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Monday, December 29, 2014

The First Part of Our Story

Welcome back :)

By now, you know we're adopting and a little background on why. Part of the purpose of this blog is for people to follow along who may be considering this path to starting a family. For some people, this decision includes a long battle with infertility and we know all too well that sometimes you just want to talk to or hear from someone who has been through it, too. So, we would like to take a brief pause from our adoption journey to make this one post about the first part of our story. Please do let us say, though, that the last reason we are posting this is for people to feel sorry for us. We are excited beyond belief to have the opportunity to adopt and the chapters below only brought us to this awesome point in the adventure to start our family. Again, we are posting this simply because we know there may be people in our lives who would receive comfort from knowing that someone else has been where they are. 

We decided a few years ago to start our family. We tried to get pregnant on our own and after months of heartbreak, we were referred to a specialist to help us with our fertility. Fast forward many months, tests, supplements, and appointments later, and we were told "you have about a one in a million shot of getting pregnant on your own." Ouch. We cried. We told our families. Then we said, "ok, so what's next?"

The answer to that was a visit to a Reproductive Endocrinologist... the fertility doctor. We went in to our first appointment with him and assumed we would have a few options to try and get pregnant with his help, but it turns out, we had one option - In Vitro Fertilization with ICSI. We literally asked in the appointment if we could do anything before we jumped to this step, as we knew IVF was "the big one." Turns out, given our particular fertility concerns and trends in our testing, it was IVF. Period.  

[Quick biology lesson for those not familiar with fertility treatment: In Vitro Fertilization with ICSI looks something like this ... Woman takes a lot of shots (hormones) to make her body produce more than the normal one egg she does in a given month. During the few weeks of shots, the doctor is taking blood and doing ultrasounds every other day to watch the formation of the eggs. The eggs are then surgically removed. After removed, the Embryologist inserts the guy's sperm into the eggs. Once the sperm and egg come together, the Embryologist watches the little embryos for up to 5 days to make sure they are surviving and thriving. Once the embryos are ready, one or two of them are put into the woman. Then everyone waits 1-2 weeks to see if the embryos attach to the uterine lining of the woman - if they do, a positive pregnancy test happens and you're pregnant!]

So, we talked and prayed a lot and decided we would try IVF. We were worried about it not working, but after a long and tiring road to even get to this point, we were ready to try whatever we could to have children. After a couple of setbacks in our timeline due to some poor test results, we did IVF with ICSI in December 2013. Needless to say, it was not successful. I produced 6 eggs. 2 of them held on through the fertilization process, they were not strong, but they were alive. They put them back in after 3 days and we received a negative blood pregnancy test a week or two later, just before New Year's Day. Some people end up with frozen embryos from their cycle (eggs that were successfully fertilized, but they won't put more than two back into the woman, so they save the extras for a pregnancy later). Unfortunately, we did not have any frozen embryos from our cycle, so we were back to the starting line. 

[For those of you who like science, here is a picture of our little ones just moments before they were put in to me!]

We met with our two fertility doctors in January 2014 for a post-IVF consult. They used many more words than this, but to keep it as concise as possible, our IVF cycle did not go well. Once they had our fertilized eggs under a microscope and could watch the process, they were able to see why 4 of our little ones didn't make it, and the 2 that did were hanging on by a thread. They said that they would not recommend we try IVF again unless some tests came back in a much better place. By this point, we had tried all of the medications, vitamins, procedures, etc, they recommended for us. They said that we may want to begin looking at adoption as a route to have a family. They also said that the last thing they would recommend to see if our chances at IVF success would improve, would be weight loss. They said they have seen it help test results, and they've seen it not help test results, but because we had tried everything else, that was their "last hurrah" to make this happen. 

IVF was emotional, expensive, and exhausting (70 shots, people. 70!), so we weren't sure that we would do it again, but we wanted the option and honestly, just were not ready to shut the door on that chapter yet. 

So, we decided to hit the weight loss hard. Since March of this year, Mary is down around 45 lbs and Scott is down around 90. We are SO excited to report those numbers! Calorie counting, carb counting, and exercise has been the name of our 2014 game and we are thrilled to be so much healthier than we were at this time last year. Yay for that!!! 

We are sad to say, though, that the weight loss did absolutely nothing in regards to our fertility. We ran the same tests we did to determine the need for IVF and unfortunately, every single measure was exactly the same as it was before and during IVF. So, we met with the Drs for another consult and they had the same message as they did right after our IVF cycle... a second round of IVF would be a very risky route with slim chance of success. They said we could run the tests again at any time, but if we're ready to start a family soon, it may be time to turn the page.

