Dear Large Bookstore Retailer,

Thank you for figuring out yet another way I can be marginalized because of my infertility. I thought I’d experienced it all, but you proved me wrong.

This weekend, DH and I drove into the city and decided to waste some time surrounded by books. I went to check out the parenting section to see if there were any books on adoption. I walked past the first set of bookshelves… no books there. Okay, maybe the second set of shelves… nope, no books there either. Third section: nada. Well, let’s move down to the obscure fourth shelf.

And there, at the very end, were the adoption books. While the plural form, “books” is grammatically accurate, it doesn’t really seem to capture the disappointing collection of “two.” I looked up to see what this section of books was apparently labeled so I’d know better for next time: “Alternative parenting.”

Oh.

Alternative parenting? Is that like alternative rock? While I do like alternative music, is there another way we could categorize the adoption section? Granted, infertility has shunted us out of the “mainstream” but really, do you have to reinforce this further?

Anyways, dear Large Bookstore Retailer, I suppose I’ll retreat into my dark corner for now with the rest of the alternative folks.

Thanks for trying.

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Training

We finished our training! Another item checked off! I’ve been meaning to post something about this for a while now (we finished a week ago), but my contract work got a bit heavy. I’m not complaining: thank goodness I have work!

The training was amazing. I don’t know if all mandatory training sessions for adoption applications are this great or if it was simply our trainers, but I left it feeling more prepared to face the road ahead. It was also comforting to be in a room full of couples like us who have all gone through the heartbreak of infertility. It was like meeting all of you, in blog-land, face-to-face! It’s hard for me to open up… maybe that’s why I like sharing and reading on blogs. These sessions, though, really gave me a chance to connect in-person with others and share our story. I looked around at the women in the room, and each one was smart, articulate and will make a great mother.

We ended with a question and answer session with mothers who adopted (domestically and internationally), a birth mother and a charming and confident teen who was adopted as a toddler. Their perspectives were so valuable and actually very encouraging. Despite all of the obstacles fate has thrown at us in our quest to grow our family, maybe DH and I can do this. After so many years of failure and heart ache, it’s hard not to think that the universe is telling us we’re just not capable of being or meant to be parents… sigh.

Boo, negativity! On to other things…

And then some…

We also got our electronic fingerprints done and sent off. The fellow doing our prints explained what he was doing and what he saw. He could tell I worked almost exclusively on a computer and that DH worked on a farm as a youth. It was like visiting one of those carnival mind-readers!! Anyways, the whole experience was like a CSI dream come true for me.

And, after all that excitement, I also found out I was nominated by Baby, interrupted for a Beautiful Blogger award! I can’t thank her enough, not just for this, but her words have gotten me through a lot of rough times, even before I started blogging (I’m also so happy to see her beta numbers getting higher and higher… go girl!).  Her words sometimes perfectly capture my feelings and make me feel just a little bit less like an infertile square peg.

Beautiful blogger award graphic

Nominees for this award have to:

  • Thank the person that nominated you for this award.
  • Copy the award and place it on your blog.
  • Link the person that nominated you for this award.
  • Tell us seven interesting things about yourself.
  • Nominate seven bloggers.
  • Post the links to the seven bloggers.

So, the seven interesting things about myself:

  1. Though DH and I have only been married less than 5 years, we’ve known each other for half our lives. I met him at school and we were in the same group of friends. So why did it take so long to get together? He’ll claim I was dating someone and I’ll claim he never looked at me. I thought he was one of the funniest men I had ever met. Glad he finally came to his senses and asked me out J
  2. I used to be a scientist. I still get excited when I hear the words xylem and phloem.
  3. As a consequence of #2, I still tend to be a bit of a geek.
  4. I have lived in one of the most amazing landscapes on earth and watched a pod of narwhal and beluga swim 6 feet away from me. I still miss it there.
  5. I know all the lyrics from the Xanadu soundtrack. Side A and side B, oh yeh.
  6. I really like working from home. I’m a bit stressed though, because I’m not sure how long the contracts will keep coming.
  7. Since we moved to a region that has more than one English radio station, I’ve become addicted to pop music. That’s right… I’m in my (very) late 30s, and I will still belt out the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance when blasting the radio in my car.

