Then mom sent me an article on surrogacy through India. At first it sounded so outlandish, so shady... I was filled with questions and concerns, but open-minded nonetheless, so I began researching and sharing what I found with Dan. Things began to seem POSSIBLE, and I began to have a tiny little ember of hope come to dwell deep inside me.
Around this time, I was out tending my bees one day and I lost my precious wedding/engagement ring (both were linked together) as I shook angry bees off of my (foolishly) ungloved hands. I was quite distraught. Though the ring was insured, the stones were family stones and those couldn't be replaced. We thoroughly searched the grounds with the help of two men and three expensive metal detectors. We scoured every inch of the area I thought it might be, but with no luck. As I let it sink in that I would likely never see my ring again, I began to also debate about what to do with the large sum of money from the insurance company. I had received a check for close to $10,000. Far more than anyone had ever given me in liquid assets ever before. Though I smiled to myself at the possibilities (everything from a full-body massage chair to paying down the mortgage), what I ended up deciding on was that I would replace the ring with a lower cost version and find some way to leave the rest of the money to future generations, as the stones were meant to be. When, weeks later, a friend of ours offered to take a turn with the metal detector and, lo and behold, FOUND the missing rings, new thoughts occurred in my head. The first of course was joy at having the precious ring recovered, and then fear at the possibility of losing them again. I wanted to simply lock the old ring away in a safe deposit box until it could be passed onto the next generation as planned. And since I still would not be benefitting from the joy of having recovered the ring, I didn't trouble myself with the notion hat I should return the insurance money.
On the contrary, I ecstatically rewarded my friend for finding the ring with a fistful of cash from the ATM, and rejoiced inside. To me, this all felt like an amazing sign from the
Universe. With the ring safe for future generations, and a huge sum of money in the bank, Dan and I might be able to make ends meet with a new baby. The money could pay for a year of daycare, or be a starter for a college fund. More than before, it now felt like this not only COULD happen, but SHOULD happen.
Then, of course, Dan and my parents said the money should be returned. Now my parents didn't surprise me at all, and the fact that they both offered so much support to our family both emotionally and financially gave them a leg to stand on in preaching to me. Dan, on the other hand, no. Dan is the guy who cries poor as his default setting! "We can't afford this. We don't have money for that." Dan was the guy who had just spent the night before berating me for making a decision that could have jeopardized our financial standings, but I had done it anyway because I felt it was the ethical thing to do. Dan was the pot calling the kettle black, and it infuriated me. Not just the hypocrisy, but the fact that once again it felt like he was throwing up insurmountable obstacles on the road to having a second child. I couldn't take it. I told him that surrogacy was off the table and I would staying at a friends that night. I'd have prefered to tell him HE had to stay with a friend so that I could be with Devon, but as the one making the call, I knew that'd be expecting too much.
Anyhow, we argued for days. Even though I had already made up my mind to send the money back after that first morning when dad asked me saying "Please Briana, do it for Dad," and I had decided I would, but ONLY for that reason. My heart was breaking and going into auto-defense by freezing to ice. I number myself to the pain, and even though I could see Dan was in pain too, I steeled myself and allowed the feelings within me to freeze rather than shatter me from the inside out.
Eventually, so hung up on the financial obstacles of it all, I still insisted that surrogacy was off the table, but perhaps we could discuss adoption. To my shock, Dan was open to it. He finally began telling me, in truth, that he felt we could pursue my original preference.
Ever have those times when you unexpectedly get what you want, but you are so shocked, you don't really know what to do with it now that it's yours? That was me. Now the barricade was lifted and if I wanted to go for adoption, I could! We could- together!! And then the doubts began to creep in- all those counters to every point I ever made in this debate in the years past. Dan's words, his examples that he saw at work, now I began hearing them all anew, and I began to wish maybe this choice was still not mine to make.
I wrestled with the two options in and out each day, leaning one way, and then the next. I even went so far as to post on Facebook a "what would you do" scenario. I was so desperate for extra pebbles to fall on one side of the scale or the other so I could finally decide what to do. I began to settle in on adoption. Facebook chorused it's merits, Dan's Catholic cousins extolled the virtue in it, it cost immensely less than surrogacy with all the tax rebates, and the adoption "brokers" promised you a healthy baby. And bonus- it even helped reduce world population!
In one post a friend left me a message to call him to discuss the matter privately, and wanting to get as much information as possible, I did that. He told me his story- how his wife and he had two adopted children whom they loved, how they were so careful to screen the biological mothers to confirm the babies would be healthy, and how their lives had been made hell nonetheless. Both children, adopted separately through two different methods had mothers who swore hey had done nothing to jeopardize the well being of their babies. And my friend had been long convinced that both women simply...lied. He kept emphasizing how much he loved his children, BUT... His his daughter talked incessantly- not even conversation, just strings of words, and she has absolutely no decision-making skills. She lives in a group home and is believed to have fetal alcohol syndrome. His son, though strikingly handsome, could not tell you what he will be doing one day to the next, having executive function disorder. Tom and his wife became 24 hour care-takers for their children, changed their jobs to open a group home, and drifted apart from their siblings who simply did not understand the children or the situation that Tom and his wife found themselves in. The medical bills over the years have been astronomical, and that's in addition to all the money spent on the adoptions in the first place, caring for the birth mothers, the lawyers, the fees. It was simply not what either of them had ever imagined could happen by simply opening their hearts and their homes to welcome newborn babies in need of loving parents.
With more insight, I now had to ask myself, could Dan and I risk our marriage, our financial stability, our emotional stability, and Devon's own well-being in a gamble like this? Because no matter how careful you are in research, interviews, blood tests... all it takes is a simple lie to make it all worth naught. And I've never been one for high stakes gambling.
Can the above happen with my own genetics? Yes, it can. But at least I could better own the consequences. The challenges of the new child would be of my own making and not the result of some casual lies made in an interview. Aside from that, Devon is precious to me, and I hold out faith that Dan and I could create a second miracle, with enough help.
And so, currently, today, as I write this, I am looking eastward towards India. Adoption not only cannot guarantee a healthy baby as the agencies try to promise, but it also would not be saving any money if a situation were to occur like in either of Tom's experience. Not to mention the immense strains on family relations and possible negative impact to Devon and my marriage with Dan. As for world population, I promised myself in middle school I'd never have more than two children, and I may not be coming in under my limit, but I also have no intention of exceeding it either.
I hope that our friends and family will support whichever decision we choose, but if they should not be able to overlook us walking away from adoption, it is my hope that they will follow those strong beliefs and walk towards adoption themselves and be willing to walk a lifetime in Toms shoes before judging.