Saturday, March 7, 2015

Infertility Blogging Vs Adoption Blogging

I have spent four years blogging about my infertility. I started in 2010, after I failed my first IVF cycle. Or rather, my first IVF cycle failed. Kind of an important distinction. I felt my blog had a variety of purposes. I wanted it to be a place where I processed my own emotions and chronicled my story, for better or for worse. I wanted it to be a place where there was helpful information about various aspects of the infertility treatment world -- how to do injections, what a cycle looks like, what to look for in a clinic, what questions to ask when things are going poorly, how to talk to fertile people (and how fertile people could talk to you), how to deal with painful holidays and family events and milestones in your life, when all of those things are tinged with the grief of infertility. I wanted it to be a place where I shared all the completely insane (and yet, at the time, very useful...until they weren't) things I did to try to bring good juju my way -- the candles, the orange underwear, the flying wish paper, the owls, the elephants, the rose quartz, the vag steams, the vision boards, the magical foods, the host of meditation mp3s. I wanted it to be a place where I asked questions about protocols and tried to figure out where mine went wrong when others' went right, and questions about how to deal with different circumstances that I was unsure of. 

I wanted it to be a place people could go to feel normal (I felt like that!), to get a laugh, to get information (understanding that I can only speak from my own experience), and to feel a part of my story. I wanted our stories to connect. 

Above all, I wanted it to be honest, and transparent. Especially as we headed down the donor material path, I felt I owed an apology to my child for sharing so much about how he/she was conceived, but at the same time I felt I owed people the right to know what these things really looked like -- choosing a donor, feeling conflicted, feeling hopeful, feeling crushed and dysfunctional when donor didn't work. And it helped me tremendously to put it all out there. 

I'm finding, though, that there will be a distinct difference with adoption blogging. My blog isn't going anywhere--I don't plan to move it or discontinue it at all. But I have to be sensitive that there is a difference, and that I can't be as transparent as I once was. 

At this point in the process, as we are gathering our information and meeting with our agency and getting ready to get our home study classes done in May, I feel that things are still the same. I can share my thoughts on the process, what it looks like for us, how we feel about various aspects of collecting evidence of our life and preparing a portfolio of responsibility and parent-readiness. It's really not so dissimilar from creating an APPR portofolio to prove I'm a good teacher, only at a much grander scale. The sense of scrutiny seems similar. Right now, everything is pretty much still about us. OUR pasts, OUR life together, OUR parenting philosophies, OUR home, OUR ability to parent. So I feel good about that. 

But then, things take a sharp turn into territory that I can't be honest about, can't discuss, at least not personally. What type of child we can parent (yes, that's how they phrase it on the paperwork). Everything from race to exposures to physical/cognitive disability to family history of mental illness. It's fascinating, and heartbreaking, to make these decisions. But I can't write about them. Because that's not MY history, it's my baby's. 

Everything else is fair game up until the point where we are profile-ready and getting matched. That is, everything else that does not reveal information about our FutureBaby or his/her possible birth family. 

I feel like I'm sorting through all of this process and dividing it into piles -- 

Definitely Write About:
feelings about paperwork (without revealing choices)
feelings about the process
information about the process
updates on the process, to a point
being expectant parents in a completely different way
educational requirements
how to deal with waiting
how to prepare for a baby who has no discernable due date or gestational period
how to manage paperwork 
how to manage questions (both mine and those others are asking)
resources on adoption
how to do a profile book
why the profile book is so stressful
different takes on profile books
managing the wait and balancing emotions between hope and disappointment
And on and on and on... with the focus being on ME and BRYCE

Definitely Can't Write About: 
specific choices on application/grid for "type of child"
specific information about our matching process (who, where, when...)
specific information about potential expectant/birth mothers
anything that would constitute telling my child's personal history that is not mine to share
anything that, if someone who was affiliated with my agency or affiliated with our future birthparents read, would find hugely upsetting (this one is tricky because I want to be honest still, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot)

I'm sure there's things that lie in the middle. But it feels different from my infertility blogging, and trickier, because there are so many other people involved. And it makes me reflect back on my infertility blogging and wonder if I put a little too much out there when it came to donor information, but there's really not much I can do about that now. It's a learning process, right? 

What stays the same is the emphasis on the emotion. And the process. And hopefully being a helpful resource to others traveling down this road, or wanting to know more about the road before going down it.

What's interesting is that a friend of mine who's read my blog forever apparently said to her husband that while what I'm talking about has changed, the tone of my blog has changed since we've made this switch in our path -- it's lighter, more hopeful, and just different. In a good way, I think.

I'm sure as we get deeper into the process we'll figure things out as we go. I'm sure that as we get into snags that are probably unavoidable, there will moments of despair that show through the posts, but I'm hoping not to the extent that we experienced with IVF. I'm also sure we'll goof up at some point. I really, really hope that I can always stay conscious of only sharing OUR information, not our child's or his/her birth family. I think it's super important to always keep this in mind, since I am not an anonymous blogger. Once stuff is out there you can delete the post, but what you've shared can't be unshared with those who've seen it. 

I think I can file this one under "Processing," but also maybe "Helpful," because I know I can't be the only one struggling with how to morph my blog from one sphere of family building to the other. The infertility stays the same, and the path to motherhood stays the same (just a different path than I thought I'd take). But so much else changes. 

If you've made this change yourself, do you have any advice? How do you stay true to yourself without compromising sensitive information? How do you continue telling your story without blabbing too much of someone else's? I thank you for your thoughts!  


  1. I blog anonymously, yet my writing has changed now that we are choosing adoption. The simple ground rule for my blogging is protecting our future child, and their story. Like you, I firmly believe that the boxes we check are not going to be made public at this point in time because that's our child's personal medical info. It's one thing for me to share my info, but it's a completely different thing to share my child's. And, I am conscious of the fact that my blog is anonymous today but may not be in the future.
    The way I deal with this is by focusing on the process. For example I've written about the race selection and substance abuse selection - what bothers us about the selection process, what scares us, how odd it is to be making these decisions, etc. BUT I have never shared our final decisions. We've made the decision that we will not be sharing these decisions or the medical history of our child with anyone except our doctor and counsellor.
    Honestly, it's weird, I've never had a filter before and now I find that I do. In fact, now I have even had Mr. MPB read a few posts before I share to make sure I haven't crossed any of our self-imposed boundaries. It's very weird, yet for now I firmly believe it is the respectful thing to do - our child deserves privacy.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts. I completely agree on the privacy front. And on the having a filter now with the change in process... so many other people to consider, most of all our future children. Thank you for sharing, it is so helpful.

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  2. I am happy for you that you have started on the path to adoption! I think it is also great that you are considering how you can use the blog on this journey and what is and isn't appropriate to write about. Blogs can be wonderful outlets and ways to network but you are right there are considerations about sensitive material. Sending you lots of good wishes and looking forward to reading more, whatever it is about!