Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Waiting 19 months and 3 weeks.....

Well, I don't think we ever thought we'd be waiting this long for our little girl. We just completed another update for our home study. Indiana law requires a home study to be updated every 12 months. So we had to be fingerprinted (again!), and have background checks done, a visit to the doctor for a letter saying we're still in good health and have a TB test done. Sometimes it just seems all we do is prepare for our little one and there is no progress toward getting her. I know that's not true but when the progress is so slow it makes for a very difficult wait.

Referrals seem to be coming in at the beginning of each month - which is great but they don't usually cover very many LID dates. At this point we have 29 LID groups ahead of us yet waiting for their referrals. The last group of people that received referrals waited 26 months. I wish the wait would stay at 26 months or less but I'm not sure that will happen. If the wait would stay at 26 months we would only have about 6 more months of waiting and after almost 20 months of waiting, waiting 6 more months would not seem that long. But there is no guarantee that that will be the case and it is just wishful thinking on my part.

I know it's hard for everyone to understand why it's taking so long and then people talk to other people about how long their wait was and it wasn't this long, etc. But every family has a unique situation they are going through. Right now China is still one of the more stable countries for adoption and has a good system in place -- even though it sounds like it needs to be updated and they are making changes to help improve their process so the wait isn't as long. But until we feel the effects of those changes no one knows. I am encouraged that they are still taking dossiers for adoptions which makes me believe there are still many children that are in need of families. Also, nothing is being said about closing the country to adoption. So I do know if we can just hang in there, we will have our little girl at the end of this very long wait.

Not having any children and longing for them is really difficult for people to understand unless you've been through it yourself. There is a certain amount of grief you feel for the children you can't have, there's depression wondering what is wrong with me, there is such a feeling of aloneness and lack of understanding from people. People don't mean to be hurtful in what they say but many things that are said are very hurtful. It is hard to hear about another friend or person from church being pregnant or another invitation to a baby shower. It's not that I'm not happy for these people, but it just hits me like a ton of bricks that I can't have a child of my own and I'm still waiting. Until she's in my arms it will be difficult. Here are a couple of articles that may help explain how I and others who are longing for children feel and what we wish others knew.

secret sorrow
by Donna Dunn

I knew I should have stayed home. A list of the names of more than a dozen babies and their parents appeared on a colorful insert in the church bulletin. I’d completely forgotten it was baby dedication day. Only a few friends knew my husband and I had undergone fertility testing with discouraging results. When my eyes began to fill with tears as parents made their way to the altar, I quietly slipped out so I could cry privately. I felt completely alone.

About six million people in the United States experience infertility. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, ten percent of the reproductive-age population is affected by infertility and childlessness, and they need your support.

Recognize the Reality
John Van Regenmorter, Director of Stepping Stones, a ministry for those experiencing infertility, and co-author of When the Cradle Is Empty, says the support of friends and family is essential. According to Van Regenmortor, “Of all the letters we receive, most [people] say something about how alone they feel. There’s a real need to find at least one other couple with whom they can share their infertility struggle.”

Infertility is often called a secret sorrow. It’s not discussed like other medical conditions. Couples experiencing infertility have depression rates equal to those experiencing cancer, according to the infertility support group Resolve. Understanding the pain of infertility is an important first step in supporting those in the midst of this struggle.

Listen With Your Heart
Blessing the infertile can sometimes come as much from what you do as what you say. “The most supportive thing was receiving cards and notes of encouragement,” Suzanne remembers. “Sometimes it’s nice to have friends communicate their love, encouragement, and prayer support without requiring any questions to be answered or any explanations given.” Suzanne knows friends and family mean well, but some days she just doesn’t feel like discussing the details of their family’s infertility journey. She says, “True friends…just walked with us.”

Van Regenmorter says friends and family members should also avoid pat answers. Some of the most common phrases heard about infertility are some of the least helpful.

“Relax and it’ll happen.” Not only is this statistically untrue, it makes the couple feel as if they’re doing something wrong. Those who say this would never say to a cancer patient, “Relax and it’ll go away.”

“My friend tried…” Success stories may seem encouraging, but it’s important to remember that no two situations are the same.

“If you adopt, you’ll get pregnant.” Again, statistics show that infertile couples who adopt are no more likely to get pregnant than infertile couples who do not. It makes adoption sound like a lesser choice. Adoptive parents, such as Cheri, know adoption is not a second best. “I wish someone would have told me (early on) that adoption is as great as it is and that God has other ways to give us children and can bless that.”

