Struggling With Infertility
“We married young, with a plan. We bought a big country home with the dream of filling it. Our family would be complete by the time I was 30. So, we thought.
Infertility said otherwise! We discussed foster care and mulled that over.
Attending an info session came with a mountain of paperwork. The lengthy forms felt very invasive and personal. Fostering was pushed aside as we continued fertility treatments. Paul said, ‘heck no,’ and tossed the paperwork in the cupboard.
Pregnancy and my body were not in agreement from the very start. There were years of doctors, tests, waiting, fertility drugs, schedules and jealousy with every pregnancy announcement from our circle.
Baby showers were unbearable. I just couldn’t! I couldn’t share in the joy of others.
I was a terrible person in yet another level of judgment, on myself. Anger and guilt! We silently struggled to have a child.
Pregnancy & Delivery
Having survived monthly highs of hope, followed by defeat of repeated failure, we conceived. We really were in disbelief. A nurse had to call, confirming the happy news.
I was sick the entire pregnancy, but was happy to have the constant reminder I was indeed pregnant. Eventually my body said, ‘I can no longer support you both.’
Preeclampsia, a swollen liver, and low platelets changed what could have been a joyous day, to one of rapid induction. Fear and distress took over as a plan beyond our control was enacted around us. We were powerless.
Eager For A Big Family
Our little one, who existed against fertility odds, was forced to arrive at 4 pounds and 10 ounces. Welcome to the world, our little Parker Danielle. In a hospital hours from our home, I bargained with every higher power to get us both discharged and back.
A kind young student we were blessed with one day, proudly shared with us we had a fighter on our hands. She fought his attempted diaper change and what great news that was!
Thankfully, we were discharged together. We arrived home as she returned to four BIG pounds. Lacking coveted fat rolls and resembling a yellow Kermit the Frog with jaundice. She was beautiful and perfect.
We couldn’t have been prouder! We were parents! We were home.
She grew and I healed, as did our ability to entertain the idea of more children. We would have to return to medical intervention.
How far are we willing to go? Another pregnancy would be high risk. That was frightening! Time in the NICU means we are aware of a new reality we couldn’t unhear, unsee or ignore.
Things go wrong! Life is fragile and bad things do happen to good people. We have Parker to care for now. What is our comfort level and when is enough enough?
Paul came from a family of seven. Me, a family of four, and I had always hoped for a large family. Dare I say, four children? We appreciated the gift of parenthood and if I can not conceive, so be it.
We ran the course of fertility meds that granted us our daughter. No such luck the 2nd time around. We didn’t grieve for future pregnancies.
We lived with pregnancy complications and were vividly aware of the risks involved. My body spoke and we listened.
Back to the thought of those papers, buried in the back of a cupboard.
Are we asking for too much? Being selfish? How dare we want more children? The judgment of others is harsh.
My sister and I are four years apart. Paul has siblings spaced by many years, some as close as two years.
Parker Danielle is now two and we know the next route, whatever it may be will most likely take time. We have absolutely no control. Patience is very much a virtue I am still working on!
We explore the option of adoption. In our little Canadian province, there are no adoption agencies. Nor, can we advertise our desire to parent again. We have to proceed through word of mouth or governmental channels.
We are provided with info on public adoption from the foster care system as well as the steps and options for international adoption.
At the time, most children in care and available for adoption were sibling sets of three. The waitlist for an infant is 10 years. Yes, you read that correctly. 10 years!
We optimistically began to look into international adoption. Investigating programs around the world we could apply to.
We ended up stopping in our backyard! Adoption from the USA falls under international adoption. The state of Maine is nearby and crossing the border is frequent and common. We would be thrilled to parent any little human, up to the age of our daughter, now three.
We applied to a private adoption agency in Georgia. There was a need and the expected timeline wasn’t several years away.
We were selected by birth parents to parent a baby boy after his birth. We were elated!
Xavier is our son! We have a son! Seven weeks later, Xavier is paper ready to cross the border into Canada.
It was March break and we couldn’t get flights to bring our son home.
It would take days to drive to him, and days to return with an infant who didn’t know us. He was finally able to be home, why couldn’t it happen, immediately!?! We’ve already waited so agonizingly long! I became sick and told Paul not to wake me unless it was with concrete news of Xavier’s homecoming.
Bringing Our Adopted Son Home
An airline ambassador was found to escort our infant son to Maine. We met at an airport and drove home together. Going through customs to land our little immigrant. Xavier is now a man of two countries, with Canadian as well as American citizenship.
Paul took parental leave from work, I continued working from home, and Parker Danielle was yet to start school. This was a priceless time for our little family of four. That year was the best!
Getting A Hysterectomy
A year after Xavier’s homecoming, I had a hysterectomy. The best thing to happen for my health! The surgeon told me I was too young and Canada needed more babies. Not from me, it didn’t!
I wasn’t aware age was a factor in women’s reproductive health and argued the point. My doctor had requested the surgery and we were in full agreement. There was no grieving or holding on to hope there.
The thought of whether to adopt again pops up. Do we want to add to our happy little family? Shouldn’t we be content to have our two children?
We know everything takes time. Parker is now five and Xavier 18 months when we discuss trying to adopt within Canada.
I am meant to be a mom. It is within me and my ability. Paul is an amazing man, father and we do make a pretty good team. The kids are pretty darn awesome themselves!
We reach out to every Canadian province with our profile in hopes of making a connection. All attempts fail! We are sadly aware it is easier and quicker to adopt internationally than within our own country.
Becoming Foster Parents
We begin the process and training for the stamp of approval to be a foster family. While hoping to add another permanent member of the family, we care for nine children over five years. This was the hardest and most rewarding time for our family. We welcomed children into our life as blank slates.
