November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I have decided to devote one post each week on this blog to the journey my wife Kelly and I took through the lowest-lows and highest-highs of our adoption journey. Especially since she has let me know that she will use every means at her disposal to encourage me not to grow a mustache for Movember. Yep… she played THE trump card.
So, instead of growing scraggly facial hair, I will be writing about our twisting, scraggly path to parenthood. Suffice it to say, no matter what we have been through, we are blessed thus far to call two brilliant, creative, passionate kids our children. And we thank God for that.
So yeah, we are Infertile. Boom, I said it. Might as well jump right in… Infertile. That’s what we are, medically speaking. And for a few years, we wore “The Scarlet I” as we tried many means to become pregnant.
We wore The I to doctor’s offices for all kinds of tests that, I have to admit, were much more radically invasive to my wife than to me. I just got to look at fuzzy images on a screen, nod my head and pretend that I wasn’t thinking about what else I could sonogram.
We wore The I when insurance companies denied claim after claim, forcing the testing and prescriptions and procedures to be paid out of pocket. I did learn how to successfully deal with mid-level call center managers though, and have used those ninja-like skills often over the last 12 years.
We wore The I when it seemed like our friends and family were successful on the first try, or worse yet, when they were not even trying at all. More tears than I can count fell, and we clung to the promise that God would not waste a single one.
There were some fun moments wearing The I too. I mean, the homework between doctor’s visits was not exactly boring. However, it was not what I, as a full-blooded American male, was expecting either. The need to time our intimacy, to schedule what should be somewhat spontaneous, and the pressure of “will this be the one that sticks” thinking began to take its toll. In fact, it was not until years after adopting our daughter that Kelly and I regained the fun and pleasure from intimacy. I mean, okay it was kind of always fun, but you know -not always fun fun for everyone.
So anyway, we wore The I, but The I did not define us.
Kelly, who rightfully could have been a complete basket case, was a rock. She rode every up and down, every depressing medical report, every diminishing percentage, every round of another miracle pill with grace and confidence in Christ. When doctors with God-complexes guaranteed pregnancy in mere months and when doctors with little personality emotionlessly told us the chances were little-to-none, she grieved, but was never overwhelmed.
I, on the other hand, decided to pretend like I was a secret agent smuggling sensitive missile codes across the iron curtain as I walked into the fertility clinic with my little brown “specimen” bag in my hand. I answered every awkward question with a questioning lilt right back, as if I wasn’t exactly sure what some of the terms meant… just to throw a curve to the poor nurse who had to ask me intimate questions. And when one particularly ambitious and sense-of-humorless doctor starting describing a procedure called Ovarian Drilling, I verbally related it to my favorite Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck movie: Armageddon. I think he actually almost got up and walked out of his own office.
We wore The I, but The I did not overwhelm us.
The breakthrough came one day, not long after that doctor talked about sending a rugged team of drilling specialists, holding our family’s survival in their hands, up my wife’s fallopian tubes to try and land their spacecraft on her ovaries and against all odds, make tiny little holes that babies would come pouring out of. That day, we evaluated the costs of this and other procedures, and looked realistically at our calling from God. Kelly looked at me and uttered the words that revealed her heart and would forever change our lives. She said:
“I am not called to be pregnant, I am called to be a parent… I think we should adopt.”
The Scarlet I withered and died that night, and a new life sprang up inside of our marriage and with it, a rejuvenated vision of our future. And with this emerging adoption conversation, came a whole new set of fears and challenges.
Next week: The Revolving Doors of Adoption.