Now, to nominate seven bloggers (only seven?!) … Though we’ve never met, they’ve made an impact on me and helped me deal with all this ‘stuff’ over the last several years. There’s an honesty to what they write and their blogs have resonated with me in many ways. All of them have suffered through that heartbreaking rollercoaster… and a few, I’m sure, would appreciate some supportive words right now. Some are currently in a round of IVF, some have chosen to adopt (or have recently welcomed a child through adoption!) and others are going to give child-free living a try. I highly recommend paying them a visit!

  1. Babies everywhere
  2. Barren babe
  3. Bottoms off and on the Table
  4. I can haz bebe?
  5. Life and love in the petri dish
  6. Sparkly things distract me
  7. One good egg

I feel badly because since the move I’ve been in and out of the blogging world and not participating as much as I used to, but I am still lurking (sounds creepy doesn’t it! Ick). Thank you ladies!

This weekend, we attended the first half of our training sessions, which are mandatory to the adoption process here. I’ll admit that DH and I grumbled about attending. I had no idea what to expect from this training and I’ve been doing some reading on my own, so I questioned the value of the whole thing.

BUT, after two intense days, I can definitely say that I got a lot out of it. We covered a whole range of topics… from basic parenting (wouldn’t it be great if everyone could take this… though I’m sure there would be huge resistance), to attachment concerns.

The section on grief and loss from the adopted child’s perspective really made an impact on me.  As a potential adoptive parent, I’m always thinking about what I can offer a child, what I can give them. I rarely considered what that child is losing… maybe it’s because we’re hoping to adopt an infant, but I just assumed that some of that loss that older children would feel would somehow not be an issue for a baby who would only know us as parents.

Someday though, the questions will come. They’ll wonder about their birth family and history. That’s natural. Those children who are a bit older will have very strong memories of their life before they were adopted. These are just some of the things that create a strong feeling of loss and grief in a child and are such important things to remember.

It also made me think about my own grief. Even though the loss from our miscarriage has dulled… it will always be with me and sometimes even surprise me, like a slap in the face. It was nice to speak to other women who have gone through this infertility roller coaster too and know that it was ok to acknowledge our grief and loss. Hopefully, this will make us more sensitive with our children when they’re overwhelmed by their emotions and try to cope with them.

It was pretty powerful stuff and we covered a lot of ground. Definitely, just the tip of the iceberg though. I’m happy I went, and I loved the fact that it enabled DH and I to really talk about some of the scary issues. Sometimes life gets in the way, and it’s easy to not talk about the hard stuff. We still have one more weekend to go, but I’m sort’ve looking forward to it.

I wrote my last post while I was out-of-town on a short contract. I have to admit that as much as I enjoy having time at home to settle into our new community, I’m relieved that I’ve been able to find some projects to work on. Maybe I’m a bit too busy now, but I still get to be at home with the pups AND I’m earning an honest paycheque. Hopefully, I get to travel a little bit more too, but not too much 😉

I arrived back in town just in time for our first homestudy. I’m glad we’ve finally completed our first one. The homestudy always seemed shrouded in mystery… how long does it take, how invasive will it be, what if I accidentally blurt out the wrong thing and our application is outright rejected? When it was done, I actually felt like it was sort’ve anti-climactic, once I reflected back on it.

Now, I know that there are a couple more to go, and perhaps our adoption practitioner was easing us into it to make us more comfortable. I think we spent a lot of time talking about my husband’s new job. A little bit about our childhoods… and then we went over the rest of the paperwork. You know, it wasn’t scary at all.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been so caught up in the process of first, trying to get pregnant and now, adoption, that I forget about the scary parts of raising a child. At the end of all of this, we may just get to be parents. At least, I hope we do. It’s been such a long struggle… almost 5 years, and pretty much our entire marriage. I forget what it was like before infertility consumed me. It’s sadly become such a significant part of who I am in my thirties that I can’t really remember the woman who didn’t know anything about infertility or the adoption process. Oh well.

Next week, we start our mandatory training sessions for prospective adoptive parents. I wonder how those will go over? It might be interesting to meet the other couples. I sure hope they don’t make us start with those awkward teambuilding/ice-breaker games (ick!).

I’ve been watching the developments from Haiti with concern, as I’m sure many of you have been as well. There has been so much tragedy there that the positive stories become so much more important.

