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Archive for the ‘adoption’ tag

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

By Tracey Minella

November 11th, 2012 at 11:15 am

image courtesy of photostock/free digitalphotos.net

Most of our patients come to us for help conceiving a child after trying on their own and either not getting or not remaining pregnant. Sometimes, patients who have no problems having a first child, come to us for help having additional children.

While our job at Long Island IVF is to build families every day through assisted reproductive technologies, like IVF, some patients ultimately choose adoption either instead of or in addition to pursuing a biological child.

Adoption, like any family-building decision, has many factors to consider. For many, there can be psychological issues to resolve regarding grieving and accepting not having a biological child. There are domestic or international choices. Newborn or older child? Same race or different? Maybe a special needs child or adoption after foster parenting? And then there are the legal and financial aspects of adoption.

An important topic of interest in the infertility world of late is saving the Adoption Tax Credit…a federal tax credit which was enacted in 1996 but is set to expire on December 31, 2012, unless it is extended.

In April, Iowa Rep. Bruce Bailey introduced the Making Adoption Affordable Act which seeks to expand the current Adoption Tax Credit by a thousand dollars, from $ 12,360.00 to $13,360.00 and make it permanent and refundable. 

 In September, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu introduced the Making Adoption Affordable Act S3616 which also seeks to extend the Adoption Tax Credit, though to $13,170.00 and to make it permanent. It also seeks to make the credit refundable.

Making the credit refundable would mean that adoptive parents could receive a tax refund in excess of their tax liability. For more information on the bill and the benefits of making the credit refundable, go to: http://www.landrieu.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=3378

RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has information on the above legislation, including further details, FAQs, lists of which legislators have co-sponsored the bills, and ways you can help get these bills passed. http://www.resolve.org/get-involved/save-the-adoption-tax-credit.html

Really, doesn’t every child deserve a family? And shouldn’t the generous people who open their hearts and homes to these parentless children get a break in terms of reimbursement of the costs associated in becoming a family?

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How do you feel about this proposed legislation? Do you think it is fair, with benefits that outweigh concerns? If not, what are your primary concerns or reservations?

Have you adopted or fostered a child, and what was your experience?

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Discoveries Along Your Infertility Journey

By Tracey Minella

October 8th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

image courtesy of nuttakit/free digitalphotos.net

Today, celebrate the day Columbus discovered America.

Imagine starting out on a journey on uncharted waters… a handful of nervous strangers in the same boat. As you’re leaving shore, almost everyone on the dock thinks you’re crazy, or at a minimum, doesn’t understand your need to go on this adventure. Time passes with no end in sight as you plod along fighting bouts of nausea and depression. Then, the journey gets really long. Your patience grows thin. Mutiny crosses your mind.

Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!

Come to think of it, you don’t need to imagine this scenario…you’re in the same boat. Well, a similar boat. Sure, you don’t have to worry about scurvy (thanks, pre-natals!) but navigating those IM needles is no picnic. Walk the plank or take Clomid? Tough call.

When you’re diagnosed with infertility, your life veers off the path you thought it’d take. And a new journey begins. It could be relatively quick and inexpensive or it could steal years from your life and be so emotionally, physically, and financially challenging that you just want to jump overboard.

But there are discoveries along the way, though we don’t always realize the lessons until looking back years later. Those experiences shape us into who we are meant to be, and show us what we are made of. They test relationships and build friendships. Some people face unspeakable losses and others unimaginable joy.

And, like Columbus, we don’t always end up where we thought we would at the outset.

But the journey does end for all of us, whether it’s with a biological baby… a baby through donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryos… a baby through surrogacy or a gestational carrier… a baby through adoption… or even a decision to live child-free.

And the place you land is a place of new beginnings.

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Was/Is your infertility journey longer than you thought? What have you discovered as a result of your infertility journey?

 

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Uterus Transplants in the News

By Kathleen Droesch MD

September 24th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

credit: david castillo dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

Swedish doctors this week reported on two women who each received a donated uterus from her mother in the hope of one day being able to become pregnant, carry, and deliver their own children.*

Until recently, uterine transplants were only performed successfully in animal models.  After many years of research, a live-to-live donor uterus transplant has now been offered to two women.  One woman was born without a uterus while the other had a hysterectomy for cervical cancer. Previously, these women would have been unable to have a biological child unless they utilized a gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy to term.