Extend Grace
The ache of childlessness is more acute at special events and during certain times of the year. Be considerate. Infertile couples appreciate sensitivity – whether it’s a private conversation, saying it’s okay to miss a baby shower, or a note of encouragement during a difficult holiday.

The Van Regenmorters experienced 14 years of infertility before adopting two children. Later, they also had a biological child. They encourage families, friends, and even ministers to think of the childless when celebrating holidays and special events. Baby showers, baby dedications, and child-centered holidays can be especially difficult.

“For a season, say, ‘No.’ It doesn’t mean it’s forever,” Van Regenmorter says. “Couples should not feel guilty and others should not make them feel guilty about not accepting invitations to baby showers and other similar events.”

Pray and Trust God
Befriending an infertile couple doesn’t mean fixing the situation. Only God can work out the plans He has for each family. Yet, giving the situation over to God in prayer is powerful.

Suzanne recalls one friend who let her know she was praying, and that helped Suzanne through an especially difficult day. “One card in particular appeared on our front door the day of our scheduled appointment to try artificial insemination,” Suzanne remembers. “Our friend knew we were scheduled for the appointment and wrote in her note that she’d be on her knees during the time of our doctor’s appointment. It still brings me to tears to think of that note.”

God’s plans for an infertile couple are often beyond our greatest expectations. This year, I’m celebrating with two children, brought into our lives in wonderful and unexpected ways. I’m eternally grateful for them and for the journey that brought me to them.


Longing for a baby: what my life is like
By MaDonna Medley

(*I’ve added my own words in parentheses. -Mary)

For the past seven years, my husband and I have been trying to start a family. Infertility has been a struggle that I definitely did not ask for, but I am growing stronger because of it.

As a result of our difficult journey, God has led me to minister not only to those who struggle to become parents, but also those who have been blessed with children. My hope and prayer is that I can gently help those who have never experienced infertility to understand what life is like when you are longing for a baby.

To wake me up in the mornings, I need to set an alarm clock because there are no little ones to jump onto my bed urging me to wake up.

I take my time getting ready in the mornings because I don’t have anyone to dress but myself.

Instead of changing dirty diapers, I change a puppy pad. (I change the cat litter.)

Instead of preparing lunch for school, I pour fresh food and water for my dog. (I give my cat fresh food and water.)

Instead of tiny fingerprints on my front door, I have old stains because I haven’t cleaned the glass in a few months.

I have no clue what it’s like to have a dryer full of little clothes that are “so aggravating” to fold.

I don’t have a diaper genie, a changing table, or a crib – only a bunk bed that is filled with junk we pile up throughout the week. (I do have a changing table and crib but the nursery feels so empty without our little girl.)

My picture frames are filled with pictures of friends’ children because I haven’t had an opportunity to capture the beauty in the faces of my own.

My husband and I don’t have any family portraits because we don’t have a “family” (as defined by the world).

We haven’t had our picture taken in eight years because we feel incomplete.

There are no toys filling every area of my living room floor – only dirt dragged in by our shoes.

When I want to have a quiet moment, all I have to do is turn off the television.

The only birthday parties we celebrate are those of other children.

When we go to church, we feel like the “fairly odd couple” because everybody else has something in common.

No, I don’t know what labor pains feel like.

No, I don’t know what it feels like to carry your world in your womb for nine months.

And when I think I might be pregnant, I’m haunted by all of the “negatives” during the past eight years.

I can’t plan children, only “times” to try for them.

I have no more vacation/sick days left at work. (because I’ve used them to get things ready for the adoption, or I feel so down I can’t take a day at work.)

I never hear, “We’re praying for you and believing in you,” but rather “It’ll happen” or “Maybe if you adopt…”

I feel guilty every day. I feel like a failure to God, my husband, my parents, my church, and myself.

I’ve never heard “I love you, Mommy!”

If you have never experienced the pain of infertility, you can’t relate. However, you can pray for us. We long to have what you have. If we don’t congratulate you about your new baby or if we walk out of the room during a baby dedication or an infant baptism, please don’t be offended. These moments remind us of what’s missing in our lives.

Don’t miss an opportunity to hug, kiss, or play with your children. Take advantage of every moment you have with them. Take care of them and raise them to love the Lord. And never miss the opportunity to say to your children, “I love you!”

For those who know what I’m feeling right now, stay strong. Love those who have what you long for. Most important, pray for them. Be happy for them, even when it hurts the most. Trust in Jesus!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I finally took a moment to look back through my "favorite" sites and found you have moved yours. Even though we don't talk much, please know that you are still in my thoughts and prayers through this journey! - Dove