Sunday, December 23, 2012

Insert Name Here


December 21st marked the one year anniversary of the arrival home of our baby Wee. The picture above was taken on the drive home from NYC. If this wasn't special enough, we also learned that he will celebrate his adoption day January 3rd. We are so thrilled to finally have this day scheduled for many reasons. Officially he will be ours forever and when the judge signs his adoption decree, he will become a U.S. citizen. This is a monumental day in his life and our life as his parents.

Wee's adoption day also marks the end of our six year journey through adoption. There have been so many wonderful and beautiful moments since we decided to adopt. However, the process of adoption is exhausting and stressful. It will be nice to put the paperwork, form-filing, and extensive waiting behind us. Even though Wee was ours the second we saw his photo (on Valentine's Day 2010), it will be a relief to have all official documents signed, sealed and delivered.

So much has happened since Spring 2006 when we made the decision to pursue adoption. There have been a lot of ups and downs. Many moments of pure joy and sadness. Waiting months upon months for your child to come home is extremely difficult. Knowing he is thousands of miles away growing, learning and experiencing so many firsts without you can truly test your heart's ability to cope. It was also difficult to decide how and when to adopt a second time. Having to round up another $25,000 to make it happen was a challenge. We knew we would find a way, but nevertheless the price tag of adoption is daunting. Thank goodness we were able to make it happen a second time.

For as long as I live I will never forget what it was like to see and hold my babies for the first time- not in a hospital but an airport. After so many months of viewing pictures and dreaming of what they smelled like, sounded like, and felt like in my arms my breath never felt deeper or more at ease than the moment I embraced my two boys. We are lucky because both of our sons were completely at ease with us the moment we met. They were not scared or unhappy. It was as if we had always known each other and simply waited for our day to be together. Destiny.

As I anticipate the birth of our third child, I understand that the day we meet will be similar but different and special in its own way. It has taken me a long time to grasp that I am pregnant. Dreams don't always become reality. I dreamed so long of pregnancy my mind simply could not accept that it was really happening. Each day that passes, my due date approaching, new realizations come to light. Some are simple and some are profound.

While wrapping our presents and adhering the labels, it occurred to me that next year I will be writing five names under "from." Wow. Who will this person be and what will they be called? As I placed our stockings on the mantel, I thought, next year we will need to move them down and make room for one more. The stockings embroidered with "AJ" and "Erica" that once stood alone are now crowded out by those of three beautiful children. It is things like this that leave me awe-struck.

Each one of my children has made a dream come true. They have been my saviors from a deep and debilitating grief. My oldest, Min allowed me to become a mommy. His arrival relieved a pain that at one point seemed insurmountable. Baby Wee allowed me the chance to raise another baby and to see Min's own dream of big brotherhood come true. He completed our family in a way only he could with his funny personality and kind little heart. And my unborn baby has allowed me to experience pregnancy and understand all that it entails. I no longer have to wonder if it will ever happen for us. I no longer feel that sense of longing. And while I will not feel completely at ease until baby is born, no matter what happens, this little being has given me so many gifts already.

My children have all fulfilled dreams- long, hard-fought dreams. But what is most profound is that all of them fulfilled dreams I didn't know I had 9 years ago when we thought that parenthood was just a nine month jaunt away.

As we stand before the judge on January third another milestone is taking place. That very day I will have entered my third trimester; the day we meet our newborn baby grows ever closer. More fulfilled visions to come as we get to introduce oUr boys to their brother or sister. Three little faces, all ours. All of them miracles in their own right.




Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hap-Hap-Happiest Christmas


The holidays just aren't the holidays without my favorite movie, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Clark W. Griswold and his endearing, often mind-boggling antics have been making people laugh for nearly 30 years.

Christmas Vacation came out in 1989. I saw it in the theater. And since then my brother and I have prattled off it's quotes while giggling and reminiscing of the dozens of ridiculous scenes in the movie.

The movie starts out with the Griswold's heading out to cut down their tree in the "front-wheel drive sleigh." Clark moves on to putting up his outdoor Christmas lights. Then the parents arrive and other family members.  Who could forget Uncle Lewis.

Uncle Lewis: Hey Grizz, Bethany and I figured out the perfect gift for you.
Clark
: Aw, you didn't have to get me anything.
Uncle Lewis
: Dammit, Bethany, he guessed it.

Everyone knows a quote from this movie. One of my favorite is Clarke's rant about his fun, old fashioned family Christmas. Of course the highlight of the movie is the arrival of Cousin Eddie played by Randy Quaid. There are so many memorable quotes and scenes pertaining to Eddie including the scene in the Griswold living room where Clark and Eddie are drinking out of the moose mugs. Eddie is sporting his dickey. Don't know what that is? You can read about it here. 


While Clark is a good natured family man, it is hilarious to see his feisty side. This is portrayed several times through correspondence with his snooty neighbors, Todd and Margo.

Todd: Hey Griswold. Where do you think you're gonna put a tree that big?
Clark : Bend over and I'll show you.
Todd : You've got a lot of nerve talking to me like that Griswold.
Clark : I wasn't talking to you.


 And as you enjoy all the comes with the holiday season such as music, food, and decor be glad that you don't live next door to a man who puts so many lights on his house that the power company had to turn on their auxiliary nuclear generator.

What is your favorite quote or scene from this movie?

If this isn't your favorite holiday movie, what is?

