Choosing adoption – What are common fears and myths?

Honeymoon couple romantic in love holding hands at beach sunset.

Friend: “Are you sure you want to adopt? Aren’t those kids always trouble maker as teenagers? At least when you have your own, you know the genes..”! Me:…with a pounding heart holding back my own fears. No child deserves that. If everybody would think like that nobody would adopt. It took me a while to answer those questions with belief: “…So that means that all teenager out there who make trouble are adopted?” Friend: “???…No…but isn’t that what you hear…?” Me: “Don’t you think it is more about being a teenagers rather than being adopted?”

Friend: Yes, but still aren’t you afraid about the unknowns during the pregnancy?” Again hearing my own fear whispering. She is right, this is scary and crazy, you won’t be in control! I spoke with the confidence I had left: “Yes I am afraid that I won’t be in control, but I also strongly believe that love and attention have a big impact on a child on who he/she becomes.”

I could go on and on with stressful conversations we had. Sometimes you feel in defending mode and sometimes it is very helpful and comforting sharing thoughts with your friends. However my fertility coach always said, hurtful questions are “shity gifts”. They make us think and we need to figure out how WE feel about it…And that was true, we did find our own clarity and confidence along the way, but it took a couple strange conversations.

Anyhow everybody is different, some people know it from the very beginning and don’t fear anything and for others like me it takes a while to find comfort despite the fact that there are unknowns. So take the time you need and just remember, all answers won’t be answered and that is OK. Let it be. You will see it won’t even matter in the end anymore.

What I had a hard time with during our fertility journey was when “parenting options” were just thrown at us.  For example when we did IVF (in vitro) the nurse explained to us the whole procedure, which can be frightening when you learn everything about it, especially that one attempt contains about 40 shots…I sat there with my husband and I was confused and afraid of this medical journey. The nurse said to me while she was writing in her chart: “Oh, if this doesn’t work, you can still adopt” All I felt hearing was…Oh if you don’t like this car just take another one…I looked at her puzzled and it screamed inside of me: “I am about to punch about 200 shots into my body within the next couples months and all you can say to me is: “You can still adopt”?  How about: “I totally understand Birgit that this overwhelming, this procedure sounds frightening and yes the success rate is low. However look at the women who got pregnant through IVF. It works. I hope for you you will be one of them. Stay positive we are here for you – you are not alone!”

Each journey whether naturally, via medical support or adoption is a journey on its own and it deserves acknowledgment and support at a time.

I don’t want to generalize, I am sure there are many empathetic nurses out there and others have made much better experiences. Nevertheless IVF did not work for us and I don’t blame any of this ‘missing empathy’ to our outcome. I believe, if it is meant to be it will happen. However it would have made this experience much more human and from an emotional point of view healthier, because I also believe that emotional hurtful experiences can be very damaging to our system, if we don’t process and heal them one way or the other.

It took us a few months to digest our failed IVF attempts, before we could wrap our thoughts and brain around adoption. I reflected during this time many experiences I had with kids throughout my life. I did once volunteer work, it was after-care at a school and the kids I watched were 3-4 years old. I felt so close to them during this time that I could have taken all of them home with me. Remembering this caring feeling comforted me, because one of my biggest fears was. What if I don’t bond with the child, because it isn’t my own flesh and blood? I opened up to a friend about this and she said: “Birgit, look how people love their pets, they would do anything for them and animals don’t even look like humans…That really resonated with me. I know a lot of people who would do anything for their pets and it really helped me to calm my fear in that matter.

Another burden came up for me when we started to fill out the adoption paper work, we were asked for references from friends and family. For whatever reason it frustrated me…Why do we need the input of our family and friends in order to build our family…Our friends and family don’t need to consult us either before they decide to have another baby….My husband on the other hand loved the idea that they are involved. I admired him for that perspective. I did not like how I felt about it. I guess I wished for more privacy. However what had helped me change my perspective was hearing that the agency needed this information, because it had helped them in the past to catch people who signed up for adoption for the wrong reasons, such as kids traffic etc. When I heard this it absolutely diminished my own “privacy concern”. If this procedure prevents that the wrong people adopt then they can ask us anything. I will be open like a book.

