It's felt like my only purpose in the past seven years was to get ready for a baby. We had a time-line and a checklist and I was making it happen. December of 2010 rolled around and we realized that it was time. Babydom loomed in front of us. I became obsessed, reading fertility boards, spending hours researching the pros and cons of different fertility treatments, making Excel spreadsheets of how much each would cost and how many treatments we could afford to undergo before we ran out of money for it (should I mention I'm a math teacher, by the way?). It consumed my life.
My poor husband is so laid back — he never cared where a kid came from or how we got them as long as someday they could go to Space Camp together (truly, his obsession with taking our future child[ren] to space camp is endearing, but puzzling –- I'll never forget the look he gave me when NASA's funding was cut. "How will our kid ever want to go to Space Camp with me if they can't be an astronaut?!" He was, and is, very concerned with the whole situation).
So, after all the research, and after my husband had to endure long conversations debating the pros and cons of each method, we tried artificial insemination three times; once at home, and twice at a doctor's with the aid of fertility drugs. There was the typical roller-coaster of hormones and emotions, each resulting with a negative pregnancy test.
In the scheme of things, three fertility treatments are nothing — not even a drop in the bucket. I had no known fertility problems, and we procured sperm from reputable sperm banks, so there was no medical reason to quit trying. However, something felt off about the whole process. Trust me, I tried to qualify and quantify what felt "off." It drove my investigative/math teacher/overanalyzing brain crazy not being able to put my finger on what felt wrong about the situation. And then, almost in passing, my husband said something that resonated with me. He commented that, "I wish someone had removed me from my home, and had been a parent to me." Holy crap, was that a punch in the gut. He came from an abusive and neglectful family and, without getting into too much detail, if someone had known the extent of the abuse occurring in the household, he would have been in foster care for quite some time.
Upon hearing that, my mind immediately flashed back to a conversation we had, years ago, when we considered adoption through the foster care system. At the time I had dismissed it, but now it clicked, and we both knew that fertility treatments weren't the path we were supposed to be on. A flurry of new research commenced, this time from both of us, about the foster–to–adopt process. Questions arose: Should we go through an agency? Should we go directly through the state? What age children were we willing to take? How many children? Would we consider siblings? What type of legal risk were we willing to assume? What type of special needs children were we willing to parent? (Side note -– nothing makes you feel more inadequate than deciding your parenting limitations). Did we care what ethnicity the child was? How about the sex? Gender? The list goes on…
We are still entrenched in the foster–to–adopt process. We've filled out the reams of paperwork required, taken hours upon hours of training classes, scheduled our home study with the licensor, and come to grips with the very real fact that our heart will be broken at least once (and statistically three times) during this process. I had a brief flicker of doubt when I came to the realization that I will have to function as a foster mom who will be available to adopt, rather than the other way around. Reunification with the birth parents will be my primary goal, and adoption will be secondary to that goal. I can't honestly say I'm 100% excited about that, but I recognize it's best for the kids, and that's why I'm committed to make it work.
Beyond that, it's driving me crazy not knowing when our foster parent licensing will be complete, when we will get a placement, how long that placement will stay, when an adoption will be finalized, and what our family will look like when this whole process comes to an end. Statistically, I can tell you the answers to all these questions, but life doesn't necessarily follow statistics.
Nonetheless (despite all the uncertainties) we remain committed to this process, and know that while we're waiting to find a child to be a part of our "forever family," we're going to be a kick-ass foster family for those who need us.