BTW- the moose mugs are available for sale on-line-- for only $19.95 a piece.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Our New Baby



The world I envisioned when pregnant has revealed itself. I have been let in on the conversations of body changes and breast feeding. I have answered the question,"How are you feeling?" several dozen times. I have purchased and read pregnancy publications, and not as a preemptive or positive thinking method, but because I am actually pregnant. My attention has maneuvered to the 0-3 sizes, the tiny clothes no longer a painful reminder that I would never hold my child the day they were born.

But somehow I just don't feel like I belong. I'm here. I'm bulging and sporting the belly band, but when I feel my hand approaching the small of my back in the traditional pregnancy pose, I smack it down. The voice creeps up and hisses, remember! Remember how the site of a pregnant woman turned your stomach in knots. Remember the buckets of tears you cried over the past eight years. Stand up straight and whatever you do, don't rub your belly.

We are our own worst critics, as they say. I understand that I am needlessly chastising myself for behaving 'pregnant.' But old habits die hard.  I have reached the haven of pregnancy but with one foot out the door as if I am ready to run if the situation turns sour. My guard is continually up.

I'm on the platform but I cannot get on the train; and even though the whistle is blowing, I just cannot seem to make the leap to the comforting countryside passage.

I don't necessarily have these feelings because I am overly afraid of losing my baby. This is another thing that has caught me completely by surprise. While I have trepidation about my baby going to term and delivering okay, anxiety has not taken over my life as I always suspected. Every now and then a nervous thought creeps into my head about my baby dying in utero or being born with a disease or disorder. But my vision of being overly anxious because of our circumstances has not proven to be true. And I am extremely thankful for this sense of peace. It is as unexpected as the pregnancy itself.

My feelings of pregnancy-ostracism are completely self-inflicted.  I am signaling reminders all the time that I am different. When I notice that a certain moment or instance would normally have ripped my heart to shreds, I cannot help but divert back to pre-pregnancy me. Recently I was enveloped in a conversation with a few women regarding pregnancy symptoms and birthing plans. I was sort of half listening well aware that for the first time  I was actually participating in such a conversation instead of avoiding the circle at all costs.

It has been strange to discover that while I am allowing myself to be involved in pregnancy and newborn conversations, and others are now including me because they are no longer trying to protect me, I simply am not able to succumb to the feeling that I am finally a part of this ever-coveted genre of females. I don't feel this huge sense of relief that my place as a woman is finally secure because I'm in the circle. It is an acceptance that I cannot fully grasp; maybe it's that I don't want to.

I thought that when I became visibly pregnant which I am as of late, that my ability to see that this pregnancy is real would blossom. However, I still have to keep looking down at my belly as a reminder that this is true. But the reminders come often and my connection to the little one growing inside my body and not just inside my heart, becomes stronger every day.

When Min touches my belly and talks to the baby, I soften. I embrace all of these tiny moments, each one a miracle for us as a family. And then I am able to revel in this dream come true. I guess I should not be surprised that it is my two boys that extend my happiness, serving as a reminder that they will both be big brothers soon. As my five year old chirps that he can't wait for our new baby to come, my heart leaps.

This morning my mother-in-law lent us a book she read to my husband in anticipation of his brother arriving. It is entitled, "The New Baby." Thumbing through the pages I saw the illustration of a mommy with a big pregnant belly. Later I wondered if my MIL hoped to one day share this book with us, feeling her own sense of hurt for herself and us.

It made me realize again that the hurt of infertility is felt by those who love us as well. This pregnancy is a dream come true for our loved ones.This is the reason why I let my mother take a picture of me this afternoon. She has waited a long time to see her only daughter pregnant.

Before bed Min and I read the book about bringing a new sibling home. My sense of peace that this nearly nine year journey is finally boasting a clear understanding left a warm sensation around my heart.

Maybe next time I will forget my inhibitions for a moment and reveal my baby name list and park in the 'Expectant Moms' space at the grocery store.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Huff Po, Woah

 *image from The Grieving Dads Project 

So this post should have gone out roughly six days ago. Alas, here it is.

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to partake in a segment entitled, "The Pain of Miscarriage" on Huff Post Live.

 I was joined by 3 other panelists, Abby Lagunoff, a miscarriage healer in Los Angeles, Marybeth Lowell, mother of one in Seattle,and Kelly Farley, a bereaved father, recovery coach and the author of 'Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back.'

Notably the highlight of the segment was Kelly Farley author and creator of the Grieving Dads Project.

It was refreshing to hear the opinion of a man regarding the topic of miscarriage and still birth. While the segment was not on infertility specifically, he did mention that he and his wife struggled through infertility as well.

Farley stated, "I went into a pretty heavy tailspin, into despair and grief. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn't talk about it. I didn't seek help. Eventually I gave in and sought some help."

Farley recommended that men dealing with pregnancy loss must give themselves space to cope.

"It's not weak to cry," he said. "And it's okay to show emotion. It's okay to talk about it."

There were many tweets that came in during the 20 minute segment from men.  I am happy to pass along the Grieving Dads Project information to share with the men in your life. Kelly has created an excellent and much needed resource.

In the near future look forward to a guest post from Kelly Farley.

Here is a past post from giving the male perspective of infertility- Factor In

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Crescent Moon


 I am linking up with Keiko from the Infertility Voice and Pamela from Silent Sorority to participate in their Open Salon, "To Mom or Not to Mom." They created this to discuss both sides of the motherhood debate from their unique perspectives. Why? To parse out the concerns and vulnerabilities of transition within the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) community without tripping over political correctness and delicate sensibilities.

Head over to each of their blogs to read some very interesting points of view. 

Below is my contribution to the project.