Prior to the transplants, both patients underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures for the purpose of stimulating their ovaries to produce multiple follicles (eggs). The eggs were retrieved, combined with a semen specimen for fertilization to occur, and (because the women did not yet have a uterus to transfer the embryos back into) the resulting embryos were cryopreserved (frozen for future use).  The embryos will be transferred after waiting one year to allow for healing and confirmation of the viability of the transplanted uterus.

Certainly there are disadvantages and potential concerns regarding this procedure.  The recipients will need to take immunosuppressive medication to prevent rejection of their transplanted organs. Although, there are studies of women after kidney transplant that have had successful pregnancies while on immunosuppressive medications. It will also be more than a year before they will be able to attempt pregnancy and there are no guarantees that they will ever be successful. Even if the women achieve pregnancies, the ability of a transplanted uterus to function normally in pregnancy has not been studied.

Currently at Long Island IVF, we have patients using donated oocytes (eggs) or embryos. We also have a number of patients who’ve had their embryos transferred into the uterus of a gestational carrier.  Not only is this a complicated decision for a couple to make, but a carrier that the couple trusts may not be available.

It is exciting to see the ongoing research into fertility issues.  Although uterine transplants are currently considered experimental, one day they may take their place alongside kidney transplants for women who desire the ability to experience pregnancy after the loss of their uterus.

*For the full report, click here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/19/health/uterine-transplant/index.html

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What do you think of this breakthrough in technology?

 

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The Importance of a Soul Mate in IVF

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2012 at 8:13 am

courtesy of Rosen Georgeiev/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I should begin by applauding the single ladies doing IVF. I didn’t do IVF without a partner by my side, but had the circumstances required it, my desire to have a baby would have put me on the IVF road myself as well. I imagine you all having amazing strength simply for undertaking the challenge of single parenting, never mind the lengths you’re going to to make it happen.

But IVF with a partner is obviously very different. It must be… simply by nature of there being a relationship involved.

There’s the issue of blame. There shouldn’t be. But there often is. If one of the pair has the diagnosis, there’s often guilt to deal with. That’s never good for a relationship.

Sometimes, there are the issues of donation and third parties. Donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos. Or the need for a gestational carrier or surrogate. More complicated stuff.

There are almost always financial issues unless you are lucky enough to have generous insurance coverage. If your jobs don’t offer infertility insurance, or your employers aren’t supportive of your situation, there can be stress at work…which spills over into the home.

Then there’s the stress of watching other couples have it all. The baby you can’t have without the treatment. The house or vacation you can’t afford because of the treatment. Why you?

Infertility is isolating. It’s just the two of you. It’s like living long-term in that moment of your vows where you said “for better or for worse; in sickness and in health” but never thought the bad stuff would really happen to you.

For me, the lows were so low at times that I didn’t always appreciate my husband’s support while we were going through it. I was too consumed by the details, too worried about failing, too focused on the goal. Not focused enough on the guy at the end of that long needle each night. The one who quietly absorbed the brunt of my hormonal outbursts. The one who held me when the bottom fell out of the world. The one who never questioned my need to try again. And again.

There’s no doubt that infertility is one of the toughest tests of a marriage. Most couples that make it through successfully are surely stronger for it. I feel that most couples who come to the end of their journey together…whether it ends with a biological baby, an adopted baby, or a decision to remain child-free…proudly wear an invisible badge of marital courage.

But I feel for those whose marriages crumble from the strain of infertility. Would they have survived if not for those stresses? Would they have been one of those happy couples who skate through life escaping all real adversity? Or were they doomed anyway, and infertility just happened to be the blow to expose their already weak foundations? It’s hard to say.

Looking back, I wish I’d been better at stopping the world from spinning and re-connecting with my partner along the way. Try to do that. You are the only two who understand what you are going through and what is on the line. What you have to lose…what you have to gain. Don’t lose sight of each other when simply going through the motions of your treatment. Show your gratitude.

All journeys end. Most end happily, though not always the way we imagine happiness will be when we started. Then you get to look back on it years later and laugh at things you never thought you would. And realize you’d never have gotten though it all without your soul mate.

Happy 27th Anniversary to mine.

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What’s the one moment on your journey that you realized you were/were not with your soul mate? What would you tell your soul mate to thank him/her?

