For Montz couple adoption is not second choice, but only choice
Chris and Pamela Valentine included this photo in a book meant for birth mothers who look at these photos as well as a biography on the prospective families who would like to adopt their children.
In 2004, at the age of 24, Pamela was diagnosed with a bad case of endometriosis and the couple was told that if they ever wanted to have children, they had better start trying. Endmometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of uterus instead grows outside the uterus.
“The doctor pretty much told us it was now or never. We weren’t really ready to have children, but we knew if we wanted to follow that path that is what we needed to do,” she said.
The couple underwent fertility treatments that included invasive procedures followed by a series of injections meant to better prepare Pamela to be able to conceive a child. “He put me on a shot that basically forces you to go through menopause,” she said.
However, just after she received her last in a series of six shots, the family was uprooted when Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005. During their evacuation, which lasted for several months, the Valentines were not able to access their medical records or continue to see the doctors who had been assisting them.
“We didn’t start the process again until 2006, which the doctor felt hurt us a little bit. But with the storm there was no going back to the city and doing anything at that time,” Pamela said.
After two rounds of fertility treatments the couple was still unable to conceive. In 2008 Pamela went through another round of shots as well as another procedure.
Strangely, the day after she wrapped up the last of the six injections Hurricane Gustav hit the area and the couple evacuated again, although only for a few days this time. The Valentines were again unable to conceive, and after unsuccessfully undergoing another treatment in 2010, they decided it was time to stop.
Their next option was in vitro fertilization, however, the couple found the $15,000 cost of the procedure too expensive.
“It was very emotional,” Pamela said.
Pamela said at first she felt let down by not being able to be a biological mother.
“It was hard. As a child you are given baby dolls to play with. It is instilled in you that is what you are supposed to do...you grow up, get married and have kids,” she said. “It is very hard to handle when having children is the one thing you cannot do.”
Instead of continuing fertility treatments, Pamela underwent a hysterectomy due to her endmometriosis.
“Once they did the hysterectomy the doctor said there was no way, no matter what we did, we were going to be able to conceive,” she said.
Pamela said throughout their entire ordeal she always had it in the back of her mind that their family could adopt.
“We just knew there were other paths we could take,” she said. “We can’t have a biological child, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be parents.”
A few years later, in 2013, the couple decided they would instead seek an adoption through Catholic Charities.
Part of the process in preparing themselves was doing research on the adoption process. One thing the Valentines found was that mothers who were giving up their children for adoption were often times doing so out of a sense of responsibility to the child.
“Many people think these birth mothers are uneducated, on drugs or are alcoholics. Instead, they are women who happen to get pregnant and realize financially they can’t do it,” she said. “They want their child to have more and they know they are not able to do it.”
In addition to researching adoption, the Valentines underwent an exhaustive background check.
“You have to get criminal background checks, FBI clearances...there is a lot you have to do. After that you have to write a letter to the mother of the child you want to adopt and also put together a profile book because that is what the expecting mothers look at to make their choice,” Pamela said.
Shortly after putting together their profile book Pamela said they received a call from Catholic Charities that an expectant mother was already looking at them.
“That was our first time that we knew our profile was being shown. It grounded us,” she said.
Although they were not chosen, the Valentines decided it was time to start getting everything prepared for when their child will come. They started a baby registry and did things any expectant couple would do. Now they have a nursery in their home and are anticipating that within the next year to 18 months a child will be placed with them, but are aware that the call could come sooner.
“We can get a phone call tomorrow saying we’ve been picked and a week later (the birth mother) is in the hospital. It is like you are always on call,” Pamela said.
It has been a long journey for the Valentines over the past decade, but Pamela said everything they have gone through has made them stronger and they are truly ready for a child now.
“One of the reasons we waited so long was we wanted to make sure we were financially ready to adopt. This mother is entrusting us so we want to make sure we can give everything to this child - love, clothing and a roof over their head. So when they grow into an adult they have everything they need to function in society,” she said.
In the end, Pamela said she is happy with the way things have turned out thus far.
“It is just a step we had to take in our journey of life. It is hard to go through, but it is another stepping stone in your life,” she said. “In reality adoption wasn’t our second choice, it is our only choice.”
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