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I sit here staring at my computer screen because I don't know exactly what to write. I have on pajamas and a thick pair of socks I took from my dad the last time we were at our cottage. It's just after 9PM and I am exhausted. Each day is so full. Raising two young boys sucks the life out of me. I really don't feel like I can ever fit it all in. And there are days when I look around at my house and feel like it oozes filth.

But tonight the vacuuming will have to wait. The clothes will remain in the laundry basket. I need to formulate this post; I have been waiting a long time.

I look down at my belly and it is protruding all of a sudden. I am 17 weeks pregnant and still cannot believe that this is really happening to me- to us. I have known about the pregnancy for 13 weeks, and it is just beginning to seem real. I can finally say the words and not feel like I am speaking of someone else. But often it still feels like an outer-body experience. I have accepted that this is my truth, but my fragile heart and mind teeter on the edge of disbelief.

After 8 1/2 years of battling infertility, I finally got a positive pregnancy test. I will never forget that morning. I called AJ right away and through massive sobs told him the news. I was in my office at work; no one else was there. I called my RE's office and basically shouted in the phone, I'm pregnant!
The secretary put my doctor on the phone. When I heard his kind voice with an accent proclaim, "Oh, Erica, this is such wonderful news," I realized that was just one of some many things I waited over 8 years to experience. Even though I love my second RE (who was my doctor for the majority of my TTC journey), I was never able to experience anything good at their practice. It was all sad and complicated and extremely difficult.

Yesterday at a routine doctor visit, I heard the baby's heart beat for the first time in a month. Immediately after the Doppler touched my abdomen, there it was- strong and loud. Such a pure sound. I haven't cried much since the first week of finding out. But when I hear that sound or see baby on the ultrasound screen, I tear up. S/he's in there growing and thriving. The heart beat is strong. I can already tell s/he is a fighter. Almost like he knows what mommy and daddy have been through.

My OB (having an OB is a triumph in and of itself) said to me," That must be such a great sound after all you have been through."

He has no idea.

We waited until the end of the first trimester to tell people besides our immediate family. And I have waited until this point to write about my pregnancy for several different reasons. I understand completely that my news may be painful for others. I know all too well the bitter sweet tug at the heart upon hearing pregnancy announcements. And the ironic part for me over the past few years is that the pregnancies of women who didn't ever think they would get pregnant were harder for me to deal with. I just kept thinking if a miracle happened for them, why not me? I just could not let go my vision of a pregnancy. For some reason even after Wee came home and we were all so happy, I did not feel like I was done yet. I knew I wouldn't adopt again, but I strongly felt that I would have another child. I just didn't know how.

I haven't been able to write about my pregnancy because I didn't know what to say. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity, but I never imagined I would feel such a vast array of emotions. I spent so much time thinking about getting pregnant, I never had the chance to learn about or understand the actual pregnancy.

One of my first mental challenges was a looming question. Where do I fit in now? I won't be just an adoptive mom because I will have a biological child. I have the awesome opportunity to be an adoptive mother which sets me apart from those who are not adoptive parents. And no matter what the circumstances I will never have the innocence of most during their first pregnancy.  I am pregnant and will get to experience everything that goes with it, but that is where the similarities end. 

I felt somewhat lost and hoped that my place in this community was still in tact. I realize my story may end up differently than I ever imagined, but there will always be one thing that links me to everyone who has experienced infertility. I know and appreciate the toll that infertility can take on a human being. Despite my end result, I will always be infertile. I will never forget having to ask myself what I will do with my life if motherhood isn't part of it. Infertility does not define me, but it is part me forever like my green eyes and silly sense of humor.

 I feel the weight of my 8 1/2 years of IF. But I am trying very hard to live in the moment. No matter what this is my only pregnancy to cherish.Slowly I have come to understand that my realization of a dream can offer hope to others. I have so much perspective to share. And those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that I am honest about my feelings. The realities of infertility are too hard to ignore. Over the past few months I have thought of several different posts to write- lessons I am learning now that I am on the "other side." I am working toward gaining even more compassion and will take this chance I have been given to continue working to help others become parents.
In the past few days my stomach has "popped" as they say. Walking by a mirror or window and catching a glimpse of my protruding belly will never occur without a double take. I have to show my brain that my eyes are not playing tricks on me.

Not too long ago I wrote a post about my slim chance of conceiving. I had a Crescent Moon Size Chance of getting pregnant naturally. And I as I wrote then, I guess that was all I needed. Maybe it is all you need as well.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Our First IVF Baby

In the spring I went to the PFM PO Box as I routinely do. I wasn't expecting much to be there as we had just finished up the 2012 gala. I spotted a blue envelope and eagerly opened the card.

As I read the words tears spilled down my cheeks. One of our medical grantees from 2011 had recently given birth to a baby boy. This was the first success (as far as I know) that we celebrated from a grantee who had undergone an ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedure.

We have helped a total of 7 couples with ART medical expenses so far (since 2010). With the difficult odds that IF sufferers face when doing IUI or IVF, I know that our grant money helps give people a chance at conception. But it is never a sure thing. These are the people that we have tried to touch base with after receiving the grant. But until now we had never heard back from anyone. This doesn't mean that no one has been successful; but we are left to wonder if they found their way out of IF or are still hoping for their own miracle.

I have been given permission to share with you the testimonial written by Dan and Marybeth about the pregnancy, birth, and young life of their son, Faolan.

Seeing his little face reinforces within me why I chose to devote such a large part of my life to helping those suffering through infertility. It helps me to understand my own difficult journey to parenthood.

