Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sharing Testimonials

As we celebrate three years since inception and two years of giving out grants, here are some testimonials and statements from those with adoption and infertility experience.

Thank you for all the kinds words. We wouldn't be here without all the support.

Sincerely,
Erica and AJ Schlaefer ,founders and the board of directors


"Dear Parenthood for Me,
We just celebrated our son's 1st birthday. We now live in the light where we were once surrounded by darkness. Your generosity helped to allow that change for us. After so much loss and pain, we feel that we have now emerged on the other side." -Nancy, 2010 grantee



"Parenthood for Me helped me to understand that we are not alone in our struggle and to really believe that we would have the family we were meant to have, however it happened. The information I received and stories shared helped give me the strength to move forward with our plan. And today we are expecting twin boys! To me, Parenthood For Me's efforts at spreading information and providing support is invaluable."– Lindsay G.



Thank you Erica, you have helped me in many ways that others haven’t been able to. Your blog and organization have been a gift. The biggest gift you have given to me is that some day when my daughter asks why your words will help us explain to her what we went thou to have her. "– Kara F.

"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that it’s a shame that my family planning has everything to do with how much money I have instead of how much love I have to share. Parenthood for Me is one of only a handful of organizations that recognize and help families like mine with the burden of these costs." - Lisa, adoptive mother

"We also had infertility "issues" but did not let that stop us from becoming a family. And thanks to organizations like yours, we did and could not be happier. The day we meet our son was the most incredible day of our lives, just to be able to hold him, touch him, and even smell him was something that words cannot describe. We are truly grateful to Parenthood for Me for helping us bring Liam home. Now we can call ourselves a FAMILY!"- Holt and Shirley, 2010 grantee

"You just never know what can happen in your life. I never imagined that I would struggle with and suffer from infertility. My husband Jeff and I were one of the lucky couples to receive the 2011 grant. We were ready to give up and call it a day as we had done everything we could do on our own. This grant will definitely help us with our next treatment." – Jeff and Judy, 2011 grantee

“After 5 years of waiting our baby is finally on his/her way. We are living on a cloud. We are grateful to you for giving us financial help we needed to achieve this pregnancy.” – Marybeth and Daniel C.

“I applaud your efforts for bringing attention to the sometimes bumpy and frustrating path to parenthood...adoption is a tremendous gift and blessing and this blog could help to unite waiting children with their forever families. My heart goes out to everyone struggling with infertility issues or indecision about adoption....we have been twice blessed through adoption and words cannot begin to describe how grateful we are for our miracles each & every day! -Lisa


“What a wonderful thing you are doing, it will be a blessing to all you help. As a couple that would love to have another child but the money is holding us back as we still sit on the loan from our first adoption, it is encouraging to see people like you that are stepping out to help! - Ashley Jene

”I am so happy that you are creating this non-profit. My husband and I can't afford the infertility treatments. We would need in vitro due to his infertility and insurance does not cover it. Adoption is not an option also because of financial reasons. Good luck with your venture! “-Tracy

"I think your heart is in the right place and what you are doing is beautiful.” -Kara B.


"Congratulations on 3 years of changing history for a number of families."- Lori

"Congratulations on 3 years! I'm so impressed you took something painful in your own life and made it into something amazing!" – Alex



"Erica,

It breaks my heart that anyone should ever have to go through such a painful experience. This is beautifully written. It both comforts those who have been through similar experiences and educates those who have not. The fact that you went through this potentially soul-shattering experience to move forward to helping others going through similar experiences demonstrates your strength and courage.Thank you for sharing your story." – Jeanne



"You really captured many of the truths of the adoptive journey. It’s such an all-encompassing emotional time.....a journey with both highs & lows....agony and god willing, unabashed joy at the end. Thank you for giving a voice to ALL parents."- Lisa




“I'm sitting in a flood of tears as I read your post. It is so incredibly moving and you opened by eyes to a lot of things I had not considered before. I want to say congratulations to you on your beautiful family.” – Claire

"Thank you for taking your experiences and educating people about adoption. At this point I don't know what is down the road for me, but it sure helps me to better understand how to support friends who have adopted. Very helpful - thank you."- Stacey

"What a lovely post! I appreciated your description of the ways you find joy in mundane parenting tasks (ex. picking up toys or buying diapers), because you are glad to have to do the task. Sometimes I get hung-up on my secondary infertility...I need to remember never to lose sight of my sweet 4-year-old, even when I'm longing for her to have a sibling. Thanks for the great reminder.” – Alana

“I have never been moved to tears by a post or anything else. I was today and I could never have put my feelings into words like you did. You described how I feel exactly." –Nina

“I tend to be an optimist in life, and believe that struggle and pain help us appreciate all of our blessings. I thank God for infertility because without it I wouldn’t have my son, nor would I have the same perspective on life and just how sweet the words “love you dada” sound.” – Jerry, adoptive dad

“The decision to adopt is a HUGE one. It took us years to come to that decision. Because in making that decision you are also saying to yourself, it's ok if we don't have a biological child. And in doing that you are grieving that child you never had that would have had your eyes and his nose. It's a lot to take in.” – Alicia

“At first my husband and I had to cope with the unimaginable loss of our first born son dying hours after birth. We coped, we drank, we hit punching bags, cried, wrote - everything and anything we could do to deal with the grief we carried in our hearts.
Then came the infertility whammy. The stress of the double whammy has hit us. We have to work harder at our relationship than ever before. It is easier to slip into our own survival modes, unintentionally leaving the other alone. But we cope, and we reach out and take notice if our relationship begins to drift away from center. It takes work but it is worth it.” – Amy











Tuesday, October 18, 2011

3 Years

Three years ago I had an idea. What if AJ and I could do something to help others? What if we told our story to the world and showed people the hardship of infertility? What if speaking out eased others pain?

At a small gathering of friends I stated I started a non-profit and showed my first business card. The name came to me after searching a few other possibilities that were already taken. The original logo was drawn in purple crayon and scanned.

Letters went out to people in my life who may want to join a board of directors for a tiny charity with big ideas. Most people accepted.

This blog was initiated and I searched all over the Internet for ways to connect and spread the word. I found Stirrup-Queens. With that I found my community.

The community has spread enormously and so much has transpired.

Three years.

Yesterday our board received updates of grantees from 2010. I was able to read stories and see pictures of the families we helped create. Unbelievable.

Our foundation has reached many milestones. We are learning as we go. We have had so much help and guidance from talented individuals willing to donate their time and expertise. As a collective unite we have enjoyed many wonderful moments and successes. Even though there is so much work to be done, we relish in the testimonial statements, the daily requests for help, and knowing that we can make a difference.

PFM thanks everyone who has donated, shared our website, blog links, bought merchandise, and believe in our mission.

2012 has many wonderful things in store.

"I heard your dreams came true."

This is a line from a song that popped out at me today.

I hope all of your dreams come true.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Get To Know



Get to know Barbara Caparell. Founder of the Jim Mulhern Forever Families Fund, Inc.


Q: How did you start The Jim Mulhern Forever Families Fund?