 

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Another Way to Get a Child Into Your Home

By Tracey Minella

May 14th, 2012 at 2:49 pm


Of course, I’m not talking about anything underhanded…
Well, Mother’s Day is finally past. Another day filled with thoughts of “Why me?” and “Why do those awful neglectful parents in the news get pregnant when I can’t?”
There’s another option for those still TTC who are frustrated and heartbroken over how long it’s taking to begin your life as parents…
Foster parenting. Even if temporarily.
Many people want to exhaust all efforts to have their own biological child before considering options like donor egg/sperm/embryos, surrogacy, or adoption. And that’s totally understandable. Everyone is entitled to build their families their own way and in their own time. But you rarely hear people mention foster parenting as a permanent or temporary answer.
May is National Foster Care Month.
Does the thought of the criminal parents in the news make you angry and ill? Does your heart break for the babies born sick? Or the children nearly murdered by abusive parents? Do you long to make a difference in the life of a suffering child?
If you answered yes, maybe becoming a temporary or permanent foster parent may be for you. Of course, it isn’t easy. There are qualification processes and red tape to go through. But for some people, having a child to start loving, even while you continue your infertility journey, can take off some of the stress. A win-win in some cases.
Sometimes you can foster a newborn; other times an older child. Sometimes the child becomes available for adoption; other times not. Sometimes it’s a short-term situation; other times it’s longer term. Maybe your needs will match those of a child awaiting a foster family.
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Did you ever consider foster parenting?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=19826&picture=sad-child-portrait

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Mother’s Day: The Hardest Day of the Year for Those TTC

By Tracey Minella

May 13th, 2012 at 1:10 pm


Some of you are suffering from secondary infertility. You have a child, but can’t complete the family you envisioned without medical assistance. Maybe the child you do have was a result of medical assistance, so you understand the pain of those still on their infertility journeys. For those of you who are already mothers, Long Island IVF wishes you the happiest of Mother’s Days with your miracles.
But for those who are childless and TTC, Mother’s Day is the toughest day of the year to get through. It’s worse than the winter holidays, New Year’s Day, and your birthday. And if your own Mom is gone or if you lost a baby along the way, it’s unbearable.
Not having your family built yet can make you feel like you don’t fit in at whatever gathering you may have to attend today. It’s hard not to be bitter. It’s hard to bite your tongue at the insensitive comments.
It’s hard to know what’s worse…the moms who complain about the gift they got today, always criticize their kids, or (*gasp*) say they wish they didn’t have (so many) children. Or the women who nag you with nosy, personal questions about when are you finally going to have a baby? And let’s not even talk about those who complain about their “accidental” conceptions!
Today or tomorrow (or really any day), if you find yourself here, please feel free to vent.
If you bit your tongue today, please tell us what was said and what you wish you would have said in response.
If you didn’t bite your tongue, please, please, please share what your comeback was! Was it a cold glance, a look to kill, words of venom? Any furniture go flying? Hospital visits?
Or if you have any tips on how you got through the day, or interesting ideas on spending the day, please share those as well.
We’ll choose one comment to win a little gift card to help take away the sting a bit. Post your comments by Thursday night.
Here’s a tip from me for today: Tell yourself that this will be the last Mother’s Day you go through without a baby in your arms or on the way. (It may or may not be true, but you will feel better for today if you allow yourself to envision that is true.)
Thinking of you all today, mothers of the present and especially those wonderful mothers-to-be in waiting.

 

photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=22120&picture=mothers-day

 

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Does Infertility Make You a Better Parent?

By Tracey Minella

April 9th, 2012 at 12:01 am

If I just said “Yes!” and ended the post right here, you’d feel cheated, right? So, I’ll back it up.

 But before I do, I have to say that, of course, there are great parents out there who got pregnant without even trying. And there are some patients that undergo infertility treatment, have a baby, and make lousy parents.

 However, generally speaking, infertile women who eventually have children either through birth or adoption are better moms primarily because we don’t take motherhood for granted.

 Think about it.

 Remember back when you first decided to get pregnant? How you were naïve enough to think you could choose which month you wanted the baby to be born in and just count back nine months, have wild baby-making sex that one month, and Voila! Admit it. My dream baby was supposed to be born in October, 1991. She arrived in January, 1998.

 The black hole that others called the 90’s and my collective infertility experience from that decade slowly changed me from naïve, impatient, and demanding… to frightened, depressed, and frustrated… to profoundly grateful expectant mom.

 And when you go from expecting to be expecting…to thankful to be expecting…over a long period of time, it can change your mindset forever. It can make you a different parent than you would have been if you didn’t take this long journey. If you didn’t face the real and unbearable possibility of never becoming a mom.

I’ve noticed another trait among many IVF moms: over-protectiveness. Perhaps it’s from a heightened sense of how precious this child’s life truly is and a need to go to extremes to insure its safety. For example, my friend with IVF twins won’t let anyone else drive them anywhere.