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"On the day I was waiting for the results of my last pregnancy test, I started singing "You Are My Sunshine," but by the time I got to, "You'll never know, dear, how much I love you," I was choking back tears. I could barely complete, "Please don't take my sunshine away," and didn't even attempt the part about dreaming and waking up mistaken. To date, my husband, Daniel, and I had been trying to conceive for five years. For the past two, we had completed eleven failed intrauterine inseminations, accompanied by surgeries, monitoring, fertility drugs, Chinese herbs, special diets, acupuncture, Reiki, yoga, Maya abdominal massage, and more. With the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF) seeming so far beyond our budget, we tried any and every alternative approach that had ever worked for anyone else. But our options were running out. The doctors had suggested that we move on to IVF, which would improve our chances of conceiving, give us more information regarding why our previous attempts had failed, and perhaps help us address any issues discovered along the way.

As many struggling with infertility know, however, IVF procedures and medications can easily cost anywhere between $10- and $20,000, none of it covered by insurance. We couldn't fathom any way for us to afford such expenses, yet we also couldn't picture the devastating possibility of remaining childless forever. Then I learned of Parenthood For Me, which I read like this: Parenthood? For me? Am I really going to get the chance? The name gave us hope that it could happen, and the organization gave us much more. After we shared our story, they granted Daniel and me a significant sum to help us pay for our costs. Amazingly, I received the news only days before we had to make a decision to go ahead with the IVF or not. A couple weeks later, we were completing the procedures. And a couple weeks after that, a little while after I broke down to "You Are My Sunshine," I learned that I was pregnant.

After a blissful pregnancy, our son, Faol├ín, finally arrived on March 2, 2012, a healthy 7 lbs, 1 oz. Our very own miracle. Tonight, when I put him to bed, I sang "You Are My Sunshine" once again, as I do every night. But I have since changed the lyrics to, "And when I woke, dear, there you were. So I raised my head and I cried." Every day, every moment we spend with him, we feel gratitude to all the wonderful and caring people who helped him find his way to us. The members and contributors of Parenthood For Me are at that top of that list.     

Thank you Parenthood For Me!"

- Daniel and Marybeth C.


"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
- Joseph Campbell


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Faces of ALI- A Must Read



This is a beautifully written series by Jessica at Too Many Fish to Fry.

All four segments offer insight into different stages of infertility. They are all extremely touching. This is a wonderful way to try and help people understand the vast devastation and loss felt by those in the ALI community.

Part 1: The Devastation of Pregnancy Loss: A Profile of Courtney Cheng

Part 2: Sarah in Three Acts

Part 3: The Memory Keeper: Childless/Childfree After Loss and Infertility

Part 4: The Den Mother: Parenting After Infertility

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

For the Love of Korean Culture: Integrating different cultures in adoptive families



By Kelly Weishaar
 
My little daughter, age 3, climbs into my lap and points to my iPad.

“Drama, Mommy?”

In my house, it well known that Mommy is addicted to Korean drama shows. The shows are melodramatic romances or action stories that give me a brief look at modern Korean culture.

My two children were born in South Korea. My husband and I are Caucasian. As a transracial family, we have made it a priority to learn about Korean culture.  As we prepared to become parents through adoption, we researched how to bring our children’s culture into our everyday life. Much of the literature we have read supports the idea that children who are adopted benefit from being exposed to the culture of their birth. Learning about Korea has been an exciting journey for all of us.

As I was thinking of all the ways we try to celebrate our different cultures at our house, I came across an article in Adoptive Families magazine called “Bringing Heritage Home” by Lisa Milbrand

Milbrand makes a few suggestions on how family’s can celebrate family heritage:

1.   Make connections with other adoptees.
2.      Make cultural activities a normal part of life.
3.      Explore the current [modern] culture.
4.      Blend a family culture.

In my own family, our first love of Korean culture was the food. Anyone who is familiar with Korea knows that food plays an important role in social gatherings and family relationships. We love to go to Korean restaurants, and are lucky to have a number of them in our community. We also like to frequent the Asian markets, to search for ingredients for cooking Korean food at home. Although I am not much of a cook, we try to share Korean meals with our friends and family.

We are also lucky to have access to an active parent adoption support group and a Korean culture camp. Both my husband and I are on the board of the groups, and make an effort to be actively involved. The groups provide us with opportunities to socialize with other families who look just like us. They also give us access to Korean cultural events, holiday celebrations, and educational opportunities.

The adoption groups and camp have also connected us with members of the Korean American community in our area. We are particularly lucky to have found a special “Korean Grandmother.” She is dear to us, and loves to invite our family to Korean events in the community. She also likes to cook with the children. They especially love her “mandu” (dumplings)!

Other ways we try to “absorb” Korean culture are through children’s picture books, DVD’s about Korea, and short videos of Korean children’s songs on YouTube. Although we don’t understand Korean language, we also find K-Pop lots of fun to dance to! All around the world there has been a growing interest in Korean pop culture and entertainment. This is lucky for us, since Korean entertainment is readily available via the Internet.

As the kids grow older, there will be other opportunities for us to learn about Korean culture, if they are interested. We have access to Korean ethnic schools, language lessons, and Korean churches. One day we hope to travel together to Korea, to visit the cities where they were born. Although, as parents, we find such learning exciting and fulfilling, we will need to take our cues from our children. Not every child, adopted or biological, has a burning desire to learn about his or her heritage. We need to be sensitive to that, and understand that their interest will wax and wane as they grow.

Although this may happen, I am pretty sure that Mommy’s addiction to Korean drama will continue…

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Grants


Our board of directors convened last week and chose the six applicants who will receive a grant this year. As always the selection process was very difficult. There were nearly 100 applications, and everyone has a difficult and sad story to tell. We wish that every applicant could receive some financial relief.

