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Back from Scotland….a baby shower!!

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on January 02, 2011
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Category : Adoption
I arrived back from Scotland on Fri 22 October. The next day, my very good friend, Wanita invited me over for tea and an update on the holiday. When I arrived at her house, it turned out that she had arranged a surprise baby shower for me! There were people there that I hadn’t seen for years. It was absolutely awesome to feel part of the “baby world”. Everyone made such a fuss of the fact that I was going to be a mom soon. I was really, really spoilt. I got completely kitted out with everything (and more) that a baby could possibly need. My then sister-in-law who has 3 boys had been saving all her stuff for me so she bought me a boot load of goodies! It was such a dreamy, perfect, exciting, fun, amazing afternoon. Needless to say, Sunday was spent arranging the baby’s room, unpacking all my new goodies and moving the cot, bath, compactum, pram, chair etc into their new places.
First thing on Monday morning, I called the social worker to let her know I was back and VERY ready. I told her about the baby shower on Saturday and how the room was ready.    She sounded a little odd and said she’d call me back later. I didn’t take much notice as I was so excited and wrapped up in my new baby goodies! I went to work with a spring in my step.

HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 31, 2010
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Category : Adoption
Happy New Year everyone!!!
All the best for 2011.

The Wait for Adoption

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 29, 2010
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Category : Adoption
Finally, we were officially “on the adoption list”. Our application stated that we wanted a coloured, newborn girl and did not mind either open or closed adoption. We were told that we would probably wait anywhere between 3 and 9 months. We started telling our friends and family that we were “expecting” a baby. It suddenly felt like it was just around the corner. We were really, really excited. My sister arrived from England a few days later to get married in South Africa. We spent 2 weeks completely consumed by wedding fever and managed to push the imminent arrival of our baby into the back of our minds. 
Once the wedding in Cape Town was over, we all flew to my new brother-in-law’s house in Scotland for a second wedding reception. I called our social worker just before we left to let her know that we would be away for 10 days. She sounded a little concerned and asked me a few times for my exact date of return. She also queried the request for a coloured girl and asked me if we would be ok with a boy or a white baby. I said that of course we would be happy. We really didn’t mind by now – we just wanted a healthy baby SOON! Off we flew to Scotland!

We made our second appointment with the adoption agency and we handed in all the forms and our portfolio.  We met the other social workers who deal with the biological moms.  They looked over our info and asked us a few questions.  This group of social workers look after all the pregnant ladies that come in and want to give up their babies. They build a relationship with these ladies and counsel them throughout their pregnancy. They often end up being in the delivery room too and acting as birthing partners. They really get to know these moms and what they are about and what their expectations are for their unborn children. On the other side, our social worker was getting to know us and what our hopes, dreams and expectations were. The 2 teams meet regularly to chat and swap information and this is how matches are made. They meet each others clients too so that they can get a really good idea of all the adoptive and biological parents on their books. 

 
We made a date for our home visit and left.  It felt so good.  It felt so close.  It felt so scary.  A few days later, our social worker came to our house. She had a cup of tea and a look around and we chatted about bits and pieces. It was very informal and relaxed and I did not feel judged at all.
 

Completing the forms and making a portfolio

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 27, 2010
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Category : Adoption

The adoption process can be long and hard. The forms that we took home were very comprehensive.  There were many different sections and all aspects of our lives were covered.  Medical, financial, emotional, sexual, family, education, religion and more.  There are no right or wrong answers and the agency was not looking to judge us.  They just wanted to be sure that they understood us and that they matched us up with the correct baby.  In fact the section of the form dealing with the child that we wanted was really comprehensive.  Down to our preference of hair colour, eye colour, family medical history etc.  The forms asked us whether we would be prepared to accept a baby with an illness (and it listed pages of illnesses), a baby from an addict mother, a baby as a result of rape, a baby as a result of incest, an HIV positive baby etc.

