Friday, November 30, 2012

The other side of the adoption coin

I have not been able to put into writing  what I lived last Tuesday.   My heart and mind have been processing it, but I need to share it somewhere where people will understand the enormity of it.

On Monday I traveled to Guadalajara, a beautiful city in the Western side of Mexico and where I spent a couple a couple of days for work.  My team and I had a very large event there to launch a marketing program and I left Monday afternoon after spending lunch with DH and JM.

This city is  where my maternal grandparents lived most of their lives.   Just landing there brought some of the happiest memories of  my life, still  Monday was a very difficult day  on many aspects and I could not wait to come back home on Tuesday night.

When the national director of our adoption found out I was traveling there  they wanted to meet with me urgently.  Their national offices are there and she wanted to meet me for the very first time, despite having crossed several emails by now.

  Time was very limited so they arranged to come pick me up at the event venue, drive me to their offices  hava lunch and from there to the airport.  They understand that with JM, my work and a second adoption I have very little time and just wanted to ask me for marketing advice.

The house and offices were  beautiful.  Brand new and just designed for them.   A very large space for the chapel (it will take some months still to be finished but it looks like it will be amazing).

  This place is both their national headquarters and  the house where they  house the girls and women that are facing a crisis pregnancy in their state.  They are completely separate areas for both.

15 women  were staying there right now, with a couple more, very,  very young arriving this weekend.  They can house up to 30 now so they are trying to get more women to find out about them.

So I meet with  both the national communications director also an amazing,  amazing woman and the national director.  Their passion, commitment and openness to hear advice was outstanding.

Basically they  told me what they are facing.

 They have more than 30 locations opened (some are houses and some are just referral centers) in all of Mexico. 70% of the women that come to them come via internet, but they do not have a strategy for this.  They know they could help hundreds more, but do not even know where to start.

Several people had offered to help them and  have caused more damage than helped and even one case saw this for political gain.  They explained that You..Tub.e and their site were crucial to helping hundreds of women who did not know where to turn and as more Mexican states grant permission for abortion the need is even more urgent.

They explain to me that it not only offering a way our of abortion, but this is only a small part of their work.  It breaking the cycle of violence towards women, but also breaking the cycle of children on the streets and abuse.  Early intervention is key and their success rates are outstanding. So far they have housed over 8 thousand women and counting and in each ones of their lives made a difference.  Adoption is also part of the equation.

So we go to lunch.    Due to time we had to eat at the crisis pregnancy center dining area.  Once a week the office workers eat with the biological mothers.    Well Tuesday was such a day and they invite me to lunch..  So I reach a very large room with several tables and I see some  filled with pregnant girls.

Me an adoptive mother among biological mothers.   My heart is pounding.

I sit at one of the tables and I see a very,  very young girl, that looked like 12  pregnant and right beside her another girl sitting right in front of me.

They are very shy and hardly look up the whole time.   We ask them how long they have been here and both say one month.

And the other girl says: "We are sisters and we came together".

I think maybe the older is there for her sister  or maybe there is a family crisis and the agency is housing her also to protect her. I ask them how they found this place and one of them says: "My mom looked via internet".

This only confirms the urgent need to do something.

Well  I learn their ages: one 14, the other 17, both looking much younger and looking sooo scared.

Its obvious they come from very,  very humble backgrounds.  The older one even struggling with  how to cut a piece of meat with a knife and fork and probably having tasted broccoli for the very first time.  The love and attention they receive from the house mothers is amazing.

Such patience, such care.  Christ was truly there.

I compare my mind  the women taking care of them to Jesus washing the feet of the apostles.

The older girl at the middle of lunch begins to feel sick and I learn  then she is also pregnant.

Oh, my God!

She is not showing so I had no idea.

Both underage sisters and both pregnant.  The 14 year old 7 months along and the 17 is 3 months along.

Their desperate father brought them to the house both a month ago not knowing where to turn.

 I do not know more about  the story:   if it was rape, abuse,  just ignorance, but it does not matter.

A family destroyed.   Also 2 young lives and 2 babies that will be born to 2 mothers that are in no way prepared.

I leave the agency speechless.     The pain of what I just saw stays  in my heart.