The 6 grantees have been notified by phone. All others will be receiving a letter in the mail shortly. We thank everyone who applied for their very thorough application. We understand that it takes a lot of time to put together the application.

We are proud to announce that we are giving away a total of $24,000. This is double the amount we were able to give away just two short years ago. We also increased the number of grants from 4 to 6. There are 3 adoption grants and 3 medical grants.

We have already been informed that one of our adoption grantees has brought their baby girl home. And we wait for other great news and updates from previous applicants and this year's grantees.

PFM is dedicated to helping people achieve their goals of family and parenthood. It is extremely difficult to turn people away especially when the number of applicants grows every year. Those of us on the board and our supporters continue to work hard to gain awareness and plan events to raise funds. We are an all-volunteer organization made up of people who greatly believe in the mission statement.

There is so much more we hope to accomplish. We have many things planned for the future such as educational and support seminars and gaining new partnerships with those in the fields of adoption and fertility. Little by little we are making things happen.

I went to the post office Saturday to buy some stamps and happened to check our mailbox. I could not believe it when I opened a blue envelope revealing a birth announcement. One of our medical grantees gave birth to a baby boy this past March. I cried right then in there in the middle of the post office.

The thank-you note was so sweet. "...you helped make his life possible..."

I am humbled. I am grateful. I am renewed.

Thank you to all of our supporters.

Our next grant cycle opens in January 2013. If you are interested in learning more about our grants visit our website:
www.parenthoodforme.org

If you are interested in learning how you can help Parenthood for Me, email us :
info@parenthoodforme.org

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 Grant Update

We will be contacting this year's granteees by phone. This will happen towards the end of July. Thank you for your patience. Everyone who applied will be getting a letter in the mail.

There was a large increase in the number of applications this year, therefore the process has taken a little longer.

For those of you with questions about the next grant cycle, here are some responses.

1. The next grant cycle begins in January of 2013.

2. Applications will become available on our website in January.

3. The grant amounts vary and have increased every year. Once our board of directors determines this year's grant amount, we will let everyone know.



We continue to make strides as an organization. There is another fundraiser scheduled for this fall.

If you or someone you know is interested in holding a fundraiser in your town, email me:

info@parenthoodforme.org


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Father's Day Bounce Around

Lori at "Laughing is Conceivable" organized this blog bounce around to offer support to men as Father's Day approaches. Even though men may not open up as much about how infertility affects their lives, they still feel a wide range of emotions when it comes to the inability to become a dad.

Please take some time to read the following posts and share with others.

Blog #1 "Laughing IS Conceivable"

Blogger: Okay, this is me, Lori Shandle-Fox I'm a former stand-up comic & infertility survivor.

Post: "It's All in the Wrist aka I Know What YOU Just Did"

This post is an excerpt from my new ebook: Laughing IS Conceivable: 

One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility.

This post emphasizes the husband's part in this whole sordid infertility treatment business.




Blog #2: "Parenthood For Me" 

Blogger: Erica Walther Schlaefer, Rochester NY area, USA


Erica is President and Founder of Parenthood For Me- a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide financial and emotional support to those building families through adoption or medical intervention.

Post: This post was written by a man named "Sam". He discusses his bout with infertility and how he and his wife finally got their child.



Blog #3: Baby Manifest-O

Blogger: Helen Adrienne, New York, USA

Licensed Certified Social Worker and certified hypnotherapist- Also a general therapist who specializes in infertility counseling, couples counseling for infertility, mind/body stress reduction for infertility and gynecological and reproductive issues.

Post: "News Men Can Use"

Helen discusses how something from a man's past may be still hurting him today... and affecting how he deals with the whole "infertile couple" issue.


Blog#4 Fertility Lab Insider

Blogger: Carole Wegner PH.D, North Carolina, USA

Post: Sure, we can gab all day about infertility and men. But now we're going to hear from a scientist. In this post, Carole discusses an important part of the male reproductive system that you may not even be aware of. (I definitely wasn't)



Blog#5 "A Childless World"

Blogger: Hans Morse, Sydney Australia

Hans Morse has had a varied career and after 7 years working as an Australian Federal Police Officer and other protection agency roles, Hans moved to a career in sales & marketing.

Post: Okay, I'm cheating here a little. Hans isn't really a blogger but he did write an entire book about his experiences of going through infertility with his wife, Corinne. And on his site, he offers some good man-to-man advice for husbands as well as friends.



Blog#6: Fertility Wellness Group

Bloggers: Diana Palmentiero & Lenore C. Pranzo, Connecticut, USA


Diana Palmentiero helps other women who are having fertility issues just as she did with both of her children. She has experience with secondary infertility, acupuncture, meditation, qi-gong and pre and post natal yoga. She is also a Certified Wellness Coach.

Lenore C. Pranzo has a background in substance abuse, mental health and adolescent counseling. She has a Masters degree from Fairfield University in Marriage and Family Therapy. Due to her difficulty getting pregnant she utilized western medicine and eastern medicine (including acupuncture) to conceive her twins.

Post: "At Father's Day, What About the Men?"

In this post, Diana looks back at her own childless Father's Day to remind us not to forget about the husbands.

Post Link:



Blog#7: "Secret Infertility Hope"

Blogger: Fran Meadows, Greater NYC area, USA

Fran is an Infertility Advocate at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Author of The Truth Behind The Secret "Infertility"

Post: "Father's Day for All...No Exclusions"

This post is for men... but there are some important notes for the women who live with and love them also.



