Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Curve ball

Last night the social worker sent us the medical and social histories of both birth parents. 

As D grilled our meat outdoors, and I prepared the rest of dinner, I scanned through the documents. After looking at the egg donor profiles, I've become a lot faster at scanning through to quickly see if there is anything glaring. After dinner, I planned to have more thorough look. 

I expected no big surprises. We had spent 30 minutes on the phone where the social worker reviewed the information with us, basically reading from this document, line for line. 

Except there was something. 

She has smoked marijuana throughout her pregnancy. It said "Every day in the first trimester, and now once on weekends".


UM. So, it was important that they told us that he loves performance cars, and that she takes Zumba classes, but NOT about THIS? 

My heart dropped. 

I'd never researched the effects of marijuana on a baby. I've had no reason to. 

I thought maybe it was a typo. I calmly emailed the social worker (SW), asking her to seek clarification from the birth parent counsellor.  After all, the agency worker made a big deal about how great of a situation this was, and the fact that there were no drugs, other than prescriptions for a UTI and morning sickness pills. 

The agency worker and birth parent counsellor were conveniently on vacation today, so we talked to someone else. She said they would try to reach one of them on vacation. We thanked her. 

In the mean time, we had a meeting scheduled with our local SW for the afternoon to sign paperwork for this adoption, one document of which, said that we were comfortable with, and had reviewed their medical and social histories. 

I emailed our local SW and told her about what was happening. Her response was that "maybe it wasn't identified as a risk factor"- Ummm, sorry, WHAT!?!? She also said that is "her 15 years experience marijuana that it isn't associated with major problems".  She said she's seek clarification from the other SW. 

It wasn't the "let's get to the bottom of this" ..."I'm sorry that happened" ..."that should have been presented to you earlier if that was the case" social-worky answer I was hoping for.  

We had friends stop in that evening, so we kept things to ourselves and calmly waited things out until morning. 

Then, I woke up this morning and had a full blown, anxious, teary freak-out. I'm getting really good at those. I have lots of practice under my belt, I guess. I should add that skill to my resume. It really is impressive. 

My thoughts were: 

1. This wasn't a typo. It wouldn't have been written up as it was. 

2. What is this agency doing? Why was this missed? Was this intentional?  Are they incompetent? What else is missing!?!

3. Who is this pregnant woman who CHOOSES to smoke cigarettes and marijuana when she KNOWS she is 7 months pregnant!?! Why!!! I think about the baby in her womb being exposed and I cringe.  She's taken prenatal vitamins since week 3 of her of pregnancy. I remember that she wrote that she wants to take a health program at college next year, haha! I feel furious at her. I hate that she is doing this to that baby.   

4.  Even though he hasn't said it overtly, I know D wants this baby regardless of this new information. I feel pressured, and that he could be making a decision out of desparation. 

5. I don't know how I feel about this new information, and if it is a deal breaker to me. 

6. I have not fully researched this or called the Motherrisk hotline about the effect of marijuana on a baby.  All I've read are a bunch of mostly non-researched based internet garbage articles saying that it may not be that bad. 

7. I think about how my aunt told me that my mother smoked pot before she knew she was unexpectedly pregnant with me (and she took birth control, and who knows, she probably drank too?). I maybe could have been a rocket scientist without that exposure, but I really don't feel much worse for the wear. 

I sobbed in the shower, and then after I got out. This isn't going to be easy either.  Why!?!

8. I think about that beautiful little baby girl or boy. I feel a sense if protection for him or her. I think about who they are. Are they less loveable because of this? Would my parenting experience be harder/less rewarding if a learning disability or some other possible marijuana effect were present? Absolutely not.  

9. Is perfectionism and worry about being judged playing into this? 

I think about some of my friend's pregnancies. I recall a friend who kept a chart on her fridge to keep track of if she had her exactly proper number of veggies that day. 

10. I think about all of the things I've done to increase my hideous fertility, even by just a smidgeon. I think of the care and love I always imagined doling out to my future unborn babies. I think about care the love I did give the babies I lost. 

