Adoption in Manitoba

If you’re in Manitoba and looking to adopt a child, the websites available to you don’t provide a lot of information. There are all sorts of other resources available for international adoptions, and you can contact private agencies for information. But if you’re interested in adopting a permanent ward, as I am, the website basically just says “If you would like more information on adoption, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact your local child and family services agency.” When you click on the “contact your local child and family services agency” link, it takes you to this page with a whole bunch of numbers.

Basically, in short, if you’re looking to adopt a permanent ward in Winnipeg, call this number: 204-944-4501. There are other types of adoption (private adoption, international adoption), but I’m really only going to write about adoption of a permanent ward as that’s what I’m interested in doing.

So, I called last week, and the receptionist lady forwarded my call to a worker. I left a voicemail and didn’t hear back (I have no doubt they’re super busy!) so I called back on Friday morning. This time I landed in someone else’s voicemail, and he called me back on Friday but I missed his call and couldn’t call until Monday.

I was able to talk to him on Monday, which was great. He told me a little bit about how it works, timelines, etc., and got a little information from me. This is how it typically works, based on my phone call with him:

Step 1: Prospective adoptive parent attends a full day workshop. These workshops are only run 4x a year; two in the spring, two in the fall/winter. I totally lucked out, and he managed to get me a spot in the May 29th workshop, so at least I don’t have to obsesses all summer about this first step.

Step 1-a: I label this as step 1-a because it either happens before step 1, or after, it’s not super clear cut. But there’s a lengthy paper application to fill out. I may get it before the workshop, I may get it at the workshop, and I may get it after. I don’t know, he didn’t know, so I’ll fill it out whenever I get it.

Step 2: If step 1 and step 1-a go well, then I’m on to a two-day workshop – it runs over a Friday and a Saturday. The earliest one I could get into would be late September. He said he doesn’t have the dates for them yet, but typically there’s one at the end of September, one at the end of October, and then two at the beginning of the year. Again, no workshops over the summer.

Step 3: So, if I’ve gone through all the workshops, I’m feeling good about it, they’re feeling good about me, then it’s on to the full home study. Checking out my home, me, family, criminal record checks, medical checks, everything. I don’t know exactly how this works, but I’m sure I’ll have more details when I go through all the workshops.

Step 4: (Hopefully) being approved to adopt. If everything is good and I get approved, then I wait. How long I’ll wait depends on what I’m looking for – he said waiting for a healthy infant can be 4+ years, but if I wanted an older child, it might be within a year. I’m open to adopting a sibling group (2 kids), so that might help speed up the process as well because sibling groups tend to be harder to place.

Step 5: Placement. Depending on the age of the kids, I might visit them in their foster homes a few times first. If that goes well, they’d come to live with me. They would live with me as foster children (as far as I can tell) for 6 months to a year, before the adoption could be finalized.

Because the earliest I can do the two-day workshop is late September, I probably wouldn’t have a home study until October-November at the earliest. (But that’s just a guess, I honestly have no idea. Faster would be better, but it may take longer.) The likelihood of having a child in 2019 is basically non-existent, but then again, if I’d gotten pregnant this cycle I’d only be having the baby in January 2020 anyway.

I go back and forth – it’s a little hard to give up the idea of having a baby of my own, at least for now. But then again, there are so many children in the system who need a loving parent. I can do that. I can be that parent.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at now. Still thinking, but reaching out for all the information I can get and trying to figure out which way to go. The more I think about adoption, the more it grows on me, and I think by the time I attend the session in May I will be 100% on board. I’m already 98% there.

Some helpful links: << General Adoption Page << FAQs << Alllllllll the phone numbers << more info << and more info


A potential change of plans.

It’s been several months since I last posted. Last I updated, I had just hit 40,000 words on a new work-in-progress novel. (I hit 80,000 words, and completed the novel, two weeks later – 80,000 words in four weeks!)

A lot has gone on in my life since then. Unfortunately, no pregnancy. I took a break from trying to conceive for the second half of last year. In October 2018 I managed to get in to meet with a specialist who basically confirmed that I’m not ovulating on my own. She doesn’t know why. In January I met with another person in the office, who gave me two kinds of medication – Provera to force a period, and Femara to force ovulation. I’m taking them without any sort of monitoring (which sucks), which meant that I didn’t realize right away that my first round of Femara didn’t actually make me ovulate – so I had to take the Provera again to start a new cycle. This last cycle, it seems that the Femara did make me ovulation, because a period started (more or less) on time. Unfortunately, despite two inseminations this cycle to try and boost my chances, I’m not pregnant.

