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My Holiday Cards and the Stories They Tell

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a blog by Ellen Glazer, December 30, 2010

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog to help prepare people for the arrival of holiday cards. I did so because I know that the onslaught of cards — almost all containing photos of children — can be absolutely dreadful when you are going through infertility.

Each envelope contains yet another reminder of what you don’t have and what you long for. Some are worse in that they bring with them surprises — the arrival of a new baby you didn’t even know about or a note announcing another pregnancy.

But let me confess …

I LOVE my holiday cards. For me, the photos and notes are reminders — and updates — of happy endings. The cards look remarkably alike — smiling, happy children, sometimes accompanied by parents. However, each one has a back story, and knowing the back stories makes seeing each card all the sweeter for me. Here are but a few back stories on the cards I received this year.

A Successful Adoption

I received a card from a couple who set out to adopt when they were each 50, and adoption from China was going strong. They waited the requisite year, received a referral and then learned that a long ago history of limited drug use by one of them had disqualified them for adoption from China. They were crushed beyond measure, but managed to regroup and turn their attention to Guatemala.

I still remember when they gave me a bunch of stuff that they had about China for their Chinese daughter and asked me to give the things to any other family. They went on to adopt a baby girl from Guatemala. She is now about 6 years old. In their photo, the three of them radiate joy.

An IVF Cycle Brings Twins

I received a card from a woman who told me that she would never have a baby. She “knew” this because she had gone to a fortune teller who had told her that she would never conceive. She had actually consulted more than one fortune teller, and all had brought bad news. Then there was a “predictive” string game in which she was supposed to spin a string to know how many children she would have. The string said none. Despite these dire warnings, her first IVF cycle brought twins. A spontaneous pregnancy followed. In the photo, the three children radiate joy.

A Family Is Formed

I received a card from a single woman who told me that nothing would work for her — she was convinced that she was not really meant to be a mother. Nonetheless, she embarked on an adoption course and signed on for China. No sooner did she sign on than China closed to single women. Undaunted, she moved on to Vietnam but it, too, closed and on to Kazakhstan, with the same unfortunate timing. She came to see me in the Fall, 2009 in despair: “Nothing will ever work. I know this is not meant to be.”

Despite her despair and her defeats, she moved on to Ethiopia. A few months later I received a message on my office machine. I could hear young children giggling on the line. Then their mother got on. She identified herself, told me she was calling from Ethiopia and said, “A miracle has happened, a family has been formed.” In the photo, her two daughters radiate joy.

A Couple Finds the Right Egg Donor

I received a card from a couple who wanted to find their own egg donor and asked me to assist them in the process. They ran an ad, and I did the initial screening on their donors. It all seemed like it would work out well, but it did not. The donor they found seemed great to me and to all the psychologists and physicians that vetted her along the way. However, at the 24th hour, she pulled out of the process. The couple was devastated, emotionally and financially, but someone found the resources to move on to another egg donor. They celebrated the birth of twins this summer. In the photo, their son and their daughter radiate joy.

There are so many other back stories. So many happy endings. So many, many cards that radiate joy.

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