Kris Casey chose a serendipitous approach for her post-work life. Upon retirement from a corporate accounting job, she was exhausted and burned out. It took 10 months before she felt restored enough to plan her next steps. She used this time primarily for fitness: working out at a gym, walking and bike riding, and catching up on sleep. She started walking with a neighborhood group in the mornings right after retirement. During that first post-retirement year, she and her husband also took a three-week trip to the South of France. It was only after these regenerative activities that she felt ready to plan. One of her primary concerns was revitalizing her relationship with her daughter. As one concrete commitment, Kris registered for her daughter’s annual vision board workshop.
During the visioning process, participants choose and assemble a collection of images representing things they would like to be or attract. The creative process requires no rationalization or justification about why you picked the image you picked. Suspending judgment and bypassing the analytical mind brings insights, even if not instantly. Kris’ first vision board had images of mothers with babies—among other joy-filled things. One of the phrases Kris selected was “After menopause, women have a new choice.”
A few months after the visioning workshop, Kris happened to see a television series, 70 & Pregnant on The Learning Channel. The show planted a seed. She wondered about becoming a gestational surrogate for her daughter who had suffered miscarriages and was experiencing infertility issues. Kris did some research, realizing even with medical intervention, in vitro pregnancy is no sure thing, especially for a post-menopausal woman. She eventually broached the topic with her family. (Wouldn’t you have loved to hear that discussion! “Um, I’m thinking about trying to get pregnant—for Sara.”) Kris’ daughter and son-in-law considered Kris’ offer for several months before deciding that they would accept. Next, they introduced the idea to their fertility clinic. Besides the uncertain medical aspect, there were legal, financial, and emotional hurdles to anticipate and resolve. In Illinois, the surrogacy law is supportive and easy to follow; it clarifies financial and medical interactions. From conception, the child’s parentage was legally the parents.
The in vitro treatment worked and Finn was born in 2011. At age 61, Kris gave birth to her grandson–the manifestation of her vision and a tangible consequence of her intentional transition process. As Kris reflected on her fitness and health focus during the 10 months after retirement, she felt like the universe was preparing her for the rigors of pregnancy. Her sense of being called aligns with Parker Palmer’s words in Let Your Life Speak: “This is something I can’t not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain to anyone else and don’t fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling.”
Finn made his public debut on the Oprah show along with his mother and grandmother. Bringing in Finn written by Kris’ daughter details the surrogacy journey. While Kris is done with having babies, she continues walking, working out, and visiting her grandchildren. She also co-facilitates a spirituality group, who benefit from the vision board workshop that Kris leads each year. Kris is in the process of writing a memoir about her surrogacy experiences. She speaks with women who are considering surrogacy and is a Stephen Ministry caregiver.
Next up: Transitions series, part 3
© Joan S Grey, 21 FEB 19
IndexCardCure™: musing about an intentional life