Archive for the 'Infertility' Category

An Ingenious App for Waiting Parents

We all love babies, but let’s face it: When you’re going through infertility treatments or waiting to adopt a child, sometimes other people’s babies are the last thing you want to see. Like most things in life these days, there’s an app for that – at least, for Google Chrome users. Simply download Unbaby.me and it will remove all photos of babies from your newsfeed and replace them with the photo of your choice (such as the friendly tree shown above, or a photo of your favorite adoption attorney). According to the L.A. Times, the app has already gotten 41,000 “Likes” on Facebook. Talk about better living through technology!

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

Happy Mother’s Day from The Vaughan Firm

Yesterday I went to a conference for infertile couples to talk about adoption and assisted reproduction law. I met a lot of couples there who long for a child to love, and who are doing mountains of research to make that possible. They’re reading medical journals about IVF. They’re learning about the Hague Convention for international adoptions. They’re cleaning their houses with a toothbrush for home studies. They’re learning how to hire professionals that they trust. They’re learning about attachment and bonding. On this Mother’s Day, I want to say to these women: I am talking about you, too. Because all that work you are doing to lay the groundwork for a child to come home? That’s mothering. All the worrying that you do at night? Mothering. All that research about reducing risks? Mothering. I know it doesn’t feel like it counts right now, but it will. And I want to honor you on this day.

I also want to honor the brave birth mothers who have placed their children for adoption because they believed that was the best thing for those children. Doing what’s best for your child even though it hurts? That’s mothering.

I want to honor the adoptive mothers who now hold the children they dreamed about. Loving a child and raising that child day by day, for life? That’s mothering.

I want to honor foster mothers who open their homes and their hearts to children in need. Giving children a safe place in tough times? That’s mothering.

No matter how your children came to you, or even if they’re not quite there yet, please accept my warmest wishes on this Mother’s Day. A person with the heart to love and welcome a child is a very special person, indeed.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

“It Will Happen For You” — Encouraging or Unwelcome?

I was interested to see a post today on Adoption Voices, where a member wrote that it’s very upsetting to her when people say “don’t give up! Adoption will happen for you if you hang in there.”

Lara writes:

While I know it’s meant to be encouraging, I’ve come to really hate these statements – because nobody can honestly guarantee an adoption will happen. Even with a match, we’re all painfully aware there are no guarantees, until a judge declares it final. We can’t trust an agency, lawyer, or fate. We just hear what we want to hear – from those who have been blessed with adoption. But for how many of us does it NOT happen?

Lara’s post surprised me, because I have often heard (and sometimes given) this advice in the adoption community, and I think it is basically sound. After all, if you don’t stop trying, it’s true that eventually you will adopt successfully. However, Lara is perfectly correct: for some people, “giving up” is the right decision. If you have reached your emotional limits or the adoption journey is just too hard on your family, it is healthy and appropriate to stop. I can think of other situations, such as financial difficulty or a serious illness in the family, that also might be perfectly good reasons to decide that adoption is not a good fit for you after all.

I still think that saying “you will be able to adopt if you don’t give up” is a true statement, but as all things in life, it’s important to think before you speak. If someone has made the difficult decision to stop trying to adopt, telling them that they could have a baby if only they were more persistent is likely to hurt them more than it helps. But for those who are on the long road to adoption and just feeling tired and discouraged, it could be just what they need to hear.

What do you think? Has anyone ever said this to you about adoption? How did it make you feel?

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

Adopting After Infertility

For the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week, I’m reprising a post that I wrote in October 2010 about the unexpected emotions that some adoptive parents experience after adopting a child. Many people who adopt after infertility don’t realize that it’s normal to feel some ambivalence and even sadness after an adopted child comes home, as a natural part of the process of grieving their dream of having a child who is biologically related to them. If this sounds like you, know that you are not crazy, and you’re not alone!

You waited for years for a child, filled out reams of paperwork, and went through seemingly endless hurdles to get to the day when you would bring your child home. So, once you have completed your adoption, you have no right to feel anything but undiluted joy all the time, right? Wrong. While many adoptive parents feel guilty or ashamed of having negative feelings after their child comes home, the truth is, it is completely normal. Anger, helplessness, stress, and shame are all common emotions for new adoptive parents. Does any of this sound familiar?

  • I feel like a fraud; like I don’t deserve to parent this child.
  • I feel distant from my adopted child, and even wonder if bringing her home was a mistake.
  • I feel like I have to be the perfect parent all the time.
  • I am so angry that I had to go through so much paperwork and scrutiny to have a child, while some people just have babies by accident.
  • I want to hide from people constantly asking me intrusive questions about adoption.
  • I am so ashamed that I’m not happy. After all, isn’t this what I wanted?
  • My heart is still broken that I can’t have children of my own, and seeing this child who doesn’t look like me just reminds me of that fact.