A: Unfortunately, my husband, Jim passed away unexpectedly just 6 months after we came home from China with our second daughter. Jim was a loving, involved and committed stay-at-home Dad who embraced fatherhood. After his death some of our dear friends from our adoption travel group approached me with the idea to start a non-profit organization to honor Jim and his generous and giving spirit. The Jim Mulhern Forever Families Fund was established in 2008 to assist adoptive families with their financial, educational, health and catastrophic needs and to raise awareness of transracial adoption by celebrating and promoting the diverse cultural identity of the children it seeks to support.


Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Jim Mulhern Forever Families Fund?

A: We started Jim's organization to be able to help families that have been created by adoption that are not able to provide for some of their own needs. In 2009 we were able to provide an adoptive family of a Mom and her 2 children with the financial support she needed to buy groceries, gas and clothes during a particularly difficult period for the family. We also hope to be able to help educate people by enlightening and informing them about adoption. We are currently working at funding a lending resource library for a Massachusetts adoption agency and working with local libraries to create positive and informative adoption sections in those libraries. Additionally, we wanted to instill in our "collective children and youth" a spirit of giving like Jim's by showing them what generosity, kindness and hope can provide. We aspire to continue to be able to do all of this for years to come.


Q: What do you do to raise funds?

A: Our main fundraiser each year is a Moon Festival Celebration which is a celebration of family reunion and is the second largest holiday in China. The Chinese people believe that the phases of the Moon represent the changes in life- --joy and sorrow, parting and reunion and when the Moon is full and round it is the perfect time for connection. Legend says that even for those families that cannot be together on that day that when they watch the full moon at the same time it is like they are side by side. Families get together on that day for fun activities and traditional food. We believe that the Moon Festival is the perfect event to symbolize what Jim was all about---togetherness, giving, understanding, and the love of his children's culture.

Q: When is the Moon Festival Celebration scheduled for this year?

A: The Moon Festival is scheduled for Sunday, October 9, 2011 and will be held at the East Bridgewater Commercial Center in Massachusetts from Noon to 4:00pm. We have a dance performance by Dance Revelasian of Boston, a music performance by the Perry Family Band, a traditional Chinese paper folding workshop, a silent auction, and raffles. There are also lots of fun activities for the kids like face painting, balloon sculpting and moon walks. You can get more information about the Moon Festival and the Jim Mulhern Forever Families Fund at www.jimmulhern.org. Tickets are still available for purchase on our website.

For more information please visit their website: http://www.jimmulhern.org/












Monday, September 26, 2011

Filling Up the Glass


There are times when I look back at all I have written and all I have thought and said and think, is not giving birth to a biological child really all that bad?

Yes, I will never see a life created by my husband and I. What would he or she look like? What traits would he or she possess from us or our relatives?

Yes, I will never know what it is like to be pregnant. I am a woman. A woman who wants to get pregnant. It does still seem odd that getting pregnant cannot happen for me. C'mon. I have all the parts and they even work, I think. No pregnancy?

But I am a mother. I have a son who is absolutely amazing. Every day I am in awe.

I have another son who lives far away but will be in his home soon enough. He will be a little brother, son, grandchild, great grandchild, cousin, nephew, and friend to so many people.

Again our home will be filled with a baby boy.

But then I pause and remember that the journey through infertility is full of pain. There are most definitely highs and lows. There are moments filled with hope and pure dread. But the desire to have a family is strong- in your bones strong. We push on and keep on keepin' on.

I recently had a conversation with someone who revealed to me the power of the human mind and how positive thinking can alter many outcomes. I have heard this before and tried to practice positive thinking when all I wanted to do was wallow. But for some reason this time I really believed that my own thoughts reflect on my successes and failures in life. I have come to a new phase in my journey. I have healed in so many ways. My scars are no where near as visible and at this point I am more open minded about lack of pregnancy.

What I realized is that I need to dream. I need to think about everything I do and how I can drive my own success and happiness. And I have to be okay with the outcome.

If I am okay with the outcome, and I am grateful for everything that is positive, then I will lead a happy life.

Today is about the present. And I have decided to stop looking back at all the difficult times leading up to becoming a parent. Reflection on hard times is a necessity. We must not forget any part of our life because of how it has shaped us. But I have decided to really try and reflect on wonderful things that have transpired since infertility became a part of my life.

I will still have my days of sadness. I will continue to wonder why having a family is so easy for others and yet the biggest hurdle many others will ever face. But maybe, just maybe this is a step for me in the direction of letting go. Releasing some of the pent up pain that has not allowed me to move on.



*image provided by google images

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Life of Lucy



Either you are an animal lover or not. And, it is safe to say that even if you are an animal lover, you may not be a pet person. Well, I am both. As a kid I always wanted a dog. My parents had an Irish Setter, Shawn as newlyweds and he was pretty defiant and wild-into everything. A shoe eater I hear. He also ate the top of their wedding cake on the day of their first wedding anniversary. When my brother was born, Shawn didn't take too well to the new arrival. He was a good dog, but needed more space to run and get out his energy. My mother grew up with several dogs and cats and had never given a pet away. But Shawn needed a better home. So they found him a 100+ acre farm to live out his days, and afterwards received many reports that he was healthy and happy in his new home.

Shawn sealed my fate for ever getting a dog as a kid. However, my parents wanted my brother and I to have pets. Just pets that seemed to be less work. Pets that could be left for a few days if we went on vacation. My brother got a red haired rabbit that he named Thumper. He was the best bunny you could have. Acted more like a dog than a rabbit. Greg had him on a leash and took him for walks. He was the sweetest animal and my brother loved him to pieces.

We had a rather large yard growing up and somehow along the way my dad decided to build Thumper a pen outside in a shed off our garage. The pen had access to the outdoors if he wanted fresh air, but when it was real cold, he could be inside out of the elements. This evolved into finding Thumper a mate so we could have bunnies. Oh, Thumper had many girlfriends. I think I named them all- Tiffany, Violet, and maybe another. Thumper had several batches of bunnies and it was such a thrill when they were born. They were the cutest things ever. We sold them to neighbors and friends and of course kept at least one. In the winter my brother was always out checking on the rabbits. There was a space heater out there on really frigid nights and he would bring them inside sometimes much to my parents dismay.

Tiffany and Violet eventually passed away. The life of a bunny isn't too long. But Thumper kept hanging in until age 6. I'll never forget the day Thumper died. It was my first experience with death and I felt so awful for m brother. He was devastated. By that time my brother was a young teenager and had more important things going on in his life than to breed rabbits. But the lessons of love and tenderness learned by having Thumper were priceless.

For my sixth birthday my dad decided to follow through on an ad in the paper for a cockatiel (in the Parrot family). He thought a bird was harmless enough and again, we could live it at home for a few days. It wouldn't ruin the house, didn't need to be potty trained or walked.

We went to the pet store and there was a huge window full of baby cockatiels. Who knows how I picked out my bird but eventually I found the one and the person at the pet store got him out and helped me hold him. We realized that he had a lame leg and may not make it so my dad suggested I pick out another.

