JEANNE
When I was 12 years old I heard those horrible words that are very familiar to intersexed people, "you will never be able to have children". That was some of the most devastating news I have ever heard. Nothing else the Doctor told me that day registered at all except that. I had no idea what else he was talking about nor did I care. I was in physical and emotional pain and just wanted to go home and cry. My mother, trying to make me feel better immediately told me "you can always adopt". Hearing that didn't help me at all, it was not a comfort. That was such a small Band-Aid to put on such a huge wound. I hurt for years because of what happened that day. I stumbled through life not really knowing why I couldn't have children but forever thinking that no one would ever want to marry me and I will be alone for the rest of my life.

When I turned 40 I discovered the Internet. One of the first things I did was type the words "hermaphrodite" into my browser. My life changed forever from that moment. I discovered that I have PAIS and the truth about what that really meant was right in front of me. I found all kinds of people and web sites full of information. I finally began my quest for truth and started healing from the wounds caused by the secrets kept from me. What a wonderful time in my life it has been. I finally feel like a whole, "normal" person now. If they had given me this information when I was 12, life would have been a little easier.

One of the web sites that really caught my attention was a yahoo group called aispeople2. There I found people with intersexed conditions just like mine or very similar. I found friendship and knowledge. The amount of support I have received from my AIS sisters and brothers has been greater than any of the support that I have received throughout my entire life. This group carried me through so many happy and devastating times. I had so many questions and found every answer I was looking for. It is so good to know that I am not alone and not a freak of nature. I consider every member of that group my true friends.

Three years pasted bye, much healing and soul searching happened in my life. One day in January of 2002, I was checking the posts in my yahoo group as I do every day. This particular day really caught my eye. In January 2002, Tony Briffa, one of the founders of the group, posted a note about a two-year-old, intersexed child from China that was available for adoption. I have no idea why, but I felt this incredible, overwhelming feeling that I should ask more questions about him.

I found out some of the requirements for single people to adopt from China. You have to make at least $30,000 per year, under the age of 45, have health insurance, and secure income. I met those requirements so I started getting even more interested. I got in contact with the Children's Home Society of Minnesota about my chances of adopting this child. I found out that three other "couples" where inquiring about him and that they would have preference because they are married and I am not. I understood that they felt a two-parent family would be a better situation for him. I remember thinking, that parents that are clueless to his intersexed condition will raise this poor child. I felt badly for him. I was excited to hear that one of the members of the group and her husband were one of the couples that were interested in adopting him. One by one each couple for what ever their reasons decided not to adopt him.

Kelly, my social worker called me and told me that I could go ahead and try for the adoption. She assured me that I was the only one interested before I went on. I still had no idea what he looked like nor did care. My social worker would not give me any information until I was pre-approved by China. The couple from our group had a picture that she shared with me. It was love at first site. Kelly told me that it would be a good idea to first apply for a pre-approval before I started on the huge process of adoption. I thought it was a great idea and filled out the appropriate pre-approval paper work. The pre-approval form was a document asking how I would care for this child with "special needs" and why I wanted to adopt him. I went into the usual things about owning my own business, having a good education and all about the support, education and understanding that I will be able to give this child because I have an intersexed condition. After finishing my pre-approval and getting used to the idea that I have a "special need" myself, I thought that that there was no way I would be turned down. I got so excited when I emailed my request to CHSM. I really felt that I was going to become a Mom although I kept reminding myself the words that my mother used to say, "if it is meant to be then it will be". I guess it is how people feel when they first wonder if they are pregnant.

About two weeks later I got the news. I was turned down for the adoption. I was heart broken and kind of angry. I asked "why" thinking it was because I was single or I didn't make enough money. I got turned down because I have an intersexed condition and they didn't feel that I would be "emotionally stable enough to handle having a child with the same condition". I could not believe what I was hearing. They felt that my personal experiences with having this condition could hinder my ability to make good health care decisions for this child. After talking with my social worker, mainly through emails for about two more weeks she suggested applying again. I agreed but this time I volunteered to have a psychological evaluation to go with my pre-approval application. She thought it was a good idea. I also turned back to the people that were truly my supports, my AIS family. I talked Tony Briffa and told him about what had happened. I received emails of support from Tony Briffa and Dr. Milton Diamond supporting the fact that a person with AIS not only has the ability to parent an intersexed child but also is the best person for the job. I didn't know any Psychologists in this area so I chose a name from the phone book for my evaluation. I had a very extensive psychological evaluation, which included a written test. It turned out that the Doctor was the single mother of a child from China. She gave me high recommendations for the adoption. I filled out the pre approval paper work again stressing the fact that I would be able to make well-educated decisions about the health care needs of the child and that I was linked with so many professionals in the field. I also included the letters of support and my evaluation.

After going through the evaluation and the approval process I realized that something had changed in me. I am suddenly talking to complete strangers about my intersexed condition and feel perfectly comfortable with doing so. It feels really good to finally not be ashamed or scared with disclosing this information to people. The amazing thing is, I'm still alive, no one cares and Oprah hasn't called me to be on her show. All of my fears of disclosure are of my own creation. I also discovered that I was putting the needs of this child before mine. I was actually feeling very maternal.