11. I think about my four embabies on ice. 

12. I feel my own compound losses coming to the surface again.  I see my anxiety, and D's growing by the minute. 

Shortly after the shower, I told D that we need to talk. I blurted out all of the things I just wrote about, only not as coherently.  I said, "we need to cancel our SW meeting. We need more information.  I can't decide on this today, we have time. Let's postpone this meeting." He agreed. 

Except, we couldn't get a hold of our SW, because she was in an out of town meeting. 

She finally called us, 15 minutes before our scheduled appointment. 

We briefly discussed things, and she suggested that we should meet anyways, just to talk this out, and to get some other paperwork cleared up. We agreed. 

15 minutes later, she arrived at our door with a birth parent counsellor. (We had met her a few months ago.  She was not the counsellor that interviewed our prospective birth parents.)

The meeting was mostly good. We  especially valued the non-judgemental, and informed insight  and support of the birth parent counsellor.  Our local SW wasn't as great of a support or as professional as we would have hoped for. 

We reviewed the social and medical history line by line. She talked about her experience with adoption and recreational drug use in pregnancy. We talked about the strengths of the couple. 

"This is just about as clean of a history as we see", they both said. We were both surprised to hear this.  They failed to mention that in our homestudy and adoption preparation! 

"There is no alcohol consumption. There are no hard drugs. There was prenatal care.  The pregnancy is not hidden and the birth parents seem confident in their decision to place the child."

They offered us no judgement, if we decided this match was not right for us. 

I told them that I was upset that this was not brought to our attention earlier. That it made me lose confidence in this process, and the agency.  They acknowledged our concerns, and talked our their confidence in this agency, and with the experienced and thorough birth parent counsellor who did the intake with the birth parents. 

They talked about how this birth mom seemed honest about disclosing her history, and that may other mothers may not have been as forthcoming due to many factors. 

Part of the way through the meeting, the agency worker called. We put her on speaker phone. She explained that it was an error that she has not mentioned this earlier. That she had been working from an older document, and this information had not been disclosed at that time. She apologized sincerely. She said it was okay to change our minds. She apologized some more. She really felt bad for the error, and she owned the problem. 

It is all a lot for us to take in, especially because we are so new to the adoption world, and truthfully, because I haven't fully given up my dreams of my happy little embabies turning into happy pregnancies and real, live babies. 

We ended our meeting with them, telling them that we would talk it over, do more research, and get back to them. 

We're taking the night to think about it, but I think we've mostly decided. 

This is still our baby. 


  1. It is difficult not to feel utter hatred and rage toward the very pregnant woman who sits around smoking various substances whilst feeling her baby move in her belly. I am sorry you had to get this stressful "surprise" after the fact. For what it's worth, you seem to have thought things through very exhaustively. I would add that your friend's chart of vegetables doesn't guarantee a healthy baby any more than the smoking guarantees a problem. One thing I keep relating to in your posts is the subtle and not so subtle moments of disconnect with your husband. While navigating these tumultuous waters of infertility and loss, it is so disorienting to not be on exactly the same page all the time when things feel so emotional already. Ultimately having two perspectives on things helps aid the process, but in the moment, it can be so upsetting and scary. I hope this is the last "bad" surprise for you both in your adoption journey! Pulling for you.

    1. You hit the nail on the head about the disconnect. It's especially tough when I feel like we have to show a united front to the social workers, or honestly even to our friends and family. Lots of times I'll say "D is feeling X, but I'm feeling Y".

      I struggle because deep down, I probably always feel like my feelings are right. And I know that's wrong.

      Being grateful for our marriage is the one thing that has been a constant throughout our IF journey. I especially think of some of our single friends who would just love to find a partner, and be even thinking about making babies. Or just having the possiblility of the frequent support of a partner, even if that support isn't perfect. All that said, it still doesn't change that it is frustrating and upsetting to be on different pages as your spouse, and in situations where we both need comfort.