We brought the bird home with a fancy new cage and bells, and special treats. I named her Maxine. I don't remember much about the early days of acclimating with a bird except that she was ornery sometimes, and if she cam out of the cage, it was hard to get her back in. After a few weeks I thought I would change the name to BeeBee. Who the hell knows! Then it was Maxine BeeBee.

After about a year we found at the Maxine was really a Maxwell. Flesh colored feet and beak were signs of a male and a better disposition as well. After some thought his name became Chucki. And this one stuck. Notice it had to be with an 'i." He was the greatest little creature. Again he was a bird more like a dog than a bird. He came when he was called, flying from the living room to the kitchen where I would be making breakfast. He never wanted to be without me. If I left the room, he followed me. He was always on my shoulder or in my lap. He had the best personality and if you didn't think birds could smile, you're wrong. He hammed it up for people and loved showing himself off. He never learned to speak English but he had several different songs and each of them meant that he was in a different temperament.


He liked to eat breakfast with me so I would offer him some cheerios and there he sat on the table chomping away as I ate my bowl of cereal. I loved that bird more than anything. He was the first thing I saw in the morning and the first thing I wanted to see when I got home from school. He comforted me as a child the way most pets do.

When I went away to college in Delaware, I had to leave him home. That was really hard. I got home a couple of times a semester and our reunions were always the same- adoration.

Chucki moved in with me to my first home. I got married and moved to a second home. He filled our house with song and I loved taking him out just so he could sit on my should or as he got older in my lap on a blanket. He loved to have his cheeks rubbed.

One morning I found him at the bottom of his cage. This is the tell-tale sign that a bird is failing. They are such strong creatures that they do not show many signs of their age until it is time for them to pass. I picked him up in my arms and cradled his little body as his eyes closed. His breathing became rapid and I just lay on the couch with him in my arms making sure he was warm and felt safe.


At 28 years old I lost my first pet. It was extremely difficult to not hear him sing when I walked in the door. I missed his silly antics and smiling eyes. What a blessing he was to me. All because my parents didn't want us to have a dog. Chuck was in my life for 22 years. Amazing. And again I learned so much about love, compassion, and companionship. I was responsible for taking care of him and he in turn, he took care of me.


Part of what helped me get over the loss of Chucki was my invaluable relationship with my beautiful Brittany Spaniel, Lucy. AJ and I had gotten her when we moved into our first house. By the time Chuck died Lucy was 3.

Lucy has been my lifesaver. AJ always calls her my dog and I know it is true. She follows me wherever I go whether it is down to the basement to fold laundry or upstairs at night when I go to bed.

How we came to bring Lucy home is a story of fate. We called the breeder from a newspaper ad. The farm was 2.5 hours from our home. AJ requested a girl and the man on the other end of the phone said he had one girl left. A couple requested her and were supposed to pick her up the day prior. He said if we got there before them, we could bring her home. We rushed out of the house and made the drive. As soon as we pulled up to the farm I saw a bunch of boy pups romping around in the mud. They were adorable. The woman asked me if I would like to see the girl. She was inside and bathed already. I left AJ outside to make small talk with the breeder. Walking into the cramped farm house I looked down and saw the most precious little puppy wrapped in a pink blanket. She had a shiny cream coat and reddish floppy ears. When they are that young, their spots haven't formed yet so her coat was almost all creamy white. I held her in my arms and instantly knew she was ours. I hurredly brought her out to AJ and one look at her and we were sold. We gave our money, signed the papers, and headed to our car.




For months we had debated on a name. I am big on names and I had all sorts of ideas. AJ wasn't keen on any of them and kept saying she will name herself. As we stood on the farm in the cold November weather, I whispered a name that was never on my list, Lucy. She is our Lucy. And she was.

We wanted to show her off to everyone. We brought her to my parents house (the non-dog lovers). My mother was smitten immediately.


After puppy-dom waned and she was potty trained and got past the stage of wanting to chew we got along famously. She grew and turned into a dog but boy did she have a personality. Just like a toddler. She made AJ and I laugh so hard. After we got married and tried to have kids, Lucy was our baby. She was there for us during our many disappointments.

I recently read a memoir and the author spoke of her relationship with her dog as a young girl. She said, "my dog was a great listener, as most dogs are..." This is my Lucy. During our infertility journey and the countless disappointing pregnancy tests, Lucy was my savior. I cried in her soft coat countless times and she lay there just knowing that I needed her. She was my only baby for 5 years. I took care of her, doted on her and loved her the way she loved me.


We were so lucky that other couple never showed up that cold Saturday morning. Lucy was meant to be ours. After becoming adoptive parents, this seems to be a recurring theme in our life. Our little family has been brought together by chance and luck or perhaps the fulfillment of a story already written.

Lucy will be 9 in a few days. She is eating senior food. Brittany Spaniels are notorious for their energy and need to run. They act like puppies well into the senior years. People have told us that their 14 year old Brittany still acted the same as when he was a pup. Lucy runs in our big back yard for hours. She is a hunter by nature and loves being outside.

I've noticed that her beautiful red "mask" that covers her eyes and eyelashes had turned white. On rare occasions she will lay down in the grass now instead of running for 3 straight hours. But she only lays down long enough to create a beautiful picture. A creamy white dog laying in lush green grass looking out into the woods behind our house.


Recently we had to bring Lucy to the vet. Both AJ and I decided we could no longer try to ignore the bulge coming out of her right side. We could feel two lumps, one big and one small. We have had her checked before and the lumps are usually just fatty tissue, but at her age we needed to be more proactive.


I cried my eyes out that night. I always expected Lucy to live to her life's capacity which is 14-16 years. I just could not wrap my mind around her leaving us too soon. The results from the vet were somewhat comforting but left doubt. They don't believe the thumps are cancerous but unless we completely remove the lumps, we will not know for sure if they are benign.

AJ and I believe in quality of life for all creatures. We will continue to monitor her and if it is necessary have her undergo surgery. But for now she seems in great health.

I cherish every day with her. Seeing her face in the upstairs window every day when I pull in makes me laugh. Watching Min run around in the back yard with her is a dream come true. I love my Lucy. At age 9 I am coming to terms that her life is becoming shorter. Hopefully we will be lucky and get to see her live out her days relatively healthy and when it is her time to go, she will die without pain and in peace.


Lucy is my savior. She is a dog with a human-like soul. She is another unforeseen gift and I am forever changed by having her in my life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Raising Awareness with Artwork for Building Families



Many of you know that PFM has a line of stationery note cards made by artists local to Rochester, NY and also some of our favorite students at The School at Columbia University thanks to my friend and teacher, Kate.

We have a line of holiday cards that we would like to reintroduce for this year's season. All net proceeds go toward our endowment. In reaction to the Facebook and Breast Cancer meme which proves once again that infertility is completely misunderstood, I thought it would be nice to do something positive for the Adoption, Loss, and Infertility community.

Kid's artwork is the best. We are looking for kids to draw pictures of things pertaining to winter and the holidays. Maybe a child you know could have their artwork printed on our note cards and help raise money for our grant program.

