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 Barn.es & 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.