And it took me years longer than most parents to allow my daughter to sleep over another friend’s house. I’d torture myself with thoughts of fires, vicious dogs, intruders, gun accidents, even pedophiles. ”Sorry honey, that girl’s father has shifty eyes…her older brother has blue hair, bad grades, and a police record…her grandpa hunts and keeps a rifle…she’s one of four kids, so no one will save you in a fire.” The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say, mine is the big sleepover house.

This brings me to another observation about IVF parents: We tend to get more involved in our kids’ lives and not sweat the small stuff. Not a week goes by that I don’t hear a fertile parent complain about some trivial thing that infertile parents never would.

Despite being almost ten years older than I thought I’d be when doing this stuff, I relish every moment of being super mom. And you will too. I am the PTA mom, the Girl Scout leader, the coach, the taxi driver, the party-planner extraordinaire, and basically the one who volunteers (or gets volunteered) for anything remotely related to my kids. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dust bunnies be damned. There is certainly something more fun to be doing. Kids love my house and twenty years from now they’ll hopefully remember the Halloween parties of mummy dogs and jello brains, instead of the couple of genuine cobwebs.

During the infertility years, it was promises I made to myself (and bargains I made with God) that I’d be this kind of mom that helped get me through it all.

It’s not easy to notice the transformation as it’s happening to you on this journey, but I promise you this… It’s making you a better parent already.

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Do you think infertility patients make better parents? Why or why not?

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=11153&picture=mother-and-baby-isolated

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IVF When Single

By David Kreiner MD

February 17th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

No knight in shining armor? No Mr. Right? Biological clock pounding in your ear?

Long Island IVF’s Dr. Kreiner helps the single ladies out there TTC who’ve found themselves at a “reproductive crossroads”:

Last week a patient presented to my office with a question that made me feel like I was responding to a Dear Abby letter requesting help to make some crucial life decisions that were related to her reproductive health.  As I pondered her query that I had heard so many times before I wondered how terribly nerve racking it must feel like for this woman.

Dear Fertility Doc,

“I am 39 years old, single and I enjoy my career.  However, I always dreamed I would have children.  Unfortunately, I have not yet met a man that I would feel comfortable with to marry and with whom to have a baby.  What should I do?”

Signed,

At Reproductive Crossroads

The issues that this woman brings up are universal in my practice.  She basically has to weigh her desire to have children now rather than delay, using her own eggs or potentially with an egg donor or to adopt.   She needs to consider the ramifications of taking time off from her career as well as creating a child with donor sperm.  She expressed concern to me that if she were to meet Mister Right how will he respond to this child?  Are there any tests that I can perform that can help this woman make a decision?

First of all, it is imperative in cases like this to do a full fertility screen so that we understand from a fertility perspective how much time she has left and how urgent this patient needs to make a decision. 

To assess her fertility I do a Day 3 serum Estradiol and FSH, an AntiMullerian Hormone and a sonographic antral follicle count.  The FSH is regulated by negative feedback from serum Estradiol and inhibin both of which are produced by the granulosa cells of the ovarian follicles.  With diminishing ovarian activity there are fewer follicles, less estradiol and inhibin so with less feedback, the FSH level is high.  Occasionally, in patients with low ovarian activity, often called reserve, a patient may have an ovarian cyst that produces estradiol.  This will lower the FSH level to otherwise normal activity levels even when there is minimal ovarian activity and inhibin.  One would misinterpret the low normal FSH in the presence of higher estradiol which is why this must be measured concurrent with FSH.

AntiMullerian Hormone is also produced by the granulosa cells and low levels therefore indicate depleted ovaries.  Likewise, few antral follicles seen on ultrasound typically performed during the early follicular phase of the cycle will indicate low ovarian reserve.

Once we know a patient’s relative fertility through this screen we need to decide whether she is prepared to delay her career for pregnancy and motherhood or should she do IVF and freeze her embryos thereby freezing her fertility potential at the current state.

Since she is single without a participating partner we would be using the sperm from an anonymous donor.  The specimens are obtained from sperm banks that are certified byNew YorkStateby virtue of their screening and testing for infectious and hereditary diseases.  Patients may review what is available from the sperm banks.  They can review on the internet the donor’s demographic information, physical attributes, educational and occupational histories, etc for the offered specimens.

If a woman does not have any infertility issues I would attempt donor insemination.  However, due to her advanced age, I would progress to more aggressive therapies if we were not successful after a few cycles.