So there were many burdens to overcome in the beginning; the questions of others and their concerns, common myths and our own fears let alone the paper work, FBI screenings etc. before we even started being in the adoptive parents pool.

It is a huge decision to take. It at least seems like it in the beginning. The day you will hold your baby in your arms all your fears and questions will fade and normal parenting questions will come up instead. Questions every new parent goes through. It just feels very natural.

I often forget that we adopted. I was recently at the pediatrician office to get our son’s eyes checked and they asked me, if my husband and I wear glasses and I answered with a straight: “No I don’t, but my husband does”. When the nurse kept asking further questions a voice inside of me popped up and said: “Do you really think it is relevant here, whether you or Andy are wearing glasses??”….I paused and thought…Oh boy of course not…and I said to the nurse. “If you need any medical background I can get it for you, I would just need to talk to Luca’s birth mom.” I left the office with a smile on my face, not one bit of my fear him not being my flesh and blood turned out to be true. Not in my deepest dreams would I have thought that it felt so naturally being his mother.

A holistic doctor said to me once. “We all are moms and dads from the day we are born.” Today being an adoptive mom, I not only understand what he meant, I also feel it!

If you have any questions, please reach out. I know how stressful an adoption journey can be.

Have a great week!

 

“ARE YOU HAPPY”? How is it possible to be happy when life hits us?

concept for effort, determination, escape, flight, escape, womanHow often do we hear and read about the magic sentence ARE YOU HAPPY? We all want to answer with a straight YES of course – but how difficult is this, if we go through difficult times, whether it is at work, in a relationship, illness, whatever life has in store for us or as in our case going through infertility…

In some life situations we are in control and have the power to change something, if we are unhappy, but sometimes we are not. We are helpless and powerless about the outcome and that is the most exhausting situation to be in.

My husband and I while we were on our fertility journey we were often concerned to turn into a bitter couple which cannot be around their friends anymore, because everybody had kids and it seemed to happen so naturally to them that it even caused a feeling of failure and shame in us…There were tons of feelings going on, strange ones…I sometimes thought I am losing myself. Year after year no changes, year after year more and more pregnancy announcements and year after year more and more “No” on our side. I felt our life was put on hold and only the others got to move on…

Something had to change; I did not want to live like that. Continue reading

How do men feel being on a fertility journey and how is it possible to support each other?

bigstock--154407380In my recent post I wrote about how women feel when they go through fertility issues. I received a beautiful comment on this post that said. “Please don’t forget to also talk about men and their feelings being on this journey”. Thank you for bringing it up – I love receiving your comments. I was planning on doing an extra post for men and this will be the topic today.

Men always seem very strong, which of course is also something that society (sadly) expects from them, but how does their inside look like wanting to become a dad and going through fertility issues and a waiting period with their loved one?

They often don’t know how much of their pain they should show and how much is better to hide. They might also feel overwhelmed by their feelings because they maybe weren’t raised talking about them or sharing them. At the same time feeling the same pain as their wife does makes them often think they need to be the strong one in the relationship, which unfortunately often leads to the assumption that they don’t care that much.

For men who want to become a dad the pain doesn’t vary from the pain women go through…it is the same sadness hearing others announcing their pregnancy…the same frustration about the one million dollars questions such as “do you have kids” or “why don’t you have kids yet”…or the same despair seeing other women being pregnant, a couple pushing a stroller or watching a father playing with his kids in the park…

Seeing their loved one’s pain which isn’t fixable and the ugly inevitable feeling of failure and not to forget their own pain – is a hard role to be in. I don’t want to excuse any disappointing behavior, but it might explain why it takes sometimes time to find the right way to support each other along the way. It needs a lot of understanding of each other’s roles.

