, must come implantation. The fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and attaches to the mother’s uterus. “There’s an incredibly high rate of fertilized eggs that don’t implant,” says Diane Horvath-Cosper, an OB-GYN in Washington, DC. Estimates run from 50 to 80 percent, and even some implanted embryos spontaneously abort later on. The woman might never know she was pregnant.

Clearly, the controversies and debates are not going away any time soon. It is going to be very messy for some time to come.

Fairy Tales

Today’s story – I have been trying to become a mom for four years. I have had four miscarriages, five IVF cycles and more surgeries than I care to count, and I just keep getting older. As I come to grips with the likelihood that my husband and I may not be able to have biological children, I thought that adoption could be a beautiful way to have a family, but I definitely don’t want anyone to be exploited or hurt as a result.

An honest response – I am sorry for your loss suffering from infertility. I’m sorry the adoption industry preys upon your grief and got your hopes up about adoption being some kind of beautiful alternative to having your own child. I’m certain you didn’t mean to be self-centered about it. You’re just trying to work through it. You have been told adoption could soothe your pain.

Unfortunately the sweet serendipitous miracle situation you hope for is the same as 40+ other couples desire. You all want a guilt free, uncomplicated scenario. That’s the fairy tale the adoption industry would like to sell you. But it is inherently extremely complicated and painful for children who are used this way. There is no way around it. Obtaining a stranger’s kid will not fix the hole left in your heart from infertility. I’m so sorry.

Being Infertile While Black

I actually learned about the book in my image while reading another woman’s story of the disappointments and heartbreak of going through failure after failure after failure in assisted reproduction cycles. The essay’s author mentions Emily Bernard’s book Black is the Body, in which she describes her own reproductive struggles, and how she felt like a failure for not being able to conceive. No matter how much she tried, she could not conceive (she ended up adopting). And though my blog today is not about that book, so often, one thing leads to another and there I find adoption. Infertility is a common thread that very often leads to adoption. In my all things adoption group they often counsel women to confront their grief related to infertility before adopting. An adopted child will never be the child you could not conceive naturally and not coming to grips with that will bring a problematic relationship with your adopted child who regardless may never feel like they were good enough to meet your expectations even if you did not go through infertility first.

You can read Edna Bonhomme‘s entire essay in The Guardian about her experience of infertility in search of Black Motherhood. “For women from Black, working-class families like mine, to have children – countering the forces that tried to destroy us – can be a powerful political act.” That perspective really made sense to me but was one I would have never considered, if I had not read Edna’s essay. I will share some other excerpts I jotted down.

“Infertility damages mental health in many ways, and the clinical depression and anxiety disorders that occur after failed IVF attempts can have long term negative consequences. Some people offered unwanted counsel: ‘Why don’t you adopt?’ I had to accept that some people will never get pregnant, no matter how hard they try. (As a writer) It is more challenging to tell a story about fertility treatment that ends in childlessness.”

“One friend and confidante, who struggled for nearly 10 years to conceive, told me how she had been ready to adopt right before she became pregnant. I have to rationalize that my body, like all bodies, is complex, and there is no simple answer for why I cannot get pregnant. In the closing lines of a story such as this, one might assume the denouement brings a child: it doesn’t. Unfortunately, it ends here.”

I had expected this essay to end in an adoption but another thing I often read in my all things adoption group is not everyone has to have children. It would appear that is where Edna ended up – in an acceptance of nature as it is for her Black body.

Unbelievable But True

Trying to find a word for it, I think, sort of like having your own orphanage, but the children are not orphans. Certainly, the babies are cared for but one really wonders if this is a healthy situation to grow up in. Let us be considerate and call it an experimental family.

24 yr old, Kristina Ozturk and her millionaire husband Galip, who is 57, live in Batumi, Georgia (the former Soviet country, not the state in America) and have in effect created this situation intentionally by paying surrogates to carry through pregnancy and deliver through birth 21 babies for them. Their babies are Mustafa, 19 months; Mariam, 18 months; Ayrin, 18 months; Alisa, 18 months; Hasan, 17 months; Judi, 17 months; Harper, 16 months; Teresa, 16 months; Huseyin, 16 months and Anna, 15 months. The youngest kids are Isabella, 15 months; Ismail, 14 months; Mehmet, 14 months; Ahmet, 14 months; Ali, 13 months; Kristina, 13 months; Sara, one; Lokman, one; Galip, 11 months; Olivia, nine months and Judy, three months.