I come home that night  at 8 pm and since I always give JM his bath, dinner, I am  very sad to have missed it.

 He goes to bed at 7, but my DH tells me he has been jumping in bed for the last hour which is not normal.   My DH says he has been waiting for me.

I go almost running into his room and he shivers from the excitement of seeing me.   He just learned how to kiss and he covers me in kisses.    He is soooo excited to see me that he applauds and does not want to let go of me.  Its perhaps the time in his whole life where he has been most excited to see me.

Maybe he knows his mom needs it after what she has seen.

 I also cover him in kisses.    He then goes placidly to sleep after we read a while and pray.

This heals my heart, yet seeing this side of the adoption coin has broken a little piece of my heart forever.

On Wednesday I talk to my boss about what I had seen.  He grants me permission and budget to hire one of the best agencies we can find  to help them.  All that is needed and some more.   Thank you God!

 He says we have a responsibility since we have been given so much in our work and  this labor is crucial to save children.  Break the cycle of poverty and ignorance.   I am truly blessed.

I write the agency and they cannot believe this.  It has been needed for years now.

  Since my time is so limited I will need to outsource most of the help , yet the opportunity is amazing.    As one priest told me one day, God put me where I am working right now for a reason.  I am starting to see it despite being many times sad of having to work full time.

Please, please keep this in your prayers and also both of this girls and their babies.

 They truly,  truly  need them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

how to find the time?

The last weeks  pulled into so many directions and I am not sure  how to make the time for important things or not feel so bad about not having the time for them.

I know I am very tired right now and there are only so many hours in the day.  Between JM and work there isn`t time for anything else, yet I feel like its not enough and feel so bad for letting other things down.

I leave every morning before dawn.  My office is very near a construction area and traffic has become impossible.  It will take some months still for this to be resolved and until then  I need to work around this.

I much prefer not facing traffic than spending an hour stuck in it so I am leaving home between 6:45 a.m and 7:00 a.m and arriving at the office around 7:30 a.m or before.  I am usually one of the very first in the office together with my boss.    I also see this as the best way to be home earlier.

Before I was able to spend several days a week home doing home office,  but I am training right now my 2 new reports and my presence is needed until they feel more secure.  They should be able  to take a large work load of me, but they are very young and I have to spend countless hours training them and supporting them.  Our work is highly specialized and it took me years to learn, not I cannot ask a lot more of them.    We are still missing the 4th member of the team and with the very strict criteria my company has its seems that it will take far more time than expected. .

 I thought their coming would ease things, but some things take double the time since I am also teaching them.  I am hoping this is temporary, but until then its an incredible draining thing since we are implementing like there are 4 people 100% on board, but  we are only at maybe 2 full time persons in terms of their and my  capacity to take on projects.   To say this is stressful is an understatement.  

On other aspects of work things could not be better, yet the mental challenge is huge.  The level of my peers is very high and every day I need to be a the top of my game.  My team has done great in our annual review and we have become an international focus area due to our success and large potential.   All eyes now are on us since they have discovered now our department.   Mails from people all over are pouring in.

As I have blogged here I need to work, as basically right now I am the sole support of our family  (an added stress to be sure).   My DH has still not found a job and we will need to pay our way with the adoption and we do not want to close the biological door yet with the very expensive medicines.  

My DH has taken most of the load at home, specially JM and  this gives me great  peace since JM is with him a large part of the day and he is an amazing father.

Still I run through the day to leave as early as possible to be home with both and since most people are way younger and single  they have all day to get things done even into the night and many times do not understand why I focus so much on getting all done as fast as possible.

  No meetings in the afternoon (so my morning is booked solid with no email time) no personal emails, no FB, almost no time for personal calls.    My hours there are fully dedicated to getting work done in as little hours as possible, but as much as I try it has not been possible.  

 The idea was to leave at 3 p.m, but I am able only Monday´s and work from home Friday which has happened only once.  The rest of the week I leave between 4 and 5 and travel home in 20 to 30 minutes and  spend until 8 p.m with JM.   Then its some house pendings, time with DH, sometimes a little email time and I collapse into bed.

