Wednesday, February 29, 2012

that whole infertility thing

Oh, hey there. Remember me? I blog about infertility. Occasionally. Except for when I'm talking about my boobs (going to see the boobie specialist on March 12 - woo!). Or adoption (I refuse to address the continued, negative comments about the tax credit). Or my vacation (8 MORE DAYS).

Yes, here I am. Katie, the infertile. Sometimes, I forget that I'm infertile. Then people make stupid comments. Or I find out that someone I know is pregnant for the umpteen zillionth time, most likely conceiving while on birth control or at least not while trying. That's when I'm reminded - yet again - that my body doesn't work. And it never will.

So, what's up with infertility these days?

1. In case you've missed it, Snooki is pregnant. Yes. The small, orange, loud mouth, Italian chick who ISN'T from Jersey. She's having a baby, and she's approximately 12 weeks along - according to reports. Which means that, unless a miracle occurs, Snooki will be a mom before me.

2. The Pope hates IVF babies. Or, basically, any babies not conceived between a husband and wife. If you attempt any type of conception that is considered a form of ART, he'd like you to know that you're arrogant. Yes, that's exactly why we did 4 IUIs - our arrogance. THE WORLD CANNOT GO ON WITHOUT MY FLESH AND BLOOD. Puh-lease.

and, as if having the Pope all up in your business isn't enough:

3. Every state and their mom is trying to pass a personhood bill, and the latest on the list is Oklahoma. In case you've been living under a rock, these bills are threatening to the practice of in-vitro fertilization in any state in which they are passed. Which means that if you live in Oklahoma, you better get writing. And if you live in any other state and you have used, are using, or are considering the use of IVF to get pregnant, you need to PAY ATTENTION and start doing your research on this type of legislation. These bills are popping up everywhere, and it could be your turn to fight back soon.

As if being infertile wasn't enough of a pain in the ass, it's even more so when is feels like everyone's out to get you . . .

Saturday, February 25, 2012

a meeting worth the wait

The stress of school, work, and waiting reached a head about a week ago, and I decided it was time to stop ignoring it. On the advice of my therapist, and the urging of Joey and several close friends, I booked a vacation. (I also chopped off my hair and made my first appointment to get my oft regretted "tramp stamp" covered with a more elegant piece of artwork. Sounds like a quarter-life crisis, but I promise it's not.)

Back to the vacation. It's needed. And it's coming up in less than two weeks. We're going to Washington, DC.

I'm very excited about this. DC is one of my favorite cities. I love the history, and this will be Joey's first time visiting. We are going for four days, and we have a lot of sightseeing planned. But I have to admit that I'm mostly looking forward to the final day of our trip. It's the day when I will finally get to meet four amazing women who've been there for me every step of the way on this journey.

You see, before I began blogging, I sought help and friendship on this journey through the infertility message boards on iVillage. There, I met a group of women who were relatively in the same place in their quest to become moms. We began blogging around the same time, and we followed each other throughout treatments - failed and successful, miscarriages, tough life decisions (even those beyond the realm of infertility), and plenty of tears. I lost touch with some, but five of us managed to remain close.

It's difficult to explain to people outside of this community what it's like to have such amazing friends who you've never met. They don't get it. They think it's weird to have close relationships with others solely through blogs, emails, text messages, etc. It's not weird to me. Infertility has taught me that even the closest friends in "real life" can abandon you, yet there are people who you've never been within a hundred miles of who will support you and comfort you regardless of the situation. These are those people.

I know there will be a lot of laughter at our meeting. There will also be tears of sadness and joy. But mostly, I think there will be an overwhelming feeling of thanks - at least from me. Thanks that, four years after our first introduction, I finally get to hug these amazing women who've been so wonderful and kind to me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

more on the adoption tax credit

Adoption - much like infertility treatments - has its fair share of controversy. Perhaps more, when you take into consideration that there are not one, but two families affected by the actions that occur in an adoption. It has its misconceptions, too. I was disappointed by some of those misconceptions that were generated by a commenter on my previous post. Here I was, trying to encourage everyone to do something that is genuinely important, and there is someone coming back at me with negative remarks about the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC).

I don't usually spend my time writing entire posts to address one comment. But extending the current tax credit IS important. It's not me begging for aid from a broke government. It's thousands of adoptive parents who legitimately deserve this credit - if not to recoup some of the cost, then for their children. I have no problem pointing my finger at the government and picking out its problems. But the ATC is not one of them.

Do I think that there are agencies out there who rip people off? Unfortunately, yes. There are always going to be organizations that are into things for the wrong reasons. It happens. This is why it's important for potential adoptive parents to research agencies thoroughly, and to get recommendations from other adoption professionals and people who've used the agency. We are very lucky to not only know a social worker who used to be employed by our agency, but also adoptive parents AND birth parents who've had equally positive experiences with our organization. This played a large factor in our decision, particularly the close attention and care they give to the birth parents.