In order to care for so many babies, they employ 16 live-in nannies. The nannies work a rolling schedule of four days on, two days off and all live-in, with bedrooms near the kids. They also have their own kitchen where they can order food. During the day, a specific nanny is responsible for a specific child. But during the week the nannies change.

Kristina’s daughter Victoria, age six, from a previous relationship, and one of Galip’s nine older children, also live with the family making it 23 children under one roof.

Doing the math – that’s less than $10,000 paid to each surrogate. The amount paid to her 16 nannies is a living wage for 1 nanny in California. I am thinking that is is exploitation and on more than one level.

You can read the complete story and see some additional photos in I’m a Mom to 21 Babies in the New York Post.

Someone else did some background research. Not a pretty story and possibly a case of sex trafficking.

Christina had her first child at the age of 16 in Russia. Her parents split when she was little, her mother is very poor and had a small apartment that is not well heated, and she does not get along well with her step father figure. When she turned 18, she was flown to Batumi (likely by an agency that works in trafficking women but publicly she has stated that she took herself on this “vacation”).

Within 24 hours of making this trip, she met her now-husband, and the love bombing started hard. On Instagram, this trip was recorded as swimming with dolphins, having elaborate dinners on balconies, having personalized fireworks shows for just her. In actuality: Galip Ozturk is a known criminal and murderer, and was already plotting something far more nefarious. He wants 100 children. He arranged for Christina to go to a fertility clinic within these first few days of meeting her in person. Here they performed invasive tests as well as bloodwork to check her hormones and egg reserves. Within 3 months she started her first IVF cycle to withdraw eggs. Christina has no control of what happens to these eggs. She has gone through 4 cycles (and likely it has been speculated, a 5th) and has created 22-30+ embryos PER CYCLE. For an average family, one cycle with 30 embryos would be more than enough.

Christina has publicly stated she has no part in the surrogacy process. Galip and the agency (or agencies) that he works with arrange for transfer day(s) and choose the number of embryo(s) to be transferred. She has publicly stated that many times she has not known there were more pregnant women until Galip told her to meet them at the hospital at birth. At first, she was told they would have 5 children with surrogates because she told Galip she thought she could only handle 5 at a time.

There are more than 21 children- and at LEAST two that are currently in the NICU that she seemingly is not allowed to post about, as these posts are taken down quickly. It is unclear if they have lost children in the NICU after birth, or if children with disabilities are not included in this count. Many people have theorized that Galip will only allow healthy children home.

Christina’s daughter (prior to having an influx of surrogacy children) was initially allowed to live with them in the house and after hitting 10+ kids, was sent to a boarding school. It seemed to many this was “temporary” for Christina, but that she was lied to (again) and more surrogate children started to appear. Her oldest no longer lives in the same country as her and also has no contact with her family in Russia unless on a vacation with Christina and Galip.

Christina regularly states that Galip is not happy with her sharing the number of children that they have, and she has expressed some confusion as to whether the children are all genetically related to her or if some of these children are infant adoptees to “help friends”. All in all: Christina was trafficked into this situation, and was coerced into this lifestyle without much input of her own. There is likely a LARGE incentive to keep up with this life now as she has very few other alternatives. Not only are these her children- but her oldest child is not in her direct care either and may be being kept from her.

True Grace

Amanda Gruendell with Grace

This is a very different kind of infertility and donation story but I love the happy ending. I hope you will too. The story comes courtesy of The Guardian and Kate Graham, as told to her by Amanda Gruendell.

Amanda was diagnosed with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome meaning that she had been born without a uterus. She did have functioning ovaries. “Couldn’t I have a uterus transplant?” she asked her doctor, only to be told that she’d be lucky to see the procedure developed in her lifetime.

She was also going through a rough patch. In 2006, I met a loving man who knew about my condition from the outset; we married three years later. I desperately wanted to be a mother, but our attempts at surrogacy and adoption failed. The relentless stress of infertility contributed to the end of our marriage. Her mom was also going through cancer treatments.

