Monday night Berilac and I went to a Stan.ford Univ.sity Fert.ility Clin.ic symposium called "Options for building families" ... I've known about this recurring event for at least a year and have been avoiding it ... until recently.
Let me just tell you that I NEVER would have expected to see myself in a meeting like this ... I just never would have guessed.
The counselor at the clinic knows me by name ;-) and she invited us (along with a lot of folks) and we finally decided to dip our toes in, check it out.
It's scary to check something like this out because it feels like you're giving in to failure - the enemy has won. Well, that's what the enemy would like you to think! But it's so entirely not true.
So as we understood it, the meeting would consist of many representatives sharing their stories around alternative family building. They did a great job coordinating the presentation - all were represented, below is a list of the types of situations that were represented (and I'll add in definitions for those that don't understand this stuff!)
- donor sperm: wife's egg, sperm not from husband - but rather from a donor, wife's uterus.
- donor egg: egg not from wife - but rather from a donor, husband's sperm, wife's uterus.
- donor embryo: egg nor sperm from wife or husband - an entirely different couple created an embryo, wife's uterus. (this is like adoption only rather than adopting a baby who's days/weeks old, you're adopting an embryo to transfer into your uterus in hopes that you carry the baby to term)
- surrogacy: most traditionally - wife's egg, husband's sperm, uterus of a woman other than the wife.
- (and combinations of the above!!) for example a couple could create an embryo from a donor's egg and the husband's sperm and transfer it into the uterus of a woman besides the wife. (did you follow that?)
- domestic adoption
- and international adoption
I was mildly hyperventilating when I walked in, but I was shoutin' from the rooftops on the way out (so, I guess you could say that their goals were met? demystifying alternatives for seeking couples.)
Among the cast of characters were:
- a birth mother who gave up her child and now enjoys an open adoption
- a father who adopted domestically
- a woman who went through 11 failed IUI's followed by 7 failed IVF's, and now has two children from surrogacy (she now runs a surrogacy consultancy for those of us who like to do it ourselves!)
- a woman who adopted her oldest son and had her second son via embryo donation (she now runs a surrogacy placement agency)
- the 17 year old son of the woman mentioned above - he's the result of the donated embryo (was TOTALLY cute and bright and well spoken - an inspiration for embryo adoption!)
- a woman who lost donor egg twins at 22w gestation due to severe pre-eclampsia, who now is the mother of donor egg, surrogate triplets.
It was amazing.
The three things that Berilac and I got out of it ... and the three things I want to share are:
- God created most women to have a motherly desire - you will not be happy replacing that desire with a successful career or world travel ... when it all comes down to it, unless taken away by God that desire is there to stay.
- No matter how you build your family - you think you have the best kids in the world, hands down - no doubt.
- The overshadowing darkness that infertility brings will go away. One of my biggest fears is that the roots of bitterness will grow deep in this journey and it was so reassuring to see so many women (almost flippantly!) briefly mention their 11 years of fertility treatments only to spend WAY too long going on and on about their kids (who were wonderful 99% of the time and kids 1% of the time - so they were honest too!)
If we decide to go the non-biological route ... there are options, and based on some preliminary findings - they don't look too bad.