Friday, April 30, 2010

National Infertility Awareness Week

This week is NIAW. It is a time to raise awareness and support those going through infertility. I have finally been able to sit down and read "Silent Sorority" by Pamela Tsigdinos or Pammie as she is referred to by loved ones. I bought the book many months ago but due to the fundraiser had little free time to read. I am glad I waited because the book is amazing, and I am enjoying devoting my full attention to the content.
I emailed Pamela to tell her I was on page 50 and thought the book is amazingly well written. Her story is bringing up many difficult emotions for me and I journey with her along her path to become a mother. I am reliving the pain of all the negative pregnancy tests, the groups of women who sit and chatter about nothing but their pregnancies, newborns, and feeding schedules, the ups and downs of infertility treatments.
As much as I have moved on the chapters of "Silent Sorority" are a reminder of how fresh the wounds still are. I imagine that my heart will always have a tender spot for pregnancy and the lost dreams I have to live with. Pamela writes about one of her experiences at a baby shower. I found her words made my heart ache with remembering the countless times I attended these events feeling like the pink elephant in the room.
"That evening I was spent. My face muscles ached from being held in a perpetual false smile. My strength and energy had been eroded...My soul was bleeding."
I have often spoken of infertility as a chronic illness. I am very aware of the pain of chronic illness as I also suffer from depression. These two diseases correlate very well when it comes to coping and living with a silent, dull ache all the time. "Silent Sorority" vindicated my emotions with Pamela's relation to infertility coinciding with her grandmother, Stella's horrible arthritis.
"I realized that arthritis is a great metaphor for infertility. Sometimes it was a dull sensation sensation, barely recognizable in the course of a day, but it was always there. It was becoming clear to me that each day brought a new degree of discomfort."
I have not yet finished "Silent Sorority" but cannot wait to read the Pamela's journey and relive the emotions she felt during this difficult time in her life. Even though it is hard to read the book, I am so glad that she had the courage to write down her thoughts. The chapters reveal the pain and hardship of all that infertility presents. And for those that choose to live a child free life after infertility, I hope this book will give them comfort that they are not alone.
You can purchase "Silent Sorority" on Pamela's website and blog:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Adoption Angles Podcast

I finally mustered up the courage to watch my spot on Adoption Angles last week. I had some technological difficulties in the beginning to say the least. There was a horrible screeching noise because my volume was turned up on my computer. It took three times for Mel and the viewers to convince me to mute my computer. I did not understand how they could still hear me. LOL. Oh, well. It's kind of funny.

If you can get through the beginning, here is the link to the show.

Adoption Angles- Parenthood for Me

You will all be able to see what I am really like and hear some things about my personal journey that I have never talked about before.

Thanks, Mel. It was a great experience!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Words From The Heart

The deadline just passed for the first grant application submissions. We received over 200 requests for applications from all over the country. I do not review the applications so I'm not sure how many came. The recipients will be notified by June 15. I cannot believe that in 18 months time an idea has turned into reality. I am humbled by the emails and phone calls I received from people dreaming of parenthood.

The Family-Building Dinner was a wonderful experience. One of my personal goals for the evening beyond raising money for the endowment was to provide a forum to educate on infertility and adoption. The guests who attended without personal experience left with a better understanding of our non-profit and more importantly, infertility and adoption. I hope that they believe in our cause and will attend next year.

I gave a short speech to thank everyone for making the fundraiser a success. I thanked all of the people who have contributed to making PFM grow so rapidly, for believing in the cause enough to take time out of their busy lives to help. For believing in me. I also gave out the very first Commitment to Excellence Award to our Fundraising Committee Chairman, Kevin Mulcahy. Below is the speech I recited. It was hard for me not to get emotional that night. I admit, I'm a cryer- big time. I choked up a bit but made it through. I felt a lot of different emotions at the dinner, all good.

Thank you to everyone for being here this evening. Your presence and generous donations will make a difference in the lives of those who struggle with infertility and dream of being parents and building their family. We have received nearly 175 requests for applications from all over the country including Utah, California, Ohio, and Florida. Many of the letters thank Parenthood for Me for giving them hope that they too will become a mom and a dad.
Thank you to CNY Fertility and Dr. Kiltz for supporting our efforts. The partnership we are forging will help both of us have continued success in our equal mission to bring affordability to those who need medical assistance to conceive, to support those that need a shoulder to cry on, and to continue to educate on infertility choices for patients including adoption.

Parenthood for Me started as an idea one evening late in 2008. My husband, AJ and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who bore the burden of infertility and those who wished to adopt. So I thought of a name, reserved a domain, bought a “how to make it in the non-profit world” book, printed business cards on my computer and started telling everyone I knew that I started a non-profit.

I have met so many wonderful and inspiring people in the past 18 months. I am humbled by the support and respect I have received from people at home and all over the country- many of them strangers who I will never meet face to face.

The board of directors who received a random letter from me asking them to consider volunteering their time for a cause close to my heart, joined in this venture to create an organization that enables the dream of having a family. It has been a pleasure working with all of you and seeing our non-profit grow so rapidly. Your hard work and efforts have allowed me to continue on during those days when I wondered what I got myself into. Some of you have known me since the day I was born and others are new, life- long friends. I will never forget how you have helped me make this dream a reality. And if friends are the family we choose, I must acknowledge the gift of the Mulcahy family for your love and presence in my family’s life.

The Board of Directors has awarded the very first Recognition of Service Award to both Deborah Wittenberg and Beth Brownstein for serving on the original board during the first monumental year of our existence. They could not be here this evening but we greatly appreciate all they did to help establish Parenthood for Me.