In 2014, she read about the world’s first successful uterus transplant in Sweden. The following year, a friend called her to tell her that a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, was running the first American trial into the procedure. It would involve putting an embryo in the new uterus with the hope of creating a pregnancy.

Amanda brushed the idea off at first: there were only going to be 10 participants, and she knew many deserving women would be trying to join. Cleveland was also miles away from where she was living in Arizona. Then, a week later, she woke up thinking, “What do I have to lose?”

When the clinic called to give her more information, she started shaking. She knew the process would be long and unpredictable. First, an embryo would have to be created through in vitro fertilization using her eggs. Since she was single, she would have to use donor sperm. The embryos would then be frozen, while she waited for a uterus match from a deceased donor. If a suitable one was found and the operation successful, she would then have the embryo implanted.

That was when John showed up in her life. Actually he was one of her oldest friends and became her rock. By June 2017, they were engaged to be married. The delayed IVF (an infection caused a failed transplant in another trial participant) became a blessing. John and Amanda created their embryos a year later, just before their wedding.

Though her mother’s cancer had been improving, in 2019, it returned. She was slipping in and out of consciousness. Once when she woke, she told Amanda that she’d met her daughter in a dream. She said she was called Grace and looked just like Amanda.

A week later the call came: There was a match. Of course, she is grateful to the donor and her family, even as she knows what it is like to lose a loved one – her mother had died eight days later.

A month after the operation, at age 36, Amanda had her first period ever. Five months later, her embryo was implanted. When she took a pregnancy test and saw the second line, indicating a positive result, she admits that it just didn’t feel real.

In March 2021, Grace was born. When the doctor held her up, Amanda grabbed her; she couldn’t wait another second. Finally holding her daughter was more magical than she’d ever dreamed it would be.

Amanda says, “As I watch her today, all gummy smiles and blowing raspberries, I think back to that 17-year-old girl at the doctor’s office, and the devastation she felt. Now, there is joy. And that’s what the Cleveland clinic, my organ donor and her family did for me. I’ll be grateful to them all for ever.”

Prophet Of Adoption

If it were not for Time magazine, I would not know this man exists. He is featured in their Feb 1 – Feb 8 2021 issue, in the TheBrief TIME with . . . 2 page section. In one of the sub-notes, I saw “has written extensively on adoption.” Of course I wanted to know Moore (pun intended and actually my maternal grandfather was a Moore).

Though I want to focus on his promotion of adoption to evangelical Christians as God’s plan, I’d like to first be thankful to him (as a second impeachment trial begins today for Donald Trump), for writing about the Capitol breach thusly – “If you can defend this, you can defend anything.” The intruders displayed JESUS SAVES signs next to those calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence and, once in the building, thanked God for the opportunity to get rid of the communists, the globalists and the traitors within the U S government and to this Moore said “If you can wave this away with ‘Well, what about . . . then where, at long last, is your limit?”

I’ve long known there is an unusually strong link joining Christians and adoption and Moore, who is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, carries a lot of influence. He is the father of 5 adopted sons (two from Russia) and has written many books encouraging Christians to adopt and giving them biblical justification for doing so. Some of his book titles include – Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, The Gospel & Adoption and Onward: Engaging the Culture. There could be more books than I have listed because Moore is on a mission to promote adoption.

I found a review of Adopted for Life with the title Adoption Isn’t Charity, It’s War!. I will admit, I find that perspective a bit disturbing. The writer is a hopeful adoptive parent with a couple of biological children. She admits that she has had a long standing desire to adopt. So this book is right up her heart’s alley as a Christian.

She writes – Moore addresses aptly issues of the Gospel, spirituality, how churches should build an adoption culture, details of addressing financial concerns, the sovereignty of God, racism, as well as the emotional results of adoption (& that’s just the beginning with this book).

Moore’s conviction that “adoption is not charity, it’s war!” drew my heart to fight for what is good & right & pure. God has called all believers to contribute to the ministry of adoption whether through prayer & finances or through opening homes, or encouragement.

Moore asks the question, “What if our churches were known as those who adopt babies & children & teenagers?” What would happen to our Christian witness if that was the case?

