Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Aren't There Adoption Books In The Store?

I feel as though there's been a shifting in book stores, at least where we live. All we have available are a few branches of & N.oble, some better than others. The one that is near the Mexican restaurant where we go nearly every Friday is not one of the better branches. They have replaced a lot of their book real estate with information and displays on the N.ook, and they have created a huge display of toys and games. I am all for awesome educational toys and games, but when it feels like the "stuff" is getting top billing over the books, in a store whose subtitle is BOOKSELLERS, it irritates me.

Especially when I have the contrast of towns we go to in New England that have beautiful, book-filled, independent book stores. Stores like the Northshire in Manchester, VT (I could live in there), the Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta, ME, and about a zillion others. They have the big box stores, too, but for some reason their independent stores thrive. Here in Rochester it's Big Box or online book shopping. Most of our used bookstores have gone the way of the dodo as well. Which is really sad.

This past Friday, I decided that it was time. I have a huge library of books on infertility -- resources on navigating treatment options, resources on navigating the emotional side of infertility treatment, books with exercises to help you make your decisions and see what is truly important to you in this morass of suffering that 1 in 8 of us gets to trudge through. Most of them have a chapter on adoption, or a chapter on When To Stop Treatment. But overwhelmingly, it feels the message of the books is that if you want to get pregnant, there is a treatment for you and it is largely possible. one chapter out of 20 or more is not making it feel like that endpoint to this leg of things, that shifting from trying to get pregnant to trying to have a family through adoption or resolving to be a happy family of two, is as common as I suspect it is. Even my blog feed is full of people who eventually make it to the other side, who have pregnancies that are scary and fearful but who, eventually, experience pregnancy through infertility treatment. I am starting to think that that may not be where we end up.

I always knew that was a possibility, but it is so hard when you are shown all these options and the treatment paths are so promising and there's always a next new SOMETHING. But, we have been thinking long and hard and while we aren't quite at the SORRY CHARLIE part yet, it feels awfully close. This new scar tissue piece is very frightening. We have always been open to other family building options, and we have done a fair amount of research in the past year especially on domestic infant adoption, in terms of identifying an agency, going to an orientation, exploring their paperwork and their website, and following the journey of friends who are currently pursuing this path. BUT, I could not bring myself to buy a book yet. I wasn't sure I could start putting the energy into adoption that I've expended in spades towards infertility treatment, only to be left, five years later, 7 IUIs and 10 IVF transfers and 12 times under anesthesia (5 of those general) later, holding nothing but pain and grief. Feeling beaten. Feeling that we may never ever get the answers we seek, that while there always seems like a solution is out there, it just never seems to work out for us. How much longer can we continue down this path? I'll tell you, I'm tired. And I want a family. And I don't want to expend all my energy and be left a husk of myself and THEN pursue adoption.

So, while we are not quite ready to make this shift yet, because we still have frozen embryos and there's still a possibility my uterus could accept a baby, and while I can't do two things at once (kudos to you guys out there who have a foot in infertility treatment and a foot in adoption -- I do not have the stamina to throw myself into both worlds and admire those of you who can), I think it's time to start exploring more and getting more information on adoption. I am being honest here -- I don't want you to think that I view adoption as a last-ditch effort. That's not it at all. For me, pregnancy has been really important. It's an experience that so many take for granted, and an experience we really wanted to have. And it wasn't an impossibility, not in the least. But now that that's looking less and less likely, the ultimate goal that we have is TO HAVE CHILDREN IN OUR HOME. To be a family of more than two. To have that beautiful chaos. To get the chance to be the awesome parents we just know we are, under the scars and scabs of all this loss. And if we can't be pregnant, if that is not the path we can follow, then we want to start the parenting piece as early as humanly possible, and the best way to do that is domestic infant adoption.

But, again, being honest, there is a lot of fear wrapped up in that process. I know we aren't the only ones who are scared of the potential losses and risks and the not-so-great stories that lurk out there. But, aren't there those for any family? And the thought is that flooding ourselves with information and positive stories and the truth, not the myths or the fears, we will feel more comfortable with the risks and focus less on what the adoption path would mean losing and more on what it would mean we gain as a family. We were scared of IVF, too. Anything different and outside your own experience is scary. And, again with the honesty, there is grieving to be had. If we go down that path, we are changing our reproductive story. It could be the perfect story for us, but it is definitely different than what we originally imagined all those years ago. It takes adjusting to.

So, after the Mexican food on Friday, we traipsed over to the big box bookseller and I decided that I needed to get some books on adoption. The single chapters aren't enough. And, you would think, there would be AT LEAST ONE book in that big old store on a family-building path that so many people choose. You would think.

I had no idea which section these books would be in, since I doubted they'd be in the Health and Wellness area that the limited selection of infertility books reside. (Seriously, their section for infertility is pathetic lately, and focuses on the tracking books for people seeking to take charge of their fertility, way before all the needles and ultrasounds come into play.) So I went to the Information Desk, and a very pleasant young gentleman tried to help me. He looked up "adoption" in the computer system. He came up with very little.

