Saturday, 30 November 2013

A time to wait

It's been a huge six weeks for us. Even now writing about this feels somewhat unreal. After some back and forth over the perfect words to adequately convey how we would raise an adopted child, our profile is complete and is 'in the mix' as our adoption coordinator described it.

In the mix. As in, the phone call could come next month, or July, or the following year. We know how this game goes, we have had lots of practice at patience and humility. But we also have this confidence, this feeling. It will happen. God has set us on this path and this is it for us. So we are jumping in, not foolishly or without thought, but because we want to be faithful to the plan and put it out to the world. We are adopting our son or daughter. We are preparing a place for them to be part of our lives and our family.

The thought that our baby boy or girl is possibly being born right now fills me with intense love, longing and hope. I am praying for the birth parents who are making very difficult choices right now, and a child who is losing their first family, the only parents they have ever known. I am thinking of the grandparents and extended family who are also saying goodbye to this child. While it may be the best decision for them and the child, this is never easy.

There is no easy in adoption. The process is built on a first profound loss experienced by birth parent and child. That is not my story, but it is something that I constantly remind myself about. For as much as that phone call is going to be the most exciting day of our life, it will be the culmination of something much more difficult for someone else.

So now comes my burden. It is my time to wait. I've been waiting a long time already - 7.5 years of trying to conceive hasn't been easy. But if that is my burden, then I will gladly take it. It is worthwhile because I know I will be a mother. . I am not a patient person, but for this I need to be. So wait with me please. I need hands to hold and people to keep me excited and on the right path.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Preparing our adoption profile - the excitement continues!!!

This morning's meeting with adoption services was very exciting for the two of us. We had completed our two worksheets on open adoption planning and what special needs we would consider taking in, but we didn't really know all that much about what we would be discussing at the meeting. It ended up being mainly about preparing our adoption profile, and an opportunity to ask some questions about the process from here on in.

So first, the adoption profile. Basically all approved applicants put together a 3-4 page document which is a way of showing birth parents who we are and the life we can give to a child placed with us. It's an opportunity to express our personality and parenting plans, and our commitment to a new family. We were given a draft profile to get an idea of the sort of things that we need to include. They are now also encouraging photos to be used in the profiles to get a feel for what we like to do eg playing sport, going on holidays, pictures of extended family etc.

The main things we need to cover in the adoption profile are:
  • Introduction of who we are, what our house is like, our pets and why we are adopting
  • Religion - what we believe and how that influences our lives
  • Our personal details - cultural background, where we grew up, education and our jobs
  • What we like doing together - sport, holidays, fun stuff
  • Extended family - who else is in our life, family, friends etc
  • Education - public/private school etc
  • Childcare plans - Stay at home for first year, will you return to work part-time, who will look after the child when you work
  • What we believe is important when raising a child - how will we discipline them, things that we hope to do with them
  • Views on naming an adopted child - There is a very strong push to keep the first name of the child, but we can potentially add a middle name of our choice
  • Wishes regarding the adoption plan - How often we want to have contact with the birth parents, what level of contact (letters/photos/face to face) etc
And we need to cram that into only 4 pages! The example given to us is just normal typed Times New Roman with nothing else, so of course I asked if I had to stick to that format (font nerd here!). Our coordinator is happy for us to make it as originally and pretty as we want as long as it sticks to the four pages, so I'm hoping to make use of some friends graphic design skills to make it the most awesome adoption profile ever!

After chatting about the profile, we got the chance to ask some adoption related questions. The first thing we wanted to know was how many other approved applicants are currently in the pool for local adoption. There are currently around 40 approved applicants, which is a big drop from the 100 or so that existed when we first started this process in 2009. In addition to that, there is a much smaller second pool of applicants who are approved for children with special needs which includes us. There are a grand total of 5 approved applicants! Last year three of the six children that were adopted were considered to have special needs, which meant that our profile would have been shown to each of those birth parents had we been in the pool at that time. Those are amazing odds!

