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The Decision to Have Children January 26, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in parenting & family, politics.
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A few of my girlfriends were recently discussing having kids. We’re all in various stages of family expansion: one with two, two of us with one each at different stages of childhood, two who have no children yet, but want them and for various reasons are considering adoption.

I think that most parents (and grandparents alike) tend to get all giddy and excited when we learn that a new babe is entering the lives of our friends or family members. It even happens when we hear about it from acquaintances and strangers, whether the “new arrival” is by birth or through adoption. When one of our friends announced that they had started the adoption process, initially, I was excited and very happy for Adopting Friend and her husband.


Adoption

Adoption is a serious thing, for all parties involved. Recently, I wrote an article for my local paper about a local woman’s efforts to not only find her birth parents, but to change the laws regarding closed adoption in Michigan, so it has been on my mind as a very important issue. The woman in my article was one of the lucky ones. In fact, the day before our initial interview was scheduled, she found her birth mother, so we postponed the interview so that she and her mom could meet for the first time since she was born. (It turned out to be a wonderful reunion.) Adoption is not easy—not for the parents who want to adopt children and not for the parents who give their children up for adoption. I know that every pregnancy and labor-and-delivery situation are different, even among pregnancies from the same woman; and the circumstances that lead to giving one’s child up for adoption are wide and varied. The women who are able to do it, are incredibly strong—I remember vividly how hard it was to let the doctors take my son away to clean him up just on the other side of the room after I gave birth to him. I can’t imagine that tiny person going into anyone else’s arms but mine or my husbands. The families who adopt those children are for the most part, noble to do so, assuming the reasons and motives for adopting are as noble as the deed appears.

To Conceive or Not…

Among the group of us, the other woman who is considering adopting has been trying for a considerable length of time, only to have had multiple miscarriages. I’ve had one chemical pregnancy and one full-term pregnancy. While I haven’t been through what she has, I understand her pain and can empathize. And, as many of us are waiting until we are “older, have our careers, are more established, want to enjoy our marriages childless for a bit before having children, yadda, yadda, yadda,” it can also mean higher chances for our bodies not being able to sustain a pregnancy as easily as it might have when we were a decade younger. It took much longer than anticipated for my husband and I to conceive successfully. Eight long cycles (not months), and during one of those cycles, I went for 90-something days with no period and no sign of pregnancy. After 2 1/2 months with signs of neither, I decided to see a doctor. Given my age at the time, the strange cycles, the chemical pregnancy and the fact that we’d been trying to conceive for longer than six months, it was determined that we should both get tested to make sure that we were both reproductively healthy and to figure out what our options were if one or both of us was not. So we were referred to a specialist. In the meantime, while we awaited test results, we went back to square one and started charting—practicing the fertility awareness method—hard core. Between getting tested and our appointment to get our test results, we’d conceived. In fact, after three days of taking three different brands of home pregnancy tests that measure different levels of HCG, the morning of our appointment, we got the strongest positive pregnancy test reading. So not only did the doctor tell us that we were both reproductively healthy, we were able to tell him that I was pregnant. I showed him a copy of my chart and his nurse asked if she could have a copy to use as an example of “proper charting” for other patients. (Who was I to not share it if it could help others, so I gave her a copy.)

Back to the “Girl Talk”

During our “girl talk,” a few of us were chatting about pregnancy and getting pregnant: the one who has started the adoption process, and the two of us who each have one child. I won’t lie, I did not enjoy being pregnant very much. Some women love it—the whole 40 weeks. For me, as excited as I was about being pregnant, I didn’t enjoy pregnancy until probably around the first time that I felt my child move. Ah, those tiny flutters. And even with that joy, I could write stories about the heartburn I had for the entire 40 weeks and six days of my child’s gestation. And I know, I got off easy—no morning sickness, no placenta previa or any other of the myriad of issues the medical industry is concerned about when you’re elderly prima gravdia. (I didn’t even have swollen ankles!) But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The other mom-of-one was also not fond of pregnancy, but like me, wouldn’t trade it for the world. After all, it brought us our delicious bundles of joy.

