I've had an underlying hormonal issue since I was 20. I basically can't produce estrogen on my own, so I've been post-menopausal for 10 years. There are many symptoms and side effects, from which I spare you the vivid (ly red) mental picture, but suffice it to say that it's not natural for a 20 year old girl to be post-menopausal. Left untreated, it made me "functionally" infertile, which basically means that I could conceive, but not build a sufficient lining, and so would be a miscarriage machine.
In relation to this issue, but because of some of the other symptoms, I've done hormone therapy two times. For those of you who don't know, each time you do hormone therapy you increase your risk of cancer to the 10th power. My symptoms were bad enough that I agreed to that -- twice. So lucky me, having already gone through menopause, I got to go through it again backwards while doing treatments, then waited six months while it wore off in the hope that I would start producing it again myself (which didn't happen). Then went through menopause again. Early in the second round (after going through menopause for a 4th time) I started rapidly developing abnormal cell growth in my cervix, and we had to cut off the therapy immediately. The solution from there was to take double birth control indefinitely, skipping placebo pills, as a low grade hormone alternative.
(picture courtesy of http://www.acupuncturenova.com)
J and I discussed the possibility of a natural birth, but the reality was that it would be high risk. It would require another round of hormone treatment, with enormous cancer risks, which neither of us were willing to do. Even then, there would be no guarantees that I could carry. When we decided that we were definitely never going to go the natural route (before we had clearly defined an adoption path) I had a tubal ligation, and ablation done, so that I could at least stop taking birth control and go back to my natural (post menopausal and 30 lbs lighter) state. That would be menopause #5, and what I dearly, seriously hope is the last one.
The good news is that I learned about my health issues many years ago, and had plenty of time to make a decision on what was the right choice for me. Whether or not we adopt children, I am comfortable with the fact that I'm not going to have my own natural children - or have the horrible symptoms of trying to make your body into something it doesn't want to be.
J's easier. He makes beautiful babies.
(picture courtesy of ME, I take great photos :)
He actively talked about adoption before we even decided officially that we would not go the natural route. J has a big heart. He believes that there are very few ways that you can truly make a difference in your life, and adoption is one of those times. He is energized by kids, went to school to be a teacher, and worked in a special needs class, before he started his own family and needed to make more money.
J was also influenced by a childhood friend, who was adopted, and raised in a loving family. It always impressed him that the child was "one of them", even though he was adopted.
The hardest part about the decision process for him has been the situation with his daughter, who lives in Florida 11 months out of the year. He is concerned about the impact on her (in the other part of her family, she has an older step-brother, and a younger half-sister) not being the special only child when she's here, having to share a bedroom when she comes, etc. He's also most driven to this process because he truly wants to be an every day Dad, and he's not able to do that in his current circumstances.
We've talked about adoption now for several years, on an almost weekly basis. It's a big change, and we already have a great life. I think sometimes that makes it even harder - why make a huge change, when everything is going well? For a long time, I struggled with not having my Sunday afternoon nap. J concerned himself about finances and afterschool activities. We both didn't want to put a fence around the pool (we bought a house with high doorknobs for a reason... but that's an entirely different post). We went back and forth on the idea at least 100 times, and never stayed in a certain direction for very long. We went to orientation for the agency we liked back in December, and we only turned our initial paperwork in this July. So... we've given it a lot of consideration.
(picture from downtownprintwear.files.wordpress.com)
Where we stand right now is pretty simple. In a cold-hearted, rational, logical approach is never ever ever ever ever going to get a family started (I'm pretty sure there's a reason why people are physically attracted to each other, because who would willingly give up Sunday afternoon naps?!). So, we agreed that we're going to sign up for classes, and see where we stand. If we feel good, then we'll get licensed, and then see where we stand. If that works, and we're commited at that point, we'll go for it. But the important thing is that we won't be feeling any pressure to move on to the next step just because we've started, or because I'm writing a blog, or because the family is expecting some changes. The right decision for us will be the right one - so now we're just looking for additional information, and training will give us that opprtunity.