I had no idea how many IVF pioneers, trailblazers even! that I knew in my immediate circles. Somehow talking about surrogacy opens the door for people to reminisce about their own journeys, heartaches, expenses (!)
I have had more 60+ year old men tell me about the shots their wives had to take, the constant trips to the clinics, the affairs with the plastics cups (boys! stop! TMI!) than I ever would have imagined. It makes me humble.
The things we don't know.
Yesterday, I broke the news to another batch of colleagues. But it was at the end of the meeting as we were winding up. I didn't get to the surrogacy part, and figured this wasn't a group that needed to know everything. I will be absent. That's what they need to know. But then my boss goes into talking about her own adoption adventures. Because it's all about her, right? It always is. So I think the assumption made was that we are adopting.
And I almost clarified. And then I decided. You know, its ok. In some respects, it really doesn't matter where/how our family comes into being. It just matters that it IS. Adoption, surrogacy, having "The Sex" as Dresden likes to call it....none of these processes create a son or daughter that is any less loved. In two months, he will be here. That is what matters.
This isn't to say origins don't matter. They do. Oh golly they do. But those are our conversations to have. We will never be untrue to BBB about where and how he came about. That is our pledge. Once he arrives, it will be his choice with whom and when and how he shares that information. That is our pledge. To ourselves, to each other, to our surrogate, to BBB. The only reason I mention the surrogacy now is because:
- It is obvious I am not pregnant. In fact, I am 30+ lbs lighter these days. Holla!
- I usually have a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand, so I need to stem the tsk-tsking which would occur right after I say, "we're having a baby!"
- I kind of like putting it out there. In everyday conversation. At least right now. And as I've mentioned, response has been awesome.
- I still feel like we are in the process. Therefore, the process can take precedence. It ain't over yet.
But am I being hypocritical? Unfair to my colleague? Is there a problem in mentioning process once the person has arrived? Is there a difference? Am I just doing the same thing? I would really love your honest assessment here. Feel free to be anonymous if you prefer. Because this discussion of origin. It ain't going away. And I would love there to be some open dialog about it here.
I don't think I've ever commented but have been a long time reader and simply couldn't be happier for you!
Also, I completely agree with you - I don't believe that the act of achieving parenthood should overrule the children (so to use your example "please meet my adopted daughter from _____". Just introduce your daughter and let people figure it out themselves!
I think origin matters to the individual. I think origin matters to the people connected to the individual because it often becomes part of their story as well. But for everyone else...
So yeah, I'm of two minds with this in terms of what we owe other people in terms of sharing. Do we need to share consistently the same amount with every person? If we don't share, does that convey something?
I'm reading the new Emily Giffin book about a mother-child reunion in adoption. In one scene, the birthmother is talking to a stranger (an employee at a store) and the girl overhears her conversation and the fact that she doesn't introduce her as her child. And holds this against her. And I really sat with that for a bit because in my world, it matters what you share with the people close to you, not strangers in a store that you'll never see again. But this girl took it to heart that the woman didn't share their connection.
It's difficult to know where lines are, what we owe, what it means (if anything at all) if we don't deliver the same amount of openness all the time.
Long-time reader. So very excited for you!
I don't think you need to worry too much about this - you already know that the context matters. I mention our fertility treatments in a variety of contexts - when asked aggressively why we had children "so young" (it happens a lot, especially work-related), when asked why I am "in a rush" to have another (often by medical professionals who have not opened my chart), and sometimes by mothers in my neighborhood who feel very judged about their age. My children certainly know that "wonderful doctors" helped us to start our family, and that seems age appropriate for now (just 4 and almost 2).
I also get asked about once a week where I adopted my children from since they are biracial and thus do not look -exactly- like me, and I always respond that I grew these myself but we very much hope to adopt in the future. I don't want my children to wonder whether they were somehow adopted since they get asked about it in public (and really people?!?!?!), but I also don't want them to ever get the idea that adoption is a bad thing.
I totally agree with you. I'm 2+ years into a grueling TTC process and we're doing our first IVF in a couple months. I don't talk about it with most people for so many reasons, too many to list, but mainly b/c everyone has different opinions/thoughts/advice and I can't spend all day re-hashing the most personal, most challenging aspect of my life currently (and one that most people are not educated about and rely upon stereotypes/false information as a basis for discussion). It's like repeatedly poking an open wound.
I think when it comes to TTC with all of the emotional side effects, I've kept it on a "need to know" basis, which kind of sounds like what you're doing. And then when your son is born, it becomes his story to share when he feels comfortable. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because it's personal and also not going to be the "most important" thing about him, you know? I also get disappointed when people put "adopted" in front of a child's name, it's a part of their story, but not one that is more important than everything else about them to the extent that the world needs to know this fact first, before learning anything else about them. And there shouldn't be any qualifiers when it comes to family.
I totally get where you're coming from. While I wish that we could all be open about these kinds of subjects, unfortunately I don't think our society is evolved enough yet to talk about sensitive subjects without judgment, and that's what holds me back, personally.
Very excited for you though! So exciting that your son will be here in a couple short months! :)
I am so excited for you! I hope the decision of how much to tell to whom becomes easier with time. It may be that it'll be so natural in the moment that you rarely notice. My partner carried our child and often people who weren't there for her pregnancy (and sometimes, scarily, even those who were) assume I am my daughter's birth mother. Sometimes I find it appropriate and comfortable to clarify and sometimes it just doesn't come up. I have only very, very rarely felt like I "should have" said something. As for my relationship with my daughter, that conversation is completely different of course. But, for what it's worth, when there is a baby on hand to be admired, most people (the ones who make us feel good at least) want to skip right to the cooing and cuddling and don't much care how the baby came to be!