Here are the guidelines:

1) Artwork can be emailed in pdf or jpg format to info@parenthoodforme.org or mailed to:
Parenthood for Me, Inc.
PO Box 67750
Rochester, NY 14617

2) Must be postmarked by October 1, 2011

3) Please include child's first name, age, and and email address or mailing address where parent/guardian can be reached. (we will need to get permission to reprint artwork and post on-line)

4) And last but not least. Be creative!
Here are some ideas: snowmen, snowflakes, holiday scenes. We are looking for artwork for any holiday during December.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

*depending on volume, we may not be able to print all artwork received

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fake Pregnancy and Breast Cancer Awareness

The initiative on Facebook this year to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not only puzzling but disturbing on many levels.

Last year women were supposed to put a color in their status and keep men guessing what it meant. The color signified the color of the bra they were wearing that day. This makes sense to me. Breast Cancer Awareness- bra color.

There is no need to write a new post on this subject when two wonderful writers explain this year's status meme and it's effect on the infertility community and cancer survivors.

"I'm Zero Weeks and Craving a Baby" from Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed

"Pretending You're Pregnant Makes People Truly Understand Breast Cancer" from Stirrup-Queens.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Expectant Mother



Walking from my car through the Weg.man's parking lot I inevitably turned my head to see the "Expectant Mother" parking sign. The familiar twinge of sadness in my heart ebbed for a few moments while I made my way inside the store.

I am an expectant mother. My baby lives thousands of miles away and not in my belly, but he is our son and we are his parents.

I don't need a special parking space or help picking things up when they fall. There is no need to dote on me and get me pickles and ice cream, but I feel the same way any mother feels who is pregnant. I think of baby Wee every day. I image what he will smell like and look like when he arrives. I hope that he is happy and healthy, although I rest assured that his foster mother is filling his heart with love and teaching him everything she can before he leaves her home.

Throughout my journey to motherhood I have learned a lot of things. I have learned about grief, joy, finding the good in life despite extreme pain. I have learned that I can endure and come out the other side a better person, someone who appreciates the difficulties in life because of the reward that can follow. Motherhood to Min and now baby Wee is unbelievable and remarkably I still marvel at my 4 year old nearly every day. I find myself taking moments while he is singing, jumping on my furniture, eating breakfast, and being silly to stare in awe that this is my child. I have also learned a lot about what parenthood means and what a complete joy and gift it is to raise children.

When do we become expectant mothers? I understand now that it happens long before we decide to try and conceive. It even happens before the marriage. Each woman may not think about having a baby in depth when they are young or beginning to start a life with someone, but motherhood is part of being a woman. There is an expectation of parenthood someday.

I remember playing with dolls, changing their diapers, giving bottles and rocking them in a cradle. I always had tons of names in mind. Like most kids I didn't particularly like my name and always thought I could come up with something better! As I got older thoughts formulated about things I would do with my children. I am a linguist. I knew I wanted to teach my kids Italian and Spanish. They would grow up in the Thousand Islands at our family cottage. Memories were created long before I wanted to become pregnant.

Now that I am a mother and fulfilling those thoughts and dreams I have new hopes for my second child. He will be 18 months when he comes home from Korea. I hope that his transition into a new life will be easy for him. I am so thankful for Min because he will help his little brother become acclimated to all the new sites, smells, and sounds of our home. He will give him affection and talk to him, helping him to learn English. He will be a great big brother.

Expecting our second child through adoption is another surprise in my life that is nothing less than magical. Being an expectant mother for the second time feels the same as waiting for Min but different as well. The wait is longer. There is a different level of difficulty in imagining how he is doing and what he is like. I try not to think too much about how fast he is growing and what we are missing but rather all the time we will have with him.

As an expectant mother I may not need to be helped out of the car or supported when feeling anxious about a pregnancy, but I do need help in the long wait until baby Wee comes home. There are tough days thinking about the remaining five months until we get the call that he is coming. I need help rejoicing in his existence and what life will be like when we all get to hug him and meet him for the very first time.



*image provided by google images.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Grant Recipient Story



Hi…my name is Laurie and I’m infertile. My story could be a sad one because I don’t have the happy ending yet. But I’ve chosen to not see it that way.

Still single and 37, I decided that it was long enough to wait for the husband. I moved forward with trying to have the baby. If the husband happens, great. If not, life will go on. I couldn’t accept the same attitude about a baby and becoming a mom.

My doctors knew immediately that there might be a problem trying to get pregnant, but they were very optimistic that fertility drugs would solve what nature wasn’t doing correctly in my body.

At the appointment for my first IUI, my doctor even asked me if I wanted to skip the month, because I had so many mature egg follicles. “Are you prepared for multiples?” It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t get pregnant that first time. I didn’t.

For three years, I did everything possible to get pregnant – fertility yoga, abdominal massages, acupuncture, meditation, shots, vitamins, drinking black-strap molasses and eating only “warm” foods.

Three years later – after six IUIs, six IVFs, one IVF with donor eggs and one miscarriage – I was emotionally spent. At that point, I wrote the following in my journal:

My uterus is the place where healthy, viable embryos go to die. There is no other explanation. It really is the only explanation, and honestly, it's what I have to believe or I will think that there is something more I can do, something else I can try, when really I have to believe that I've done all I can and it's time to move on.

From that point on, I began my journey in international adoption, which I have discovered can be as unpredictable as my own body. What originally started as a 12- to 15-month wait has turned into a 22- to 28-month wait.

While I am hopeful that an adoption from Ethiopia will still work out, I cannot count on it. The instability and uncertainty in the Ethiopia process have convinced me to be more proactive in pursuing my dream to be a mom, and I have recently started the necessary steps for domestic adoption.

And so as I said at the beginning, this could be a sad story. But I choose to not look at only the things I’ve lost – the chance to carry a child – but also the things that I’ve learned and gained.

I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more stubborn than I ever thought possible. I am infertile. But I am also invincible.

I’ve learned not to take it personally when my siblings and close friends don’t ask how things are going. That perhaps because infertility and adoption are foreign concepts in my family, they don’t know what to say for comfort and support. And I’ve learned which friends are there through thick, thin and tears.

I’ve gained a circle of friends who, without this experience, I wouldn’t have met. Strong, amazing women who have been through the same struggles, who have the same fears I have.

I’ve gained patience. Tremendous patience as I waited for the next cycle of fertility drugs to start, waited the 16 days for the blood test, waited for background checks to come in and paperwork to be filed, and most importantly, as I wait for my child.

And every day, as I still think about what I’ve lost, I think more about what I have to gain, what I have waiting for me down the road.

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Laurie works in the Office of Marketing Communications at Ithaca College. She loves books and baseball, and can't wait to turn her child into a Yankees fan. She is a recent recipient of a Parenthood for Me grant.

Thank you for sharing your story.

*image provided by Jeffrey Schlaefer

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Feeling Life


I had never felt a pregnant woman's belly. I never wanted to be one of those people that feel the need to invade a pregnant woman's space. But touching a pregnant belly and feeling the growing life inside has been too painful for me. I never asked to feel a baby kick or see if I could feel the feet pressing themselves up against the uterine wall. These precious moments touched too close to my inner loss and pain.

When there are sonogram pictures, I briefly glance but not long enough to see the growing life. I am brought back to the pictures we have of our three embryos on day 3 of their life. The only life we created together. Embryos that did not survive.

