Before I finish my thoughts on the events of 9/11, I need to clarify some points. Several of my online pals will be surprised at the facts revealed in this post. When I was searching online in late 2000 and early 2001 for information on infertility, conception, surrogacy, adoption and other baby related topics; I stumbled upon the AOL Parenting message boards and began lurking and reading in various areas. Our last attempt at IVF had ended in tragedy and we were desperately trying to move on. If things had worked out like we planned, our child would have been born in late 2001 and I was easing my depression by fantasizing about being pregnant (like I often did during our many years of infertility treatment and attempts to conceive). I did some reading in the adoption message boards, but there was a great deal of conflict and negativity in that environment. I found the "Due In X Month..." boards and the excitement, friendliness and joy of those women really appealed to me. I wanted to be one of them SO badly.
During our last round of IVF, we made the decision to pursue adoption at the same time. Things had never progressed so far and all was looking SO promising. Talk about having all your eggs in one basket! I only had/have one ovary and it was stressed to the max. The doctors told me that early menopause was an almost certain eventuality, but I didn't care. I was also realistic. I knew the odds were against us and we always knew adoption would be a great option as well. We had a set number of IVF attempts we agreed upon early on, so we wouldn't be one of those desperate couple statistics we read about so often. They try 5, 6, 7, 10 times with IVF - it's pure insanity, in our opinion. Who can afford the financial burden and the toll on their bodies? My husband's family was completely supportive, how ever we decided to start a family. My parents had much stronger opinions. If surrogacy had worked out for us, I wasn't even going to tell my family. I would just let them believe we adopted the baby. That's how much against it they were. My mother felt if you were willing to allow another woman to carry a child for you, then you might as well adopt. They had very bad feelings, in general, because of all the bad pressfrom the Baby M. case and the like.
Our dreams of conceiving our own child were over. I was devastated. I was barely going through the motions at work and pathetically checking those websites that would show how far along the baby would be. We had all our paperwork in with our local adoption agency and we had consulted with an adoption attorney in Hawaii when we went there on vacation in February of 2001. We sent portfolios to both our agency and the attorney in Hawaii. Then we waited...
At the end of the day on September 11, 2001, I finally went to lie down. I was just drained. My phone rang around 7:30PM just as I was finally nodding off. It was our adoption attorney in Hawaii. The day was about to take an even more unexpected turn. After witnessing a terrorist attack, who would have thought something so amazing could happen after so much tragedy.
"Is this Rebecca Yanagi?" a strange female voice asked.
"This is Laurie L. calling from Hawaii. I have good news for you. Can you get John on the phone as well?"
My heart was beating so fast and the emotional exhaustion I had felt only moments before was swiftly fleeing. "He's stuck in California! He's there on business and can't come home...you know. Because of all that happened today..." I blurted.
"Oh yes. I heard about that. Horribly tragic! Did you know anyone involved? Is there any way you can contact him?"
"Yes, I knew a couple people - but not directly. The only way I can communicate with John right now is through his pager or instant messaging. But IM only works if he is logged onto his computer."
Laurie drew a deep breath and said, "Well, you may want to page him immediately. Your portfolio has been selected. She is a young Asian girl in southern California. Is there any way the two of you could call her this weekend? She wants to talk to the both of you as soon as possible."
I was breathing so fast I felt like I was going to pass out. I was seeing black spots swimming before my eyes. "Thank you Laurie! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! We'll call you for more details as soon as possible. I'll go page him!" I don't remember hanging up the phone. Next thing I knew I was sitting at my computer and typing "Call me right away! now now now!!" and sending the message to John's pager. I waited for maybe 10 minutes, but it felt like an hour before the phone rang.
He sounded frantic and panic stricken. He thought I had some bad news...probably 9/11 related tragedy. When I told him who had called and why, he was dumbfounded. "Really? Someone picked US? REALLY? You're serious??"
No, I was kidding. "Just call her!" John set up a three-way conference call and we got many more details. This is where the fates decided to make things even easier on us. This mystery birth mother was located in southern California, near Anaheim. Where was my husband staying? Anaheim. Since he was trapped and couldn't fly home anyway, he passed on driving across country and decided to stay and meet this girl and her mother that weekend at a local restaurant. We were so thrilled that this girl agreed to meet with John so quickly.
That Saturday, John drove to a Marie Callendar's restaurant in Lake Forest to meet B. and her mother for lunch. He left early and was waiting a half hour for them to show up. I am sure he was nervous as all get out and fretting the entire time. Wondering if they would show up. They did. After awkward introductions, they all sat at a table and had some lunch.