Both of us moms-of-one were talking about charting and how we’d both learned that our bodies did not subscribe to the “day 14 myth,” meaning that all of our bodies are different, cycles vary in length from woman to woman, and that not everyone ovulates on day 14 of their cycle. So in essence, you need to know when you ovulate, which takes some work, to know when to have intercourse to maximize your potential for conception. (And cycle to cycle, there is only a 25 percent chance of conception occurring anyway, if you’re under 25 and a 15 percent chance if you’re over 30—and that’s for healthy women.) Adopting Friend was explaining that she and her husband both got checked out and were both healthy, there were no issues with either of them. (Sound familiar?) So, I asked her if they’d tried charting. She said, “kind of.” So I asked if she’d been monitoring first morning temps, fluids and cervical position daily, because outside of using a fertility monitor those are the ways to determine when you ovulate. The other mom-of-one chimed in and shared her story in brief. We both told Adopting Friend that the very same cycle that we’d charted properly, we both got pregnant. (Now, I realize that’s not the case for everyone who charts or uses the fertility awareness method, but according to Dr. Toni Weschler in Taking Charge of Your Fertility it’s pretty darn reliable. And not only had it worked for me, as a former TTC moderator at a parenting forum and author of an article on charting, I knew that it worked for others.) Adopting Friend said, “I can’t be bothered will all of that.” I asked, “Well what if you get pregnant during the adoption process?” She said, “I don’t even really want to go through being pregnant. We’ll just adopt and I can stay on the pill.”

I almost spit. Now, I will say, at one point when we were trying, I had my “sour grapes” moment of “not even wanting to be pregnant.” It can be hard, especially as when you’re trying to conceive, it seems as if everyone except you is able to produce offspring. But this was different. And unlike our other friend considering adoption and who has had unsuccessful pregnancies, it’s not like adoption seems to be the most-likely option for starting a family for Adopting Friend.

I couldn’t talk about it anymore with her. I felt really sad about her decision. Not so much because she’s denying herself the “joys of pregnancy,” but because of her reason for adopting. She and her husband want kids—and at first, the decision to adopt did seem noble indeed, but I found myself questioning the motivation. I was really disappointed with Adopting Friend, not only because of my own feelings about her attitude, but also based on conversations I’ve had with her husband about things like nursing, homemade baby food and other natural-parenting things.

Much in the way that getting pregnant can be work for some of us, kids are work. Pregnancy is work. Labor and delivery are work. You can’t say, “I just can’t be bothered with all of that” when it comes to kids. And, isn’t going through the process of adoption also work? You can wait for years to get a child once you have made it through all of the screenings as opposed to waiting for 40 weeks when you’re pregnant. Forty weeks is hard enough to wait to meet your child—a year or longer, I can only imagine, is even more so.

Later, I shared the story about the conversation with Adopting Friend with my husband, and told him how disappointed I was in her. I was expecting to hear that I was being too emotional about it, but instead got quite a different reaction. He was flabbergasted.

“That’s no reason to adopt,” he said. “There’s nothing medically wrong with either of them, she just ‘can’t be bothered’ with trying to conceive? That’s bull. Kids aren’t a purse. You don’t just get to pick out the one you want. That’s not fair, when there are tons of couples who can’t get pregnant and have tried everything, and she wants to adopt because she just doesn’t want to go through pregnancy. ” I was surprised and touched by his passion about it. Of course, standing in our kitchen alone together while our son napped upstairs, he could say everything that I was thinking, but didn’t say aloud at the time.

Well, at least she didn’t announce they’d be hiring a surrogate to carry a child that she doesn’t want to carry herself.

Copyright © 2008

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Comments

1. googlinggod - January 26, 2008

Hi,

I came upon your article and blog from the ‘politics’ category.
It was the most interesting article/posting in the latest postings there.

You write well and it’s interesting hearing about the perspectives and processes of different women. Indeed, society has emphasized the hardships in having your own child;portraying this natural process as inconvenient, arduous and painful, versus speaking of the balance of joy and fulfillment. There is definite pain and sacrifice involved as I’ve heard from women but in the end, so many women describe the joy as outweighing any of the difficulties involved.

Thank you for sharing your article and perspective. If you’re at all interested in a God perspective on various themes, please feel free to submit your question, be it on the issue -the decision to have children or otherwise to googlinggod here at wordpress.com.

All the best,

Soul Whisperer

2. Melaniehoo - January 28, 2008

I don’t have anything profound to say. I just wanted to tell you I really enjoyed this article and I appreciate your insight. I’m at the age where all my friends are either pregnant, new moms or adopting so this really hits home.


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