When my friend became pregnant, I told her I wanted to live vicariously through her and learn about her pregnancy. I gave her my What to Expect... book. She would fill me in on what was going on month to month. It was nice to hear her speak of this monumental experience in her life. I pushed through my feelings of loss and separated the conversations into her experience, having nothing to do with my lack of experience.

Nearly every day my thoughts turn to infertility. Sometimes the thoughts are of acceptance. Others I cry my eyes out. I have prepared myself for these moments of acceptance and grief knowing that they are a part of my life.

Another good friend is pregnant, and for the first time ever I asked her if I could feel the baby. Through weeping eyes I explained that I had never touched a pregnant woman's belly. I wanted to know what it was like. Even if I never touch my own pregnant belly, I want to understand the miracle of pregnancy.

This moment was a rite of passage for my very long and painful experience of infertility. I was proud of myself for opening my mind and not allowing my own grief to make me lose out on being involved in loved one's pregnancies. The process has been an evolution.

Nearly 7 years into trying to conceive I am still learning and growing. I continue to try and focus on all that wonderful things in my life and accept that pregnancy is not something in my life's plan. However, my boys are a dream come true. I cannot imagine who I would be if I was not an adoptive mother. For every loss and sad feeling that overcomes me, I look at my son and smile. His hugs can cure all and his smile makes everything better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Wait Game for Adoptive Parents

My husband and I are adopting again and waiting for our son to come home from S. Korea. We were matched on February 14. Just like the first time we adopted, the phone call telling us we would be parents to a baby boy came unexpectedly quick and was a thrill beyond belief.

We were warned that the wait time for this adoption would be longer. There is a lot of paperwork and processing through both governments to get the baby cleared to leave their birth country and bring them to the United States. We are anticipating his arrival in December. However, we are also preparing ourselves for delays.

When we were matched with Min in November 2007, the anticipated arrival time was four months. March came and went along with his first birthday and Mother's Day. The delay was excruciating. We just wanted to meet him and have him in his home. His room was all ready, the toys were put together, clothes all washed and in the dresser. Finally on June 3, 2008 we met our son for the first time, and all the months of waiting washed away.

This time around I have tried to parallel the adoptive parent's wait with a pregnancy. The anticipation of the birth of a baby's is similar. As the months go on anxiety builds and everyone just wants the baby to be born.

Adopting internationally offers a different type of wait because our son is alive, thriving, and making many milestones that we are not there to witness. We have a few pictures but hardly any details about his progress. We know he is being well taken care of and that does help, but it is hard thinking of him every day wondering what he is doing. Baby Wee turned one May 10. He will be about 18 months when he comes home.

Min is very excited about being a big brother and he mentions Baby Wee almost daily. I cannot wait for him to have his brother home. I know he will do a great job and help make our little son's transition home easier. Min is very loving and always wants to help. He will embrace his new brother and teach him things. Seeing their relationship is one more reason why the wait this time seems more difficult.

Time always flies by in hindsight. We have many things to do around the house in preparation for a baby to be here. We have to paint the boys rooms. Min is moving to a "big boy" room and Baby Wee will have his current bedroom. I have to wash all of Min's baby clothes and reassemble the crib. The baby gates are somewhere in the attic along with the pack and play.

It will be amazing to get all of theses items out, dust them off, and see our Baby Wee in our home forever.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Many Hands Make Light Work

Since inception Parenthood for Me has been made up of a board of directors. AJ and I are the founders but without the help of many people, PFM would not be where it is today.

I would like to take the time to mention all those who have sat on the board since we became an official non-profit corporation in January of 2009.

Beth Brownstein- 2009
Mark Gunther- 2009-2010
Sally Bacchetta- 2009-2010
Deborah Wittenberg- 2009-2010
Elaine Pelissier- 2009-2010
Jerry Furciniti- 2010

The following are current board members volunteering their time to our worthy cause.





Charles Montante, MS, CASAC, NCACII, LMHC
Board Chairman

Chuck is Vice President of Clinical Services at Westfall Associates. Chuck has 36 years’ experience in the chemical dependency and mental health fields, having worked in schools, community based agencies, inpatient facilities and outpatient treatment agencies.

Chuck and his wife Suzanne have three children, Carrie 29, Danielle 27, and Jonathan 24. The Montantes split their residences between their home in Rochester and their cottage on the St. Lawrence in Clayton, New York.









Kevin J. Mulcahy
Vice-President

Kevin grew up in Hamlin, NY and has 2 sisters. He is the owner of a landscape and design company in Rochester, NY. He and his wife, Elena have two boys ages 10 and 7. Kevin is involved in many community activities and volunteers his time in youth sports.








>

Robert F. Spatola, Jr., CPA
Treasurer

Rob graduated from St. Bonaventure University with both a Master’s and Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and is currently a manager with The Bonadio Group’s Small Business Advisory Group. Aside from his tenure with PFM, his community involvement includes a current board position with the National Kidney Foundation, past treasurer of Friendship Children’s Center and Junior Achievement volunteer. Rob and his wife, Megan have an 8 month old son.













Melissa Mulcahy





Melissa graduated from St. John Fisher College with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and a Master's degree in Human Service Administration. She is the Executive Director of CDS Unistel.













Abbey Naples

Abbey has her Bachelors Degree in Journalism / Mass Communications and a
Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Bonaventure University. She is currently an Account Executive, Research Services for Eric Mower and Associates.





Nancy Koris




























Friday, April 29, 2011

Parenting After Infertility


RESOLVE is celebrating National Infertility Awareness Week by asking people to Bust A Myth about infertility.

Myth: The pain of infertility is cured with parenthood.

I am an adoptive mother of one. My husband, AJ and I are also expecting another baby boy through international adoption. Our son, Min who is now 4 came home from S. Korea in June of 2008. Parenthood is a dream come true. We couldn't be happier with our little family, and it is very exciting to have a brother for our son. However, the very long and arduous journey to parenthood has left an imprint on my soul forever.

Infertility, the disease of infertility changes one's life. We tried for nearly 4 years to conceive through Assisted Reproductive Technology. I had an ectopic pregnancy, and shortly thereafter our attempts to get pregnant stopped. The financial and emotional toll were too much. We were faced with an extremely difficult question.

Will we ever be parents?

When you have to ask yourself this question because of circumstances out of your control, the words seem like those uttered by someone else. The thought makes your insides ache; the conversation surrounding your future life with or without children implodes a sadness beyond comprehension. I will never forget that period of time when every sight and sound of babies and families made tears sting my eyes. So many people were moving on with their lives and becoming parents, and we were alone with our grief. We were alone with our inability to plan for a pregnancy and enjoy telling our parents that they would be grandparents. We were missing out on so many important milestones.


Everything became about the word "if." If we have a child, we will use this room for the nursery. If I get pregnant, we won't be able to go on that vacation next year. If we become parents, teaching him or her how to play baseball, golf, or fish will be so wonderful.


"If" hung in the balance and was a constant reminder that we did not know what our future entailed as a couple or individuals.