The last weeks have been extra hectic : the largest event of the year with over 3 thousand participants and then a series of trips to launch a marketing program.   December looks much much better thanks God.

  I have a very priviledged position in a great company (my boss continues to fight for 5 months maternity leave for our second adoption which does not exist in any other company here) and I see  also that from there I can do a lot of good.  2 crisis pregnancy centers have gotten support from our company  NGO program  with me helping them on the  process and my team has been given permission to support 3 additional NGOs in their marketing and web strategy (via agencies so minimal extra work for us) .  I look so much forward to this and thank God its part of the things that I can do at work.

I really thank God that my job is not only  a way to support our family, but it also has a meaning beyond the paycheck.  I really know we can make a difference.

So this is in summary my week, all my time is dedicated to work and my family.

Weekends are to catch up with housework,  my parents, brother and my political family and to go to Mass.   Time with friends  and mass during the week has been extremely limited, yet I know I can only do so much for now.  

At the same time  I feel very bad for not dedicating more time to  3  other crucial things  (apart from daily mass and friends):
My health, to Napro and to  help our adoption agency.  

Regarding my health:   I went to the functional medicine doctor last week and it became painfully clear that I need to focus on it,  not only for fertility, but to be a better mother and wife.  I barely have energy these days and my digestion is getting worse and worse.   We have snack areas all around the office with tons of yummy stuff, plus my boss is a terrible snacker , plus the added stress and the lack of time for excercise and the combination is lethal.

The doctor believes that I have developed full blown milk and wheat allergy as well as leaky guy syndrome and disbiosis  from all the antibiotics taken during and after my miscarriage  (I have been given 4 rounds of extremely high doses of antibiotics in the last year and a half).

We spent over one and a half hours talking and after many tests and questions this was his conclusion.

I had for years perfect digestion,  but now most days I feel bloated, I cannot digest things that I could in the past, I have not excercised in many months and  have gained weigth.   I am an older mother and I need to be there for JM so this needs to be part of my life.

Also he explained there is no way to get pregnant (even with "perfect" hormones)  if digestion is off .  He reviewed all my tests and said that he thinks fixing digestion and lowering inflammation could help us get pregnant again.   For TCM, which he also practices,  digestion is key for fertility   In summary if the digestion is bad you cannot get the reproductive house working.

So he sent me to the nutritionist for a very strict diet.  No milk, no wheat, no sugar, no caffeine and so it goes, plus very strong probiotics  and l-glutamine and medicines for candida.   I will have to make time, not only for my sake,  but also for JM sakes.   I feel so bad to  have slacked of on my health, but now I need to make the time.  Nutrition, excercise and relaxation.... not sure how I will manage.  

Tomorrow also is the day I will have my annual check-up at the hospital.  Seven hours of tests, yikes!!!!  have not done it in years and what better time than now where  I need to really  to restart a healthy routine, plus at no cost to me so I needed to make the effort

Western medicine will probably say all is normal and only  to lose weight, but I have come to be a believer in functional medicine and the check up  will help see if there is anything else to do.  

On the Napro side the bishop continues calling me very excited about everything,   just a few days ago he called referring to us one of his nephews and he continues to be there all the time.  To have this bishop in love with Napro is God sent, yet I feel so torn right now, like I am failing him personally .

On the client side I still have  many active clients and each day I receive new referrals and some even say they want to wait until I have time,   yet  I am  not accepting any new clients.   I truly have to make a major effort to see my first  clients at nights.

  I get several emails a week on this and I feel like I am failing every one now that we have some money, but I have less time than ever.   And lets not go to the development of Napro here or the constant emails by PPVI, who has zero resources to help here.   I do not see how I can  manage this on top of everything else

I also feel very torn in terms our adoption agency.    They gave us the biggest gift of our life and I have seen time and time again how they have saved so  many lives.  With our second adoption on the way, I will spend many nights in courses in the next months, but they also are asking me for added help.

A few months ago I was able to guide them in their application process  for a very large grant and they won it and since then they asked me to join their  national  communications advisory committee.  Its a very large agency with houses in over 25 cites and I told them  that I could only advice and spend a couple of hours a month  on this  and that was the plan.

