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October 3, 2010

Before you get to pick an egg donor, before you buy your sperm, before anyone will let you pony up tens of thousands of dollars, you have to get shrunk.

There is a mandatory appointment with the psychologist, which in our household caused all kinds of fret. After all, we’d just jumped off the adoption merry-go-round, for fear that social workers, et. al. would not approve of My Young Man’s disability, of both of our visits to therapists (because, of course, you are infinitely more qualified to parent if you haven’t explored your emotional shit than if you have), of my being overweight, of him being overtall, of those sunspots on my cheek that reflect a general carelessness with SPF, of the cell phone bill I paid late, of the way we pile dirty laundry in a corner instead of a hamper, of my obsession with “Gossip Girl,” of that time at band camp …

So we prepped. We sat in our little living room and rehearsed our visit to the psychologist. Mostly, it was me scolding My Young Man, whose genetic defect is that he has no filter.

“Don’t bring up that you see a psychiatrist unless she asks.”

“Don’t talk about your bad MS days unless she asks.”

“Don’t mention the triple-homicide conviction unless she asks.”

So we were more than a little nervous the day we drove to Fancy Shmancy Clinic World Headquarters, where we were let into the one non-clinical room to speak with the psychologist. And where we realized that this was actually for our benefit, not selection purposes. Unless we said we were planning to create a master race of genetically engineered ubermenschen, Fancy Schmancy Clinic would be more than happy to cash our check and give us some embryos in return.

Let’s revisit this concept for clarity, shall we? If you want to take care of a human being who already exists on this planet and needs someone to love and support it, you will have to be the world’s most idealized parents, conforming to every middle class U.S. value for a minimum of two years before applications.

If, however, you want to increase the world population by a minimum of one (and odds are good it’ll be two), well, make sure your check doesn’t bounce. Otherwise, welcome to the wonderful world of procreation.

The psychologist was pleasant enough and primarily concerned that we had worked through our grief about not being able to conceive on our own. We explained to her that in fact, we had very little grief at not being able to conceive; the grief we had worked through was not being able to adopt. The fact that our grief did not stem from the usual source made it not a concern, and the conversation moved forward, to the point where we were asked how early we would tell our child about his or her origins.

“Immediately,” I said, at the same moment that My Young Man said, “When she’s a teenager.”

Oops. We looked at each other and laughed. Apparently, we had not covered everything.

Psychologist didn’t blink, though. She offered some lovely recommendations for books with titles like “Mommy and Daddy Picked Out a Petri Dish of Love” and gave us our golden ticket.

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