When Min came home, a friend of mine said, "Now you're in the club." She meant the parenthood club. But I thought to myself, I'm in a lot of clubs. I was still infertile and without the experience of pregnancy. And it hurt.

Procreating is such a natural part of being human. When you are forced to come to terms with the fact that it may never happen, you are giving up a large piece of yourself. It’s a blow so unexpected it takes your breathe away. As a woman I feel like I will never be able to catch up in the circle of conversations that revolve around becoming a mom. When I get together with women, the first third of conversation regarding pregnancy, giving birth, breast feeding, swaddling an infant (my son came to us at 15 months), and deciphering if baby looks like mom or dad will forever elude me. I am different and always will be.

There are so many days when infertility escapes me, and I am simply happy to see my son grow into a little boy. I am planning the nursery for baby Wee's arrival. Having a child is a blessing no matter how they came into your life. But at 33 years old, still in child-bearing years and still surrounded by peers having babies and growing their families, I continually have to face the disappointment of infertility. The ability to grieve a loss and move on cannot take place because the loss is continual. The reminders turn up every where.

I work hard on finding peace with my situation. I may never experience pregnancy, but I am experiencing parenthood through a very special means. Unexpected circumstances brought our son home. Sifting through experiences of the past 7 years I find the hidden gifts bestowed upon us due to the struggle of infertility. My understanding of why AJ and I have been met with this challenge becomes clearer every day.

I am happy beyond words that all of those "if's" became a reality. I see the little socks strewn across my living room, sippy cup on the counter, and Min's pre-school backpack hanging on its hook and genuinely relish the moments. Infertility led me to the path of adoption, and I am so proud to be an adoptive parent. AJ and I feel so fortunate that our inability to conceive led us to our son, and the arrival of our second son is extremely exciting.

To quote the book “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Dr. Brian Weiss, MD, “Patience and timing. Everything comes when it must come. A life cannot be rushed, cannot be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. Time is not as we see time but rather in lessons that are learned.”
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Click here to learn more about infertility.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grant Cycle 2011

Our grant cycle for 2011 is drawing to a close. Deadline for applications is May 1, 2011.

The grant review committee will begin working on the applications over the next 2 months.

The amount and number of grants is do be determined.


We gave away four $3000 grants in 2010.

Two were for adoption and two were for medical assistance.


If you applied, you will receive a letter stating whether or not you received a grant.


Best wishes to all. We wish we could help everyone.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Get to Know- Melissa Ford and Book Giveaway

Melissa Ford is the author of the award-winning website, Stirrup Queens which was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten motherhood blogs. Melissa completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts. She is an editor at BlogHer. Ford lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Joshua, and their twins.


I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa in June of 2009 at RESOLVE's Night of Hope Fundraiser. Stirrup-Queens and all the support it provides the Adoption, Loss, Infertility Community was an inspiration to me. Parenthood for Me was a brand new organization at the time and Melissa's support greatly helped spread the word of our foundation.



Melissa is author of the breakthrough book Navigating the Land of IF.



She also published her first novel Life from Scratch.



PFM is giving away a copy of Life from Scratch. See below for giveaway rules- VERY EASY.


Now the interview:


What is your history with infertility?

I was diagnosed with female-factor infertility back in 2002. My diagnosis came out over many years -- with one of the problems (two clotting disorders) only being diagnosed after the birth of the twins who we conceived on an IUI with injectables cycle.

How did your blog Stirrup Queens begin?

I started it when we returned to trying to add another child to our family, prior to starting treatments again. I had such a hard time emotionally the first time around, and Josh jokingly said that he wanted me to tell someone else my feelings so I didn't save them only for him at 11 pm at night. He helped me set up the blog. I also knew I wanted to write a book, and I wanted to use the blog to connect with other bloggers so they could contribute.

Did you ever imagine it would become such a phenomenon?

Not at all. I mean, I built what I wanted. And like many things, if one person wanted it, others might want it too. For instance, I wanted a blogroll broken down into categories, so I made it for myself. And if it already existed, it made sense to share it with others. And it turned out other people wanted that too. And that's how many parts of the site were built.

Were you always a professional writer? Did you always plan on writing and publishing a book?

I have an MFA, so I've always known that I wanted to write books. But writing a book and publishing a book are two separate beasts -- I wasn't always positive I would publish. I had stopped writing for a long time after we were diagnosed as infertile (actually, before the diagnosis, back when we knew something was wrong, but before we were diagnosed). I was simply too depressed to write. It was really important to me to keep writing this time around. Maybe some of that was about fixing something that I had let break the first time around. I really lost a huge piece of myself when I stopped writing back in 2001/2002. I didn't write again until 2004.

What do you think about how much the infertility community has changed in terms of support in just the past five years?






It's grown a lot, and with growth comes both more avenues for support AND fractured concentration of support. There are simply so many blogs these days that it's impossible to know every one and to keep up with everyone's stories. Luckily, niche communities pop up -- usually, it seems, based on when people came into the blogosphere more than diagnosis or situation. And within those smaller niches, you see the same support that existed 5 years ago when the blogosphere was smaller.

What are the biggest hurdles that remain for infertiles?

You mean beyond the outside world not really working with us towards the goal of making parenthood accessible to all? I think it's being a strong self-advocate. Also, the misinformation out there. The media seems to love a good fear-based story, and the general public gets a lot of their information from the media rather than self-experience.

Do you have more projects in mind to help the ALI community?

I always have projects in mind. I'm glad people embrace and race forward with me, trying out new things. I love to recreate that feeling of community in the face-to-face world on an online space.

LIFE FROM SCRATCH GIVEAWAY-
To win "Life from Scratch"






Runner-up will win a long sleeve Parenthood for Me t-shirt.







Giveaway open until Sunday, May 1, 2011. A winner will be chosen randomly. Please make sure there is away to contact you if you are the winner.







*picture of Melissa provided by Mary Gardella

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Get To Know- Guest Author



My name is Kim and I have been a member of the infertility community for nearly nine years. My husband and I threw out the birth control pills a month after our wedding and will soon be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary, just the two of us. My emotions surrounding infertility have evolved as I’ve grown older.

At the start I was in a lonely, quiet panic - one that must be kept a secret, for admitting one's infertility is like admitting you’re a sexual failure or something equal to it. I felt guilty and somehow thought it was my fault - perhaps I didn’t pray hard enough to be heard, didn’t eat well enough to be healthy, wasn’t relaxed enough to get pregnant.

In my mid-twenties infertility became an issue to overcome in alternative ways. Increasing restlessness and the pursuit of major achievements became my way of coping. Maybe a doctorate degree, joining the Peace Corps, teaching overseas will give me my purpose? Perhaps an all raw food diet, eliminating dairy and meat, drinking herbal concoctions might be the solution? Alas, none of those things or the mere pursuit of them has helped, resulting in unfinished projects and a continued sense of failure.

Then I turned 29 years old, a year before 30, and I was no longer able to ignore the fruitless attempts to quiet the desperate desires of my heart. Off to the world of reproductive endocrinologists I went with a smile of satisfaction on my face that this would be the answer to my problem. The doctor said to me upon my first visit that he would see me pregnant “within six months”. Yeah... right.

