For the Thursday’s Truth Series topic today, I wanted to cover something even I held as a truth, that adoption will resolve our infertility.
For one of my articles, I was researching spontaneous conception after infertility treatment and came across a site that had studied whether stress reduction had an impact on success rates. (By the way, it does not!) What grabbed my attention more than the results themselves was the last line of the piece which stated, “Adoption should be discussed as a means to overcome infertility.”
It made my insides cringe. One does not adopt to overcome infertility. Here was a scientific document perpetuating one of the biggest misconceptions about adopting and infertility. Infertility does not go away just because we became an adoptive family. We are still an infertile couple, with all the emotions still attached.
Maybe it makes me angry because I wanted to believe adoption would cure our infertility. On the outside it appears to. A couple who wants to become parents has their desire fulfilled. What society cannot see is the deeper level, the couple who continues to mourn the losses incurred at the hands of infertility. The wife will never know what it is like to carry a child in her womb. The couple looses the ability to see their biological heritage. The couple faces raising a child that undergoes trauma as their first experience in life and lives with the knowledge that someone else had to be willing to break their own heart for the joy they are experiencing.
I will never forget the confusion I experienced when we endured the first major pregnancy announcement after we brought our son home. I bought into the concept that we were cured now that we had a child. So, when grief swept me off my feet all over again, I went through a myriad of puzzling emotions – heartache, anger, and sadness. I thought post-motherhood, I would be finally able to feel unobscured joy for the expecting couple. I felt guilty to be feeling the same familiar sentiments that I felt prior to our son joining our family. Wasn’t my grief over being infertile alleviated by adoption? I felt like a failure for not being able to get past this issue.
I wish someone had very clearly told me that infertility never goes away. It would have significantly saved me from the guilt I struggled with. Now, several pregnancy announcements later, I know the emotions are going to come and that it is okay to experience them. I am able to let them pass without judgment on my own ability to cope.
Although there are a few in our close circle that understand, I have come to realize that people’s willingness to be sensitive about our inability to conceive is significantly less than prior to adopting our children. I do my best to extend them grace, knowing that just as I did, they believe we have been cured. I wish more couples spoke up, educating society that although we have grown our family through adoption, we are still infertile and that it still haunts us, popping up unwelcomed in every corner of our lives. But, I also understand everyone wants a fairy-tale ending with hope and joy triumphing over pain. Adoption fulfills that desire. We can close the book and move on.
I do my best to indulge people in that fantasy, while validating my own feelings and experiences. After all, adoption is beautiful. The love and joy I experience as a mom outweighs the grief many times over. I want my children to see that even though there is a segment of our story as a family that still causes sadness, we are overwhelmingly grateful for God giving us the privilege of being their parents. I don’t want the grief to be the standout piece of our story or it to detract from the celebration about God’s plan for lives.
So, I educate when I can, hoping to protect future adoptive couples from living through guilt I encountered over emotions about my continued status as a barren woman. The sadness will still occur and it is perfectly normal. There are parts of growing a family that I will not experience and that is and always will be a tragedy.
My hope is that if you are an adoptive family or family or friends of an adoptive family, this information will help deflect expectations, allowing for acceptance of the continued grief that infertility presents. Validate it without judging it as flawed, and allow for more energy to be focused on enjoying adoption as the amazing thing that it is.
After all, our children deserve to thrive knowing they are our fairy-tale ending!