Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Cancer and Widowhood.

Reality Sets In

Now that we had begun getting the pieces in place–home study, counselor, attorney–I had to turn my attention to the financial part of the adoption. This was a much more serious conversation between Tim and me.

When you have to take out hardships and loans just to have children, how can you justify what that does to your retirement and your ability to provide for those children?

We crunched the numbers and another round of infertility treatments would about the same as the cost of this adoption, but we also didn’t know if I’d end up on bedrest again and if I would have to take unpaid time off again. A big consideration is that we would have to have the girls in daycare this time, versus having minimal expenses when this happened last time. Infertility treatments would cost between $15-20K. It was beginning to look like, if everything followed the ideal path, this adoption would cost about the same without the risk to me or the baby. And since we couldn’t risk another twin pregnancy, the success rate would be higher with adoption (70% vs 60%).

Private Adoption Agency Adoption
Adoption Expenses $5,700-$6,500 $5,700-$8,500
Application Fee $400 $400
Home Study Fee $1,300 $1,700
Background Checks, FingerPrinting, Medical Clearance $200-300 $200-300
Attorney Fees for us $4,000-$10,000 $4,000-$10,000
Attorney Fees for birth mother $300-$700 $300-$700
Attorney Fees for birth father $0-$2,000 $0-$2,000
Medical Expenses $3,000-$6,000 $3,000-$10,000
Agency Fees $0 $22,500
Total Fees $14,700-$27,200 $32,100-$56,100

Another factor to consider was that in 15 months, we hadn’t gotten pregnant on our own, so we didn’t think a miraculous natural pregnancy was in the cards. In all of our conversations about a third child, there were only two roadblocks: my ability to carry a child to term and the finances. The adoption solved one. We needed to determine our comfort level with the other.

The reality is, we leapt heart-first into this adoption. We weren’t prepared to go down this path and didn’t have a nest egg ready. We begged, raided and borrowed to get pregnant with the girls. The retirement fund was drained dry already, student loans were already in forbearance and we’re still paying on the loan we took out to cover the cost of treatments to get our girls. We cut out all the frills when we were going through treatments and haven’t added much back in since we’ve had them. We eat out rarely, cut cable, gave up alcohol and soda, don’t buy pre-made food, and try to buy as little as possible. There really isn’t much left to cut out of our day-to-day spending. We made a list of items we could cut that would have an impact – forgo upgrading our phones, cut data out of our plan, cancel Christmas pics with Santa, have a slim Christmas, let a loan from our retirement plan default (no impact on credit; just taxes and penalties), and try really, really hard not to go to the doctor. Juggling the finances of this would be challenging.


If we wait until the timing is better, we’ll have missed our opportunity for a private adoption. Agency adoptions are nearly twice as much. We can’t save enough in a year to make a dent in that. This opportunity fell into our laps. Very unexpected, but outside of the timing, an ideal situation. We became determined to find a way to make this happen.

This is also the time I began to regret my recent job change. My former employer offered $10,000 in adoption benefits which would help with some of the expenses associated with adoption, as well as paid leave for both natural and adoptive children. (Of course, they also sold the company two weeks after I quit, so I would have lost that anyway). My new company only covers leave through disability, so any leave for this adoption will be completely unpaid.

And then there is the thought of expenses and childcare for a third. This is actually the easiest item to solve. We are used to paying for two infants in a daycare center because our two attempts at in-home daycare were a bust. (One provider was terrible and the second decided twins were too much work.) We can get an au pair or in-home childcare for the same amount as having two infants in daycare. So with no change in childcare costs, we will have daycare for all three children. (Of course, we still need to find the saint that wants to watch three children under the age of two!) Supplies are easy. We use cloth diapers and have plenty of those. Outside of formula and a crib, we already have all we need. We even have boxes of hand-me-down boy clothes we’ve been storing in our basement for the last four years.

We began calculating the places we could pull money from–tax return, Christmas money, my bonus (if it doesn’t get canceled), Tim’s Christmas bonus. Depending on timing, we could definitely get the process started. Next I turned to Google to research adoption grants. Here I came up short. I could only find one grant that we were eligible to apply for. Most grants favor couples with no children, and I 100% support this. That is absolutely how it should be. I’ve been there and I would much prefer a grant go to someone with no children than to me.

In order to apply for that grant, we must have a fully completed home study. I now have my marching orders: MUST GET HOME STUDY DONE!

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Leap of Faith

Nichole’s side of the story:

My initial plan to have a third child involved wearing my husband down through repetition and sheer stubbornness. I’ll admit, he spoils me and if he knew how badly I wanted another baby, I thought he might get past his fears of my body not being able to handle it. So far, six months of me asking and begging had not budged the man.