I’m seriously considering giving up this route to motherhood, at least for now. It’s emotionally exhausting – spending the first half of my cycle taking meds and monitoring everything obsessively to catch ovulation, and then spending the second half of my cycle thinking maybe, maybe, maybe this is the cycle that will result in a baby.

Artificial insemination has lower odds to begin with. If I’m not ovulating without assistance, and I’m not being monitored to ensure that I’m producing viable eggs, I’m not confident that I’ll be able to get pregnant. Maybe one day. Maybe through another method.

In the meantime, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on becoming a single-mother-by-choice. I’m so far from over my desire to be a parent. I’ve just decided that it can’t hurt to explore other options, and what better option is there than adoption?

The adoption process can be a lengthy one, so I haven’t decided 100% if I’m going to stop trying to conceive, or if I’m going to give it another few tries. What I do know is that I’m seriously considering the adoption option, and I’m hoping to post about that here as I explore it – because I’ve found there is a shortage of blogs talking about adoption in my province and maybe whatever information I glean will be helpful to someone down the road.

Anyway, that’s all for now. It’s just a little update, but I hope to be more regular in posting in the future. 🙂

Choosing a Donor

(I apologize in advance if there are any typos/if something is unclear. I’ll tidy this up later. I’m writing it before running out to my conversion class, but I wanted to get this posted because I’d meant to write it on Friday and got sidetracked!)

So my last blog post was about where and how to find a donor. This post is about the process (at least my process), of choosing one. (And my next post will return to the topic of conversion for a bit!)

I’ll preface this by saying there is no right way, and no wrong way, to choose a donor. This is an intensely personal decision, and this is a process during which you must be honest with yourself about what you want.

On Known Donor Registry (KDR), you have a couple of options for donation method. Those are the first things to consider. Do you want to do AI (Artificial Insemination) or NI (“Natural Insemination” – sex)? Yes, for some people that is a legitimate question – there are plenty of donors on KDR who offer NI, and plenty of recipients who take them up on it. To be fair, NI is more conducive to conception, but it also requires a woman to literally have sex with a stranger. (Never mind the potential conflicts when it comes to custody and child support – you can have a contract that both parties sign, but if a child is conceived through sex, the courts can, and have, tossed the contracts aside to either grant joint-custody or enforce child support. Yikes, big risk!)

I was not into the idea of hooking up with someone just to get pregnant, but no judgement here. To each their own. It just wasn’t the right way to go for me.

So then I had to make another decision – did I want to find someone local, or did I want to broaden my options and find someone willing to ship? In the end, that decision was more or less made for me due to the fact that there was only one local donor active on the site, and we didn’t really want the same things. (He wanted to co-parent, and while he agreed to just donate and not get into a co-parent relationship, I had the feeling he might change his mind down the road and try to fight for joint custody.) Which meant I had to look for someone who lived elsewhere, but was willing to ship.

It wasn’t just a matter of finding someone willing to ship, but someone who had done it before so I was confident that everything would go smoothly. There are so many possibilities for problems, and the donation has to be shipped overnight and used as soon as it arrives, or it isn’t any good. (Cycle 4’s shipping was particular stressful – and a little funny in a cringeworthy way – which I’ll write about later.)

So knowing that I wanted to go with AI, and that I would be finding someone who was willing to ship, I had to figure out my non-negotiables.

They were: he had to have recent clean STD tests**, he had to be intelligent, he had to be at least moderately attractive, he had to have a clean criminal record (which I could search myself on the Court of the Queen’s Bench site if he was Canadian), he had to have had previous successful donations (specifically, from when he’d shipped, so I could know his donation was strong enough to survive transport), he had to be open to communication with the child (if they want it) at least once they turn 18 (one of the benefits of a known donor), and I had to just… get a good vibe from him. I had to feel like in the real world, maybe we’d be friends, or we’d at least get along. I had to feel comfortable talking to him.

So, armed with my list of non-negotiables, I started to search the site. At first I wasn’t limiting my search to Canadians (I should have; I’d really recommend anyone limit their search to people within their own country, because shipping costs are insane otherwise.). The site is really easy to navigate, by the way. When I found a few profiles that looked promising, I started sending hello messages.