I attended several meetings and it was very clear that they are lost when it comes to marketing.

 Completely and absolutely lost.  

 I have been working in marketing now for over 15 years and one thing that I specialized in years ago was Social Marketing and now online marketing and its very painful to see that they do great work, but in this part are so lacking.

70% of the women they help come through online media and they know they are not helping hundreds because their  bad strategy.  They have capacity to help many more women and babies, yet they do now have this expertise.

The numbers of women and babies  that could be helped with a good online strategy are staggering, yet the more I advise them on the next steps, the more needs appear and the more time it requires on my part.    I am trying to find them a good agency, but they have no idea how to manage it and it becomes more and more tangled and more time on my part is needed.  

Three very, very important things, yet I know my health should come first and the rest  I will need to focus on later.

Still  I truly cannot help,  but feel terrible about it.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

when you see others suffer due to IF

A person near and dear to me is suffering from IF.

I cannot go into details in case somebody IRL is reading this, but I really love her and her DH.  They are an amazing, devoted couple.

They have done everything right.  Got married in Church, prepared themsleves for the sacrament and did not live together prior to marriage,  used NFP always and when they felt the time was the right one decided to start a family with a lot of hope.

 It took them a few months then, but she got pregnant and then at 11 weeks miscarried completely unexpectedly as everything had been perfect so far.

 My heart weeped for them then and continues to weep for them.

Well they tried on their own for a while and then went to the doctor (my own gynecologist) who said just to relax,.

Months and months passed and one day her DH  came to me filled with desperation and asked me to teach them Creigthon as they thought they needed to move forward and were clear they could not do IVF which would be the recommendations of other doctors .

 And so it started.

Front row view of the pain of loved ones.

Soon her charts showed some hormonal issues and so I refered them to the only doctor I could that would understand her charts.   The doctor was just learning Napro,  but decided to take the case and consult if needed .

Me guiding them and knowing full well the difficult road ahead doing Napro in a country where its just starting, with limited knowledge, many medicines and test protocols  not available.

Still   I just did not know how hard their road would be.

Well a few days ago her  parents came to visit and will be staying with them for a month due to a medical treatment her father must have here .

I knew her mother kept comparing her to her very fertile sister (6 children and counting), but I did not know the extent of her lack of understanding and even cruelty.

A few days ago in front of several friends including me she said:  I want to go home to my  other daughter since she has given me grandchildren and I do not have anything to do here as there are none.  

My heart broke and could see her dying inside. .  

What can I  say to heal her heart?

The local doctor has begun giving them medicines  a few montgs ago and told them to use them up to a year and only then consider a lap.  I want to help them move faster since I know they need it, but at the very same time we have  such limited resources here that I cannot refer them to anybody else.

And her mother continued saying many other idiotic things, even one refering to adoption and biological mothers  that I had to stand from the table and walk away in order not to scream at her. (it had to do with the need to "neuter" them after they gave up their child for adoption).

Complete and absolute ingnorance. I am still fuming days later.     

My friends went away this weekend  to  travel as they had planned a few months ago  (and most probably escape this woman)  and her mother said:  " Bring me a grandchild or do not come back"  

All of this in front of several of us.  Her DH just looked at her mother trying not to scream also at her.  

How my heart aches for her.  

I truly cannot fantom suffering from IF and having this mother.

My own mother who heard this cringed.   She knew from my own suffering how deep this would hurt her.

Her DH is livid, but these are her parents and going into a gigantic fight while her father is fighting an illness would not be wise.   He just mantains as much distance as possible.

They continue to hope in Napro, but have not been successful and they are becoming more and more despondent.

Since my story has not been successful  I truly do not know what to do to tell them to still hope.  

Next step is probably PPVI, but they are not ready yet to do international treatments.  

Still  I see the suffering in their eyes, and now increasing each day due to her idiotic mother.  

How can I help?  I cannot tell her what I truly think about her mother, but I want to make her feel understood.

What would you do?  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Update on biological motherhood and adoption

Its been over a month and a half since I last wrote here.   I think it has been the longest I have been without writing since I started blogging.  

