Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Parenthood and Cancer

Please Don’t Think I’m Typical

on 02/08/2015

My one fear with sharing our journey so publicly is that our story will be held up as the gold standard for infertiles. We will become THAT story: “I knew this couple that did IVF and had twins, and then someone just offered them a baby to adopt.”

There is so much more to the story. I started sharing my journey when we already knew we had a happy ending. No matter how this adoption ends, we still have our girls. We are so much luckier than most. A better googler than me could drown you in statistics on how many people simply can’t afford to try any treatments for their infertility. I don’t know how many people there are, but if I told you that’s it’s $300 for a prescription of pills just to try to get pregnant, I bet you would feel that pinch. If you knew that it was usually at least $2,000 per attempt at an IUI (i.e., the turkey baster method), I would guess that you can start to see how daunting it is to try to pursue treatments. And IVF…oh, IVF is between $15,000-$30,000, depending on your course of treatment if you are paying out of pocket.

And the success rate is not what you think. It’s specific to each couples’ issues, but the national average for success for IVF treatment hovers between 30-40%. I’ve had friends that were given less than a 10% chance of success. Not all couples who pursue adoption end up with a baby, either. I have friends with more than one failed adoption under their belt, and another attempt simply isn’t an option.

The reality is, most people simply never make it as far as we have. They are tapped out before they get there. We got lucky because insurance helped cover part of what we’ve gone through. Instead of being tapped out at the IUI phase, we were able to try IVF not once, but twice. And that extra round means that I now get wet sloppy kisses and baby hugs. There are countless other infertiles who still wish for those.

There were also hard conversations between my husband and me, decisions you face as an infertile. Are we willing to sell our home to finance treatments? How about selling a car? Can we work two jobs or three just to have a chance at an IUI or to try to save for adoption? People can and do go bankrupt trying to have or adopt a child. Once again, Tim and I got lucky–this was one area we were never in agreement on. I was willing to sell the house, I was willing to sell the car. No matter what, in my mind, the end of the journey had to involve a child. I do not think that I could have made peace with a childless life. And I have plenty of children in my life, tons of nieces and nephews I adore. I was willing to try almost anything, do anything. Me, who works in the financial industry, who has counseled others on how to make smart financial decisions, was willing to commit financial suicide in order to have a family.

Tim was not willing to go as far. These were the hardest arguments we had in the pursuit of a family. Arguments like this can break the strongest of couples. Once again, we are lucky that it didn’t come to that for us.

I also want to point out that adoptions do not typically fall out of trees or come via random texts. It usually takes a lot of time and patiently waiting to be selected. The agencies that we’ve worked with told me that Tim and I might take a little longer than most if we went through the agency matching process because we already have two children. A lot of the time, families without any children are picked first.

Once again, we got lucky, so incredibly lucky. But this is rare, random and so very wonderful. Do not for a moment think it’s typical. Most adoptions take at least a year, if not two or three, to be finalized. A lot of couples wait close to a year just to be selected by a birth mother.

Instead, as you think of our story, I want you to remember that we worked, we prayed, we sacrificed and most of all, we had help to get where we are. And for every story like ours, there are countless others out there that did not find their happy ending.

I challenge you to make a difference for all those whose stories you haven’t heard–those who have gone to sleep after crying themselves sick yet another night. If you want to make a difference, ask your employer to offer fertility coverage and adoption benefits, even if you don’t need them. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Consider donating to an organization that helps finance infertility treatment or adoption. Speak up against personhood legislation that would outlaw infertility treatments. Take action to make someone else’s journey just a little easier. Help someone else grow their family. Be mindful in your questions to others.

And please, please, please do not offer our story up as an example. We aren’t typical. We are blessed beyond words to have found our rainbow babies. We can’t wait to add a son to our family. We are a family of four, soon to be five. We are so many things, but typical we are not.

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