We had received a lot of bad news throughout our years of trying to start a family, but of course, this time it felt final. It felt devastating to think of the years of trying, all the tests, all the medications, all the procedures, all the stuff that went with IVF, and all the weight loss... all to come to a place where experiencing a pregnancy was highly unlikely. So, we had a few days of wallowing, blubbery cries with tissues everywhere, and wondering "why," but then we decided that it was time to move onward and upward. The one thing that didn't change through all of this was our desire to have kids, so we're ready to make that happen through international adoption. 

If you have questions about our fertility journey, please ask. There are things we will share and things we won't, but we'll tell you everything we can and no questions are "off limits" if there is something you're struggling with or wondering. We know that when you're in this process, sometimes you want more than anything to talk to someone who has been in your shoes... and we would love to be that resource and comfort to you if we can help in any way. 

Mary and Scott

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hello! Welcome to our blog! 

First of all, in case you missed the announcement... 

... and we are SO EXCITED! 

We would like to share our journey to adopt with you and hope this is a place where we can keep our family and friends up to date with the process. We hope to answer a lot through this blog, but never hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions! We hope to not only keep our family and friends informed through this blog, but also to be a resource to others in our lives who may be considering this path to starting or expanding their family.  

For our first post, we would like to give you a bit of an overview on how we came to the decision to adopt, and further, why we decided to adopt from Eastern Europe.

We decided awhile ago that we were ready to start our family. We aren't going to go into a lot of detail on this post, but after years of trying and more tests, medications and supplements than we can count, plus an unsuccessful journey through in vitro fertilization, we were told that our chances of conceiving a biological child were "one in a million." (If you're struggling with infertility or are interested in reading more about this part of our story, we will be writing our next blog post about that, going into a lot more detail.). We were told we could continue to wait and hope for a miracle, but that it would be in our best interest to look at other options for having a family. 

We had three real options that we were considering after we came to grips with the overwhelming news described above: embryo adoption, domestic adoption, and international adoption. All of these were very strong options for us and honestly, we were "sold" on each one at different points through our decision-making process. Let us also note that there are a few additional options for people at this point in their fertility journey, namely egg or sperm donation and adoption through foster care. We are not going to go into a lot of detail on these things, but to be brief: after considering those options as well, they were not right for us.  

We hadn't heard of embryo adoption before we were to this point in our journey... there is a lot to this option, but to be concise: this is a situation where we would adopt a fertilized egg that had been frozen (presumably from another couple who had undergone IVF, had extra fertilized eggs from their cycle and froze them, but had no plans to utilize them for their own family). We would adopt the frozen embryo(s), they would be implanted into Mary, and we would carry and deliver the child. We like to describe it as being our own surrogate... so we would deliver our child, but the child would not be genetically tied to either of us. This is a really neat option to experience pregnancy, be in charge of our own prenatal care, and have our child from birth. There are also definite risks to this option, as it does carry the same success rates as IVF (many embryos do not survive the thaw and implantation process). We gathered a lot of information from our fertility clinic and the National Center for Embryo Donation on this option. 

Domestic adoption is pretty well known. We would go through an adoption agency (or private attorney), put together a profile, be selected by a birth mom, and adopt a child from birth. We gathered information from three adoption agencies in Indianapolis and had also attended an information session earlier in the year with one of these agencies. 

International adoption is similar to domestic, except that we would be adopting from another country and adopting a child from an orphanage. We would be selected by an adoption governing body in that country rather than by a birth mom. We would likely bring the child home as a toddler due to the paperwork/processing times involved in international adoption. We did a lot of research on the agencies that do international adoption in Indianapolis and visited one for a one-on-one informational session to learn more. 

After many long walks and evenings where we talked and talked (and talked) about each of these options, we both came to the decision that we felt called to adopt internationally. We like the guarantee of a family (which embryo adoption did not provide) and we like that international adoption tends to be more adoptive parent driven than domestic adoption. These are reasons that we can put on paper, but after a lot of prayerful consideration for each of these options, we honestly just feel a peace and comfort from the Lord about international adoption and are confident this is the path for us. 

As far as "why Eastern Europe?" goes, we were drawn to this area of the world after our informational session with our agency. Out of the seven countries our agency supports, our desire to bring a child home as young as possible gave us three options. We heard about the specific need in each country, as well as the adoption process for each country, and we chose to move forward with Eastern Europe. (We know the specific country, but due to some agency guidelines, we cannot post it online). 

So, there you have it! To say we're excited is an understatement. We are so thankful to have this opportunity and we are ready to embark on this journey. 

In our next few posts, we'll be giving more detail on our fertility journey (for people who may be reading this and in the process themselves), and also explaining the overall process of adoption from Eastern Europe. 

We are so excited to share this journey with you and we appreciate your support more than words can say! 


Mary and Scott DeArmond