Also something to keep in mind: these guys are doing this for any number of reasons, but they aren’t machines. Don’t send them a message that says “hey, can you ship me some sperm?”. They’re people, who are potentially going to provide you with the one thing you’re missing to create a child. They deserve a whole lot more respect than a lot of people give them. Not everyone has altruistic motives, true. And there may be creepers you will have to wade through. (I didn’t connect with anyone truly creepy, but I’ve read some awful stories.)

I ended up selecting a donor in the USA, but that relationship ended up falling through before any shipments were sent. I’m actually happy it did, though, because I went back to the site, started talking to people again, and found an incredible donor who was equally as determined to make sure his recipients are good people as I was to make sure my donor was a decent human being. We messaged, and then emailed back and forth for a few weeks. We got on a Skype chat. Now we’re Facebook friends. This kind of arrangement has the potential to be awkward, or uncomfortable – but I’ve lucked out; my donor is so professional, and just plan kind. He doesn’t make me uncomfortable, at all, and makes me feel so supported throughout this whole process.

I’m currently in the first half of yet another two week wait as I write this. We did two inseminations this cycle, in the hopes that might give me the edge I need to be successful this month. But if not, we’ll try again. I’m so blessed to have found the donor I did.

I’m glad I’m recording all this finally, and I’m looking forward to getting it all down. Hopefully someone might stumble across this one day, and find it helps them a little – even just knowing they aren’t alone in this process. If you’re reading this and you’re considering this as an option for you, I’d be happy to talk. Feel free to comment below and I’ll get in contact with you. 🙂

** KDR is just a platform, kind of like Facebook. They don’t require donors submit anything to post a profile. It is 100% up to the recipient to make sure they are getting information (like STD test results, etc.) from their donor, and ensuring that it is legitimate. However, KDR will remove members (be they donors or recipients) for lying, if it’s discovered they have an STD, for harassing, for asking for money for donations, for pushing for NI when the recipient is only looking for AI, if someone reports the offending user.

How in the world does one find a donor, anyway?

I get asked this a lot. Seriously. People are curious – how (and where) does one find a sperm donor?

The answer is, well, it depends. It depends on if you’re going through a fertility clinic/the medical system, or if you’re going it alone. If you’re going through a clinic, they’ll provide you with the necessary information. They’ll help you find a donor. I think there are catalogues, and profiles, and all that fun stuff. You’re also looking at roughly $400-$800 per vial of sperm. (Fun fact – in Canada, it is illegal to pay a sperm donor for their, uh, donation. In the USA, it is not. For this reason, there’s a real shortage of Canadian sperm donors, at least if you’re going through a fertility clinic. Most of a clinic’s supply is imported in from the USA, where donors are paid anyway.)

But I’m not going through a fertility clinic. And I really couldn’t afford the $400+ per vial, knowing I’d need at least one vial (but they recommend 3) per cycle, and knowing it often takes several cycles for a healthy woman to get pregnant (no matter how well you time everything).

So, I googled it. Surely there were other people in the same situation.

Did you know there are a whole bunch of sites for finding donors? Like, a lot. (Okay, maybe not really a lot, but a lot more than I expected to find.)

I signed up on a few of them before realizing they were paid subscription sites. You could look at people’s profiles, they could message you, but you couldn’t message any of them back without subscribing. I didn’t inherently have a problem with subscribing, but I knew the cost would be a barrier to some — which meant that the donor options might be limited. I also hoped (and maybe it was wishful thinking) that I would find a donor quickly… which meant I wouldn’t need some 3+ month subscription.

And then I found Known Donor Registry. For lack of a better way of describing it, it’s essentially a mash of up Facebook and a dating site, for prospective donors and recipients. You sign up, create a profile, post pictures, friend people, find donors based on certain criteria, etc. It’s a free site, which is great. It also requires that everyone signed up as a donor does not charge for their donations.

They also have all sorts of articles, resources and information which I found incredibly useful.

Okay, you might be thinking. Is any of this regulated in any way? Do donors have to submit test results, or answer questionnaires, or get screened in any way?

No; anyone can post on the site. Anyone can sign up as a sperm/egg donor, and anyone can sign up as a recipient. The responsibility is entirely on the recipient to make sure they get the information they need from the donor… and on the donor to make sure they’re donating to someone they think might be a good parent. (I, for the record, have a contract with my donor, I saw all his STD tests (clean), and got other information from him that I deemed important.)