Again, none of these questions were aimed at making judgments, only at making a correct match.  On the other side, when biological mums arrive to discuss giving up their babies for adoption, they are asked what type of family they envisage raising their child.  For some of these women, the most important thing is that the child is raised in a religious family, a sporty family, a very close family, a rich family etc.  They each have their own idea of what they want and the social workers attempt to fulfill this wish.

Once all the application forms were completed and we’d had copies of our ID books done, it was time to start on the portfolio.  This is a book about us.  We bought a scrapbook and we each wrote a letter to a biological mom.  We pasted in photos of ourselves, our pets, our families, our friends and our home.  We wrote little pieces about ourselves, our lives, our likes, our interests etc.  We enclosed some letters from friends wishing us well and telling what great parents we would be.

Our portfolio was beautiful.  It was therapeutic too.  I recommend that all families do a portfolio at some time in their lives – even if they are not planning to adopt.  We had such fun reflecting on ourselves and our lives and the end result is a lovely book about us that I still look back on today and add to so that my son can have it one day.

The first meeting at the adoption agency

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 23, 2010
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Category : Adoption
Let me go though each phase that we went through in more detail.
The initial meeting between us and the adoption agency.
We drove through to the adoption agency full of anticipation and tingles. We were met by a social worker who deals with adoptive parents. We sat down in a little lounge and the social worker told us all about the process & the costs.  It is worth noting that at that stage (2004), the cost of adoption through a private agency was around R 16 000 – the same price as one IVF treatment.  I believe that the cost of adopting through a government organisation like Child Welfare was around R 4000 at that time. These costs are mostly legal fees but in the case of a private agency, the biological mother gets a lot of personal attention. I’ll come back to that later.  The adoption agency that we went to is really divided into 2 departments; 1) the social workers for the biological family 2) the social workers for the adoptive family.  These 2 departments meet regularly to discuss their clients and try to make matches.  We were asked whether we wanted a closed or an open adoption.  We had no clue what either of these meant! Closed adoption is where there is no contact at all between the adoptive and biological families.  After the baby is born, it is taken to a Kangaroo mother and the adoptive parents collect the baby from her.  The Kangaroo mother is used partly as a go-between and partly as a time-user.  Sometimes, the social worker feels that the biological mom might change her mind after the baby is born.  If they do feel that this might be the case, the Kangaroo mother keeps the baby for as long as the biological mom is unsure.  Only when she has totally made up her mind, do the adoptive parents get the call to say they have a baby.  This is why quite often; babies are adopted at 2 or 3 weeks old or even 2 or 3 months old.
An open adoption is where the two families meet at the “hand-over’.  There is an opportunity to meet & talk with each other so that there is some peace-of-mind for both parties.  It eliminates the element of “I wonder what they’re like and I wonder what they look like” for both parties.There are advantages to both and disadvantages to both.  We were told that nowadays, 75% of biological mothers ask for an open adoption and we would have a bigger choice of babies if we went this route.

The initial meeting lasted around 2 hours and was really just for us to be informed on the policies, procedures and general information regarding adoption. The social worker asked us quite a few questions about our infertility, our relationship and the type of baby we saw ourselves raising. (Colour, sex, age, medical status etc)

She gave us an enormous stack of forms and advised us to go home, read through them and then decide if we wanted to go ahead. If we did, we would need to complete the forms and submit them together with certain letters and a portfolio.