Blog#8: Thierry-health.com

Blogger: Thierry Clerc, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Thierry is a homeopath and nutritional consultant. He is fully registered for the practice of homeopathy, biofeedback analysis, and therapies based on herbs, nutrition and life-style.

Post: "Why 'Will-be Daddy' Needs to Take Care of His Health As Well"

Thierry gives insight into the increasing problems of male infertility and also provides an informative link to an article that breaks it all down.



Blog#9 ETCM Fertility

Blogger: Jane Johnson, Fertility Therapist, United Kingdom Jane is a professional acupuncturist and herbalist as well as an accomplished Yoga therapist who specialises in Fertility issues and women's health.

Post: "Infertility: Men, 10 Times Easier to Treat?"

Jane discusses in this post, why male infertility patients are easier for acupuncturists to treat than female...if you can get them to make an appointment that is.




Blog#10: Baptism By Fire

Blogger: Jules Wolfers, Louisville, KY, USA Jules' blog is about how she deals with infertility and childlessness.


Post: "The Children of Men"

Jules talks with a male friend who "came out" to her about his own infertility in this incredible insight into what a man goes through.


Post Link: http://gameguessing.blogspot.com/2012/06/children-of-men.html














Thursday, May 17, 2012

Financial Aftermath of Infertility

Well, it's done. We have two children and we are a family of four with our dog, Lucy and bird, Gus. The checks have all been written for our latest adoption except for a couple thousand more dollars for the attorney fee and other immigration fees.

We are extremely happy to have Wee home. Big brother, Min is doing great and makes the baby laugh all the time. We are all settled in living life, enjoying each other.

It took 8 years to become the family of 4 we had hoped to be. Eight years have gone by since we first starting trying to conceive. And I am exhausted. Reoccurring thoughts of a potential pregnancy still fade in and out and may be worth writing about at another time, but right now I am resting my soul. It has been a long 8 years.

Even though most of the adoption paperwork has been processed and we hope to have Wee officially adopted by the fall, we are left with the financial ramifications of a second $25,000 adoption. To date we will have spent roughly $75,000 to be a family of four.

Craziness.

And we would be no where without help from family. While we paid for the majority of everything ourselves, the help we received allowed us to continue on in our journey to the family we had hoped for. And it was our choice to do a second adoption and incur the debt. It was our choice to set aside our dreams of remodeling our kitchen, going on vacations, and postponing ventures for a later date to have another child. But it doesn't mean that this choice isn't difficult sometimes.

In the grand scheme of things we are just fine financially, way better off than so many in our country. And this is by no means a complaint post. What I am trying to convey is the financial burden of infertility (which may lead to adoption) that so many face and carries on long after a child comes. In fact, our lack of conceivability may have altered our children's choices for colleges if they don't get big scholarships. And if another major crisis were to occur in our family, we would be in a very difficult spot.

I want people to understand that finances is a huge part of the crisis of infertility. And it's effect can be a huge sacrifice on dreams and future plans just like infertility itself. If a couple decides to do many costly ART procedures without a successful pregnancy, will they be able to move on to adoption?

Or if a couple decides to stop medical intervention and makes the choice to live child-free, how badly have the procedures affected their financial state? On top of a broken heart people are faced with debt. And what is there to show for it?

That's how we felt after the $25,000 we spent out of pocket on IVF with only one terrible ectopic pregnancy.

For us the money we spent on IVF was all worth it because it was part of our journey to adoption. We found our path and along came our two beautiful boys. But it has changed our financial situation along with many other expectations of being (ahem) near mid-thirties. I know we will rebound from our  tight budget. We had that plan in place when we decided to adopt again. We wanted to provide a sibling for Min but it had to be done the right way for us. Luckily we had the capability to adopt two times.

I am so glad that Parenthood for Me is able to provide some financial relief for people. I know it is providing hope. The grant review committee is now reviewing applications and the winners will be announced in early July. Unfortunately there will be many disappointed applicants. But I hope that we continue to grow and receive more donations in order to help more and more people every year.

The one thing people should not have to lay awake at night thinking about is how to afford parenthood.



Friday, April 13, 2012

The Annual Gala


ANNUAL GALA
Sponsored by

Saturday, April 21, 2012
Rochester, NY
We would like to thank all those who have sponsored and donated for the event:

SILVER SPONSOR


BRONZE SPONSOR
**********************************************************
Table Sponsors
Paris Kirwan and Associates
Tile Wholesalers
John D'Aurizo, Esquire
Mark Gunther, Esquire
Unum Insurance
CustomZilla
Kafl Insurance
West Ridge OBGYN
Roxanne Darling Walther Consulting, LLC
Triple Point Survey
Fairport Savings Bank
SILENT AUCTION PRIZES and DONORS
Weekend in the 1,000 Islands- 2 night stay at a year round cottage on the St. Lawrence River
4 golf passes for Penfield Country Club with golf cart and lunch
Night stay at the Inn on Broadway and $100 gift certificate to Tournades Restaurant
Night stay at The Del Monte
Night stay at The Esperanza Mansion on Keuka Lake
32" inch TV
Wine tasting for 4 at Casa Larga Vineyards
Spa package from CNY Fertility and Healing Arts
George Eastman House membership
1 hour photography session with Jessica McCormick
Straight to Cake
La-Tea-Da
Gem Lab jewelry
Highland Park Body Works
Molly Branch Accupuncture
Tasteful Connections Catering
Mary Kay gift basket
Cheesy Eddie's
Custom children's adirondak chair
Roncone's Restaurant
Suite for a Rochester Red Wings game
Wood rug from Messner Carpet
Tru Salon
Green With Envy Salon
Geva Theater
Gourment Goodies
Salon Enza
Tips and Toes
Bella Carta Studio
Big Oak
Seabreeze Amusement Park
Bumble Baby
Genrich Garden Center
Handmand quilt
Tantalo
Grinnell's Restaurant
Thank you to Flower Power Decor for donating our flowers and Andrew Hempel photographer.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Commitment to Excellence 2012



This year we are excited to honor Marty Cardona and the late Cecelia Park of Love the Children Adoption Agency at the Parenthood for Me Annual Gala April 21st.