      Unfortunately, it can leads to a lot unnecessary bickering.

    2. Right there with you--my feelings feeling "right," too! I also try to remind myself of how lucky I am just to have found my partner in life and to have a chance at kids with someone so great.

  2. I commented and I think it was deleted.

    Just wanted to let you know my husband and I adopted our son a little over 2 years ago. HIs birth mother used marijuana recreationally. The doctors we spoke to did not find that exposure to be significant. Two years later he is healthy, happy and thriving, hitting and surpassing every developmental milestone. So happy we said yes.

  3. Exactly what I love to hear. Thanks for sharing. :)))

  4. Julia,
    so much of your concern is all wrapped up in and tangled with the grief that comes with infertility and letting go of the way you thought it would be... no parent who is placing their baby for adoption is going to ever meet the expectations that you would have for yourself being pregnant- never, and it is not fair to yourself to "go there".

    it is probably one of many bumps that will be in the future- which, you know, you are a professional at dealing with and can also put that on a resume. take deep breaths, stay open and honest, and go with your gut and heart and instincts. you will love your child regardless of anything, no matter their origin. you are going to be a wonderful mother.

    kids these days... they just do not have the same world views about MJ as an older person (haha, over age 30) would. they don't even see it as a drug. seriously, it is like having a cup of coffee. not only that, I know many, many, many women who get pregnant, smoke MJ without a care or concern in the world! I have to agree with your social workers and the doctors... MJ exposure is concerning but on the "lighter" side of things that can be going amiss. my sister adopted a baby with exposure to anti-psychotics and he was passed over twice by perspective couples. they were the 3rd or 4th choice, and they had 3 or 4 doctors give opinions... he is fine. he is a precious gift in their lives, and I really hope that you will soon be in the same situation.

    thanks so much for updating and sharing all of this here... so many people are pulling for you.

  5. Phew. I think any unexpected news will hit hard at this point. I'm glad most professionals you've talked to think this isn't a major concern, though getting an independent opinion could help, if only for peace of mind. As others have mentioned, there are no guarantees either way. (I'd totally fail the veggie chart though)
    Thinking of you, and hoping that you will come to a decision you're both happy with. It sounds like you are on such a good path here.

  6. For what it's worth, I absolutely think you guys are making the right decision moving forward with this. It's horrible that they didn't disclose this to you right off the bat, but I think about it this way: this baby needs you. It obviously doesn't need its screw-up parents, it needs a mom and dad who care enough about it to be concerned for its health and well being and will do whatever it takes to make its life the best it can be. That's you guys.

  7. As a clinical social worker, allow me to apologize---arrrrghhhh. This is too important a thing to screw up. I know we social workers are overworked and underpaid, etc, but there's no excuse for putting a couple through this!!! It doesn't matter if the drug is not "hard"---you deserved to know everything, correctly, from the start. Would they have made the same mistake if the drug were crack? I just don't get it.

    All this said, when I went to the Resolve adoption support group, I was surprised to learn that every adopted baby the parents had, the bmoms used drugs---hard drugs, cigarettes, marijuana. We were taken aback, but then we heard, again and again, stories of the kids having some minor problems at birth but bouncing back quickly, thriving, meeting milestones. Only one child in the group was still struggling, and his mom had used seriously hard drugs regularly. Not a scientific study, of course, but I hope it makes you feel a little better.

    I'm so glad you still think of this as your little babykins and thrilled that the kid's gonna have such great parents.

  8. It sounds to me like you are already her/his mom. You have that fierce need to protect that baby. You care passionately and it seems from this post that it's an all consuming importance to you. Good luck in whatever you decide. Whatever your decision is, you definitely are taking it seriously, as you should.

  9. I would've been conflicted as well. Although I have heard of people smoking pot throughout pregnancy and everything being fine. As much care as we'd take with a baby in the womb, it is just hard to reconcile such careless behavior and hard not to worry about having a baby with issues. I'm glad you took the time to decide what was best for you and your hubby!


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