So what does 'special needs' mean. Really it can mean any child who has anything other than completely normal needs. It could mean they are slower to develop (developmental delay) such as crawling and sitting up at a later time than considered normal. They might need regular medication. One of the 'special needs' cases recently was a blood disorder that required twice-yearly visits for blood checks at hospital. That's it! Then at the other end of the spectrum there are children born with down syndrome, missing limbs, or significant intellectual disabilities. We have ruled ourselves out of a number of the higher care needs scenarios but there are still some significant care needs that we believe that we can cope with and provide great care for our child. With 6 children placed last year, that extrapolates out to 60% chance of a child with special needs within 12 months, or 8% of a normal care needs child within 12 months! Certainly better than our 'natural conception' odds!!!

We were told when we started the process that there were a segment of international students who place their children for adoption. The coordinator confirmed that this is still the case with some Indian, African and Asian children all placed locally from international students in the past few years. Often this is the result of pregnancy concealment or sometimes not being aware of the pregnancy until there were no other options available to them.

I also asked if many people change their minds and decide to parent themselves. Apparently up to half of the birth parents who initially start the process choose to parent the child themselves in the end. I'm kind of glad of that. It means that they are getting good advice and counseling, and not being pressured into anything.

Based on what our coordinator pointed out as important on the adoption profile, we also found out that the main thing that birth parents want is young parents. I am the youngest approved applicant in the pool at 27, and even Murray at 34 is on of the youngest, with a lot of applicants sitting at around 40 years old. That's really exciting for us, knowing that hopefully with a great profile showing who we are, along with people wanting younger adoptive parents, that we could really be in with a chance!!!

So once the profile is done, it could be any day now! Once we get the phone call to say that we have been chosen, we need to get into the agency office either that afternoon on the next day to start the adoption plan process. We will start the handover of care straight away with visits to the foster carers house, before slowly having longer visits at our house, and within two weeks, taking over full time care of the child. We are recommended to have an action plan ready to go with who will do what to help us get set up because of the quick turnaround. We are lucky that we have so much of the big stuff already such as a cot, pram, high chair etc thanks to friends and wishful thinking in our early IVF days. It's mainly the little things like clothes, blankets and setting up the nursery that will need to be done when the call comes through. That and of course finishing up at work!!!

So much to do - fertility treatment is just a dot in the background. We are focusing everything on this, and we really feel this is where we should be - just waiting for our son or daughter to arrive!

WA Public Fertility Clinic

We finally had our appointment at the Reproductive Medicine Clinic at KEMH this afternoon. They took a full history of all of our diagnosis's, previous treatment cycles, and current medical status. We met with a resident, then Dr Richard Muphy, and finally Prof Roger Hart, to talk about our treatment options.  They all think that we have a great chance of falling pregnant through fertility treatment with such significant weight loss.

The problem is that the hospital outsources its public IVF to Concept Fertility, and as of July they have suspended the program due to disagreement over costs. So essentially there is currently no publicly funded IVF program. The doctors are hoping that it should be resolved soon, but they initially thought it would only be for a few weeks and that has stretched out to four months at this point so I'm not holding my breath.

I asked about if we could do donor insemination in the meantime, and surprise surprise, the health department doesn't include DIUI under their public fertility services anymore. So really our options are just to keep trying naturally, however unlikely that is, and also to do every screening and diagnostic test under the sun to make sure nothing has been missed along the way. That means having a specialised 3D ultrasound to make sure that everything is perfect in my uterus and to monitor blood flow. I'm also getting tests done to check my blood clotting and insulin levels.

The one thing that they all agreed on is that I'm a different person now physically to what I was when we went through all of our other treatment cycles, and that we need to treat any fertility treatment from now on as a fresh start. Everything we have done in the past, while important, isn't nearly as relevant because it was essentially done on a different person.

The news about not doing IVF straight away isn't as devastating as it potentially could have been, thanks to a very positive adoption meeting that we had this morning. More coming on that very soon!!!