"Let's check the Parenting and Family section, because they used to be over there," he said, after I watched him struggle on the computer and said, "Having some trouble finding them?" in a completely unsnarky tone.

Over we went, to the section full of baby books and pregnancy journals and week by week pregnancy books. THERE'S A LOT OF THOSE. No adoption books. Then he shifted us over to the "Children with Problems" section, where the guides on food allergies, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, psychological disorders, single-parenting, etc. live. WHY WOULD ADOPTION BE IN THERE? Luckily, it wasn't, minus one book that was "20 Things Adoptive Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew." I don't think I want to start my information gathering with that one, a title that implies, at least to me, that there's a lot of messing kids up, unintentional or otherwise, happening in adoptive families.

"I think I'm looking more for books intended for people who are starting out on an adoption journey," I said, starting to feel the pinpricks behind my eyes.

"I figured, but I'm really having a hard time. There's a book called Happy Adoption Day..." No. I did not want a picture book celebrating a day that's already happened. Someday, maybe. But that day? I just wanted to book that was a guide like all the ones I have on how to survive infertility treatments.

Then, the most bizarre. He called the manager to see if there was a new section after their rearranging extravaganza they'd apparently undergone with their family books. "Nope, I can't find anything. Yes, I put "adoption" into the computer, and the most books we have are romance novels." WHAT??? He got off the walkie talkie thing and I just stared. "Seriously, you have more romance novels on adoption than you do books on the actual process?" I couldn't believe it. And I laughed, a sardonic, WTF laugh, because I've seen pregnancy romance novels in a certain red bullseye store, and I just didn't know that there were also romance novels focusing on adoption. I mean, I guess that should be looked at as progressive that there are trashy fluffy novels surrounding both family-building options. I just wish there were as many INFORMATIONAL books.

So, my search was fruitless. An entire store with many sections, and nary an adoption guide to be found. Not in Family and Parenting. Not in Legal. Not in Psychology or Sociology. NOWHERE. I went online instead, and have been met with a slew of books, and I don't want to buy a zillion, just maybe two, and I don't know where to start. I'm going to look at our portfolio of information from the adoption agency, and see if they have a reading list.

But how about you? Do you have any books that you've found to be helpful when looking into this option? Again, we're not quite at the "taking action" part of this piece. Again, I can't have both doors wide open at once, I just don't have the emotional bandwidth to do that. Even though when looking for books, one of them said "Each year you wait after 35 whittles down your adoption options and how appealing you are to birthmothers/expectant mothers." Awesome. So while my fertility is naturally dwindling even though it's getting a serious hand from all our various maladies, so is our appeal as possible parents. That seems colossally unfair. But, what part of all this is?

If you have informational book recommendations that are not Harlequin romances, please please comment and share your wealth, especially if you have gone through or are going through this process. What was helpful? What made you feel hope again? What will help us navigate this whole new world, since it appears the door is creaking shut on our ability to have a healthy pregnancy? It can't hurt to do some serious exploring now.


  1. That's crazy about the bookstore. WTF indeed!

    I actually really like _Adoption for Dummies_. You can order it from Amazon used for cheap. It's a surprisingly comprehensive intro.

    Find a Resolve Adoption Support Group in your area. If it is anything like the one we found here, they will be inclusive toward you no matter what point you are in the adoption journey----if you are just contemplating at this point, that's totally fine. Others in the group were just contemplating too. I loved the group and immediately got a *ton* of information and inspiration.

    You are 38, correct? You're still in the game, hon. But it is hugely unfair that you will be at a disadvantage the older you get---from all that I've gathered, that is true. Birth mothers tend to gravitate toward younger adoptive parents. BUT. There were plenty of couples in my group who were older than I am (40) and who had just adopted infants. There is no reason why you and B couldn't be one such couple. That said---yeah, starting to move in that direction now, at least gathering more information and support, is wise.

    When we started doing what you're about to do, after three years of loss and treatments, I felt such a sense of relief and hope. It was incredibly healing. Treatments can make you feel like you're in a dark box with only one door out. But you create this *other* door, and hope and light start flooding in.

    I also have (I think you read it and commented) a post on my blog from an adoption conference, 2011, a post full of notes that you might find helpful.

    Hang on, mama. You have more stamina than you realize, and you are nowhere near a husk yet. (: Supporting you allllll the way.