Moore addresses many issues within our culture including IVF. I know many children created by God through IVF & love them dearly. I think his approach in this particular area lacked some grace (as the grace side for people who have already gone through with IVF was nonexistent). I sympathize with those experiencing infertility greatly & think that all subjects, especially those of such magnitude should be addressed lovingly & gently. It is no small thing that brings people to the point of considering or going through IVF & we ought to be very careful how & in what context we speak to such issues. Gospel themes run throughout this book so the grace is there – I think you might just have to look closely for it in this particular area.

Well, it was infertility that led Moore to adopt and so, it doesn’t surprise me that since it failed and included miscarriages for his wife, he is less than passionate about that idea. One of the comments on this woman’s blog is “Adoption is an all out war for the life of a child.” The blog writer affirms, “Amen! and spiritual war because Satan is against such a beautiful truth lived out as happens in adoption! “

And really, Christians especially try to tie their support of Pro-Life (anti-abortion) and pro-adoption perspectives with preventing abortions. Honestly, the two aspects of reproduction and parenting do not belong together but it would be impossible to prevent Christians from doing this.

Which leads me back to Moore.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Moore says – My wife and I went through several years of infertility and miscarriages and found ourselves going through the process of adoption and we felt very much alone. So I started to write about the issue of adoption really to address people who are in the same situation that we were, which is not understanding and seeing the meaning of that rich metaphor of adoption in Scripture, not understanding how adoption makes a real family.

When asked – With gay marriage legislation moving ahead and not as many victories as they would like on abortion, is this a cause where evangelicals could see more success?

Moore answers, “I don’t really see success in terms of legislative or cultural victory. I see it more in calling evangelical Christians back to a commitment that we’ve always had to shelter the vulnerable.”

And since I don’t want to subscribe to Christianity Today, that is all of the article I was allowed to see as a preview. I can appreciate Moore as a Never Trumper. He acknowledges that Trump divided families and churches. For his courage in speaking out, he and his family have been threatened. Even so, he is a solid social conservative, opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion and premarital sex.

What may be perhaps his most clear eyed statement comes at the end of the Time magazine piece – “There is an entire generation of people who are growing cynical that religion is just a means to some other end.” I would include promoting adoption as God’s plan as one of those means to justify something that seems to be transitioning into a belief that society should seek to preserve the natural family through financial and emotional supports, rather than simply taking children from their natural parents and placing them into Christian homes where they can be indoctrinated into the faith.

Hedging Parenthood Bets

I don’t know anything about this publication but it fits my mood coming into today’s essay.

Read where one woman wrote – “We spent the last 1.5 yrs going thru the foster care process to be told during the home study that we are not eligible since we are still trying to conceive thru IVF. Either way, we still want to foster and adopt and really don’t want to wait much longer. We are 43/44 yrs old and have also been trying IVF for close to 5 yrs. Does anyone know a group that would allow us to foster or adopt while we continue IVF?”

I can honestly relate.  I conceived my oldest son at 46 thanks to IVF and another son at 49.  I won’t say it was the perfect way to have children but they would not be who they are or exist otherwise.  I love them dearly and so, can’t regret the effort behind having them.  While I had to give up passing on my own genetics to conceive them (I had actually already been there, done that, with my daughter, so it was perhaps easier for me to accept, than it is for some people), I do believe the route we took was far better than adoption.  I’ve had lots of opportunity to observe adoptees (both of my own parents) and birth mothers who gave up babies to adoption (both of my sisters).

The comments coming back to the woman above (the comments by others are not in response to my own situation) were not kind.

One wrote – what it sounds like to me is time is running out for us so we want to collect as many as possible to fill our desires before it’s not possible anymore! Also problematic because I’ve heard many adoptees talk about how they were raised by older parents and the huge generational gap caused even further issues. Older people expect old fashioned things, they don’t fit to be parenting in these times, let alone parenting traumatized children.

Well, we are older parents.  However, what I find comparing my two lives (parent at 19 and then in my late 40s) is that we are more willing to give up our own desires to meet our children’s desires where they express themselves.  There is a lot of wisdom and sometimes patience and often an intolerance for what doesn’t seem needed but we are there 24/7 for our boys.  I would not call my sons traumatized the way adopted children always are.  They do know the full truth of their origins.