A break from the story for a moment…

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 18, 2010
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Category : Adoption
I want to go through each phase of the adoption process in more detail but I will do that next time. First I want to tell you all about the amazing weekend I had last weekend. I want to thank you for the support and feedback I am getting from this Blog. Last weekend, I had a stall at the Hout Bay Craft Market and again I was blown away by how many people out there are affected by adoption.  A lot of people feel alone when they are dealing with adversity – be it struggling to fall pregnant, agonizing over choices to adopt or to use a surrogate, becoming a first-time parent etc. None of you are alone. For every person that has phoned or emailed me with a story, another 3 or 4 have contacted me with exactly the same story! And that’s just in recent weeks!   I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to list some of the difficulties people are having so that the rest of you know that you’re not alone. Also, I thought that it might be nice to put some of you in touch with each other. If you are interested in connecting with someone in a similar situation, let me know.  My next group discussion session will be in Kenilworth on Sat 29 January 2011 at 09h30.  It will run for 3 hours, includes tea, coffee, muffins, guest speakers and a group of people who want to talk about adoption.   There are also all kinds of groups in many different areas. Perhaps those of you with support group details could email me again so I can put you onto the data base too? My email is terri@thegreatestgift.co.za
Here are some of the issues people I have met are dealing with:

 

 

·Fertility treatment – the expense, the emotional trauma, when to give up
·Other treatments like acupuncture, reflexology, meditation, diet etc…do they work?
·Wanting and coping with cross-cultural adoption
·Single parent adoption
·Gay adoption
·Wanting to adopt twins
·Support groups for adoptive parents
·Making the decision to stop fertility and go for adoption
·Want to adopt but not cross-culturally. Are there any white babies out there?
·International adoption (SA citizens living abroad who want to adopt black, SA babies)
·International adoption. (SA citizens living in SA wanting to adopt from Eastern Europe)

 

There are probably heaps more but that’s just the start. If you are in any of these categories and you would like to make contact with others, please send me your details and I’ll do what I can you put you all in touch with one-another. There are so many new and wonderful friends to be made and you never know…………..they might get you one step closer to a solution with their knowledge and experience!

Have a great day everyone. I look forward to hearing from you.

Our first appointment with the adoption agency

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 16, 2010
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Category : Adoption
Back to my friend N.  I told her about our earlier adoption enquiries and she said something to me that changed everything.  She said “You need to choose:  A life without children or a life with children who are a different colour to you”.  That’s what is boiled down to.  N’s son is a different colour to her and by now we knew them well and knew that in fact kids are just kids and they grow up in whichever culture you raise them.  They have no preconceived ideas as to where they should fit in.  My husband & I discussed it at length.  We had all the usual worries.  What will people say?  What will we tell our child about his or her culture, language, heritage etc?  We felt so unqualified to raise a person about whose heritage we knew very little.  We called some family members.  We got mixed reactions.  Mostly we got overwhelmingly supportive reactions.  We were really encouraged.  We were ready to do it.  A life without children was not an option.  We would cross the colour line.  N gave me the number of the adoption agency she had used and I phoned the next day.
The social worker immediately asked me whether I was prepared to adopt across the colour line.  I said yes and suddenly all the doors opened.  She made an appointment for us to see her within a few days.  I was really excited and really terrified.  It suddenly seemed possible, even probable that we would be parents.  We arrived at her office full of questions.  She put us at ease straight away and told us about the agency and how they work.  There were 5 phases to the process of being approved to get onto the adoption list.

1) The initial meeting with the social worker which is a very informal Q & A session.
2) Take home a very fat folder of forms and complete them in your own time.
3) Return that folder together with a portfolio to the adoption agency.
4) Meet with all the social workers so they know who you are.
5) Receive a home visit from a social worker.

After that, you go onto the waiting list and wait!  Seemed simple enough!!

Adoption? Nope probably not possible

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 14, 2010
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Category : Adoption
Back to the (in vitro fertilization)IVF. It was horrid….and it didn’t work.  I was really devastated this time.  All the money, all the pain, all the effort, all the expectations…..it all amounted to nothing.  I felt sick.  I got flu-like symptoms with high temperatures and aching joints.  Then I got worse and worse with terrible cramps.  Eventually I went back to the fertility specialist and he admitted me to hospital straight away.  My temperature was over 40 and my heart rate was sky-high.  He did a thorough examination and a whole lot of tests.  I spent 4 days in hospital being tested for various things.  It turned out to be a terrible case of gastro and not related to the IVF at all.  But I was exhausted and drained and could not face any more doctors, medicines or treatments.  I had also been on a very strict “fertility” diet for the last few months. The dietician had banned me from all meat, wheat, sugar, gluten, processed food and lots more. I was seeing an acupuncturist twice per week and a reflexologist once per week. My entire life was consumed with falling pregnant. I was spending a fortune in money and in emotional energy.I started to tell a few people that we were battling to fall pregnant and that we’d had some treatments.  I was still not sharing all the details but I needed some sort of outlet so I chose the few people I knew who did not have perfect, new babies in their lives.  I told my mom and my friend A, who has a much older son.

