Friday, July 15, 2011

Dear Mr. Frost

I had all sorts of ideas of how to start this blog out, of course, but this morning I was thinking about how strange it is that I am in this place and thinking about the road that I have taken to get here, and my mind sort-of just threw up the inevitable at me.

Robert Frost.  You know the poem, I know you do.

You probably even have some portion of the last couple lines memorized (probably incorrectly, like I do).

A bit cliched, I know, but like I said, inevitable.  But what strikes me -- what has always struck me -- is that there was no poor choice in that yellow wood.  Two paths, equally fresh, laid down with untrodden autumn leaves.  A classic way to think about life, choice and individualism.

Or not.

My own paths were a bit different.

 First of all, my woods are full of paths -- all criss-crossing and tangled.

I didn't know that at the beginning, of course.  Who does?  Who imagines on their wedding day that children are not on the horizon?  I can't help but wonder what it is like for the rest of the fertile world.  I think I might always wonder what it is like -- the potential for surprise, the attempt to share the good news with your husband in some sweet way, the secret awe of, "Hey -- look what we made!"

But for me, that path had (has?) a huge fallen tree lying across the way -- too tall to walk around and too wide to climb over.  Frost's poem never mentions roadblocks!  So, what now?

Chanisaw, anyone?

 IVF treatments are like taking a an uzi to a fistfight.  Or a chainsaw to a stubborn tree in the road.  Take your pick.  I'm not kidding.  Infertility treatments are no picnic.  The shots, the 6am daily clinic appointments, those tense days of maybe, maybe, maybe...and the heartache that follows. But it works for most people, and a baby is a baby no matter where mom and dad's bits and pieces finally get together.  Hard, but straightforward.  

It's just that some trees/roadblocks/infertility issues are remarkably stubborn -- so much so that even while you're trying to hack it apart you keep looking around, saying, "Hmm, remember that path over there?  It didn't look so bad did it?"  So you dip your  toe into the ocean of adoption and realize that this path makes IVF look like a walk in the park.  Years of waiting for a birthmother to chose you, the addition of total strangers to your life (that would be your child's birthfamily in the modern world of open adoptions), and all the complications for a child whose identity is just a bit more complicated than everyone else's.  Still hard, but less straightforward by far.

So you stay on the first path, and hack away at the tree.  Your hands get blistered.  The chainsaw is dull.  Years go by -- one, then two...then seven.  More and more often your husband points to the other path, wondering why you  insist on carving through this particular section of the forest.  A baby is a baby, right?

And he's right of course.

We leave the tree where it lies, with the chainsaw still embedded in it.

We backtrack to the other path.  Adoption comes in many forms.  You can wait in line for healthy domestic babies, you can find children who need homes in the foster system, you can wait in line overseas to be matched with a (hopefully) healthy child to bring to the US. So many divergent paths -- a whole maze of them.  We wait in line for healthy newborn for awhile, we attend meetings and consider adopting from Korea.  Somehow, somewhere, we are going to put this family together.  And nothing quite fits. The paths are a bit brambly and shadowed, and I am never quite comfortable on any of them.

A new path opens up.  This one is scary -- like Snow White scary.  Truthfully, it's not a new road, but it is one that we haven't seriously considered.  Special needs?  Who on earth would ever do this?  Talk about the road less traveled!  These children are sick.  They have lived in orphanages for years.  They are no longer trusting, helpless infants.  Of course it's awful to think about them -- but is it really so selfish of me to just want a healthy baby like everyone else?

I can't stop looking at that new path.  It haunts me and aggravates me.

So finally I step onto it.  And when I do, everything else disappears, all other paths get swallowed into the wood.  Somewhere out there is a big tree in the road, somewhere closer by are bramble-filled paths, but they no longer matter so much.  

This road is still scary -- but it's my road.  Completely mine.  So now we're mired in the paperwork of international adoption -- getting notarizations and apostilles (ten points if you know what that is!) so that we can bring home the rest of our family.  HIV+ children, living in an orphanage halfway across the world -- who would have guessed that Jay and I take such a roundabout way to find them?  And would we have ever found them it at all without the fallen trees and and the brambles?  What a strange, strange road we are on now.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Well maybe you had it right all along, Mr. Frost. Huh.


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