For the past eight of those infertility years I have felt utterly and entirely alone and isolated - left to deal with my anger, worry, anxiety, and frustration on my own. And then I went online.

I have noticed that this epiphany is one that many in the infertility community experience. We feel isolation, the loss of former friendships, social anxiety, frustration, ignored (and its ugly stepsister, ignorance), and then for the lucky ones, we find a community of individuals who understand and support us. For me, the community I found was Resolve’s online forum, “Inspire”. Through this site, I have built friendships, celebrated successes, mourned losses, received advice and offered some to those who needed it. For the first time, I felt fully supported and realized that I was not the only one; my experiences were shared by many.

While being an active part in this community, I began to notice themes. I’ll bet if you visit Inspire, you will see some of these themes on the homepage news feed on any given day - loss of important friendships, best friends behaving like Momzillas, family members being insensitive, and along with those things, further isolation and loneliness.

It was because of these continuing themes that I decided, with the strong encouragement of other infertile online friends, that our community needed a way to socialize that could be safe (from ignorance), fun (opposite of infertility), and promoted new friendships. This is how The Ladies in Waiting Book Club came to be.


The Ladies in Waiting Book Club is a book club for (mostly) women who are experiencing the many losses those with infertility face. We are a diverse group of individuals experiencing: primary infertility, secondary infertility, pregnancy loss, pregnancy after ART, donor reproduction, childlessness, and adoption. We gather online together daily to discuss books we have chosen (both infertility related and not), share related ideas (recipes, music, art, crafts, humor, to name a few), and make new friends.


The Ladies in Waiting Book Club is strong in its support and advocacy. We support each other through contests and giveaways, participating as a united front during National Infertility Awareness Week, (April 24-30) and giving voice to new authors in the infertility community.

The Ladies in Waiting Book Club has been my way of giving back to my infertility community which, for the first time, gave me the kind of hope, friendship, and unwavering support I had so desperately needed.




Visit Kim's blog to learn more. The Ladies in Waiting Bookclub.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 Annual Gala



Parenthood for Me Annual Gala



Our 2011 Annual Gala held April 2 was a magical night. 109 guests came to support Parenthood for Me and those dreaming of parenthood and family. We had a wonderful silent auction filled with many different donated items including Red Sox tickets, artwork, concert tickets, a spa overnight, and flat screen TV. A huge thank you to CNY Fertility and Healing Arts, our headline sponsor for the second year in a row. We raised $17,000- over 100% increase since last year's gala. Thank you to everyone who helped make this accomplishment possible. We are accepting applications until May 1, 2011 for this year's grant cycle. Visit the website for more details- http://www.parenthoodforme.org/


The event started at 6:30 with cocktail hour meet and greet and time to bid on the silent auction. Dinner was served at 8 and the program began at 9:00.


All board members were recognized:


Charles Montante- Chairman


Erica Schlaefer- President


Kevin Mulcahy- Vice President


Rob Spatola- Treasurer


Jerry Furciniti


Nancy Koris


Melissa Mulcahy


Abbey Naples


Our honorary guests were the Wetherald Family who received a grant last year. Mr. Wetherald wanted to say a few words that night explaining how they came to be adoptive parents. I wish I could share the entire speech with you as it was very touching. I found out that when they received the call that they were a grantee, the call could not have come at a better time. They were trying to pool together the last few thousand dollars for their trip to China. Just when they thought that they would have to push the trip another month to collect money, our Chairman called to tell them they were receiving a grant. They were able to pick up their son.


We also honored Dr. Eberhard Muechler with the 2011 Commitment to Excellence Award. He was the first doctor to perform in vitro fertilization in Rochester at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He spent 43 years assisting couples in becoming parents. Dr. Muechler is a warm, funny, and caring man. It has been such a pleasure getting to know him. I also wish I could share his entire speech with you. But I must mention that his opening paragraph said that when asked to receive our award, he was placed in a tough spot because Prince William had invited him to the royal wedding as well and he had to decline to come to our gala. What a great sense of humor! The inaugural Commitment to Excellence Award went to our Vice President, Kevin Mulcahy for his dedication to building Parenthood for Me. My speech was short but expressed my gratitude for all those who helped to make Parenthood for Me such a great success in just 2 years.


Since infertility became a part of my life I have learned many lessons about the hidden gifts bestowed from enduring difficult times. Becoming an adoptive parent and being forced to fight for parenthood has opened up my life in countless ways.


Starting a nonprofit with the help of my husband AJ and many different people who were already in my life at the time and who came into my may just be the most rewarding experience of my life next to being a mother. The human kindness I have witnessed since starting this foundation never ceases to amaze me. It started with a new friend taking me to dinner and sharing her wisdom of the nonprofit world with me. When she handed me $100 dollars and claimed it as her donation, I was brought to tears. Practically a stranger she gave me something more than money but the claim that she believed in me and what I was fighting for.


I am still in shock at the response I have received nationwide due to starting Parenthood for Me. The support from strangers and people I will never meet in real life. The kind words, the respect and admiration for doing something that I believe in. Those who have stepped forward either because they too have suffered through infertility or because they opened their heart to those struggling to have a family.


There was a time when I simply did not understand the challenge of not being able to conceive a child. It’s a blow so unexpected it takes your breathe away. Procreating is such a natural part of being human. When you are forced to come to terms with the fact that it may never happen, you are giving up a large piece of yourself. However, the hole left in my heart has been filled beyond capacity. I receive emails daily thanking me for following through on an idea and making it happen. I try to explain that I could never have done this on my own. I could never have followed through with the idea that came to AJ and I one night after our son had been home for a few months. The board of directors, the professionals that help set up the corporation, each person that tweeted, blogged, and told their friends about PFM have helped this organization grow so fast. I feel extremely lucky for many reasons. I am surrounded by wonderful people. I have a beautiful son and am proud to say AJ and I are expecting another baby boy from Korea in December.


But at the ripe age of 31 I found my place in this world. I began to understand why I am here, my purpose. Who knows exactly why I was able to take my difficult times and make them into something positive. But forming this organization and giving back has given me an inner peace that many search for their entire lives.


To quote the book “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Dr. Brian Weiss, MD, “Patience and timing. Everything comes when it must come. A life cannot be rushed, cannot be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. Time is not as we see time but rather in lessons that are learned.” Thank you for your support. You are helping a fledgling nonprofit take flight. You are laying the ground work for hundreds of people to receive a gift of hope that parenthood is possible.


Erica, Dr. Muechler, and Abbey Naples




Erica and AJ Schlaefer- Founders



Thank you to all donors and sponsors. You can find them listed on our website.


We look forward to announcing our 2011 grantees.


To donate to Parenthood for Me click here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Parenthood for Me on TV

Please watch our segment on the Rochester program,"Many Voices, Many Visions."

Erica and Dr. Eberhard Muechler speak together about Parenthood for Me and Dr. Muechler's history as a Reproductive Endocrinologist in Rochester, NY. Dr. Muechler performed the very first IVF procedure at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He spent 43 years helping couples become parents a fulfill their dreams of family. Dr. Muechler was the recipient of the 2011 Commitment to Excellence Award.

