Over the holiday break, we plowed through our embryo adoption paperwork. It is not quite the same amount of paperwork that we had to fill out as prospective adoptive parents, but still a hefty pile.
One of the things that we had to do, other than swear that we don't do drugs or share needles or get paid for sex via drugs or money (I just want to send them a copy of our freaking homestudy through our adoption agency), is create a family profile.
I thought one of the things about this process was that we were going to be able to look through OTHER people's profiles, the prospective adoptive parents of our partially genetic embryos...not that we would have to yet again put ourselves out there.
It appears that through Snowflakes, the profile matching is a mutual business, with adoptive families AND placing families providing a letter and pictures for the other half of the equation to review. It's a mutual choosing.
Which isn't so terribly different in a general way from our infant adoption process -- we put ourselves out there with our profile book and information...and then we receive whatever information is available or made available to us. Our expectant mother chooses us, and then we get the chance to choose her in return. If you think about it in those terms.
Except we don't get a profile book in that case, we don't (to my knowledge) get pictures or a letter of sorts to us as to why the choice to place was made. It is of course an incredibly different process, with a nearly-to-fully-formed infant in the mix, not the tiniest of potential lives frozen in a cryotank, so it makes sense that that burden would not be put on an expectant mother/birth mother.
We are a little surprised to be in the position of being chosen yet again, though, of having to provide pictures and a story of our life and our infertility journey and our current attempts to have a family. Of putting ourselves out there again so that someone may adopt what we had created out of love but were unable to turn from potential to actual. I would have loved to just sent a copy of our profile book, but unfortunately the audience is different and so while I could shamelessly copy text from the profile book about ourselves and our marriage, the rest was from scratch.
Instead of, "look at our life and imagine your baby in it," it was more "look at our genetics and our propensities and imagine your baby with these qualities and attributes."
The letter had to address why we were placing our embryos with Snowflakes, which was very interesting because typically families who place their embryos have had children and considered their family complete for whatever reason, and the embryos were excess and had a proven cohort. Ours are none of the above. I had to explain that we were unable to transfer our embryos and then decided that we were no longer going to even entertain this path, and we wanted to give them a chance while we simultaneously wait to adopt our baby. So sorry, no rosy family pictures of babies you can envision as yours. But also this is less mourning the children and more mourning the fact that I'll never be pregnant, that my uterus will never be anything more than an appendix-like organ, once maybe useful but now just vestigial. It's strange to think how for some this process is incredibly emotional and a bit sad, and for us it's giving these little potential lives that we created an opportunity to be, a gift that we couldn't give them. I hope it came across in the letter how grateful we are for that opportunity, both to be given it and to give it to someone else.
The pictures I chose to do in Powerpoint. You had the option of doing a mixbook or shutterfly, but I think one of those is enough. We used a lot of the pictures from our adoption shoot, but I also picked out pictures of Bryce's woodworking and my gardening and our hiking and nature escapades here and in New England. In doing so I had to look through old folders of cell phone pictures and witness the undoing of our infertility journey over and over and over again:
There's the picture of me on the transfer table, embryo pictures on my lap. There's the picture of us in the butterfly field, happy and pregnant and full of possibility. There's the picture of the pee stick that says "pregnant" even though I know I'm not, not really anymore. There's the picture of me drinking in the Secret Garden, my eyes filled with loss and pain. There's the pictures of the hot air balloon festival we attended shortly after, that was beautiful but also strangely symbolic and brought all my emotions to the surface until I just sat and sobbed in our little blanket space on the grass by a crowded parking lot. There's a strange gratuitous shot of my cleavage that I sent to my best friend, convinced that my boobs were still pregnancy-swollen a month later.
For some reason seeing those pictures in this context made me very very sad. It reminded me how cruel this process was for us. It made me not at all regret our decision to place our embryos with people who might actually have hospitable, working uteruses. But it made me so sad that that was my one shot at a possible healthy pregnancy, and it was so long ago.
It made me grateful for adoption, which has none of that physical pain, none of the pictures of my lovenox-purple belly or PIO-rashed thigh from when I did the shots 2x/day and ended up with nerve damage in my hips/thighs. Just hope that someone will pick us, pick our life and the love and nature and musicality and artistry with it.
And at the same time, that someone else will pick our genetics (and the genetic qualities we chose in our respective donors) and hopefully turn those homeless embryos into children that we had a part in creating, where we are the foreword of their origin story.
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