Seven hours later...yes, SEVEN HOURS LATER...John had a new best friend (B's mother) and had won the confidence of a scared young girl. And we had a birth mother carrying our first child. After listening eagerly to John's account of the seven hours in the restaurant and his impressions of B (good kid, level headed, intelligent, bad situation with over bearing mother) and her mom (controlling, single mother, terrible flirt), I was REALLY happy that he was acting as our first contact. I sometimes don't make a very good first impression because I am shy and quiet, but John always makes an excellent first impression. He is warm, friendly, open and approachable. Things couldn't have worked out better if we tried.
Oh my God! I'm "expecting"!!! I'm going to have a baby! The thrill was back! It was almost enough to wash away the anguish of the previous 5 years. Almost.
I'll talk more about B and our adoption in the next post. I just wanted to complete my thoughts about 9/11 and share this tidbit with everyone. I was not as open with my friends on the message board. When I knew we were "expecting" I went back to the message boards and found the "Due in January" and "Due in December" boards. B hadn't nailed down her due date because she wasn't sure about when the baby was conceived. We wouldn't know until her first ultrasound when her doctor would make an estimate based on the baby's size. Her insurance didn't cover ultrasounds under normal circumstances (she wasn't high risk) so we had to request it and pay for it. I lurked for months reading the message boards and being excited for all these women who were expecting babies around the same time we were. I avoided the drama on the adoption boards. I just wanted to be happy and bask in the glow of expecting a child. I didn't want to argue with people or be involved in any drama. Drama hit the parenting boards in the form of trolls pretending to be pregnant and reading that nonsense made me decide to avoid the boards for a while. Plus I wasn't really sure these girls would accept me into their circle.
I'd read some negativity toward some teens who were expecting and I read a couple of nasty comments about abortion and adoption. It left me feeling vulnerable and I didn't want to try and make friends with these women unless I could protect myself in some way. Buffer myself from potential abuse. Months later, after Tyler was born and we were back home from California, John was back at work, my Mother and MIL had long ago gone home and I was alone all day with the baby. I found myself craving adult conversation. I wanted to talk with other women who had kids the same age as Tyler, but I still felt a need to protect myself. I decided to share with the women on the "Babies Born in December" board my story up until my last IVF procedure and then skip over several painful months and talk about Tyler as if he were the product of those efforts. I became somewhat of a curiosity because of the unusual circumstances of his birth, but ifthings had worked out, Tyler WOULD have been that baby. The fact that he came into our lives via a young teen mother only a few months later and was due around the same time...it was like a higher power took our lost baby and put him in a new place to grow. He was always meant to come to us. I am convinced of that. You only have too look at him. The way he is with his grand-parents, his cousins, his personality. He even LOOKS like us.
The more time that passed and the more friendly I got with these women, the harder it was for me to let go of my fantasy. It was much easier for me and my fragile mental state to think of Tyler as being born from our own efforts and not the drunken mistake of unprotected teenage sex. I wanted to protect myself and I wanted to protect Tyler. I'm am happy I made the decision I did. Many of the women on that message board that I thought were my friends ended up attacking me a few months ago. One women led many more to believe that a perfectly innocent posting of mine was somehow an attack on unwed teen mothers. Worse yet...she led them to believe that I resented and hated ALL women who had the ability to carry a child. Me! ME?!? I was dumbfounded. I was hurt and devastated. Of all the people to attack. They had NO IDEA the real story behind Tyler's birth and how much I love and respect his birth mother (a young unwed teen). Without someone else to carry my children for me, I would have no children to love. How could I possibly hate someone who had given me the single most important gift I have ever received in my life?
I made the painful decision to leave that circle. I no longer read or post with those women. A couple of them read this journal and now they will know the truth. Since several of them never bought into the nonsense that those nasty few were spewing at me and stuck by my side, I'm happy they will know. I am also happy that a few others who left the circle long before I did (I should have left with them) and remained my friends; they will also know the truth. Don't be too shocked, girls. It was only a little white lie. A glossing over of the truth. It was important to me, at the time. But I have reached a stage in my healing where I no longer care what others think of the circumstances of Tyler's birth. I don't think of him as a "replacement baby", never have. I don't think of him as a compromise, never have. He is MY SON. He was always meant to be my son. I knew the moment I heard his heartbeat and saw his image on an ultrasound monitor. I knew with even more certainty the moment I held him in my arms at the hospital only hours after his birth. I will talk about the rest of that story later.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004