I was 37, and I wanted to have a baby. Because I had bipolar illness, we had to make sure that the medications I was on wouldn’t hurt the fetus. All three of my meds -- Trilafon, Anafranal and lithium -- were relatively safe. Yes, I was on lithium, but the current thinking is that lithium is relatively safe for a developing baby. So my husband and I started trying. We made love constantly, until it became a chore. After we had sex, I’d lie with my hips on a pillow. Sex became a real pain. When we weren’t having any luck after six months, my gynecologist suggested that we get infertility counseling. The infertility people put both of us through a lot of tests, and it was determined that nothing was wrong with us so they decided to try artificial insemination. I remember during our first insemination, I had my husband hold my hand. How romantic! They got to be routine after six or seven.
After that ordeal, the infertility doctors said we could try in vitro, but I had a feeling that wouldn’t work either. We decided to go with something a little more promising -- adoption.
We went to a domestic adoption agency. There we were interviewed, and it came out that I was bipolar. I didn’t want to lie to them. Nevertheless, we were approved for a home study. The home study began, and so did the questioning. Had I ever had a hallucination?
"Yes, I saw a head of broccoli," I said. I really had just seen a head of broccoli.
My home study social worker didn’t laugh, although it was funny.
The interviews went downhill after that. There was just no way that I could prove to them that I was sane enough to adopt a child. Anyone who was hallucinating a head of broccoli was really bonkers.
They stopped the home study process, saying that no expectant mothers would chose me to be the mother of their child.
We had nowhere else to turn but to an international adoption agency. Again, I was up front about my medical condition, but this time, the adoption people acted like my bipolar illness didn’t matter very much. They said that I could adopt from Guatemala.
We started another home study, and this time, I decided that I would be more circumspect about the details of my condition. We had to rely on the word of my psychiatrist. It became a difficult waiting game. In his letter to the international adoption people, would he say that I was able to be the mother of a child?
I can’t tell you how hard it was to wait and see if I was sane. Finally, the letter went out to the agency, and I got a copy. "Yes," it said, "she’s fairly stable, and I think she’ll be stable in the future." Hurray! I was sane. I knew I was. I just needed to see it in writing. After that letter went out, it was only a matter of time until we got our referral, and were ready to travel to Guatemala.
Then came the questions. "Don’t you want an American baby?" my neighbor asked. And of course, I couldn’t say that we were forced into international adoption because of my medical condition. "Well," I said, "we want to help a poor orphan from another country."
Someone asked me, "Why Guatemala?" I couldn’t say that Guatemala is one of the few countries that allows people with mental conditions to adopt, so I said, "I love Guatemala. It’s a beautiful county." Finally, after all the BS and red tape, we found out that we were traveling in January to pick up our baby. He was a boy and he liked to eat, sleep and take a bath.
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