It’s personal, but…

…isn’t all of this writing I’ve been doing on my life with cancer for nearly two years? When I first started writing this blog, I told you that there were two primary reasons for doing so: one, I wanted to be able to continue to focus on a writing project; two, I wanted to keep my friends and family informed about my life, about my illness, about Dawn, et cetera. I had no idea at the time that all of this would drag on for so long — no idea that it would affect my life in so many ways, trickling down as it has into my art, my self-identity, my relationships with friends, family, with Dawn…it goes on and on, and seems to be nearly limitless. The fertility issue is simply the most lasting trickle.

When I first got word last September that my cancer had returned — or recurred — I called one of my oldest and dearest friends and cried on the long distance line that what pissed me off the most about the news was that it meant that I would likely be left infertile. I cried, and told her “I just want to be a dad someday.”

When I have been in treatment I have found myself resenting those of you who are healthy and able to fully live each of the mundane, banal, seemingly uneventful moments of life; now that I have been told that I am infertile, I find myself resenting the young parents I see everywhere, clutching their children to their breast, holding their delicates hands. It’s unfair (obviously) but I think, “why did they get it so easy?” An exercise in self pity, yes.

But, Dawn and I have options. That’s for sure. Almost too many options. We are considering all of them, including using medical technology to create a child. We are also seriously considering adoption. I tell you this because I want to hear from you. I want to know what you have experienced that might shed light on how we proceed with our lives, how we decide to become parents. Tell us something.

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8 Responses to “It’s personal, but…”

  1. Andy Pearson Says:

    Hey Mike, The only real advice I might offer comes through watching my wife’s experience. She became a foster child at the age of 14, and probably has a closer relationship with her foster mom than her birth mom. It seems like any young one that you are able to care for and raise will be your child and be glad of it. The means don’t seem quite as important in the big picture. At that point it seems to become very pragmatic, cost, time, risks,etc. I hope the best option becomes clear because I believe you will be a great dad.

  2. Well, of course, I remember that call. It would be hard to forget it.

    I think you know how I feel about the chitlin issue, but if I never told you this, I spent the weekend driving around South Carolina, Georgia, and I forget where else, learning that you had cancer in a bad way. And I spent a lot of that driving time crying. I can almost see where I was on the highway when I was unabashedly sobbing because I really thought you were up shit creek without a paddle, and I thought that it was devastating that you wouldn’t be leaving some part of yourself behind. That’s the closest I’ve come to understanding the “biological urge” for procreation.

    So, that raw reaction coincides with my ongoing belief that adoption is the most earth/world/community–heck, GREEN–thing a person can do for the universe. There are kids here already who are not only using up resources, but they are lacking resources–a family who loves them. I equate having children with eating meat, which is to say that they go on and on about how much water and grain a cow consumes vs. how much it could be fed. One can’t help but think, why not give the available resources to someone who is already here, and why not keep from adding to the collective yaw?

    I do believe that adopted children are the products of love and choice and something extra-special. I also believe that for global and local reasons, having a child is selfish–for many of the reasons above, and for the folks who want to leave the world a better place by leaving the potential of their child…well, it’s the ultimate in arrogance, no? I have said the things in this paragraph to you before. But I doubt I’ve said them in tandem with the first paragraph. It is selfish of me, too, to want some of my best friend’s genetic material left behind. You know, if.

    Of course, you might notice that to me, you having a biological child is connected to death, and that ain’t right. I have never denied that some of my thoughts are just gosh darn wrong. But they are my thoughts.

    I do not think people that people who have biological children are assholes. I do think that they are mildly-limited in terms of planning and big picture skills. I admit to you that I have always held a mild disdain for folks who undergo fertility treatments–in part because of the wasted resources: their money, the kid itself (when there are so many others), etc.

    But I also admit to you that I am somewhat of a hypocrite who recognizes that brushing death changes a person’s mind about what’s important. It changes my mind about your specific story. It might even bring a sense of relief to me if you were to have a child. On the other hand, I am concerned about that reaction, too. I worry that to me, your child represents insurance. I would rather have you than insurance. But I understand the desire to want some of my best friend’s “code” to remain on the planet. And I recognize that this makes me selfish, too. And I live with that.