By

Kelly Weishaar
Parenthood for Me Board Member
President, Love the Children of Rochester


“There are currently 13 babies available for adoption.”

Huh?

I had been struggling with infertility for 4 years. I had faced countless medical treatments, losses, and heartaches. My husband and I were in a period of grieving and trying to figure out our next step when something unexpected happened. I was at a meeting at school when I “overheard” a casual conversation that changed my life forever. An administrator at the meeting, Marty Cardona, who also happens to be an adoption caseworker, was explaining how the changing international adoption rules in Korea resulted in many babies becoming available for adoption all at once. Everything became clear to me at that moment. We were a family who needed a baby, and there were babies who needed families.

Becoming a mother through adoption not only brought me my two beautiful children, it brought me in contact with many amazing people. Two of those people, Cecelia Park, Director of Love the Children and Marty Cardona, caseworker for Love the Children not only made an impact on my life but on the lives of thousands of other families and children.

Love the Children is an adoption agency located in Pennsylvania. The agency’s founder, Mary Graves worked with the Korean international adoption program at an agency called Welcome House. On one of her trips to Korea she met Cecelia Park. Cecelia was trained as a concert pianist and was playing at the hotel where Mary was staying. When Mary stopped to ask her for directions, the two women struck up a friendship. Cecelia knew nothing about adoption or adoption agencies but was impressed with the work Mary was doing to help Korean children.

Eventually Cecelia moved to the United States to work with Mary. Shortly after Cecelia arrived, Mary started her own agency called Love the Children. Cecelia was instrumental in forming the relationship between Love the Children and the agency they worked with in Korea called Eastern Social Welfare Society. This close relationship was critical to the success of Love the Children. In 1979 Love the Children placed their first child with a U.S. family. Initially they found homes for older children who were difficult to place and had been living in orphanages for many years. As time went on, the agency started to do more infant adoptions.
As the agency grew, there was a need for more caseworkers to provide social histories and the periodic updates required by Korea. Mary Graves reached out to Marty Cardona and invited her to join the agency.

Marty Cardona and her husband had two biological children but wanted to expand their family through adoption. They were interested in adopting from an Asian country and went with South Korea because it was the most established and stable international adoption program. Marty adopted her daughter through Welcome House which is how she came to know Mary Graves. Marty went on to have two more biological children and then adopted a son from Korea. As Marty went through the process of her daughter’s adoption, she learned about a program through Monroe County Social Services. In 1976 Marty was trained as a “volunteer” caseworker which lead to her job at Love the Children.

In 1997 Mary Graves passed away. Cecelia took over as Director of the agency. Cecelia and Marty became close colleagues and friends over the 30 years they worked together. For Cecelia working in adoption was more than “just a job.” Twenty-four hours a day she was an advocate for the children of Korea. In the beginning, Mary and Cecelia made the two-hour drive to New York City to meet every flight from Korea and welcome each baby to the United States. Cecelia called Korea every evening and was in constant contact with Eastern. When the babies got home, Cecelia called them on the phone. She sang them Korean songs and told them they were safe with their new families. Each summer she traveled to upstate NY to attend picnics and visit with the children and families. Twice a year she went to Korea to visit and check on the babies who were waiting to come home.

Marty Cardona’s commitment to the agency and to the children was equal to Cecelia’s. Over the course of her career she placed approximately 2,500 children with permanent families. She worked primarily in Western NY, although throughout her years with Love the Children she expanded into other areas of NY and PA. Marty’s other “full time” career was being a school principal for Brookshill Elementary School (K-5) in the Fairport Central School District. She retired from being a principal last year, but has continued her work in education by becoming part of the Fairport Board of Education. She also remains active on the board of Love the Children of Rochester.

In 2011 Cecelia Park passed away. Although she is gone, her devotion to the children of Korea lives on. Mary and Cecelia worked hard to create an adoption agency that was different from other agencies. Their commitment to the children of Korea came before anything else. They spent much time and resources giving back to the country they worked with. Although not inclusive, the following is a brief summary of their accomplishments:

-Love the Children required each major city they worked in to establish a parent support group. Rochester’s parent support group has been in existence for 30 years and is still active in our community.

-Love the Children required each family who adopted through the agency to make a commitment to support the children of Korea.

-Love the Children provided Eastern with the van (called the “Love Mobile”) that transports the children from Eastern to the airport to make their flight to the U.S.

-The agency/parent groups raised funds and sent money to Eastern to build a children’s hospital and three schools (elementary, middle school, and high school) for children with disabilities.

A while ago we learned that Love the Children will most likely be closing within the next couple of years. Korea has always desired to end the international adoption program. It is their hope to promote domestic adoption and be able to support needy children within their own country. The international adoption program has seen a great amount of change over the past few years. Although it will most likely continue in some form major changes are expected.

