Often one of the first questions you are asked after getting married is, “When are you going to have kids?” For people with cystic fibrosis that is never an easy question to answer. It is not always an easy path to become a parent for people with CF. When my wife, Jacque, and I got married in 2006, we knew we wanted kids in the future. However, males with CF are often infertile and cannot have kids without going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. When we decided to try to have kids in 2011, we held out hope that I would be one of the very small percentage of males with CF for whom this wasn’t the case. After a year, we decided to reach out to our local fertility clinic and start that process.
Even after all the conversations with my CF care team, this was a new level of awkward and being uncomfortable. In 2012 we started the first round of IVF. Because I had CF, most of the usual tests and treatments were adjusted and done differently. I will not go into all the details of this process, but if you’re thinking of going through this, make sure you have a strong relationship with your spouse. Aside from the $15,000 cost -- without insurance -- IVF is an emotional rollercoaster, especially when things don’t go as planned. This was the case for Jacque and me, as our first round of IVF was unsuccessful. After we discussed it -- alone and with the staff at the fertility clinic -- we decided to try another round.
The second round was not as costly as the first, but that didn’t make it any less emotionally challenging. I hadn’t considered the emotions that I would feel when we started the process. The emotional toll was even more difficult for my wife because of what she was going through. The male’s side is definitely easier. The second round of IVF ended with a phone call telling us we weren’t pregnant. A few days before the call, we were full of hope, and then it all crashed down. After the second round, Jacque and I had a hard conversation about continuing. We couldn’t afford a third round and our grant applications were turned down.
Our focus changed after we met with an expectant mother who was considering adoption. We started working with a local adoption agency to prepare us and the mother. Friends of ours had used the same agency, so we were familiar with the process from the outside, but I was surprised at how little we actually knew.
After several twists and turns, we learned that the birth mother and father had decided to parent the baby.
Jacque and I were shocked that this change of heart had happened so quickly, especially because we had already told family and friends about the adoption, painted the nursery, chose a name, and purchased a car seat. We asked ourselves, “Now what? Can we go through any more emotional devastation?” After several discussions we decided to enter into the adoption program the adoption agency offered.
For almost two years we worked with the local adoption agency and the program they had for adoptive parents, which included extensive education on adoption. I will tell anyone looking into adoption to take time to educate yourself and work with your agency to learn as much as you can. There are so many things to consider with adoption – from domestic or international to open or closed. I’m thankful that the adoption agency helped prepare us for the next step in our journey.
Every time we got an unexpected call from the adoption agency, our hopes were raised that this would be the call telling us the birth mother had chosen us. After about a year, we had some real conversation about whether adoption was meant to be and if -- ultimately -- it would just be the two of us in the end. One day my cousin called. She knew of someone who was having twins and would be placing them for adoption. Were we still considering adoption? We were put in touch with the birth mother, which began the craziest 11 days in my life.
We had been on this journey for five years and within 11 days we went from questioning adoption to walking into a NICU room to meet our daughters.
We had a six-hour drive from Nebraska to Oklahoma to try and process what was happening, but I’m not sure it worked. We were so nervous as we walked into the NICU, into that corner room. I saw my daughters and nothing else mattered. This five-year journey finally made sense.
Interested in sharing your story? The CF Community Blog wants to hear from you.