 Life has been hectic and also my thoughts have been all over the place. I feel many major decisions are coming our way: Trying again biologically, a second adoption, the sale of our home, etc

 I have started many posts in my head both in my private blog and this one and when I wanted to write I finally had not a clear idea and then later all was old news.  I am way behind also in personal emails and  returning phone calls and I feel terrible.

My last post spoke about the group from Latin America that was to attend the educational phase 1 in PPVI to become practitioners and Napro doctors.

 It was crazy, but we pulled it off with the money that was donated and in less than a week: a priest, a Brasilian doctor, a family educator (who will support with the promotion of the system)  and 3 practitioners from very different backgrounds (1 from Venezuela, another Brasil, another Mexico)  were able to attend.  It was nothing short of a miracle.

We are still finishing some of the payments and paperwork which has taken a long time to fix, but we are getting there and working towards now having finally decent Spanish materials.

Our second adoption proceedings have also started in earnest.   We have delivered our file and the  follow up of now 18  months for Jose Maria has been also done.  We are only missing the 2 year one  follow up and we are done.  We have been inundated in papers, yet I am trying to focus on having another baby at home next year to make time pass faster.

One thing  that has changed now in terms of our adoption  is  all the changes our agency is implementing, adding many courses to the mix that are now mandatory and now a set fee and  it has been tough.

 I feel like its a second or 3 rd job and this is the reason I see clients less and less in CrMS.

Well our agency has started not only charging the lawyers fees,  but asking for mandatory  donations from each adoptive couple according to the socio economic level.

The agency in the past only charged the cost of the adoption courses, asked us to pay directly the lawyers fees and asked at the very end of the adoption for each couple to discern and do a donation.

This donation to adopt  is now is mandatory and set to a specific amount and I cannot help,  but feel we are being charged for a baby.  In our case its a large amount since we rank high in their table  of income  and  do not get any discounts like most of our group (still nothing compared to the USA), but still around 1 or 2 months salary per adoption.

I know many people that adopted and did not later help  and the situation of the agency has become very hard in terms  of fundraising.  Less and less biological mothers are giving up their children and the adoptive parents there fore are no match for all the services the agency offers,.   We know we are the exception and most people do not do this and that the agency needs the money, still I think another ways should be found.

We now have to pay all of the fee months before even receiving the baby  and also ask friends and family for donations.    While I would gladly give the money as a donation, I truly feel terrible about the mandatory and set aspect of it.

 The Hague agreement  which  is the international agreement on adoption  says that no money can be asked from the adoptive parents in order not to promote child trafficking (what is done in the USA and many other countries is contrary to this international agreement),  this means that the adoption agencies should be completely free, non profit and only ask for minor charges like paper work and offset all other costs via fundraising and governement funds.  

 The money specifically should not come from the adoptive parents since they are also beneficiaries and then a bid war can start which is the last thing adoption should be.

A few days after we received Jose Maria we donated a large amount to our agency and decided to continue donating each month a set amount for life in order to thank them and continue promoting their work.   We know we are the exception and most people do not do this and that the agency needs the money, still I think another ways should be found.  If I knew the money we are about to give them was not linked to an adoption by us I am sure I would feel differently, but since its not I have this naggingaised it to the highest level in the Americas (not only Latinamerica) and now my case is a global benchmark  and my story is being used to change global adoption policies.   It has become a hot internal topic and its being decided next week what will happen.

 I do not know why I get into these situations  (just like at my former job where they also gave me 5 months as a first in the whole company and also Napro treatment in Mexico I have been the first)  , but if it will help me be home for 5 months and  promote adoption so be it.  =)

On the other hand biological mother g genrous by doing it this way, but in many other countries is always as long as normal maternity leave.

   I had my annual review (which went amazingly well and was very motivating) last week and told my boss of our intent to adopt again and what had happened and he was livid.

 He told me he could raise this to the highest levels of the company since he found it discriminatory against adoptive parents (5 months is normal maternity leave).  He said that he would make sure I got the full 5 months and  that my case was easy since I had very good reviews and a high job level, but  he thought it was the opportunity to fight for something important.