    So, there is the brutal honesty of my thoughts. They are not all loving, but then neither am I. I do, however, love you. I love the life partner you have chosen for yourself. And I think you would both make excellent parents to either a biological or chitlin pound kid. I would not babysit either. But I would buy the child T-shirts and onesies that say inappropriate things. I would hope Dawn might let the child wear such a thing occasionally. I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t. That is my something. Harsh and judgmental though it may be.

  3. I am adopted.

    My Mom and my Dad are my heroes.

    The gift of two eager, committed, life-loving parents is better than biology in a lot of cases.

  4. Stephanie Says:

    I loved reading Tara’s thoughts and since I am a biological mother of two, I can tell you that yeah, for some people you just have to LOOK at them and they get pregnant. I’m one of those people, and it’s a minor miracle I only have two kids! There’s nothing wrong with having a baby through medical technology and I think that of course you should do that if you want to try!! My brother and sister in law have their only child that way, and they are so grateful for the opportunity. My sister in law really wanted to have her own baby with my brother so that’s where they were coming from. My other friend Cindy adopted a boy from India and a girl from China, and they are both fantastic kids, well loved and well cared for. That was perfect for her. Any child would be lucky to have parents like you two, no matter HOW they get here. Lots of love to you!

  5. Felicia Tabanico Gelsey Says:

    Mike, I’m adopting from China. I know lots of people who have adopted or were adopted. Once you begin the adoption process, you seem to meet a lot of people in the process (US foster, US adoption, or other countries) or who you casually know that end up telling you that they were adopted – lots of people! Everyone but one person I met has been very happy with their adoptive family. The one person I know who was unhappy had her adoptive parents die when she was 4 years old and ended up being raised by her adoptive mother’s sister who was a doc and didn’t want kids.

    I’ve also been to a few panel discussions with teens adopted from China at our agency and while they mourn for their biological parents, they are all happy to have been adopted. They don’t have any romantic notions about staying China. They say that discussing it with they adoptive parents have made them feel closer to them as well. I once met this gay white guy who told me he was abandoned by a dumpster in Colorado when he was an infant. A mexican man took him home and raised him in a spanish-speaking household full of 6 kids! He’s close to all of them and loves them very much. And he is really white but speaks spanish fluently.

    I was always interested in adopting prior to getting diabetes. My husband was always interested in adopting as well. While a diabetic (I got it at a later age), I did get pregnant as a result of a surgery that dropped eggs. I had my son, but we figured we’d stick with the orginal plan if we wanted more kids. Over half of the people at our agency have their own “bio” child which I think is interesting. Unfortunately, with China our wait has been extended to 3-5 years. We started in 2006, got formally logged in in China in Feb 2007, and may have an additional 2-3 year wait.

    But I have also learned that adoption freaks some people out. My sister-in-laws response was that she could never love someone else’s child like her own. Fine. Others think it’s a very scary risk, but I think it’s always a crapshoot anyway when you give birth and consider all possibilities in your and your spouse’s family’s gene pool. And as you know, shit can happen anyway. The people I have chosen to be close friends with think it’s wonderful.

    Hope that helps.

  6. Felicia Tabanico Gelsey Says:

    Also, my cousing adopted a meth baby in California. He’s awesome and healthy! He did code at 3 weeks of age but he didn’t sustain any brain damage and was declared perfectly healthy after a 3-week hospital stay at CHOC. He’s now 3 years old and is just like all other boy toddlers.

  7. dphealthcareconsulting Says:

    Great Blog! I have added you to my blogroll, “Cancer Blog Links” with over 350 other cancer blogs at http://www.beingcancer.net, a cancer networking site featuring a cancer book club, guest blogs, cancer resources and more. Please stop by and visit. If you like the site, please consider adding Being Cancer to your blogroll.
    Take care, Dennis

  8. feelyourpain Says:

    I feel your pain. My husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. And we had 3 vials of sperm frozen before he underwent threatment. We currently have 1 vial left; they had to use 2 to get the first IVF cycle to work. We had been trying to have children before we found out about his cancer diagnosis. He also had cancer once but then it recurred so he had high dose salvage chemo and was hospitalized for about a month followed by about a month on dialysis while his kidneys recovered. We just transferred 2 embryos and will find out whether we’re pregnant or not soon, if not we only have 1 more option after this. You’re welcome to email me if you want more information or just to chat…sounds like we have similar experiences.

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