If these or other dark emotions are haunting you during the post-adoption period, the most important thing to know is that you are not alone. Many new parents experience post-adoption depression, and it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent or that the adoption was a mistake! Here are a few things to think about before adopting to help avoid post-placement issues, and a few to help get you through the transition period.

Pre-Adoption

Take time out from “adopting” to focus on “adoption.” Just as a wedding is not a marriage, the adoption process is not the same as parenting. If possible, take time each week during the adoption process to focus on what life will be like after your child comes home. Read books and talk to other adoptive parents about the challenges that may arise in the first days, weeks, and months.

If you adopted after infertility, allow yourself to grieve the infertility. Too often, couples jump straight from trying to conceive to trying to adopt without taking the time to process their feelings about infertility. When their adopted child comes home, these couples sometimes experience their grief about infertility all over again, as it really hits home that they will never have a biological child. Talk about these feelings in advance, preferably with a counselor who has experience counseling adopting parents. If it’s too late for that and you find yourself ambushed by feelings of grief after your baby comes home, reach out to a counselor or support group. Also, know that it’s not ungrateful or coldhearted to feel sad at what you thought would be a happy time – it’s a normal reaction that will pass.

Build a network you can count on. By joining adoption and parenting support groups, talking to supportive friends and family members, and learning what resources are available for adoptive parents in your community, you can avoid the feelings of isolation that many new parents feel at the beginning. Try to meet people who adopted long ago as well as fellow new parents so that you can benefit from their experience.

Post-Placement

Know that there is no right or wrong way to feel. Many adoptive parents feel that they have no right to feel depressed after getting what they have wanted for so long: a child. However, just because something is a blessing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. Give yourself credit by acknowledging that this is a difficult time and that beating yourself up about it only makes it worse.

Stay plugged in to the adoption community. While many adoptive parents use support groups, counselors, and community resources during the pre-adoption period (such as the search for a birth mother and finalization process) it’s a good idea to stay in touch after the adoption goes through. Supportive people like your social worker, counselor, and adoption attorney can be helpful resources as you parent your adopted child and questions arise. Other adoptive parents are also an invaluable resource that you can talk to about your feelings after adoption.

Know that no parent has all positive feelings all the time, and that adoption has special challenges. All parents go through times when parenting is not what they thought it would be. Sleep deprivation, not knowing what to do, and feeling overwhelmed are all part of the experience of being a new parent to any child, and it’s nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. It’s also true that adoptive parents have some special challenges in feeling connected and bonded to their new children, as well as the stress of fielding sometimes unwelcome questions about adoption from friends, family, and even strangers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You are not alone.

Seek help if you need it. Especially if you continually feel anxious, overwhelmed, panicked, depressed, or paralyzed by your emotions, seek counseling. And of course, if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your child, call 9-1-1 or a local mental health crisis center immediately. Although you may not be able to believe this if you are suffering from depression, it really does get better.

If you are waiting to adopt, don’t let this article scare you! Many new parents feel absolutely great after they adopt! What I hope you will take away from this article is that “absolutely great” isn’t the only normal way to feel.

For further reading about post-adoption depression, I highly recommend The Post Adoption Blues by Karen J. Foli and John R. Thompson. If you have more resources or advice to share, please join the conversation by posting a comment or emailing me at evaughan (at) vaughanfirm (dot) com.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week!

April 22–28 is National Infertility Awareness Week. According to the CDC, infertility affects approximately 2 million couples in the United States. If you are one of the people impacted by infertility, you are not alone. There are many support groups, both in-person and online, for people with infertility. You can also get involved with advocacy groups that lobby to change laws (such as health-care and adoption laws) that impact people with infertility. Also, there is no better time to learn more about your family-building options than during this awareness week. Many organizations are giving free or low-cost informational events this week to help people learn how they can become parents in spite of difficulties getting pregnant.

If you personally do not suffer from infertility, you can still support people who do. Check out this interesting list from RESOLVE about how to be sensitive to and supportive of people with infertility.

As for me, I will be blogging on infertility-related topics this week and visiting my Congressional representatives in Washington to ask them to make the Adoption Tax Credit permanent and support other legislation that helps people build their families.

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is the best resource I know of for people with infertility, including local listings of support groups and professionals, educational materials and seminars, an online community, and more. Do you know of other great resources? Post them in the comments!

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

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