Waiting to become a mother can be painful and frustrating and it can be the same for a man, but of course everybody is different. Even women act differently on this journey, what’s hard for one doesn’t mean it’s as hard for another one. Men also coming from another biological background feel and think again differently. As well as there are women who don’t have a strong feeling of becoming a mother or don’t even want to be one there are also men who feel the same way. Therefore it is extremely crucial to talk about any feeling along the way and share what it is like for each part. That will give answers to all the assumptions that go on in each other’s heads.

I recently talked to a woman who just learned that her IVF attempt had failed. She told me she called her husband and told him the sad news, he went silent for a second and said then. “Oh ok…I was planning on going to Target after work…do you need anything?” She was so upset about his unemotional reaction – understandably. However I told her to sit down with him at the same night and talk about each other’s feelings. It is most likely he reacted like that because he noticed how upset his wife was and that he was afraid of making it worse showing his own sadness, too. He might have thought he had to be the strong one. Communication is always key, even if it is painful and we are not on the same page emotionally. As long as we are open to accept, understand and support each other’s feelings we can still find our balance together.

I often hear that women feel their husbands seem fine with the thought of not having children. I am still convinced that they often say this to give a positive perspective and yes maybe they can picture a life without kids more easily. As we know everybody is different. However I also believe that mother nature does its job to keep evolution running, of course on men and women. Anyhow since women carry the babies I feel nature is still stronger on women…which might answer why women cannot picture so easily not having kids.

My husband for example has been always a magnet for kids, no matter where we go and no matter whether they are infants, toddlers or preschoolers, they all love him and he plays with them for hours. That made it very hard for me during our fertility journey and it put even more pressure on me. I sometimes wished he wouldn’t care that much and he would be Ok with having no kids.

I think it doesn’t matter in which direction men tend, whether they seem ok with having no kids or as in our case the other extreme. In order to find a loving balance with each other’s baby wish it is important to talk about each other’s feelings. It is also important of being aware that it is hard being the right support for someone who shares the same pain. As a matter of fact it is a tricky mixture – on the one hand it is easy, because the pain is familiar, but on the other it is also very challenging.

I remember times, when I seemed to be in a good place, but my husband wasn’t and he wanted to talk about it. My very first thought was. “Oh no please don’t take me down. I am so happy being in a good place right now”. Of course we talked about it and I supported him, but that wasn’t always easy, because seeing my husband sad made me sad and seeing him losing hope made it difficult for me staying hopeful. Same vise versa. And then there were times where we supported each other without losing our own positivity. It was different from day to day or moment to moment. Very unpredictable.

Fertility issues are constantly pulling on both and it is not controllable. What made it easier for us was accepting being in a painful situation and not pretending everything is fine. We allowed our feelings along the way and tried to be honest about them and open with each other. Accepting the frustration and pain led to more ease, peace and love in our relationship. This waiting period takes a lot of energy and puts a lot of weight on a marriage…However if you keep communicating about your emotions there is a great chance you will come out on the other side as a very strong couple. There isn’t a lot then anymore that can tip the marriage boat – because you have learned so much about each other. So at the end there is even a little silver lining being on a fertility journey.

Keep up the communication and stay interested in each other roles. Both roles aren’t easy that is for sure.

Let me know your experiences. What has helped you as a couple to get through this waiting period together?

Thinking of you! Have a great day!

 

How to be a loving support to a woman who is on a fertility journey…

Coffee Cup At Sunset Or Sunrise Beach In The With Lens Flare. WaI would like to give a little shout out about how to act around women who are struggling with fertility…I hope it doesn’t come across like a preach with a pointing finger. That is not my intention. I see it as a loving and caring guideline for both sides, the women who struggle and the friends and families who like to know how to support their loved ones.

I know it is not easy to always find the right words when being with a friend who struggles to become pregnant, because to many people this pain is hard to comprehend. It is also uncomfortable listening to someone else’s pain. We always tend to leave this uncomfortable zone a.s.a.p. by using platitudes such as; all will be fine, it will happen etc. However the best way to support your friend that struggles is to confirm that this must be a hard journey and that it is indeed unfair and you wished you had any power to do something about it. Offering to be there when she needs you and listening is the biggest gift you can make. Continue reading

When feelings from the past overwhelm us, how can we handle them and even turn them into a healing experience?