Do all agencies require classes? No, but some do. Many of these are mandated by the state in which the agency resides. Neither our state nor our agency requires us to take classes. We, however, chose to take classes on our own dime about newborn care and health because that's what I believe responsible parents should do.

Does adopting from foster care cost the same amount of money as adopting from a private agency? NO. Whether you choose to foster or adopt from foster care, the cost is minimal. In fact, the state provides money to families who foster. The only costs that may occur when adopting from foster care are court and attorney fees; however, these are often reimbursed by the state. Reserving the ATC solely for those families who adopt from foster care is unfair to those of us who will spend tens of thousands of dollars taking in children who are equally deserving of homes.

Do I think the tax credit is driving up the market on adoption costs? This has to be the most ridiculous lie re: adoption I've heard to date - and I've heard some pretty fantastic lies. It's called inflation. Every year, things get more expensive. It happens with absolutely every good and service there is in this world. Do you know why adoption gets more expensive each year? There are plenty of reasons. Legal fees and court fees could increase. Marketing materials become more expensive. Likely the biggest factor: birth mother expenses increase. Your rent increases each year, right? So does hers. Gas prices, groceries, water, and electricity: all of these are items paid for by adoptive parents, and all are items that go up in price each year. To blame the overall increase in expenses worldwide on the ATC is absolutely insane.

I don't sit here with rainbows and butterflies coming out of my ass and act like adoption/the adoption process is some sort of perfect and beautiful thing. It isn't. But I also won't tolerate any sort of misguided information in my space. I have no problem if someone wants to pit him or herself against this tax credit. What I do have a problem with is doing so based on false information. These are the types of statements that perpetuate over and over again until the majority believes them to be true – and we can't afford any more of those in the adoption community.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

adoption tax credit

Dear Family, Friends, and Followers:

On December 31, 2012, the current Adoption Tax Credit will reduce dramatically. Lawmakers have introduced several pieces of legislation in both the House and the Senate to extend this tax credit.

If legislation is not passed to extend the current tax credit, it will revert to the original amount: a $6,000 nonrefundable credit that may only be claimed by those individuals who are adopting special needs children. The current Adoption Tax Credit allows taxpayers to claim up to $13,360 for each child they adopt. While this may seem like a lot of money, it isn't compared to the cost of adoption. According to Adoptive Families magazine, the average cost of newborn domestic adoption in 2010 was around $30,000. Keeping the current tax credit in place will help those couples that adopt ensure a financially stable household for their children.

The good news is that this situation is entirely fixable - by YOU. I am asking all of you to please email, call, or visit your legislators and ask them to support these bills. (To find the names and contact information for your Senators and Representative, visit the websites of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.) Let them know you want the ATC extended and why. Tell them about how it will benefit the thousands of couples who adopt each year, especially those of us who are middle class and who have worked hard to be able to afford adoption. Tell them our story - about how we spend nearly $15,000 out of our own pocket on medical expenses, and how having this tax credit will benefit our future child. It only takes a few minutes out of your day to do this. After you've contacted your Senators and your Representative, please pass this message on to others. The more people who write and call, the better the odds of getting these bills passed.

Thank you in advance for all of your support, and for advocating for us and other adoptive parents to your legislators.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

heartbreak hotel

The mother of all Hallmark holidays is upon us. Today is Valentine's Day, which means that love is everywhere: splattered in red across flowers, chocolate boxes, and teddy bears in every store in America.

But I'm not going to write about love. Instead, I'm going to write about heartbreak.

Everyone who reads this blog knows the feeling. Whether it comes in the form of a failed relationship or - for many of us - a failed cycle or failed adoption, we know what it's like to be crushed. We know what it feels like to have our heart ripped up into a million pieces. We know what it's like to be bitter, and to feel like the entire world is set against you.

It's not a good feeling – that empty place where love and happiness once lived, now filled with nothing. Darkness. Sadness.

There was a time when that was all I felt. There was a time when the pain was so difficult that I didn't know how to cope. Mostly, I didn't cope. I floated along, wondering if and when there would be a breaking point to the madness. Luckily, that breaking point never came, but there were dozens of times when I thought it was close.

These days, it ebbs and flows. My therapist likes to remind me that it's grief, and not bitterness (which I thank her for, since grief is much easier to accept in some ways). There isn't a linear process to overcoming this heartache, and for some, we may never completely heal. But there is progress. Yesterday, I held a baby who was one day old without so much as a hint of anger or sadness. In fact, it felt GOOD. I felt happy, and I can't remember the last time that holding a baby has made me smile with pure joy. That feeling of goodness and joy probably won't last forever. But for now, it's a sign that things are getting easier - every single day.

What I'm getting at here is that the feeling of emptiness is temporary. You don't stay at the heartbreak hotel forever. Checking out also doesn't mean that you won't ever go back to that place again, but there is an end. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. I know, because I know people who've found it. Someday, I hope to be in that happy place for good. And one way or another, I hope we all get to heal our heartbreak.

