Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Finding friendship in unexpected places

Part of our IF journey has included adopting embryos.  This week, I am reminded of this part of our journey because we recently visited with the woman from whom we adopted embryos.

We learned about open adoption during our home-study process.  We felt that it would be best for our children if they had access to their genetic family.  We felt in our hearts that people aren’t limited in the loving relationships they can have.  We took a leap of faith and trusted that the children would benefit from an honest and open explanation around the loving way they came into the world.  We wanted them to be able to have their questions answered by their genetic family if and when the time arose.

From a parenting perspective, we felt that it would be easier on us not to do this.  We personally did not want any connection with the genetic family, other than to express our gratefulness to them for the gift they gave to us.  We felt our lives would be easier if we didn’t have to “manage” a relationship with them.   Or, so I thought.

Two years ago, we were chosen to adopt their 6 embryos.  They wanted to meet with us in person before finalizing our match.  The couple traveled four hours by plane with their biological daughter.  We spent a weekend together that coincidentally fell on statutory holiday called “Family Day” in the province that we live.  

I stressed like I have never done before in preparing for their visit.  Stressed as in clean-every-closet-and-redo-the-spare-bedroom-including-the-paint kind of stress.  I had many freakouts on my husband and had insomnia every night.  It was an anxious person’s worst nightmare, to host the couple that held your dreams in their hand.  

They came, and were gracious guests.  They came to church with us and we showed them around our city.  They told us that they enjoyed their time in our home.  At the end of our time together, she cried when she told us that they wanted to give their embryos to us.  They said never expected to be in a position to help another couple with infertility, but they wanted to pay it forward.  They had a child from adoption and one from surrogacy and had received a lot of help in building their beautiful family.

We were happy and excited that they chose us.   It was the second time we had been matched with a donor couple.  The first had not wanted any contact with us.  So this was a very different experience for us. 

A lot has happened in the two years since they chose us as their match.   We were fortunate that all six of the embryos survived the thaw, and we transferred them two at a time.  The final two resulted in a twin pregnancy, which sadly ended at 8 weeks. 

Finding out we were pregnant was a wonderful time that didn’t last nearly long enough.  The fact that I was pregnant made the embryo adoption process feel “real” to us in a way that it didn’t previously.  One of my first thoughts after learning that I was pregnant was that I would know the donor couple for the rest of my life.  It was an overwhelming time.

In the time that has passed, the donor family and I have kept in touch.  She has turned out to be an especially wonderful blessing to us.  She has become our biggest cheerleader in our infertility journey, having been through a tremendous amount herself.  She has shown me that she is not afraid to be present within someone else’s grief.  She has shown me love and support in a way that I have not experienced from my own friends and family.   For me, five years into this IF journey, there is a depth of grief that I only feel comfortable sharing another person who has experienced infertility.  She has turned into that person for me.

When we visited their state for a vacation last spring, we spent a weekend with them and had a lovely time.  We spent time with their children in their beautiful home.  It was the start of our relationship as friends.

This past weekend, she was visiting a friend nearby.  We invited her to come spend a couple days with us as well.  We had a wonderful visit.  While I wondered if she was still analyzing us, even if it was to a much lesser degree (I think I would be?), it felt like genuine friendship.

When she left, she left two beautiful cards.  One thanking us for our hospitality and another cheering us along in our IF journey.  Along with a nice personal message it said:

I believe in mind over matter.
I believe in miracles and blessings both great and small.
I believe that hurdles in life are meant to be jumped over, not as something to stop us.
I believe in possibilities.
I believe in the human spirit.
I believe in you.

She encouraged us to keep working towards realizing our dreams, and said that they will be that much sweeter when they finally come true.

It tears me up to read this.

I had a great time with her, and I genuinely like her and think she’s a wonderful person.   She has been one of my biggest blessings along this IF path.  She gave us the chance to become parents - a wonderful and awesome gift.  She also gave us the gift of support and friendship.  For all of these things, I am grateful.

It feels ironic now that I entered the relationship thinking only benefit would be for our children, when the real blessing has been bestowed upon us.

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