The Canadian government has taken the unusual step of fast-tracking the adoptions for parents who were already waiting to adopt a child from Haiti. Today, 52 of these children arrived in Ottawa, Canada to their new families. I’ve watched the scene play out on the news several times today, and it always  touches me. This is the second group to arrive. No new adoption applications to Haiti can be considered under this fast-track, which is a wise decision (unfortunately, there have been some situations where children have been snatched).

Unfortunately, I’ve decided that I can no longer read news about this on the internet. Many of the comments are so horrible and obviously written by people who know nothing about the adoption process. Many of these commenters don’t seem to realize that these adoptions have been in the works for years already and are speaking out against the “ease” of these adoptions.

Are you KIDDING me? An easy international adoption?! I have never heard the words “easy” and “adoption” uttered in the same sentence. What about the months of paperwork, physical examinations, police checks, necessary training sessions, children’s aid checks, references, and loss of all privacy as you open up your lives (willingly) to scrutiny by the various government bodies? I’m not complaining about any of these steps… I am going through them and I fully support the fact that they are there to make sure that adoptive parents are fit to be parents. But I’m astounded by the people who don’t understand the process at all, or the waiting period for international AND domestic adoption.

Others are not happy that they’re bringing in children from a foreign country… don’t even get me started on the racist overtones on these ones or my head might explode.

I could go on and on but I just get mad. Really mad. There’s so much ignorance surrounding this process and people can be so cruel.

I wish only the best for these new families and hope that the children are able to heal after all that they’ve been through over the last several weeks.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/01/27/haiti-orphans.html#socialcomments

The thing about adoption is that there is an awful lot of paperwork. It’s been a challenge to pin DH down for more than a couple of hours to try to finish these up. He’s been so busy with his new job, often working 12 hours day trying to get caught up on everything. I, on the other hand, have all the time in the world. It’s too bad that I can’t fill in his questions for him. I think I could, actually, but I think that’s not really in the spirit of this whole process!

I think we’re done FINALLY, all the little boxes filled in and signature lines signed. We received the package from our practitioner in early December, so, it only took us a month to complete. Ick. Sometimes I think we’re our own worst enemy in the process, delaying it unnecessarily. Life gets in the way, right?

It was difficult to fill in all the questions but maybe I was just overthinking them. The questions really force you to reach back into the far reaches of your mind, maybe even to things you never really wanted to open up again (first dates? first sexual experiences? Yikes!). It’s difficult not to wish I could just get knocked up like the majority of the population to avoid all this paperwork.

Happy new year everyone!

It’s been a long time since my last post. When you last heard from me, I was stuck at home. Not much has changed since then. Oh,except that I now have a set of wheels, which means I could leave the house (which was in the country, 10 miles from the nearest store… I got to know the property reallllly well!). I feel like I’m 16 again and just got my driver’s license (weeeeeeeee!).

Also, we’ve moved to town a few days ago, closer to DH’s work, so we’re one step closer to settling. We continue to search for homes, but in the meantime, we’ve settled into a townhouse for a few months. I love my little town! There are great restaurants, a lovely main street and lots of places to take the dogs out for long walks.

The holidays were rough. I went shopping and stopped at a cell phone store to pick up another charger for our phone (ours got lost in the move). I ended up leaving the store feeling like I’d been punched in the gut. I wanted to look up our account at the store, and since it’s in DH’s name, I mentioned that he was at work while I ran some errands at the mall. The insensitive sales guy says “I wish I was a woman. It’s so easy for you. I’ve been working my whole life.” UUUUUHhh…. Did he just say that? He did NOT just say that did he?!! I was frozen in a weird monologue in my head…. Do I tell him I’ve actually had a successful career and am taking a break? That I just completed my Masters while working full time? That he was a sexist jerk?

I decided I didn’t owe this guy any information about myself, but he kept chattering on…. After learning that I didn’t have kids, he went on and on about how they make it all worth it and I had better start trying soon. Once again, I had that internal monologue, which was peppered with more colorful language this time.

So, I’m no longer with that company. Not solely because of this interchange, but that didn’t endear me to them. I was tempted to write a letter to their head office, but like my personal information, I’m not sure it’s worth my time.  The sales guy can take his company’s cute advertising, with the cute farm animals and catchy music and stuff it up his ….

Ahem!

On top of all that, there was the barrage of social obligations attached to the holidays. We traveled to see my parents, and I caught up with some old friends. It was great but hard too. They all have young kids and new babies. Ultimately, the conversation turns to their kids, and then it’s hard not to feel like they’re at a different party, and we’re not invited. Oh well. On the one hand, it’s so nice and comfortable to see them again, but it was so difficult to keep smiling. I felt empty by Boxing Day.