We talked about it again that morning. Another month had gone by with out a miraculous natural pregnancy that I still held out hope for each month. Even knowing you are infertile and won’t get pregnant on your own doesn’t seem to silence that whisper of hope.

Later that day, work was frantic and miserable and I just had to get out of the office, so I volunteered to run to the post office for a few items. As I often do in those rare moments when I am by myself, I decided to have a conversation with the man upstairs. I’ve asked him so many times to bless us with another baby, but that day my words were different. “We want another baby, we know we can love another baby…Help me find a way to bring Tim on board.”

Apparently, life is all about the details. In just a few short hours, that prayer would be answered in an unexpected  way. At 3:54 I received a text that turned my world upside down. For once, the sound on my phone was turned on so I received the text immediately. “Someone is giving her baby up for adoption and would like someone in our family to adopt it. Don’t know yet if it’s a boy or a girl. Are any of you interested?”

My heart leapt, and something inside me shouted “YES!” Before we began treatments for infertility, we had discussed all of our options and strongly considered adoption. Because our resources are finite and I had insurance coverage for part of the infertility treatments, we committed to medical treatment for infertility. We were also really afraid of the failure rate in domestic adoptions, since over 30% of them fall through. But having lived through a pregnancy where you pray every day that your babies will survive and make it one more day, that 30% failure rate for adoptions just didn’t seem as scary to me anymore. And I couldn’t be as cavalier about the physical risks to me and another baby in a pregnancy. We don’t know if I will hemorrhage or have problems with my liver again in another pregnancy. It wouldn’t be fair to my family if I didn’t consider the risks that a pregnancy could carry for me or any potential child.

Adoption. A door I thought I had closed just burst wide open and I was completely open to the possibility. My mind raced. Tim and I had discussed whether or not we could love a child that came to us through adoption. We’d even discussed adopting a biracial baby previously. This offer came today for a reason.

I texted back immediately, “Actually, Tim and I might be interested let me get his take on it.” Not thirty minutes later Tim called me at work. My mind was still spinning, trying to figure out how we could swing adoption costs, daycare, everything I would need to arrange, how to convince Tim…

We talked about mundane things, and as our conversation began to wind down, I said, “I’m going to send you a text I received this morning. I’m just going to copy it word for word and I want you to read and think on it. Maybe we can talk about it tonight?” A puzzled “okay?” was the only answer I got before I hung up.

I just kept thinking, “There is no way my husband is going to say yes to this.” The rest of the day was a blur. Get the girls, run errands, cook dinner, feed the girls…The second we had a moment and our eyes met in the kitchen I couldn’t wait a minute longer. “So what do you think?” My jaw dropped to the floor when he said, “I think it’s the perfect solution. I’m in.”

I had a million arguments lined up to convince him to try adoption. Never in all of the scenarios I had run through my mind that day did I expect him to just say yes. I called the texter back immediately said, “We’re in.”

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An Unexpected Option

Tim’s story:

Nichole and I tried for several years to have kids and when we finally were pregnant again, and with twins, I was cautiously optimistic.  It was a roller coaster for nine months.  It seemed that everything that could go wrong in a pregnancy did go wrong.  I spent many sleepless nights wondering if we would lose two more babies, or if I would lose my wife, or both.  When all three were finally safely home, I was a very happy father and husband.

As soon as Nichole and I looked at each other– each with one of our daughters in our arms– and said, “We’ve got this.”, Nichole started pushing for a third kid.  I think our girls were about 4 months old.  In her usual fashion, she set out to wear me down over the long haul.  Regardless of tactics, time, reasons, begging, pleading, and relentlessness; I was not going to give in.  I could not find it in me to go down that road again and risk the life and health of my wife and future child.  Especially when we were blessed with two perfect little girls.

I am not opposed to having a larger family. I love being a dad.  It is by far the best thing I have ever done on every level.  I’m just opposed to being a single dad with twin girls.  That whole “…till death do you part” thing should be decades down the road, not something we willingly jumped into with two toddlers in tow. We looked at all of our options, from a 2nd dog, to international adoption, to another round of IVF, to domestic adoption.  Money, time, and failure rates kept all options over the horizon. (That and Nichole still wants a Pug and I still want a bird dog.)

We discuss our options and dreams for the future at least once a week.  I didn’t think anything of it when Nichole said she was forwarding me a text, and that I should think about it and we could discuss it later that night.  When I finally received the text, I was stunned.  “Someone would like to know if a member of the family would be interested in adopting their baby.”  It sounded crazy.  It sounded like  a hoax. It couldn’t be true, but it was. And I was full of hope!  A way to grow our family and fulfill our dream was just offered to us!  I know that adoptions fall through, or are “incompleted”, all the time and for various reasons. However, it also circumvented all of my concerns and fears regarding another pregnancy. I was all for it.

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