Sending love to those who need it most today.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

running on empty

It's been a long week. When the agency notified us that things were going well, they also asked us to put together a profile book. (Until now, our profile has only been online. That's how it's done with our agency.) I'm not sure why they are asking us to do a book now - as opposed to earlier in this process - unless there is a specific reason for needing it at this point. Either way, it's what most of my energy has gone toward this week.

That and avoiding blogs and Twitter. As we close in on four years since the day we began trying to have a baby, reading about everyone's second attempt at having kids is adding to my funk. I'm not going to get into it, because I don't want to sound like a Bitter Betty. Instead, let me write about something positive:

My good friend JC over at Steps to Baby is going to be a mom this weekend! Their baby boy was born yesterday, and they are flying out tomorrow to meet him. If all goes according to plan, they will be parents by Monday. Please stop by her blog and send her some good thoughts. She and her husband are amazing people, and I couldn't be happier that their wait is finally coming to an end.

I hope to be back with my A game next week. I need to be. We have our first support group meeting of the year for RESOLVE, I'm running an event at work, and I have a few big assignments coming up with school. So, if you find my focus, energy, and positive attitude, do you mind returning them? I'll even pay the postage.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

3 months

Today marks the beginning of month #3 on the waiting list, and I did something yesterday I swore I would never do.

I emailed the agency.

Why did I swear I would never do this? Well, because the agency told us not to. It says so in our welcome letter. Sort of. It actually says, "No calls." But I emailed. That doesn't count, right?

Sorry. I couldn't help it. It's been three months. We've been good. We've been quiet. We've been patient (for the most part). And now I'm DYING for an update. We went to dinner with friends of ours on Monday who used the same agency, and they encouraged us to contact them. Chris put it best: you are paying them a lot of money to perform a service. They shouldn't get upset if you check in once and a while.

Valid point.

So now, instead of obsessing over the fact that it's been three months and we haven't had a call since the first week, I'm going to continue to hit "refresh" on my email inbox in a manic fashion while I wait for some kind of response from the agency.

Wish me luck. And send me sanity.

Update: I just heard back from the agency. They said our profile looks great, and they've had a lot of positive feedback on us from birth parents. Which means they're showing us!

Friday, February 3, 2012

woman vs. woman: my response to komen

Some of you were probably wondering if and when I was going to write about Susan G. Komen and their decision to cut funding from Planned Parenthood. The truth is, finding the energy to sit down and express my feelings about this right now is hard. It's made me emotional, as silly as that sounds. I'm having a difficult time grasping how this can happen – how an organization can cut financial support for women in need because of one person's political views. How a woman can, essentially, not support the health and well being of a fellow woman.

About twelve years ago, my mom was very lucky. Or unlucky, depending on how you view it. She found a lump in her armpit during a self-exam. She had a proactive doctor. She had a proactive surgeon. She had and still has an incredibly proactive oncologist. And she had excellent health insurance. Because of her medical insurance and her medical providers, she was able to watch me graduate from high school and college. She stood at the front of the church on my wedding day. And I hope that, one day very soon, I'll be able to place her first grandchild in her arms.

I don't like to think about what life might have been like had my mom not received the medical care that she needed and deserved. Yet, it's difficult not to wonder when you hear stories like this: stories of women who are innocent victims in an unnecessary political crossfire. How would I have felt if my mom couldn't get the care she deserved because she was unable to afford health insurance and because someone couldn't look past her political agenda long enough to say, "My job is to help save the lives of all women."

In fact, this is the foundation's promise, is it not? In their words, they've pledged to "to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find cures." For all? It certainly doesn't seem that way. It seems as though it's negotiable. As in, "We will ensure quality care for all, but only at the health care facilities we choose. Wait . . . Planned Parenthood is the only clinic you have access to in your area? Sorry, you're out of luck."

Despite being pro choice, I am not a supporter of Planned Parenthood in the financial sense. I have never donated to their organization. I have, however, donated to Susan G. Komen in the past. My support of the charity ended long before their severed relationship with PPFA, for their "pinkwashing" and their corporate partnerships with organizations like KFC. But that's not what this is about. This isn't and shouldn't be about why I don't support Komen.

Instead, it should be a dialogue about how to make this stop. How do we stop stripping American women of their basic healthcare rights based on politics? For me, this is yet another example of how the government and my body – or yours – simply don't mix. Nothing, and I mean nothing, should trump a woman's right to basic healthcare. There should be no reason, political or otherwise, to deny funding for breast exams and mammograms. I've had to fight for this right myself, and I am lucky enough to have insurance. Now I stand with and for the millions of women who don't have coverage. They will be the ones who suffer from this action, not Planned Parenthood.

My message to Karen Handel is this: For years, you have claimed to an advocate for breast cancer awareness, and yet now you deny that awareness to hundreds of thousands of women because they choose to have their health exams performed at one particular organization. You are a female who is turning her cheek toward those in need and refusing them the right to the medical testing they deserve. I find your decision deplorable. You are an example of what is fundamentally wrong with this country as it relates to the relationship between politics and healthcare, and I am deeply ashamed to call you a fellow woman.