January 8, 2010

Flashback: The Adoption Train

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Infertility, Miscarriage, Uncategorized — adoptation @ 10:54 pm

A flashback to an earlier, much less happy stop on our adoption journey:

The train station was only about 30, maybe 40 yards away. I could see it clearly, nothing obstructing my view, and trains were moving in and out of the station every few minutes. If not for the fact of the window, the two-story drop to the street, and the fact that this orientation session for international child adoption had at least another hour to go, it would be easy to not be here.

But we were here, boarding the adoption train, and there was no way to disembark. The other people in the room didn’t look like us—many were older,  several were fatter, there were receding hairlines every few seats, and enough ethnic diversity to make for the saddest Benetton ad ever. But they all had that same look in their eyes, the 100-yard-stare that comes from the peculiar genre of internal and external combat of infertility. Everyone here wanted to start a family, to continue the family line they’d come from, and everyone had run into the 10-ton granite wall of failure to accomplish what seemed so simple on after-school specials.

We’d been so jazzed about coming to the session. It seemed like the first concrete solution to our problems that we’d had in a long, long time. How long had it been since we started trying to get pregnant? I guess it technically wasn’t all that long (some of the more shell-shocked couples in the room seemed to have been at it longer), but it had dragged us through ages. In just two short years (particularly long years, really), we’d seen our best-laid plans crumble, we’d dumped thousands of dollars into treatments and appointments and consultations and medications, we’d had the heartbreak of miscarrying babies for whom we’d already reserved family names, we’d seen serious fractures in our relationships with our own families, and we’d stared at each other too many times with the question, “Why?” going unanswered.

We’d reached the end of the fertility rope. But this, this was going to make it happen for us, right? International adoption took out the Juno narratives from the adoption process, right? No birth mothers to pitch yourselves to (and be crushed by when they changed their minds) and no nosy adoption agencies who were scrutinizing us, forcing us to prove that we deserved to have what everyone else was entitled to gratis. We’d lost a lot already, but the losses ended here.

Except that they didn’t—they were piling up. No countries allowed adoption of a brand-new, fresh-from-the-hospital baby. In the best scenarios, we’d get a baby who was almost a year old, and who had spent time in an orphanage and/or with foster parents. If we were lucky, we’d get photos of our son/daughter being raised by other people; if we were unlucky (and this seemed likely), we’d have little or no access to information about the birth parents, how much pre-natal care there’d been, and whether pre-natal alcohol, drug and tobacco intake had gone on. And the bright-red caboose of this adoption train was this: based on the strict rules that each country had for who could adopt from its citizens, there was only one country that we’d qualify for…and that would only be if we lied about my wife taking anti-depressants and didn’t get caught in the lie. (Apparently, South Korea only arranges adoptions with people who are perfectly happy with their infertility.)

As the last hour dragged on, I’d tuned out, leaving my wife to take notes and pay attention. I had already disembarked. I wasn’t shutting myself off from the adoption option, but we were going to have to find another way to take this ride.



  1. Sounds like us…only our seminar ended with the agency rep rambling on about how challenging and frustrating the countries can be. Great sales pitch.

    We decided we wanted our baby to be a baby, and that left us with domestic. Here we are, waiting, as patiently as possible.

    We just got on a different train, right?

    Comment by Nicole — January 9, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    • A different train indeed. And in my experience so far, one with higher speeds, more comfortable seats, better views and more appealing destinations.

      Comment by adoptation — January 9, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

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