Everything I thought I would feel about Jonathan's conception switched when he arrived. It went from being my story to tell- a story of loss, of infertility, of options we were exploring- to being the story of his life and, as I now see it, his to tell. So those who know exactly how he got here know for one of 3 reasons: because I needed support in the process, because their kids got here very much the same way, or because they are going through IF themselves and I want them to know that beautiful families are built in many ways. If anyone else is going to know the nitty gritty- and that includes most of both of our families, actually- that's up to Jonathan. We've been telling him the story since we brought him home, so I imagine he'll start telling it himself sooner or later.
And, by the way, about your last post- No, dude. I can't stand it!!!
This is so exciting and I completely agree with you. Since our first IVF cycle got cancelled a few weeks, I've been wondering if we could afford surrogacy if I can't carry my own baby. I don't think we can but I think it is just so amazing!
this is an interesting area where adoption differs from ART (but for the fact that your child will be born from another woman, though he is yours already!)
yet the question when to say what when is always an issue. and yes, when you're in the process it makes sense to share in whatever way is comfortable. but it's true, how he got here and who this special person is in his life will eventually be part of his story to share (or not).
Is there anything cooler than realizing you have some long-time readers that you didn't know about before? Hello! Welcome! I love you! Thanks so much for adding your thoughts here.
@Lollipop, I've been thinking about your recent reading for a while now. How would I feel if I were in that situation? On either side? I really don't know. You raise a great questions (and possible future post prompt): "It's difficult to know where lines are, what we owe, what it means (if anything at all) if we don't deliver the same amount of openness all the time."
@Rachel - what is WRONG with people?!?! It does constantly blow my mind what people think is ok to question or say in front of sentient beings. Growing up, I actually got the opposite response from strangers/family/people that should know better. We would get stuff like: "There is no WAY you are adopted! You and your dad look exactly alike!" Uh, ok. So, what does one say to that?? Oh golly. you caught us! It's all been a big ruse! Score one for you!
I really, really admire how you handle your response (clearly, a bit more grown up than me) - these children are mine. Just as children we adopt would be mine. I love how you validate all of the ways a family can be. Thank you for sharing that here.
@Lisa - talking about a TTC journey when you are smack in the midst of it...damn. that is hard in any context and I think very, very few people know the extent of what we've gone through in real life. Because a.) its hard to talk about it without getting teary, isn't it? b.) I think in general, people really don't care and just want to tell you what they think and as you've said, this isn't shit that's up for debate. It's your life. And its hard enough without a peanut gallery. My openness in real life is a pretty new thing, and you're right. It is stemming from a need to know kind of basis (hey! where did m and M get that kid?!? when did THAT happen??)
@counting, @luna and @danielle - I think you're right. There really is a switch when the person arrives. I just hope I'm able to keep my trap shut and help BBB cultivate and create his own narrative without too much insertion from me.
sidenote here: somehow, talking about surrogacy openly has been much much easier for me than donor eggs, which, you know, we have also used. And right now, in my mind, it feels like it will be a lot easier to talk about with BBB too. Because our surrogate, well, we know her. She's here. And she's an open book. And can help tell the story. Not the case with an anonymous egg donor. Sigh.
@jessah - wishing you so much luck! Surrogacy is exciting, but wow, it took me quite a while to come to terms with it and wrap my head around it. Even longer for us to find someone we wanted to take the journey with. Don't let the $$$ scare you. Equate it to the time and money you would have spent on failed cycles. You'll be surprised how easy it adds up. Also, you may have some willing compassionate surrogates around you and not even know it. It's not something you can ask (IMHO) but I know when we made our situation known, some offers came from places I never would have expected. They didn't work out for us (medical, timing, insurance, etc) but wow, did it affirm my faith in humankind to know such people exist. Wishing you all the best! DM me if you want to talk more.
Because we have twins I always get the "did you do those fertility drugs?" kind of questions. Frankly, it isn't the Target check out lady's business how I conceived my children. I certainly wouldn't introduce them as "These are my kids conceived in a petri dish, and these two, they were frozen for three months! Pretty cool, huh?" :)
There are some things not everyone needs to know. I agree. BBB is going to be so well loved and no matter how he got here, the fact that he is going to be here soon and be yours is all that matters. I think it is also awesome you plan to tell BBB how he arrived in the world. Because we have some family who have twins that were born via surrogacy and they do not know they were born via surrogacy. They are now six, nearly seven and they still haven't been told. I find this odd, because clearly every one else in the family knows. It doesn't matter, but every once in a while one of the twins makes a comment about something or another that reminds that they don't know. I think they should because it isn't a bad thing. I feel like it is being kept like a bad secret when it is just part of their life.
So, awesome on you for telling him!
oh, also meant to throw in that I have learned too when you do open up and share to those who are you are comfortable with about your situation, you do learn of so many people who've been through similar things. I've had so many friends talk to me about HPV, other lady problems and infertility since being diagnosed.
Finally, thank you for your lovely comment on my blog last week. I really needed the love and support and I really appreciated it!
I guess it's important to *acknowledge* the origin without making a virtue of it. In a way, if you are just as comfortable talking about it as leaving it out of the conversation, the emotional charge is gone, and that's the goal in my opinion.
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