It's National Infertility Awareness Week; our journey to parenting through adoption

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and those of you currently going through this heartbreaking ordeal need to know that you are not alone.

Our roller coaster ride of infertility is now a distant memory since at the end it, we were able to adopt a beautiful baby boy in 2000. We had 18 months of pure joy as our son was a very easy infant. It turned out to be the calm before the storm and everything changed when he turned 19 months. Those of you who know me, who follow my blog, know about my parenting challenges. But, I have never written about the 12 year journey that we endured in order to adopt him.

We thought we would start trying to conceive in 1987. After a year of no pregnancy, we sought medical help. After our workup, it didn't look very promising. Both of us had infertility problems, but we went ahead with a course of treatment, starting with Clomid. Poor Martin was prescribed a heavy duty antibiotic that I would describe as a horsepill, for a supposed prostate infection. After a few days of taking the medication, he started to have explosive diarrhea; the drug messed up his gut flora which left him lactose intolerant to this day. He suspended treatment as soon as he made the association. He attributes his chronic stomach problems to taking this antibiotic.

No dice, so we moved on to those fun, injectable drugs. The only one who enjoyed that was my husband, Martin, who got to stick big needles into my butt on a regular basis. My follicles were counted, examined and measured every month through ultrasound. Then, we were instructed to have sex during the small window of ovulation. Then, we waited...hoping that the egg and the sperm got together, created an embryo and implanted in my uterus. Nope. Not once. In 3 1/2 years, it never happened. We even tried artificial insemination with donor sperm. Nada. Niente.

In those days, IVF was still pretty new technology, had a success rate of 17% and most insurance companies didn't pay for it, so it was a $10,000 risk per cycle. It didn't seem like it was worth the risk, so we stopped all treatment. For 5 years, we mourned the loss of the child that we would never have. That ache in my heart to become a parent never went away. I lived with it every day and then decided that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life feeling this pain every single day. So, we started the process of adopting.

We were recommended a small private adoption agency in Evanston, The Center for Family Building. We went to foster care and adoption classes, did a home study where you are asked to prove that you will be a worthy, competent and successful parent. In retrospect, everybody who is about to become a parent, either biologically or through adoption, should have to complete a home study. We decided to adopt a child of any race but didn't think we could handle a child with special needs. All the paper work was completed, we were approved...and then...we waited for the call.

Two months later, we got the call. This experience ended up being worthy of a Made-For-TV movie. This birthmother was 34, it was her 5th child, she was already a grandmother, having had her first child at 14 and she was living in a homeless shelter in South Shore. She was due in 3 weeks. This agency liked the birthmother to meet with the adoptive parents before the baby was born. So, we schlepped to South Shore to meet her. To make a long story short, it turned out to be what adoption agencies call a "fall through" where you think you are going to adopt a baby and it doesn't happen. This poor woman was turning tricks to earn a living, doing drugs, lied about all kinds of things, tried to commit suicide a week before she was due and disappeared from the hospital on the day she was supposed to have a C-section. When her baby was finally born, exposed to drugs, the adoption agency told us to stay clear of this woman and her baby as we would have been connected to her for the rest of our lives. DCFS was called in and the baby was taken away. It was heartbreaking, but a relief, at the same time since this birthmother had led us on a "merry dance" all over the city for 3 weeks.

We had another "fall through" 6 months later which was much less dramatic. We think the birthmother decided to keep her child. All the while, we had a nursery all set up that sat there empty. Then, on November 10, 2000, I got a call that a baby boy had been born the day before and did we want him? We could pick him up from the hospital the NEXT DAY!!!!! At the time, Martin was performing in "A Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre and they were heading into tech week which is a very grueling schedule. I had to page Martin several times to get him to respond. We decided to go for it. We picked up our son from Illinois Masonic Hospital 36 hours later on a cold, snowy winter's morning. We arrived home with our bundle of joy. Thirty minutes later, Martin kissed me goodbye, off to the Goodman as the "show must go on" and there I sat, by myself, with a 2 day old baby and an 11 year old dog.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave any comments about your experience.

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