December 12, 2006

What's the dealio?

This post has been a long time coming, but for various reasons, I never got to it. I should probably just start at the beginning......

In my early 20s, I was diagnosed with a Not Serious Condition and at the time, my doctor told me I might have trouble getting pregnant (my current doctor, to her credit, never expressed doubt). Later, in my 20s, I watched a friend's marriage crash and burn over infertility (she wanted to adopt, her husband did not). So, these things weighed on my mind a bit when my relationship with X started to get serious and we began to discuss Our Future. It turned out that X, after having grown up in a 3rd world country and seeing children with no parents, wanted to adopt from the get-go. However, as a woman, I want to experience pregnancy and birth, if possible. Just once. So, we decided at that time to try and have a baby - if it didn't happen naturally within about a year, we would move right to adopting from India. We aren't against fertility treatments and such, but knew that route just wasn't for us. Regardless of how Baby #1 came to be, we planned to adopt Baby #2.

Well, I got pregnant with Arun after 2 months of trying. I am still a little stunned that it happened so easily and that here I am in 2006, a mother to a toddler. I had braced myself for so much more. SO, what happened to Baby #2, you ask? The plan for that was to start the paperwork process in the fall of 2007 - since we had a boy, we wanted to adopt a girl (we verified this was an okay idea with one of my adopted cousins). Obviously, in my current state of pregnancy, that won't be happening now.

But this is what compelled me to go ahead and write this post, even though the topic of international adoption for us is most probably moot now -- it has shocked and saddened me how many of my friends and family have hinted that adoption was a 2nd choice and a few even asked if we chose to go the pregnancy route because it was "better". Even worse, last week a friend said "Well, you can do your civic duty in other ways". I was too shocked to come back with a retort to such a ridiculous statement. Good God, X and I aren't running a charity around here! We just want a family. For us, pregnancy AND adoption are equally valid and special ways to build one - obviously, with different paths and challenges. For me, sharing chromosomes doesn't equal love. Sure, genealogy creates an interesting papertrail of familial history, but real family is built on experiences, memories, and often, good old-fashioned guilt.

So, what happened is this - X and I took risks and fooled around - because of our situation, I am fully aware that we had the luxury to do so. But, I will never, ever use the word"accident" because that indicates that an "Oops!" was involved. But, we absolutely did not "choose" pregnancy because it was a better route or that we would love a biological child more than an adopted one. Perhaps, I am just sensitive because my family has been cobbled together by so many adoptions, marriages, divorces that I learned at an early age the definition of "family" is a loose one, at best. For example, my favorite great-aunt P, is not related to me by blood as she is my great-uncle B's wife, but it doesn't make our connection any less special. Furthermore, one of my best friends from college cut me out of her life last year after she miscarried her baby right after Arun's birth. While I understand why she cut me off, honestly, I still cry over it. She was like a sister to me and our relationship had been through a lot of ups and downs. I am sure most of us can think of a friend or two who have become like family over the years.

As I just wrote about how much X and I wanted to adopt, I will admit this - I am very excited to be pregnant again. Pregnancy and birth are such a fascinating, exhilarating time (okay, except for the Hellish 1st Trimester and the Miserable Last Week). The first few days after Arun was born? I was so pumped up on adrenaline, I felt high and had trouble sleeping - I remember lying in my hospital bed wide awake in the middle of night thinking Wow....WOW....... If this pregnancy goes half as well as it did with Arun, I will be one grateful gal. Regardless of the fact that I am excited about being pregnant again, I never doubted that I would love my adopted child as much as my biological child. That was never part of the equation for me.

Anyway - I just wanted to be very clear that adoption was not a "lesser" or "2nd"choice. Yes, it was a different choice, but from what I have seen and experienced, regardless if you adopt or give birth - your hopes, fears and dreams are very much the same.


EEK! said...

It never ceases to amaze me how tactless and clueless people can be. I've been dealing with some inappropriate questioning of my fecundity lately so maybe I'm ultra-sensitive, but really how you build your family is nobody's business, even your parents and/or extended family, and the appropriate answer to good news of any sort is "congratulations."

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Agreed, commentary on the situation is unnecessary unless you're being asked for the input. I restrict myself to a simple congratulations and a few "safe" questions like clothes, toys and the like. Nor do I ask people who have chosen not to have children when they're going to have them, because seriously, other people's sex life and breeding decisions don't interest me. And are not my business.

That said, I do think some people are so sensitive that even a "that's great" can end up backfiring.

Zoot said...

I've always wondered why "fertility" isn't listed with "religion and politics" in terms of topics-not-to-discuss - in my experience? Adoption/fertility treatments/ etc have been way more emotionally charged topics than politics or religion. People just feel strongly about it on so many levels and will argue the silliest points - when in reality it is really only the business of the parents. Weird.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I think most of the comments/questions were just inconsiderate, but they weren't trying to be hurtful.

I agree that it is such a sensitive topic at times, that it is hard to know WHAT to say that won't offend.

OMIGOD, you are so right about fertility/adoption being emotionally charged. In fact, a few years ago, when I told another blogger our plans, she never responded to my email, cut me from her blogroll and I never heard from her again. That experience shook me a bit and that's why I chose to not write about it until now.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly that family is not defined by blood. I have always had in the back of my mind that I might like to adopt one day. I feel fortunate that I was able to have my own child but would never rule out the possibility of adoption.

Modern Day Hermit said...

Wow, I never knew it was such an emotionally charged topic...I'm the queen of open mouth - insert foot disease so I'm surprised I haven't discovered this sooner.

My first husband wanted to adopt and I admit that I wasn't to gung-ho about it. I was concerned that I wouldn't develop that bond with a child I didn't give birth to (but I also don't think I was ready for parenthood).

But, after having my son I know that I could adopt a child and develop that bond regardless of having given birth and physically nurturing them as a fetus...or not.

I have a best friend that I love like my sister. We get mad at each other, are honest with one another and just behave as though we were born of the same family. So agree that it isn't all about sharing some sort of genetic ties in order to be close.

I'd have 10 kids if I could afford to educate and feed them all!

Anonymous said...

I think this post is really touching - and I also think that it's a shame some people automatically assume things, particularly those who know you well.

Whatever happens, family is family - whether they're biological children, adopted children, step-children, whatever, you're completely right.

And I have a tendency to think that things happen for a reason.. so that should be enough.


alimomof2 said...

My 3 1/2 year old is adopted and my 2 year old is biological. We went through a lot to try to stay pregnant, but it just wasn't going to happen. We always thought of adoption as a way to build our family - even before we knew we would have trouble having a biological child. So, for us it was a no brainer. And, talk about things happening for a reason - once we adopted C the doctors figured out my problem (common, easily fixable - after 7 years!). I was pregnant the next month.

I usually try to be understanding about insensitive comments (luckily we don't get a lot). I know it is hard for some people to understand what they don't live. But really, it breaks my heart to think that some people don't see C as my "real" child or my "own" child. I know it shouldn't matter, but sometimes it does.

I agree with alyndabear - things happen for a reason. That is what I told myself for seven years. This is what I tell myself now when I look at my two beautiful boys.

Anonymous said...

I am happy you are getting your family however you manage to have it. And I've always thought you were the coolest for making me think about adoption in a new way - I had never considered it much before we first talked about it, and you made me see it for the viable option it is, even for those of us who are fertile. It should be a viable option for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Again with the people suck business. lame. My opinion may be just as annoying but I believe that adopting children that area already in this world without parents rather than going through treatment after expensive treatment to procreate and produce your own genes, might be just a tad less selfish in the long run.

but that's me.