I do remember my own OMG moment related to age – when I turned 60, my youngest was 10. I thought when I turn 70, he’ll only be 20. That startled me, though at 50 giving birth to him did not.  And one other thought about older parents – I know a lot of parents who died when their children were young. These parents were not old. Truth is we are all born to die, we are not guaranteed a particular length of life. Life is what it is and no two lives are the same. Also many of us live distantly from our offspring. I don’t always see my grown daughter or grandchildren even once a year. Money just isn’t there, though the visits when I am lucky enough to have one, are always precious.

One woman assessed the story above this way – #1 they are likely trying to find a child to ease their pain from infertility and replace the child they can’t have, #2 they are likely hopeful adoptive parents and will sabotage reunification from the git go which is part of any foster care effort and #3 they are likely only accepting 0-3 year olds.

Another noted –  It’s really sad that you cannot conceive, but please don’t traumatize an entire family of people with a lot less privilege than you have in order to satisfy your fantasy of a perfect life. If you want kids so much, divorce your partner, and marry a single parent with a child.

On that note, when my husband wanted to have children and I discovered how low my own odds of successfully conceiving were, I was privately sobbing, you need to marry a younger woman, but that was not what he wanted to do.

And finally, I do agree with this point of view – nobody should be trying to adopt or foster and do fertility treatments. Foster kids and adoptees aren’t backup plans. Also, nobody should try to do domestic adoption and foster to adopt. This is why therapy should be a requirement.  There’s no reason to continue IVF if you want to adopt. I’ve seen couples do IVF literally weeks after adopting. They shouldn’t adopt.

 

Little Fires Everywhere

Just in time for Mother’s Day, I finished reading Celeste Ng’s book.  I don’t think any author could do a better job of weaving in EVERY topic I’ve ever spent writing a blog about in this effort.  She manages to address transracial adoption, abandonment, infertility, surrogacy and abortion before the book is completed.  Race and class underline all the characters and how they interact with each other.

I spent the last few days unable to attend to my own research for my own manuscript in process because I was so very engrossed in this story and could not stop reading.

I will try not to spoil it because you should read it for yourself.  I learned about it through an adoption group I belong to and not because of the book per se but because of the TV series.  I don’t know how close that series was able to stay to the book but I don’t get commercial TV here.

It is a  story about mothers and today we celebrate Mother’s Day.  These women’s stories interweave and clash in different, sometimes shocking, sometimes deeply moving ways. At the heart of the drama is a court case trying to resolve the difficult question of who “deserves” to be a mother.  I would say there is no such thing as “deserving” to be a mother.  One either is or one is not.

The author has friends who’ve conceived easily, who’ve struggled to conceive, who’ve adopted or gone through invasive IVF procedures or used surrogates, or who’ve decided not to conceive. Ng says – “The main constant seems to be judgment. Motherhood seems to be a no-win battle: however you decide to do (or not do) it.”

She continues, “Someone’s going to be criticizing you. You went to too great lengths trying to conceive. You didn’t go to great enough lengths. You had the baby too young. You should have kept the baby even though you were young. You shouldn’t have waited so long to try to have a baby. You’re a too involved mother. You’re not involved enough because you let your child play on the playground alone.”

“It never ends.” And I personally know ALL of that is true.

Ng concludes her thoughts with this insight – “We give women less information about their bodies and reproduction, less control over their bodies, and less support during and after pregnancy – and then we criticize them fiercely for whatever they end up doing.”

Celeste Ng writes in such a skillful manner that I feel humbled in my own attempts in comparison.  I cannot recommend her book enough to do it’s brilliance justice but do – read it – if you have not already.

 

One Retail DNA Test Away From Truth

If a child has been adopted or conceived via sperm or egg donor, that information is significantly about who that child is at a biological level and they deserve to know the truth.  That truth can be introduced in age appropriate bits.

Withholding that information would be a lie and it is simply wrong.

Before anyone embarks on adopting a child or decides to utilize advanced reproductive assistance in order to become a family, it is important to become comfortable with what you are doing – BEFORE you do it.  If necessary, seek counseling regarding your infertility issues.  Denial will come back to haunt you.

There’s no reason for shame, no matter what medical assistance you needed, which includes IVF.  Adoption, however, has its own unique circumstances.  Every prospective adoptive parent needs to learn as much as possible about its impacts on every member of that triad before becoming embroiled.