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Fertility Heroes: Meet Laura and Tim

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a blog by Ellen Glazer, June 30, 2011

To read more of Ellen Glazer's Conversations with an Infertility Counselor blogs, CLICK HERE.

When I first met Laura and Tim they were 28 years old and had been trying to conceive for just over a year. Young, healthy and from big “fertile” families, they had anticipated that Laura would get pregnant as soon as they began trying. Instead, month after month brought disappointment.

Eventually, Laura and Tim contacted a fertility doctor, but even then, they assumed that whatever was preventing pregnancy was minor and that a reproductive endocrinologist could help improve their fertility. Hence they were shocked and devastated to learn that Laura had premature ovarian failure. She was only 28, but her body was beginning menopause.

Like many other women with POF, Laura was offered egg donation. I will always remember her reaction. She was horrified. Indignant. Absolutely certain it was not for her. Adoption was somewhat more appealing, but both Laura and Tim were clear about one thing: they needed some time to sort out their feelings and try to determine what was best for them. I thought I would hear from them in a few months, but more than a year went by. Then Laura called.

“Hi. I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch, but it has been a busy year.” She sounded much better than when we had last spoken. I listened on. "Tim and I went to a dude ranch for a vacation, and we came back hooked on riding. We’ve been riding a lot and we really enjoy it.” Then she went on. "Tim and I have started talking about our desire to be parents, and I know this is going to come as a huge shock to you, but we want to try egg donation.”

I was surprised, but as Laura went on, it all made sense. She explained that she had been so angry and startled when egg donation was first mentioned to her that she hadn’t been able to see that it offered her two of the things that she wanted most: to be pregnant and to have Tim’s baby. She made an appointment with me, and she and Tim came in to learn more about the women who are donating eggs and the process of receiving them.

Laura and Tim quickly moved forward with egg donation (“quickly” but after years of thinking about it). Sadly, luck was once again not on their side. Their egg donor didn’t respond well to the fertility drugs, and although they “eeked out” an embryo to transfer, Laura did not become pregnant. I remember the next call I got from her.

“I need your help,” she said with a combination of distress and optimism. “After all that, egg donation didn’t work out, and we’re moving on to adoption. You got me to egg donation, and I know you can get me to adoption. I’m just not there yet.”

I met with Laura and Tim, and we spent some time reflecting on all they had been through. Theirs had been a long journey so far, but as they observed, not so difficult. They had used their years of waiting to become parents to enjoy being together, to ride near home and at the dude ranch, to advance in the jobs. But now they were ready — more than ready — to be parents.

“What about a sibling group?” Laura asked. At first I was surprised by her question. Most people I meet who come to adoption after infertility want to adopt a newborn infant. Laura — and it turns out, Tim — were different in this regard. “If we’re going to adopt, we’re going to do something different — something we hadn’t planned on doing. We’re thinking we’ll go to Russia and adopt a sibling group.”

Again, I was surprised. For many people Russia represents the most “scary” kind of adoption. There seems to be a higher risk of fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effect. In addition, there are stories of poor orphanage care. Russian adoption is also expensive and involves three trips to Russia. I mentioned each of these issues in as neutral a way as I could and realized, by Laura and Tim’s responses, that they were not turning back.

“We want to go to Russia, “ Laura said. “And we’re up for bringing back siblings.”

And that is how Laura and Tim embarked on the path that brought them to Alexander and Liliana, birth siblings who spent the first few years of their lives in an orphanage outside St. Petersburg. Alexander was 5 when Laura and Tim brought him home. Liliana was 3. They are now 9 and 7, and both are thriving.

I ran into Laura at a sporting goods store recently. Alexander was with her. They were buying soccer cleats. When she saw me, Laura gave me a big hug and said, “Can you believe it? Can you believe that Tim and I ever thought twice about adoption? Can you believe that this is my amazing little boy?”

You can believe that Laura is one of my heroes.

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