Friday, June 25, 2010

mine to know and...

This is the OA Roundtable #17:
Are there any things that you don’t want the other members of your triad to know—or that you don’t want to know about them? I’ve heard first mothers talk about not sharing their birth stories with adoptive parents because those are for the adoptees and for themselves only. I've also heard of adoptees concealing their reunions from adoptive parents so as not to cause them pain. What don’t you want shared in your adoptive relationships?

The only parts of our adoption process and parenting that I hesitate to be completely open about with whomever I choose are the parts that don't belong to me, those parts of J's story that I didn't experience with her, for example. Or the few things we know for sure about Z and her situation at placement and currently. Parts of "the" story that are not parts of "my" story per se.

But there is a part of my story that sometimes I wish I could hide, and feel quite private about. It is the part where we sought medical help to get pregnant. I don't like to think about those experiences very much, and I struggle with feelings of regret that we even went there.

So, this is clearly about me and my issues. I have a lot of friends who read here - fellow adoptive parents and women who I met through my experiences with infertility - who have different experiences and feelings about fertility struggles than I do. I want to be clear that my experiences are not in any way commentary or judgment on anyone else's feelings or experience.

"So," Y said to me, maybe the second time we spoke on the phone. "Why are you all adopting... you couldn't have any of your own?"

I cringed when she said that.

My discomfort came from a couple sources - I didn't want her to feel sorry for me or to feel like her child was our second-best choice. But I wanted to be honest, so I told her that we tried to get pregnant on our own and with some minor medical intervention and then decided that road wasn't for us. Her response was even more disturbing to me - I forget exactly what her words were, but it was something about how this was justice, how she just kept having babies she couldn't take care of and it was only fitting for her to give one to someone who couldn't get pregnant. I don't think I had much of a response for her, I didn't know what to say in that moment. But I knew that her statement was not what adoption was or ever should be. I didn't want to become a mother because of a perception on anyone's part that I "deserved" it and the first mother didn't. That isn't how it works - and obviously it wasn't. Y ultimately kept her child, and we fully supported her decision to do so.

Now when I look back on our experiences with the infertility business (and it is a business) I feel a little ashamed. Not that we tried to get pregnant before deciding to adopt, but that we got involved in the roller coaster of drugs and fertility doctors after it became obvious that it wasn't happening on "our own." I feel ashamed because that was something I had vowed not to do. And when we were in it I didn't feel good about it - it felt like a desperate gamble for something I didn't even know if I wanted. My experience of all that was that it was a sad and sort of cheap game: roll the dice every cycle and if you get lucky you win. I just wanted to win, and each month that we "lost" was another excuse to feel bad about my body and the wasted money we'd spent on the latest round of drugs and testing.

All in all we quit the game long before we had exhausted all of our options. We were able to get in touch with something that had always been a part of the value system we built into our marriage - that biology is not the last word on who is family to us. It is not even the first word, though it plays an important role in the relationships that have it. I am happy for people who struggle to get pregnant and succeed. I am happy for people who don't struggle to get pregnant and still succeed. I am sad that somewhere in me I knew that road wasn't mine - I think a part of me always knew - and I still pursued it. That's what I don't want Z or J to know, though if either of them ever asked I wouldn't hesitate to talk about it. Being able to face the parts of life that we don't want to talk about is also a value(and skill) I want in the family we are building. Which means me first, I guess.


  1. Our situation is different, but I definitely understand the need to protect and not over-share about our kids' story. It is a challenge as everyone wants to know "why" in foster care. We are pretty vague with most people and at times, we have to say, "That is just not something we share."

    I'm not sure how I found you blog but I enjoy reading it and hearing your perspective.

  2. I totally get what you are saying about the fertility thing. I wish I had never gone there so my boys wouldn't ever feel like "Oh, we're 2nd prize". BUT it is what it is... and my boys are certainly NOT 2nd prize (and I, too, *knew* fertility was not for me to find and yet I did the huge drug/shot dance too UGH). My boys couldn't be any more my husband's own sons if they shared his blonde hair and hazel eyes...

    Ah well, I guess in the adoption thing we live and learn. And while we do that, we rejoice that J is beginning to look like you as she mimics your expressions and how it's only a matter of days before she starts repeating YOUR words back to you (oh and wait for the eye roll with "MOMMMMM" attached to it...).

    God is good all the time...

  3. this is such an interesting response. I can understand the roll of the dice thing. clearly for us that's what more treatment would have been. but the truth is, and you know this, the path you chose -- for whatever reason -- ultimately led to your daughter. anything you had done differently could have led you somewhere else entirely.

  4. Luna - you're completely right. I don't regret the path, obviously, but I do wish I could leave out that part of the story. Or have the same outcome without that part having happened. In the spirit of the prompt, it's the one thing I don't want the other members of our triad to know. ♥

  5. I too ended up doing more medical stuff than I had planned and it took a while before I could get to the point where I had thought I was before we started TTC, that adoption was a great option. Wonder what it is that does that (what can I blame as the gateway drug)?

  6. I think it's the "just one more month..." thing. There is this culture around it that next month is the month. It's so tempting.