IMG_3253I was at a fertility yoga workshop last week and the teacher asked me to join this workshop in order to share my fertility story. I was happy to do this. What I did not think about or see coming was that I was sitting in the same room where I had been before for an exceptional painful session with my fertility coach. I could feel how pictures and feelings came back, it felt like a big wave of the past was trying to find its way through my body…I remembered, we were on our adoption journey and the birth mom who selected us went into labor. She called us in the morning when her contractions had started and told us, it’s time to meet at the hospital. Andy and I we were so excited we dropped everything and headed to the hospital. We had met our birth mom Jane* and her husband Jim* about 8 weeks before and we built a beautiful relationship over this time. We could absolutely imagine having an open adoption together and staying connected through life. When we arrived at the hospital we found Jane and Jim in tears. I immediately thought they might have had a change of heart, which means they decided to keep the baby and need to tell us this now. We were prepared for that moment…but we weren’t prepared for the moment that was about to come…Jane looked at us and spoke with a broken voice.. she could hardly speak…all I heard was…no heartbeat anymore…there is no heartbeat anymore…it kept echoing in my head…I became numb…I did not feel anything…all I did was starring at her tummy… and I could not believe that this little baby was dead…how..she hadn’t even been born yet…all monitors around us showed the heartbeat of the other babies in labor – only ours was just a still line…We staid the whole day with Jane and Jim in the hospital room…we had gotten so close over the 8 weeks…a little baby girl had connected us it was so hard to part at this point. It felt only natural to stay and talk, holding each other and crying together in order to understand the unbearable that just had happened. We sat together for 8 hours until Jane’s body was ready to deliver the baby. When Andy and I left in the late evening we carried home an empty car seat. It was the most brutal experience in our lives, expecting birth and dealing with death instead…the following night my whole body ached, it felt like I had lost the baby, too. Continue reading

Prince Harry before and after – what a life saver it had been for him opening up about his feelings…

Daisy Flower In The Desert

This week I read a very interesting interview about Prince Harry. He speaks about how he had shut down his feelings after his mom died when he was 12 years old. We all remember the scandalous headlines about him in his twenties and beyond. He opened up now in his latest interview about how lost he had been during this time and how he had never allowed himself to be sad about his mom’s death. He thought, being sad and thinking of her wouldn’t bring her back anyway.

As sad as it is…it is true, but still our body and mind need to grief in order to process our feelings. Emotions come with motions (as the word says e-motion) and they need their outlet. If they don’t have one they will keep boiling inside. We can live like that for a while, because we will have the perfect inner managers in line, who will distract us constantly, so we won’t even come near our sad feelings. Distracting with things such as work, parties, excessive sports, alcohol, drugs and so on. In extremis we will feel like a stranger to us.

Doesn’t Prince Harry’s former scandalous headlines start to make sense now…? Continue reading

Who can I open up to during tough times and to whom better not..?

bigstock--141879596‘There is no grief like that one that does not speak.’ Indeed there is nothing more healing than opening up to a friend about our struggles. It brings pure sunshine into our day – we feel connected and supported. However what if we open up to someone and we are not heard and seen? The person either changed the subject or started to talk about his/her own issues or said platitudes such as “all will be fine”. Now our vulnerable feelings are all out there and we are left alone with them. What if this person is a good friend or family member? Someone we thought we are safe with and we thought is caring about us…why do people have reactions like this?

Unfortunately, because we are so close, we always have higher expectations towards friends and family members, it is unavoidable to not become emotional about it. Of course most people’s intention is to support, they just often don’t know how. When everything is great in life, it is easy to get along, but when life happens and people struggle we need each other. However not everybody is always a good match during this time. No matter how close we are.

We would think reasons for this behavior could be, they are in a different life situation or they have their own issues or are from another generation. What I have learned along the way is, it comes down to only one reason: Continue reading