A common concern for women in this circumstance is that they may meet their soul mate in the future and he may not be comfortable with a child produced with someone else’s sperm.  This is an issue that is very individual and I can only offer to support the patients as they decide what is best for them.

As she prolongs the decision her fertility is diminishing, and thereby risks not being able to have a child using her own eggs.  If conceiving with one’s own eggs is crucial then she must weigh the downside of conceiving a child from an anonymous donor and if she does so, the potential problems associated with finding a man in the future who she may want to have a family with.

It is enormously stressful making these decisions at these reproductive crossroads.

I discuss these issues with my patients and help them arrive at the decision that is right for them.

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Do you go forward with single motherhood, figuring the true Mr. Right would accept this child from your egg and donor sperm? Or do you wait, remain childless, and hope to find Mr. Right only to give up your ability to use your own eggs, having to use donor eggs and his sperm? What would you do?

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=2084&picture=pretty-girls

 

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National Adoption Awareness Month Kicks off with Every Child Deserves a Family Act

By Tracey Minella

November 1st, 2011 at 8:17 pm

The big news to start November’s National Adoption Awareness Month…N.Y. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Every Child Deserves a Family Act.  Read more on the proposed legislation, including interesting facts, studies, and stats, here: http://gillibrand.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=7F6E1235-884D-4361-A281-A9F930ABCABE

The proposed law, announced four days ago, would make it illegal for federally-funded or supported adoption or foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective adoptive and foster parents based on gender identity, marital status or sexual orientation.

Currently, thirty-one states practice some form of discrimination against the LGBT population. And this discrimination exists even though studies have shown LGBT parents can provide just a loving and stable a home as heterosexual parents.

This legislation would enable the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care and 107,000 children currently awaiting adoption…who are languishing away in the system… to be more quickly placed in loving homes with loving families, by opening up the prospective parent pool to include the LGBT population.

Really, doesn’t every child deserve a family?

Those less open-minded to the benefits of this legislation may argue that children adopted by LGBT parents may be at risk of increased bullying and discrimination in their communities.

But sadly, children of many different backgrounds are bullied daily, and it is with help and support from their loving parents that they usually survive. Plus, is the potential for bullying any worse than the known increased risks of not being placed in a loving home? Risks like increased chances of early parenthood or incarceration?

The founder of East Coast Fertility has been committed to family-building for the LGBT population for decades and applauded the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York for removing a roadblock that made some LBGT couples reluctant to seek fertility treatment to build their families.

This proposed legislation stands for building loving families…something we at ECF do every day.

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How do you feel about this proposed legislation? Do you think it is fair, with benefits that outweigh concerns? If not, what are your primary concerns or reservations?

Have you adopted or fostered a child, and what was your experience?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=7054&picture=a-childs-gaze

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Best Adoption Reimbursement Employers

By Tracey Minella

October 3rd, 2011 at 11:58 am


Some couples suffering from infertility go straight to adoption when they can’t conceive naturally. Others may embark on a series of ART cycles and, if unsuccessful, eventually consider adoption over continued treatment. Still others prefer adoption over even trying to have a biological child.

This is an intensely personal and difficult decision for many couples. Sadly, finances are often a factor.

I remember along the course of my many failed IVF cycles thinking “What if we keep doing IVF and it never works? Should we just invest the money in an adoption?” Maybe you’ve felt the same way.

For us, we didn’t get to the point of adoption, though we did decide that at some point, we’d adopt rather than be childless. Again, every couple has their own reasons for pursuing …or not pursuing… parenthood in their own way.

In general, I’ve found that most people view their employers as unsympathetic to the plight of infertility. They keep their infertility secret and hope no one finds out so as not to lose their job. After all, what employer wants to have their employees get pregnant and then go out on leave…or not return at all?

Well, it turns out that there are many companies that are supportive of their employees’ need to become parents. And they put their money where their mouths are, too!

One of the country’s best known adoptees would be the late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s. So, it’s not surprising that Wendy’s would be the #1 company on the "2011 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List".

Infact, eight of the top 20 companies have headquarters in New York, including Avon Products. **Ding dong…opportunity calling???**

Maybe you should check out this link and see if there’s a job change in YOUR future?

http://davethomasfoundation.org/what-we-do/adoption-friendly-workplace/2011-best-adoption-friendly-workplaces-list/

Hey, no need to thank me. Just name the baby Tracey, okay?

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Do you know of an employer who offers great benefits for infertility or adoption?

 

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