So, while I once considered infertility a curse, I now consider it a blessing. In my heart I know I was supposed to “overhear” that casual conversation about Korean adoption and Love the Children. I am the proud Mommy of two funny, smart, beautiful children. I have also had the opportunity to be part of something bigger. Through the commitment I gave to Love the Children, and through my participation in the local parent support group, in my own small way I too am able to give support to adopted children and the children who remain in Korea.

I am so pleased that Cecelia Park and Marty Cardona are receiving the Commitment to Excellence. I am grateful to them everyday. This award will give other people the opportunity to learn about the amazing work they have done for children and families.

For more information on the gala visit www.parenthoodforme.org

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Limerick Chick Contest 2012







So, I won two years in a row and lost my title last year. Here I am trying again.
Thanks to Lori and Write Mind Open Heart my spring gets sprung by writing silly rhymes.





My 2009 and 2010 winning entries. My parents are proud.



I’m an Irish gal who drinks whisky
Sometimes I go home and get frisky.
When the good deed is done.
I’m Wishing 4 One.
Or at least eat some spam and some latke.

~~~~


I once was scared of the gyno
Now I’ll drop my pants for a rhino
When bad times are worse
There’s blogs like the mrsch
Or instead I can just be a whino




DRUMROLL********************************


Our eggs and sperm lack esteem


Under a microscope they do not gleam


Ain't the birds and the bees


Nor doing the ol' dirty deed


Mrs. Spit says things aren't what they seem.




{small bow and curtsy}

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crescent Moon Size Chance

I haven't been blogging much lately. And I haven't been reading many blogs either. I fell off the radar awhile back for many different reasons. I love writing. Writing is what got me through the thick of infertility. In 2007 when blogging became my outlet and a huge part of my daily life, I would often think to myself, this would be a great blog post.

Some where along the line I stopped thinking that way.

Part of me wanted to keep my parenting days private. Part of me also felt like I no longer had the right to grieve over infertility. I felt like there was a lack of material so to speak. The guts of this blog are about the struggle to become a parent. And even though I was a parent when I started this blog and Parenthood for Me, my emotions were extremely raw after dealing with infertility treatments for 4 years.

After adopting Min there remained a huge hole in my heart. I could not understand why having a family came so difficult to us. I could not accept that a pregnancy was not in the cards for me. And even though I was finally a mom, I knew I wanted more than one child. And I had no idea how that was going to happen.

Deciding to take the plunge and begin a second adoption was extremely exciting. We didn't have the money laying around, but we found a way to finance the adoption. Once that was figured out and we were reliving the adoption process, I felt a sense of peace. We would give Min a sibling. I would be able to carry around a baby again. We would be a family of 4.

Here I am one year later and my little Wee is home. I have two boys. There are two car seats in my car. The baby is walking around the living room in his big brothers sneakers and having a blast. The two of them will fight over toys and the next minute are giggling with each other like old pals. The details I notice now that I have two kids are as minute as the details I noticed after finally becoming a mother. Sometimes I catch myself noticing the smallest event in my day regarding my kids and wonder if all parents see parenting the way I do.

Somebody once wrote to me that I have always told the truth about infertility. Adopting did not take away the pain. Being an adoptive parent did not resolve my desire to get pregnant. Infertility is a shocking, hurtful, and extremely difficult struggle. The effects are monumental and altering on one's psyche and outlook on life, relationships, and their future.

However, I find it hard right now to write when I feel sad. Because the fact is that even though I have never been happier, I still grieve. I still feel a profound loss in my heart because I cannot get pregnant. Within the past month I have heard of 4 pregnancies that are miracles. They were unexpected and happened to women who truly believed they would never get pregnant, especially on their own. I am so happy for them. I truly am. Because no one should have to go through their entire life wondering why pregnancy wasn't possible. But I found myself sobbing so hard one night because I cannot help but wonder if that unexpected miracle will ever happen to me.

And I really hate that I am still so unsettled . Because I surely know how much I have to be thankful for.

I find it difficult to admit that I still hurt over infertility even though I am the mom to two beautiful and wonderful children. The story of their being and their existence in my life is amazing. How we came to be a family still leaves me speechless.

Why is it so hard to let go of pregnancy for me? I ask myself that question often. Yesterday I simply said, you are just going to have to accept that being pregnant and giving birth are not part of who you are.

But my heart cannot accept it yet.

I keep revisiting a session I had with a new RE a few months ago.This was simply an informational interview. There are no scheduled procedures on the docket. She was taking my history and we talked about my ectopic pregnancy, the laparascopy I had where we found endo, and the sordid details of my (and our) infertility file.

She asked if I had every gotten pregnant on my own in the 7 years since I went off birth control.

My answer was an unequivocal, no.

Her statement is true and not altogether news to me, but they way she put it was so raw and blunt.

"You should consider your egg quality as well. You probably would have at least had a miscarriage in all that time."

It hurt to hear that on top of male factor and PCOS that my eggs may be of poor quality as well. The chances of pregnancy are so slim. The tiniest crescent moon thin.

After 8 years of infertility talk, I still find a way to feel the smack all over again. As if it was that first visit to my then OBGYN telling me I may have PCOS and needed to see an RE. Natural conception was probably not possible.

My infertility journey is an evolution. I revel in my adoptive mom-ness, but I also grieve what I have lost as a woman, wife, and daughter. The joy and the grief have a place in my life as a parent. I know it may be hard for some to understand how I could still have so much sadness inside after adopting Min and Wee. But I have learned to not bury my feelings but to embrace them and to be honest with myself. This has allowed me to make it through this journey intact. And since parenting is a role that never ends, I supposed the questions of how I became a parent and what it took to get here will continue to be on the table for discussion.

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