There are 2 different links. First segment- Erica speaks about history of PFM.- click here. Second segment with Dr. Muechler- click here.

The annual gala was a huge success! More details to follow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Thank you to the headline sponsor of our annual gala.
Read their article here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parenthood for Me on TV

Watch our segment on Rochester's morning new.
Parenthood for Me on 13WHAM CW.
Scroll down and look for PFM on left side.
Gala April 2.
Thanks, Jennifer!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Possible Mandated IF Coverage in Maine

Representative Gary Knight has sponsored a bill that seeks to mandate insurance coverage for infertility patients in the state of Maine.

The Maine legislature has put LD 720 on the hearing docket a week from today. The public hearing is Wednesday, March 23 at 1:00pm in room 220 at the Maine State House. Time will be allotted for brief, personal testimony. If this bill is going to get any kind of support from the rest of the Maine legislature, it is critical that at least 20-30 people show up to this public hearing.


Please visit Hannah Wept Sarah Laughed for more detailed information.
Click here for link to details about bill.

Parenthood for Me Annual Gala

The Second Annual Parenthood for Me Annual Gala is coming up April 2, 2011.

We are expecting a great turn out and have many people to thank

so far for their sponsorships and donations.


A full list will be available on our website- http://www.parenthoodforme.org/


Also find us on Facebook- Parenthood for Me.org

We are excited to meet our honorary guests, a 2010 grantee.


Dr. Muechler



We will also be awarding Dr. Eberhard Muechler, MD with the Commitment to Excellence.


He is the pioneer of in vitro fertilization at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

He enjoyed a 43 year career assisting couples in their pursuit of parenthood.



Tickets are still available. To purchase email events@parenthoodforme.org




Here are some pictures from last year's event.


AJ and I getting ready to leave.






The 2010 Board of Directors



Board member, Melissa Mulcahy and volunteers Megan and Dana.



Me and Vice President, Kevin Mulcahy










Chairman of the Board, Chuck Montante



Thanks to Heather Cicione Photography!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Company in Misery


No one wants to go through tough times. Even all the b.s. about hindsight and growing from difficult situations doesn't make painful experiences any less painful.

I believe whole heartedly the obstacles that are thrown in our way are what makes us who we are. Or rather, how we handle those obstacles is what shapes us. But sometimes wouldn't it be nice to think of smooth sailing?

It would be at this point that the figure of optimism pops up on my left shoulder, not unlike the angel equivolant and says," Every difficult thing in life can be turned into a positive. It's all in how you look at things."

In the next second the pessimistic downer frowns and proclaims, "No. This just sucks."

Sometimes it simply takes too much energy to think positively when your spirit is crushed.

Hopefully the gift of time can allow perspective. It did for me, thankfully.

In the past week I have been reminded several times of how many wonderful people have come into my life since starting PFM. Infertility and all it entails has definitely been awful.
But my perspective has changed and I do not struggle so immensely to understand why "having" a family created such a devastatingly difficult experience.

I am still amazed at how sharing a similar struggle strikes an instant commonality. Misery doesn't love company, but it sure as heck can make you feel better. Knowing you're not alone in anything somehow takes the edge off. Perhaps it's because you see that someone else who is struggling with the same predicament is still getting by.

They are still waking up in the morning, going to work, laughing, eating pizza rolls, folding laundry, and putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe being around someone who is struggling or has struggled from a similar situation is helpful because when you are down, their companionship through understanding can get you by. And, when you're both hearing the voice of pessimism at least you don't have to expend much energy explaining why things suck. It's simply understood.

What I'm trying to say is that I am grateful for all of the people I have met. I hate that there are so many people struggling and feeling pain because having a baby or babies has posed such an unpredictably hard endeavor. But without infertility and motherhood through adoption I would be missing out on some really great friendships- relationships on all levels that have played such a poignant part in the re-shaping of my presupposed adult life.

Infertility changed my path. It does not define me, however it is hard for me to picture any life other than this one. The one where I get to fulfill my passion for writing ( I tried to get a book of poems published at age 8. Thanks Mrs. T!), develop the career that I love, see my baby grow every day, appreciate the little things in life, and understand that tough times are just one part of life.

Here's the optimistic chant for you: things do work out. Some how, some way.

I'm still figuring it all out and I'd like to think that I will have the foresight to realize that if I'm still figuring it all out in my 80's, then I'm still learning- about myself, others, and the wonderment of life.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Get To Know

Dawn Davenport







Dawn Davenport is a leading expert on adoption, infertility and orphan care and host of the top-rated radio show on adoption and infertility in the U.S.— Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility.

She is the Executive Director of Creating a Family, a nonprofit providing education for adoption and infertility. Creating a Family has won awards for excellence from both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. The radio show won the International Infertility in the Media award in 2010.

Davenport is the author of, The Complete Book of International Adoption and has published in national and regional publications, including Conceive Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. She is interviewed frequently on radio and TV. Her research has been featured on CBS News 60 Minutes and People Magazine. Ms. Davenport has served as a background consultant to CBS News 60 Minutes and ABC News Primetime Live.



Q: How did Creating a Family begin? And when?
A: The radio show, Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility, started in Oct. 2007 and the website Oct. 2006.

Q: Are there many people who work for Creating A Family?
A: We try to run a lean ship to make the best use of our resources. We have 4 people who work in varying capacities—most part time and one person completely volunteers his time because he believes in our mission.

Q: How do you receive your information and resources for radio shows, etc.?
A: We are never at a loss for show ideas. If I’m curious about something, I figure others are as well. More and more of our show ideas are coming from our audience.

Q: What is the biggest challenge of running a nonprofit?
A: Money. I’m sorry to say this, but it’s true. As much as I’d love to run Creating a Family just on our passion to help, it does take money. The biggest challenge is finding this money.

Q: What are your goals for CAF?
A: Our goals are to continue to reach others who are considering adoption, or have already adopted, or are in the midst of infertility. Our mission is education and support. The more people we reach with our radio show, videos, or website resources, the better our mission is being accomplished. We try to be the one place where people can get unbiased accurate information on the different ways to create a family.

Q: What is your favorite part about running CAF?
A: I love doing the radio show. I am a curious person and getting to ask questions to the biggest experts in any field is like eating an ice cream sundae for me each and every week. I also really love talking with people individually during a consultation. Education can be on the macro level, such as our radio shows and videos, or on the micro level, such as a one on one consultation. I enjoy both forms of education immensely.

Q: Do you have a particular memory of when you remember the mission being fulfilled? A: Many people have been very kind to send email or letters thanking us for what we do. I am touched deeply every time I receive one. We include some of these on the right hand side of the Radio Page and Consulting page.

Q: Have you seen an understanding of adoption and infertility grow in our society?
A: I do think we are getting our core messages out on both adoption and infertility. Families formed through adoption and adopted people still face prejudice and ignorance, but the more we educate, the less they face. The infertile also face such ignorance and lack of understanding, but again, at least they have a community of support at Creating a Family so they do not have to face it alone.

Please visit the Creating A Family website for further information and radio show topics and times.

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