A lot of people don’t realize this is an option. They automatically assume that going through the medical system is their only option and they can’t afford it. (Although I live in Canada and healthcare is free, fertility treatments aren’t considered necessary care and so they are at the individual’s expense.) But it’s not; there are definitely other options out there if you want to get pregnant.

I really want to chronicle all this, because when I was starting out I wish I’d come across a blog where someone else talked about this whole process. So maybe one day this will be helpful to someone.

My next post is going to be about how I found someone on Known Donor Registry, and next week I’m going to be going back to writing about my conversion as well. I have so much to write about there, as well!

Here’s to making the best of life! Happy Wednesday!

The thing that’s been on my mind for months.

Back in October, when I last posted (has it really been 6 months?), I said there was some stuff going on in my life that I wasn’t really ready to write about publicly. I’d talked to friends and family about it, but I wasn’t ready to put it out there, on the internet.

But I think this is a pretty safe place to write about it. It’s not connected to my Facebook and I don’t know of anyone in my circle who is following this page. And at this point, enough people know that even if someone who knows me did stumble across this blog, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they read what I’m about to write.

Last April, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. Again. The last two times she’d had it (many, many years ago), she’d been given a few weeks/months to live, but she’d kicked ass and beat it. This time, it was in her brain, along with other places, and although she started off strong and fiercely positive, it quickly took away her willpower. We had no idea there was cancer spreading through her brain when we got together for our birthdays (hers, April 3rd, mine, April 10th) mid-April 2017. By May 27th 2017, she was gone. I sat next to her for 8 hours before she died, and was there with my mom, my grandpa and my aunts when she took her last breath.

It was my first time losing someone close to me. It was my first time being with someone as they passed. It reminded me, as death often reminds people, of how uncertain life is. How fragile. And how awful it would be to be facing the end alone.

I’m not dating anyone. I haven’t dated anyone in years. I live alone (with my two adorable cats). My best friends live in the United States and I don’t have a lot of friends here. My mom and I are close, but her family either doesn’t care much for us, or lives too far away to be much help/support. And as close as my mom and I are, due to the fact that she is, obviously, older than I, there’s a good chance she’ll die before I do. (Hopefully not for many, many years.)

Basically, I am alone. And while I’m happy enough being independent — paying my bills, on my own, doing my own thing, going/doing what I want, etc. — I don’t want to die alone, with no family there. No one to mourn me. No one to remember me when I’m gone.

I’d already been thinking for a while that maybe, just maybe, I’d want to consider going the route of having kids on my own. It’s not entirely unheard of — there’s this  organization called Single Mothers by Choice that has chapters all over the world. I’ve looked into them, and they seem pretty great. For a while I just figured I’d adopt, but that I’d do it when I was 30 if I hadn’t had any kids yet. (Most Single Mothers by Choice are in their 30s and up.)

But… I’ve always wanted kids. I used to think I’d have three or four by the time I was 30, not be just starting out. I dreamed of being a mother far more than I dreamed of finding a prince charming and having some fairy-tale wedding. (Honestly, I don’t know that I ever fantasized about what my future wedding would look like.) Every birthday I’ve had so far in my adult life has just made me sad — the start of another year in which I was childless and alone.

For the record — I want kids because I want kids. Not because I feel like I should have them by now. Not due to any external pressures – societal or otherwise. I legit just want to have kids and always have.

So when my grandma passed away, I decided to hell with it. Life is short, why wait for some magical milestone (why is 30 this age where it’s “okay” to “settle” and start looking into doing this, by the way?)? At that point I had just turned 27, I knew the process wasn’t going to be a quick one, and I thought, I’m going to do this.

So I found a donor, and here I am, on my fourth cycle attempting to get pregnant. (I’ll write about how and where I found a donor later — I didn’t go the “normal” route. I’ll also write – in super general, non-TMI/non-specific terms – about how I’m going about this. Hint – there are no doctors/medical professionals involved.)

It’s already been a long road (except not really… some women try a year + to get pregnant). I’ve had one super early miscarriage/loss (cycle #2), which sucked.

But having kids is a non-negotiable for me. And if this is the way I have to go about it, so be it.

This is my life, by choice. And it’s going to be amazing. ❤

PS. I’m long overdue posting about my conversion. I’m going to backtrack, and write a whole bunch of posts about that as well. My conversion is coming up on May 27th, 2018. (And I’m starting an introductory Hebrew class this week Wednesday.) It’s been a whirlwind, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.