By this time, I had made a new friend.  My new friend, N had an adopted son.  I told her about my difficulties.  She brought up the topic of adoption.

My husband & I had actually discussed adoption a year or so earlier and when we looked into it, briefly, we were disappointed.  There seemed to be very little information available on the internet about adoption in South Africa.  There was lots of information about international adoptions.  We were a bit naive and assumed that adopting within our own race was firstly possible and secondly, the obvious choice to make.  We were turned away at every enquiry.  We were told that in South Africa, there are no white babies available for adoption.  Some agencies told us that there was a 10 year waiting list while others told us that their waiting list was so long that they were not accepting any more applications.  We gave up and continued with fertility treatments.

Barely holding it together now

Posted by Terri Lailvaux on December 13, 2010
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Category : Adoption
Another 4 AI treatments followed after this….all unsuccessful. The doctor suggested that we move on to in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a MUCH more expensive treatment and a MUCH more intensive treatment. The dosage of medication and the frequency of injections increase enormously. In addition to this, you have to take time off work to go into hospital and have the eggs extracted when they are ready. The eggs and the sperm then meet in the lab where humans help them to do their job! Once fertilization has taken place, the strongest ones are put back in and another long wait begins. We had 5 good eggs and decided to put 2 back in and freeze the other 3 for later. I am going to digress here and say that by this stage, we had spent so much money, so much energy, so much emotional stress on falling pregnant that we were both ready to scream. For some strange reason, we still hadn’t told anyone what we were dealing with. My sister-in-law asked me later on why we chose to keep it all so secret and I really didn’t know the answer. I think maybe we were scared of all the questions, worried about adding more pressure with people calling to see how each treatment had gone and whether we had received good news yet. Probably the main reason was that we were barely holding it together and if anyone close to us had offered any sympathy at all, we would have crumbled. You know how it is when you are feeling sad and someone hugs you? That’s it! All composure goes out the window and you are reduced to a sniveling wreck. We thought handling it alone would be best. It was probably the wrong decision as I now realize that everyone would have done their best to help us out. The problem is that sometimes help comes in the form of unwanted advice from well-meaning people and when you are full of hormone drugs, you don’t have the ability to process correctly! You want to bite people’s heads off and run screaming into the distance. On the other hand, keeping it secret was really tough on us.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to spend time with my closest friends.  They had all started to have babies and I seemed to be surrounded by glowing mums and dads who wanted to tell me every detail about their precious bundle.  Book club was the worst!  It seemed like each month there was yet another announcement of a pregnancy.  By the time most of the members had had one baby, the first lady was on her 2nd pregnancy and the cycle started all over again!  I thought I would scream.  The conversation turned less and less to books and more and more to baby or pregnancy-related things.  Sometimes I smiled and nodded and could pretend I was having a good time.  Sometimes I went to the bathroom and cried or screamed into the soft, fluffy towels.  Numerous times, I went home in tears and told my husband that I was going to resign from book club.  Why didn’t I?  Each month I thought it would get better.  I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to resign without telling the truth.  I needed to keep up my social life because if I stopped book club, next would be supper club, dinner parties and then braais at friends’ houses.  I had already made excuses for 3 or 4 baby showers and kids’ birthday parties and I started to imagine myself as a total recluse with no friends at all.  Sometimes that idea sounded so tempting but on some level I knew that it would not be good and it certainly wouldn’t get me a baby.

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