Though adoption is born out of the longing to grow one’s family, it often proceeds the rawness of infertility. Infertility is common: we know that out of 100 couples in the United States, about 12 to 13 of them have trouble becoming pregnant (U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 2019). About ten in 100 (6.1 million) women in the United States have difficulty becoming pregnant or carrying their baby to term, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). We also estimate these numbers to be higher simply because many couples do not feel they can share their struggle with infertility.
Though many times these numbers can turn into impersonal statistics on a page, many adoptive families exist out of the pains of these infertility figures. Part of the adoption journey can include the acknowledgment, validation and bereavement of this immense loss. Though adding a child through adoption certainly brings life and joy to places we once experienced loss, there is still grief in walking the sometimes, lifelong journey of infertility.
Keely, a biological, foster and adoptive momma of two shares her thoughts on infertility with us today:
- How have you and your husband grieved infertility’s impact? And how have you coped with the emotional ups and downs of infertility over the years?
I don’t know that I have fully grieved infertility. Our journey is perhaps somewhat unique in that we experienced secondary infertility. Several years after being married we weren’t planning to become pregnant with our daughter but were thrilled. Then when it came time to grow our family several years later, we struggled with multiple miscarriages and infertility. I am one of 5 children and have multiple nieces and nephews. I’m a runner, healthy eater, and in no way thought I would struggle to become and stay pregnant. When we did finally adopt our son, the joy was indescribable and the grief subsided. My son is four years old and I still find myself opening those IG posts of baby announcements. I love them all and am celebrating with all those families but they carry a bit of a sting with them as well. I’m so incredibly thankful for my children but also long for more children.
- How did you know it was the right time to consider other options for starting to growing your family through adoption?
To be candid, my husband and I were initially not on the same page. He had always thought he would adopt and the thought of adoption scared me. It wasn’t until our daughter started voicing her desire to have a sibling that we started to explore adoption.
- How has adoption impacted you?
I could write a novel on this but I’ll answer this way. Being a mother has been one of the greatest joys of my life. There’s no real preparation for becoming a first time parent, the heartache of infertility, or the joy of adoption. As a young married woman I would plan for the “perfect family”. As we struggled for years with infertility, I realized that I didn’t have control of my body, my plan, or my dreams. I’ve learned to let go of the things I’m unable to control and embrace change and the unknown. I’ve also learned that no matter the way children come to you, the love you have for them is the same. I was always convinced that having a biological child would be somehow more special than adoption. I can’t say emphatically enough, this is just not true.
- What is something you wish people would know or would/wouldn’t say related to infertility?
I wish people who are only interested to know for curiosity sake wouldn’t ask questions surrounding our specific infertility treatments/journey. I welcome questions from those close to me experiencing their own struggle to become pregnant because, it is a scary world: infertility. However, when asked by strangers or those not close to me, it has felt as though I’m being judged one way or another. My human nature is to compare myself against those in my circle or those I see around me. And when these questions would be asked, I found myself questioning, “Did I do enough? Did we try hard enough to grow our family?” I know the majority of the time there’s no ill will when these questions are asked but ultimately this is our journey to build our family.
If you are in the throes of infertility and loss, our hearts are with you. Growing a family and possessing dreams for the children you have and hope to have, are markers of such resiliency and courage. We hope that if you have felt alone in your journey, that reading Keely’s story made you feel a little less alone. If you’d like to reach out to her to thank her for her words or ask questions related to her journey through infertility and adoption, she can be reached at email@example.com.