On a positive note, we met with our adoption practitioner. She’s terrific. Very professional and direct. We’re currently trying to complete the mountain of forms. The process in this region is a million times more detailed than in the region we used to live and some of the questions are really hard to answer. We’re almost done and hope to arrange the first homestudy interview soon (I hope!).

Ok, this has been a long update. I’ll close this here for now, and will try to post more regularly now that we’re more settled!! Thanks to all of you who commented on my last couple of posts. I’m looking forward to the future and will definitely be taking some of your suggestions!

I’m at a weird crossroad in my life where I’m not really sure how I define myself. My career has always been important. Now, without work to go to everyday, I’m finding myself a bit… lost.

DH started work on Tuesday. There was a job opportunity for me in a neighboring city, but I chose not to accept it because we don’t know where we’ll be living yet and I may be able to work as a freelancer from home for my former managers. Also, as we start the adoption process all over again, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if one of us had a more flexible schedule. We’ve learned that adoptions from the region we used to live in can happen quickly (we’re still keeping those options open, even though we’ve moved), so I really didn’t want to start a job, only to request leave or resign a few months down the road.

It’s a huge risk. I’ve never been without a job. I have an aversion to organizing my own finances so self-employment has not always been the best choice for me. I’m also terrified that an adoption might not happen for a long time, in which case, I will be kicking myself for letting that job opportunity in the city go. DH’s family has been nice enough to house us and the pups until we find a home or a rental.

Surely, some contracts will come through. I’ve been written into several proposals over the last month; something will have to come through soon, right? Otherwise, I’m just a stay-at-home… dog-owner? napper? experimental chef? I dunno. What do you think?

Since the move, I’ve been using Facebook (Fb) to keep friends and family updated on our whereabouts. Consequently, I’m on there more often than usual.

I’ve come to HATE it when status lines are written like mysterious little “teasers”, fishing for attention. I’ve noticed that, more often than not, these vague statements are usually announcing a pregnancy. I know I’m an angry, bitter, barren woman, but c’mon, just come right out and say it. Obviously, by putting it out there in Fb-land, you WANT to announce your pregnancy. Just freakin’ announce it!

Yes, it’s a happy time for them, and in time, I will lose my bitter edge and maybe acknowledge their happiness in a more socially appropriate fashion. Until then, statuses like:

1. Jane Smith will not tell… but is very, very happy.

2. John Smith has a happy secret.

3. Jane Doe has TWO surprises.

4. John Smith won’t tell. But he and Jane can’t wait.

5. Jane Smith: change is coming!

…are LAME.

If you want to keep it a secret, keep it a secret. If you want to announce it, announce it. If you’re trying to keep all of us in suspense, hoping we’re wracking our brains trying to solve your status riddle, forget it. It’s both annoying and unoriginal.

That’s all I want to rant about today. Yes, I do know about the “hide” button and have been making liberal use of it as I sit here and stew in my jealousy.

Bah humbug.

The first photo is what we left, two weeks ago. The second photo shows what we landed in, several hours later.

The first image shows the snow-covered mountains and untouched barrenlands we left, and the second image shows the green farmlands and houses we landed in.

It was -31° with the windchill where we boarded the plane, and +46° where we landed. DH and I couldn’t shed layers fast enough!

We spent a few days with my aunt (the one we stayed with during IVF treatments) then spent a few days on the West coast for a quick visit to DH’s sis. The timing worked out so that I was able to attend my graduation (no more teachers, no more books!). Finally, we flew back and are settling in with DH’s family until we can find a home to call our own.

The last two weeks have gone by like a whirlwind. I’m definitely experiencing a bit of culture shock. Note the snow and untouched landscape in the first picture taken the plane took off and compare it with the greenery, fields, roads and buildings (civilization!) in the second picture, a few minutes before we landed. Our lifestyle had been at a slower pace. Up until recently, this has felt like a “vacation” but it’s now sinking in that I’m not going back to the place I still call “home.”

…and, I am officially unemployed as of yesterday. YIKES! Except for the boxes of books and other miscellaneous bits we couldn’t sell, we’re no longer tied to a home, car, furniture or most of our “stuff.” I sure hope it leads to new beginnings.