Well ,  my boss did as promised and  raised it to the highest level in the Americas (not only Latinamerica) and now my case is a global benchmark  and my story is being used to change global adoption policies.   It has become a hot internal topic and its being decided next week what will happen.

 I do not know why I get into these situations  (just like at my former job where they also gave me 5 months as a first in the whole company and also Napro treatment in Mexico I have been the first)  , but if it will help me be home for 5 months and  promote adoption so be it.  =)

On the other hand biological mother hood continues to pull at my heart and its becoming louder each month.   I cannot explain it and I feel it might be misunderstood as seeing adoption as a lesser good which is not at all.  Actually for some reason I see children still in my prayers coming from both to our family.

My cycles continue to be perfect despite being 41.   I still have 1 day or 2 of TEBB which is not worrying the doctors. but the rest is text book, regular, perfect luteal phase, perfect CM even on low dose Clomid.  My FSH is below 9 and my hormones are now optimal since they lowered the HCG.

 Dr. B even said I would have a very late menopause from the look of it.

Since the miscarriage and even more since the coming of Jose Maria we have been open to life, but my attempts have half hearted and instilled in fear  or internal fights between adoption and biological motherhood.

Most months we have used 1 or 2  days of fertility and I continue on most of the cocktail of medicines when I got pregnant and still no pregnancies.

Yet I feel my efforts have been infused in fear of going again through the terrible  miscarriage experience I had and also feeling torn between adoption and biological motherhood.

Still deeply inside of me something tells me not to close the door completely and its becoming louder each month.

While wantig to be pregnant I  have at the same time returned to old habits which I know are not good to fertility  like drinking an energy drink in the morning (its sort of a vitamin guarana infusion which I crave and one or 2 strong coffees with this horrible creamer full of terrible fats during the day), I have gained weight from lack of exercise and a bad diet, I restarted eating milk and wheat which in my case are very inflammatory  and not done all that I was doing before .

And well the other thing is the stress, such as:  my job, my DH lack of work and an 18 month old very,   very active baby, adoption proceedings and my work with Napro here.

I have been to 2 TCM doctors and both have told me that my kidney energy  is weak and that this is the reason behind our lack of pregnancies, but that it can be fixed with diet, exercise and rest. Both said the same thing, now there is nothing really clearly wrong with us, but its a matter of delicate balance now.

 I know that taking this advice this would upper my chances dramatically on top of Napro, yet in the end I have been  too exhausted to do it and even scared of it, but the clock is ticking.    

At the very same time in FB and in RL in the last 3 weeks I know of at least  8 women over 40 that are pregnant at this time and I cannot help but wonder to give it another full try, and not half hearted attempts

From  my high school class  3 or 4 women are now pregnant for the first time, one even the 3rd.   All working women,   all 41 like me .  While I suspect a couple did it via IVF, it still gives me hope and  then the last 3 days I found out about 3 others from other places which really  got me thinking to give it another full chance.

Healthy  mothers, healthy babies, nothing about these terror stories that you hear from regular RE and  doctors.  Even Dr. H and Dr. B told me in no uncertain terms to continue trying until I was 43.  Two years to go from now.

So in the last 2 weeks  I have restarted reading all that I did when I got pregnant and I can see a clear pattern that it happened  when I was the healthiest (diet, exercise, Napro and relaxation)

 I have my annual check up in the next days (6 hours of tests at a top hospital ) which was optional by my company, but I decided to take  it now and I also booked an appointment with a functional medicine doctor.

I  also reread the book Clean that I had in my Kindle and it really got me excited about getting healthy again.   When I got pregnant I was working with a functional medicine nutritionist and I have decided to go back full force to this which focuses a lot on lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and food allergies, plus TCM which  I love.  

I will post here my findings in case somebody is interested.  

From Napro the only thing missing has been the U/S which I have not done and  I will discuss with the doctor the next steps.  Dr. B wanted me to go with a couple of cycles of HCG shots near ovulation and even Femara.  

I did not want to go there, but it might be something to look at when I get healthy.  I truly think it would be wasted now that I am do not feel healthy.

Please pray as we restart this path.   I still have deep set  fears in me that I need to conquer, but I also know that God does not put a desire in your heart that he will not give you the strenght to handle in case something  bad happens.