May 11, 2008

No happy mother's day here

Every year I get tired of hearing people wish everyone a happy mother's day. In our household, cancer robbed us of the chance to be parents.

It's possible although unprovable that I originally got breast cancer after taking too many hormones in an effort to get pregnant. Then after I developed cancer, I told my oncologist I wanted to take steps to preserve my (limited) fertility. He said that I would be better off treating my cancer and being alive to raise any children. Of course, at this time (1999) no one was yet recommending extracting and freezing a woman's eggs before she started chemo. So I was launched into chemically induced menopause.

We tried to adopt. We tried private adoptions, international adoption, even our state's foster-to-adopt program. At each turn we were thwarted. First by birth mothers who changed their minds about placing their babies for adoption (always their choice, but still hard on us). Next by international adoption agencies who do not recommend that people with cancer histories pursue adoption since they will likely be refused by a judge in the adoptive child's country of birth. Last by metastatic disease and social workers and judges who would rather see children languish in our state's foster care system than be placed with a parent who has cancer and who might die, thus presenting the child with another potential loss.

On top of the emotional roller coaster, our effort to become parents also cost tens of thousands of dollars paid to doctors, birth mothers, adoption facilitators and one Florida agency who we believe scammed us without ever placing our portfolio in front of a birth mother.

So please don't wish me a happy mother's day. Parenthood is a part of life that I will never be able to experience.

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