    1. Hi, friend! Thank you for all the thoughts on this. I did read and loved your post, and I will probably reread it again. We've been to a comprehensive orientation, but I feel like I just don't know enough. For me, knowledge is power and the more I can know about a path, the more comfortable I can get with it and the more I feel somewhat in control of my destiny. Even though I've been schooled pretty hard in the fact that in reality, I have ZERO control. I was disheartened to hear that statistic on age, and we have worried that if we wait too long then it will take much longer despite all the wonderful things we can offer BECAUSE we are older and "more established" than some of those 20-something and early-30-something couples. I don't feel old and decrepit, other than the fact that my body just wants to be as disagreeable as humanly possible when it comes to reproducing. I will look into a Resolve Adoption Support Group -- I'm not sure we have one, but if there is I will find it. Thanks for the adoption book recommendation, too! I feel like doing more exploring is just like you said, trying to find another door that will make us feel hopeful again and like we still have a shot at becoming parents. Since obviously this whole thing seems to be on a downhill slide. :( Thanks for your thorough, thoughtful comment! :)

  2. I just tried to comment but I'm not sure that it went through. If you see an unknown comment, it may have been me. SO...
    what I said was... yes, unreal. I've ordered most of my books off amazon for all those reasons.
    I LOVED "instant Mom" by the woman who wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I laughed and literally bawled my eyes out on a plane ride. The poor person next to me didn't know what to do with my ugly cries. Also "you can adopt" has been a good one so far. I find that as with fertility, it's so helpful to have peers. Everytime that I get involved with an adoption event, we leave feeling so excited!
    Thanks for the kudos Jess! love you!

    1. You are most welcome for the kudos, lady! We need to get together and see actual faces. I will have to get Instant Mom from the library, and guess what came in the mail today? You CAN Adopt! :) Great minds, I guess. I liked that it was sponsored by Adoptive Families magazine staff and had clear links to the website for up-to-date information. So glad there is so much excitement at events, that's a wonderful thing. Love you too!

  3. Of course you know Ann Patchett, and have you read "This is a Story of a Happy Marriage"? I loved that book for so many reasons--she seemed to capture the essence of relationships in a lyrical and well written way and her stories spoke to me. Reading about how she establishes her bookstore in Nashville made me mourn all the lost independent bookstores (and I'm mourning bookstores in general, I've only seen one Barnes and Noble in my area) and it made me happy to know that she's trying! I have read recently that independent bookstores are making somewhat of a comeback. Yes, please. If you put out good books on your display tables, I promise I will buy them from you and not online! I will browse your aisles and find sweet surprises to take home. I miss holding books (even though I love the convenience of the e-reader). I really love books and wish I read more.

    However, your post's main point was not lamenting the loss of the independent bookstore. I'm impressed that you went into a bookstore, looked for books on adoption, and then talked to several human beings in your quest to find them.

    We're not there yet--but if this doesn't work out, that's our only other option. I don't see a scenario where we have DS, DE, and a GC. I don't even know if my clinic would do it--my last one wouldn't.

    It's a hard step, and a scary step. And I'm sorry that you have to take it. Hopefully it won't come to that and your ute will heal, your new and improved treatment plan will be the one, and you'll be holding a baby that you carried in your arms in the not too distant future.

    But I wanted to offer you a ray of hope. I don't know if you read her blog:, but she has had a hell of a journey. Multiple miscarriages (OE, DE, Donor Embryo) and they'd put their treatment on hold for the summer, dipped their foot in the adoption pool and a couple weeks ago (after not a long wait and fairly positive experience) brought home their baby boy. It's a wonderful ending and a wonderful beginning.

    There's also this blog: She had a harder time with adoption (I don't know her IF back story), but she was matched with a birth mother, and a few days after the birth mother gave birth, she changed her mind. Reading those posts were pretty heart wrenching. Just a few months ago, less than a year later (if I'm remembering correctly), she brought home Camilla. The adoption has been finalized and she's over the moon happy.

    There are happy endings out there. I wish yours was easier to find, but you'll get there. I know you'll get there.

    1. Thank you so much for the incredibly detailed reply! I so appreciate your thoughts. I will go check out those blogs. I love me a happy ending, and feeling good about a variety of ways that happy ending could come will help for sure. I have heard of Ann Patchett's store, and am jealous. I wish we had something like that. I want to get her book, but I feel it would somehow be horribly ironic and disrespectful to order it from Amazon... :) I want it! I am hopeful that this will all work out and the FET will be amazing, but it's so hard to honestly put a lot of stock into that because our history just says so much otherwise. I am trying to hang on to the shreds of hope though. I am happy that my books I ordered came today -- believe it or not my portfolio from the adoption agency did not have a reading list! They do have a library, but seeing as how that's in Buffalo it's less than convenient. But we'll see how these books pan out... I'll review them when I finish! :) Thanks again for the continued support and thoughtful comment. I appreciate it! I so hope for an end to all this for both of us. May your cycle go way smoother than mine is right now! :)

  4. "The Adoption Answer Book: Your Compete Guide to a Successful Adoption" seems promising.

    1. Thanks! Based on reviews and personal recommendations, I got You CAN Adopt, an Adoptive Families (magazine) Guide, and Secrets To Your Successful Domestic Adoption by a woman who is a social worker who specialized in adoption after becoming a birthmother herself. Figured it would be an interesting perspective. I will look at this book in the library... the choices are overwhelming!