A couple of months went by and I didn't hear anything about the adoption. I still hadn't told any of my family what I was trying to do because I really didn't want them to get their hopes up just to be let down. There was also a part of me that did not want to get my hopes up high either. I was feeling very guarded. Then one day when I least expected it the phone rang. It was Kelly. She said, "congratulations, you have been pre approved". I was so excited for an entire 4 seconds. She immediately popped my bubble and said, "you may still be turned down in the end." At this point I thought that this was just torture. I wanted to be excited, tell my friends and family, get the baby room ready, go shopping for baby clothes and enjoy all of the thrills of getting ready for my baby. I still couldn't do that. Instead I just put my head down and started the adoption process. Yes, start. I thought I was close but I had so much more to do. A list of the things I had to do was sent to me in the mail and I got started. At this point I asked Kelly if I could at least see a picture of him. She said, "I guess it would be OK" and sent me four pictures of him. I glued his pictures all over my office and got started. I truly believe that if not for the efforts of Tony Briffa, this would never have happened. I felt it fitting to declare him the baby's father.

A home study then needed to be done by a social worker which involved her coming to my house on three different occasions and my going to her one time for an interview. It was painless but time consuming. After that approval, I needed INS clearance, local police clearance, passport, bank statements, a letter from my bank, tax returns for the past three years, a physical, a letter from my accountant, an autobiography, a physical and police clearance for everyone living in my house. Letters saying we are not gay, pictures of the house and family and forms upon forms upon forms to fill out. I was forced at this point to tell my family about what I was doing. I needed a letter from my brother stating that he would care for my child if anything happened to me. They were so happy for me. I was glad to finally tell them about it. Everything needed to be notarized, certified and authenticated. This was my pregnancy. It took about 9 months to complete and I was always wondering if I would lose him in the end. Not one time did I question if I was doing the right thing. That's what kept me going. The time just flew by because I was so busy getting everything done. Every time I thought I was done, more information was needed.

At this point my expenses were only about $4,000 which I thought was good since I still may not be adopting him. I am the biggest tight wad in the world. I hate spending money. I always go through buyer's remorse whenever I buy a house or a car or even spend $200 on groceries. The funny thing is, I don't even see this as spending money. I can write a check for this adoption without even batting an eye. I remember thinking about something my Aunt said to me about how expensive College was, she said; "that's what money is for". I was also reminded what my brother told me when he was getting divorced. He said, "Do you know why divorce is so expensive? Because it's worth it!" That's how I feel about this adoption and the expense of it all. It is SO worth it and this is what money is for. I won't say exactly how much it cost because then it puts a money value on a child. Instead I will say what I tell everyone that asks me that question. I paid more for my used 1999 Nissan and I can't write that off. Remember that includes airfare, hotels, tour guides and interpreters and two weeks touring China as well as everything else. There are loans and grants available for adoption if you are cash poor and really want to adopt. You really don't need to be wealthy. Just ask your adoption agency for resources.

During this time I received numerous emails from the foster family in China. They told me all about him and sent me lots of pictures. He turned three on September 12, 2002. I sent him some presents and they sent pictures of him opening them. They actually told him that he has a Mom in the US and gave him my picture to carry around with him. I was a little worried about that because his heart would have just been broken if it all fell through and I didn't want him to go through that. They told me that he was "walking on air" knowing that it was his turn to have a "forever family" and someone wanted him. They told me he kissed my picture good night and said "good morning Mommy" every day. It was a blessing having so much contact throughout this long process. It kept me focused and made the adoption real.

Once all of the paper work is done it is sent to the lawyer. The lawyer reviews "the dossier" to make sure everything is in order. He has everything translated into Chinese and then sends it to China for final review. He also lets you know if there are any red flags to be aware of. He said mine all looked great. Just when you think you're all done and the hard part is over you're hit with another difficult time. This was it. I did everything I could. I crossed all of my T's and dotted all my I's. I worked hard for almost a year getting to this point. I had nothing else to do. All I could do now is wait. I had to wait to see if China would let me adopt the little boy that I had come to know and truly love. I was asked every day how it was going? All I could say was "good, but I still don't know if he is mine."

On January 6, 2003, I received the phone call. China said "yes". He is mine. I could not believe it. I started crying. I barely could talk. I finally could get excited and embrace the fact that I was becoming a Mom. The first thing I did was go to the aispeople2 club and posted the great news. I then called all of my family and friends. I applied for my Visa and waited for my consulate appointment date in China. I was called a couple of days later and was told that my date was February 20. I called the airlines, drove to the airport and paid cash for my plane tickets. I could not even wait a couple of days for the tickets to come in the mail. I needed them in my hands.

On February 9th 2003 I will leave for China. On February 10th at 3:35 PM I will land in China. It will be almost exactly 13 months to the day that I first started the process. I will be met at the airport by the foster parents Mike and Elisa and my son, Alex. On February 22nd WE will return home to start our new life together.

I guess my mother was right, you can always adopt. I just didn't realize that it would be as wonderful and difficult an experience as giving birth. Although at the time it seemed like the process of adoption was endless, painful, and scary, looking back now it was not that bad at all. The process is definitely worth the results.

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Last update: 22 January, 2014

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