They came with just their name and very rarely any belongings or history. On a moment’s notice, at all hours of the day. An open ended timeline of how long they would be with us.
Precious time to heal, advocate, love, laugh and cry within a year to two together. That was the average.
We made a commitment to do the best we could by each child. We loved on infants, toddlers, elementary to teenage as if they were our own. From sibling groups and singletons. We had vacations together, school meetings, doctor appointments, birthdays, holidays, drives to and from family visits, as well as struggles on knowing how to adequately help the most vulnerable and abused.
Some called us Mom and Dad. As well as our family members by the same terms Parker and Xavier did.
They wanted a family, permanency, and unconditional love. No matter how rough their starts were, that was their norm. They also wanted that.
Unification of family was always the plan. As we accepted children into our life, they slowly opened up to us. A huge responsibility we were cautious to guard and encourage. We did not want to be another person letting them down.
The physical change in them was the most evident to notice over our time together. The honor of eye contact and looking for us. The 1st hug, trusting enough to talk openly, trusting daily needs would be met, allowing us to be their voice, and trying what was new was HUGE. That made the hard times worthwhile.
Attachment issues, therapies and being kicked out of daycares was common. We shared family traditions, many firsts together, and hope the kids always carry that with them.
Goodbye was always accompanied with grief. If we weren’t attached to the kids, we were doing it wrong! It was hard for the heart to accept what the brain knew. Our role was temporary.
While fostering, we updated our file annually, being a potential adoptive home for a sibling set of two, up to the age of our youngest. We closed our home to fostering. Not knowing where each child is now or how they are doing was tough!
When they moved from our home, they left our lives as well. We gained so much though! Much more than we could have ever given out. We still speak of each child with their funny little phrases, shared moments, and fun together.
Over five years, we had put faces to labels and diagnosis, later presented to us on paper, as someone available for adoption. Had we not fostered, we would have shied away from these overwhelming labels and terms. We wouldn’t have been able to see beyond that.
Having the experience of a child that benefits from consistency, love, and advocacy was a life we lived. Having value for who they were, as they were. Without expectations upon them.
Adopting Our Son With Autism
Xavier is nine as we received the call. I am a cultural match to a child, ‘younger than you are expecting,’ I am told. There is a round table meeting of social workers, service providers, medical professionals with us sitting across from the foster family.
They are the first and only family the child has known. They are, and will continue to be, nanny and papa. We want to maintain that connection, should we proceed.
Which of course we do. We visited, back and forth between his home and ours over several months.
We have a son! Our guy comes home just shy of two years. He didn’t talk or walk, yet. He’s perfectly made and awesome!
With continued support to assist walking and the benefit of active siblings, he takes off. Step by step to running, playing basketball in Elementary and Volleyball in Middle School.
Speech, occupational and physical therapy were weekly. We receive the suspected diagnosis of Autism at age two. It’s a relief to know, really! We gain an understanding in assisting our son and a plan to help him reach his potential.
We picked up some American sign language, saw his personality take off, and potty train without spoken language. Intensive therapy, twenty hours a week begins and language develops. We count the number of words spoken to the length of sentences with great pride.
He’s so strong and a sponge when it comes to learning. He is given the nickname Mr. Sunshine. Our easy going fellow also lives with ADHD. We are a family of five and I have passed the 30 year mark, a while ago.
Adopting Our Son’s Brother
A year later, another call came. Baby brother is available for adoption! We’re shocked!
Paul says that out of everything the little ones have endured and lost, we can at least give them each other. Done deal!
We go through the steps again. Update our file, references, criminal checks, financials and have our doctor sign off on our ability to parent. The older children fill out papers and meet with the adoption social worker, again, all while preparing for son number 3!
We are approved to adopt again! We are elated, and honored. We are thrilled that the brothers have each other, plus more!
As we are going out the door to meet Little Dude, the phone rings. Fearing there was a change of plans, we paused as we are told that in the same foster home as Little Dude is a baby sister! SHUT UP I say!
We meet Little Dude, spending the weekend together in the midst of a snow storm. He comes home at 16 months old and is a ball of non-stop energy, all day every day. He’s a force! With a smirk to go with it.
We receive another diagnosis of Autism and follow along the same therapy as big brother. Speech is slow but it comes. With no fear of self harm, nor death, our daredevil is kept within eyesight and ear range. He is up for anything without impulse control nor time to talk about his next thought.
We knew something was different but weren’t sure of how to best support Little Dude. We eventually receive another diagnosis of ADHD plus Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This makes sense.
School has been a bumpy road for this beautiful, challenging, make you crack the code, sensory seeker, curious, 90% cat of a boy. We shout his worth and have his back. We are a family of six and we laugh at any and all plans.
Completing Our Family Of Seven
A year later, another call! Baby sister is available for adoption. One year to the month of Little Dude’s homecoming, his 14 month old little sister completes our family.
Earning her nickname, Miss Enough. This Diva has her siblings wrapped around her finger.
She can take the gum out of a brother’s mouth for her own use, without a complaint filed. A little girl made us parents and another completed us.
Five beautiful children isn’t too shabby for a barren woman. I dare say.
We received more than planned and hoped for! I am glad we started our family young! What if we hadn’t?
Paul and I are parents of The Littles and The Bigs in a busy, loud house. Neurodiversity can be exhausting. Definitely challenging and thriving! That right there is one thing that fuels us.
We are a family of seven. By our combined DNA, international and domestic adoption.”
This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Tara and Paul English of NB, Canada. You can follow them on Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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