Many people advised us not to throw a big fundraiser so early into our venture. But for those of you who know me well, I am pretty determined. I would be remiss if I did not tell everyone that we would not be here today without the dedication and help from my friend and Committee Chairman, Kevin Mulcahy. Through his hard work and determination we were able to put together a lovely event that will raise a significant amount of money and awareness to help those struggling with infertility and those who long to adopt. He has taken on this cause as if he experienced first-hand the hardship of wanting to be a father. I am amazed at his willingness to learn and understand what so many people worry and grieve over every single day.
To my friend and colleague I present you with the very first Parenthood for Me Commitment to Excellence Award.

There once was a time when all I thought of was what infertility had taken away from me- the ability to plan my life, the experience of pregnancy, and the assurance that I would be a mom someday. Now what I think about is all the wonderful things that infertility has given me. I am changed forever and have been given so many gifts to carry with me throughout the rest of my life. I learned that it is not the struggles that we face but what we do with them that alters our path.

Nothing could be more true than the words of Margaret Fuller- “What a difference it makes to come home to a child.”

Thank you again for taking the time out of your busy lives to be here. And when you receive news of the first grant recipients in June, understand that your support played a key role in making that happen. We hope to see you next year with many more wonderful accomplishments and experiences to report.

And, now I would like to share some thoughts and words written to me in emails from people requesting help from PFM. I wish I could help everyone. And I simply cannot believe that we are offering hope to people. I remember very clearly all the times I felt hopeless on my journey to being a parent. If I have been able to instill hope, then I have completed one of my life's dreams and Parenthood for Me has been a wonderful success. Besides being a mom, working for PFM may just be the most important thing I do with my life.

"Thanks for your help and your support to help people through adoptions and infertility procedures. We have ventured through both and know the challenges that can arise from each."

"Thank you for this opportunity. It is so wonderful to know that there are organizations like yours that help build happy families."

"It is frustrating because at this point, the only thing between us and parenthood is about $20,000.00"

"Thank you in advance for this opportunity for us to experience parenthood. It is organizations like you who make our dreams a reality."

"Thanks for your time, and frankly, your existence."

"I think this is wonderful what you are doing to provide resources and financial assistance, but moreso the companionship for infertile and adopting families."

"Thank you so very much for all that you do for adoptive families and orphans around the world."

"Thank you so much for having an organization such as this for those of us who have unique steps in becoming parents."

When I am exhausted and unsure whether I can continue to devote so much of my life to PFM, I re-read these emails. I appreciate the sentiment and those who share their stories and thoughts.

As I sit on my couch finishing up this post my beautiful son sits next to me, wraps his arm around my neck and says,"C'mon, dear." My heart swells at how lucky I am that my life has turned down this path.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Podcast Debut- Adoption Angles

Hi all. I am just about to be on Adoption Angles with Mel!
Sip some wine and check out my crib!

Adoption Angles on MomTV

Monday, April 19, 2010

Misunderstanding Miscarriage - Part I

Here is my latest Examiner Article.
Thank you to those who shared their thoughts. There will be a second article.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Images Of The Family-Building Dinner and Silent Auction

Parenthood for Me's 1st Annual Family-Building Dinner and Silent Auction held April 10, 2010 was a marvelous success.

There were 112 people in attendance. We raised over $6,000 for our endowment. I am proud to announce that 100% of all the donations for the dinner including ticket sales, individual donations, and silent auction donations were put into our endowment.

Thank you to all of the sponsors of the event. It is due to their generosity that we were able to raise a significant amount of money that will go towards the first grant recipients in June.
We have received over 175 grant application requests from all over the US. The Grant Review Committee is now reviewing applications and the final decision will be made June 15.

I am overwhelmed with the support we have received in our endeavor to help build families. Here are some images from the fundraiser taken by my friend, Heather Cicione. She has a photography business and donated her time and talents to help document our very first big fundraiser. Please visit her website. Heather Cicione Photography.

Erica and the Chairman of the Board, Chuck Montante

Sally Bacchetta delivering the keynote address: "The Secret Gift of Birth Parents"

Hand made favors

Our sponsor CNY Fertility Center

The Board of Directors

The Rochester Yacht Club.

Erica and AJ Schlaefer- the founders

Kevin Mulcay- Recipient of the 2010 Commitment to Excellence Award

The President and Committee Chairman celebrating

Board member, Melissa Mulcahy

(More to come...)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I have really missed writing on my blog. The Family-Building Dinner is Saturday and the preparations have taken up all my time and my brain power.

I am so excited to see everything come together. We have over 100 attendees and hope to have a very successful silent auction. The grant applications are rolling in and we will be awarding our first grants in June!

I have the entries for the blog entry/essay contest sitting in the queue. I will not be able to pick a winner until next week. Thank you to those who entered submissions. Real life stories are the best way to educate on infertility and adoption.

The adoption tax credit has been extended and enhanced to over over $13,000. It will sunset in 2012. Let's hope the federal government continues to offer the tax credit to adoptive parents.

Things are well on the home front. Min man is cute as ever. With the turn in weather we have been able to get out the bikes and scooters and sidewalk chalk. It feels great to have the windows open and feel a warm breeze.

Next week I cannot wait to compose a long post about the dinner and show everyone pictures of how it turned out.

We are so thankful to everyone who has made a contribution to the event and continues to support PFM. We are all a part of changing people's lives.

Here is a link to a local on-line article about Parenthood for Me:

Her Rochester

I have saturated our local media. It's weird for me to be all over the news and on the radio.

Next step is national news. Here's to hoping!


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