“I would have given anything to have that young child as my own, that living, breathing little human being, filled with potential, a life story unwritten. To have, to hold, to behold, to cherish.”
These are the words of Sasha Reid; a woman who had the adoption doors closed on her because of a cancer diagnosis.
Sasha came from a family where adoption was not foreign as she had “grown up with two adoptive brothers from Vietnam.” It was then that her connection to adoption was made, “It was something that I always knew I wanted to do: I always wanted to adopt children from overseas, because for me it was normal, that’s how my family was” says Sasha.
Many years later, 2010, Sasha and her husband Troy, began their quest to have a baby. Little did they know 2010 was the year that would change their lives forever.
Whilst undergoing IVF treatment, they looked into adoption but were quickly turned away because, as Sasha states in her book, A Year of Medical Thinking, “under current Victorian legislation, if you are undergoing fertility treatments you can’t proceed with the adoption process until you have well and truly finished treatment.”
As part of IVF, Troy and Sasha had to attend compulsory seminars which discussed inter country adoption, fostering and permanent care. In one of these seminars, Sasha recalls been discouraged by a meeting facilitator whereby they were told that “you had to go through a review process every two years and that would cost in excess of $7,000 but you wouldn’t be eligible for consideration for about seven years …We didn’t want to be discouraged, we wanted to be inspired and supported.”
Sasha and Troy did fall pregnant with the help of IVF but sadly miscarried shortly after. They then bravely decided to move forward and continue the IVF treatment but unfortunately, Sasha was then diagnosed with breast cancer. “The hurdles were insurmountable and it was very heartbreaking.” Sasha’s health issues became a barrier and one of the reasons why the couple couldn’t adopt. “The guidelines need you to be five years cleared for consideration. No one would look at us; it felt as though it was all over.”
Sasha questions the closed-door policy that she believes “is extrapolated as a blanket approach, when perhaps a little discretion could be applied, based on the individual and on a case by case basis.” She finds it an anomaly that on the one hand, policy on adoption prevents certain couples from adopting on the basis of health issues, yet these very same issues are considered grounds to justify surrogacy on the other. Incidentally, the couple considered surrogacy after their cancer experience, but elected not to pursue this avenue after their surrogate changed her mind, leaving them broken hearted once again.
Having endured a world of emotions and having already spent thousands of dollars on IVF and breast cancer treatment, Troy and Sasha “couldn’t bear the intense scrutiny for seven years to just have a possibility of adoption… and we were going to have to pay something like $25,000 before we could even get a chance to be considered … notwithstanding the facts that we might make really fantastic parents.”
Sasha says, “It was one obstacle after another and with the bittersweet irony of coming from a family with two beautiful adopted brothers, yet not being able to adopt. My experience of adoption is why I’m such a strident, fan and the biggest supporter of adoption, because I can see the enormous difference it can make to people’s lives … On the one hand, we have this wonderful, beautiful, precious success story that I am so grateful for, and then on the other hand there is a wall of insurmountable obstacles preventing children from finding loving families. It makes no sense …I still want to adopt, if I could adopt, I still would do that. But it’s too difficult – it’s just too difficult.”
Sasha lives with the hope that the adoption system will change.
By Tatiana Gallon