adoption, children, family, infertility, interview, kids, random thoughts, women, women's health, women's issues
A little over a year ago my pastor and his wife were filling out stacks upon stacks of forms, preparing to become adoptive parents. Several years of trying to have a baby and struggling to come to terms with infertility had preceded sitting in front of those stacks of paper, and many joys have followed it.
Not long after I began blogging I mentioned the decision that William and Glenna made to be as transparent as possible with our church as they dealt with the ups and downs of infertility and adoption. You can read more about that here. (Incidentally, I still highly recommend browsing through the archives of Glenna’s infertility blog.)
As with everything else in life, their journey hasn’t been nearly as black and white as my first paragraph might suggest. Their lives did not consist of only struggles before adoption, and only joys afterward. It almost goes without saying that life is always much more complex than that.
Recently Glenna participated in a panel discussion on the topic of infertility and adoption for TotallyHer, a popular website for women; there she discussed the maze of emotions that have accompanied their experiences. I think you’ll find her observations in the interview helpful and at times moving. Read Does Adoption Make Infertility all Better?
Comments are encouraged! If you have any experience yourself with infertility or adoption (not necessarily both), I’d love for you to share your thoughts or any insights you’ve gained from your experience in the comments. Perhaps, if she’s able to do so, Glenna can participate in the discussion, as well. Thanks!
Clark Bunch said:
My wife and I were married in 1997, and it took quite a while before our first pregnancy in 2002. Then my wife miscarried at 12 weeks. The event was traumatic; totally unexpected. When we got pregnant again in 2004, we got in to see the doctor right away. At 9 1/2 weeks, the baby was already deteriorating, and we scheduled a D & C. That spared us the Emergency Room trauma, and we were more prepared to cope with the situation that time. But the fear of never being able to have children was definitely setting in.
After years of trying and 2 failed pregnancies, they couldn’t find anything wrong. We looked into adoption a couple of times, and even spent an evening with a couple that adopted through a Christian adoption agency. We work in full time ministry, and live on a very meger income. Getting a substantial loan or grant would have been our only hope. With all the children in the world waiting for a home, it upsets me that the legal system makes it virtually impossible for adoption to take place. I could get worked up quickly. We discourage abortion, and recommend adoption as an alternative, knowing that the legal and court systems move like cold syrup in this country. Thousands of kids need to be apopted while hundreds of would be parents dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, to the effect of a very few adoptions taking place while lawyers grow richer by the hour. (This is a sore spot for me.)
A year and a half ago, my wife Teresa was finally diagnosed with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and began treatment on glucophage. She is now 5 months pregnant, and all the doctors say that things couldn’t be better. Our daughter is due in August (on my wife’s birthday). She will be 32, I’m almost 34. God has answered our prayer at almost the 11th hour. We are thankful now, but it was some tough times getting here. I questioned my career of caring for other people’s kids in light of possibly never having any of my own.
Barry Wallace said:
Thanks for sharing your story, Clark. Looking back at some of the most difficult struggles in my life, I know that God was humbling me and teaching me things about trusting him that I probably never would have learned any other way. I rarely ever saw that at the time, though! I pray that others would be encouraged by your testimony. Thanks again.
My hubby and I were married 12 years before we became parents. I’d had a host of gynecological problems nearly my entire life. Adoption was a way for us to build a family, but for me, it was much more than that. I think God began to prick my heart about adoption many years ago, when I was in my early 20s. Many view adoption as a ‘last resort’ when infertility enters the picture. But it wasn’t like that with me. I wanted to be a mother, and I didn’t really much care how that happened. So, here I am forty years old, running after a two year old and a three year old — both boys were born the same year, but are not biological siblings. The adoption journey for us was long and tiring…we had a couple of failed adoptions mixed in there, as well. There were children we thought we’d be bringing home, but things didn’t work out and it was terribly painful. We’ve had our boys since infancy (our oldest at 3 days and our youngest at 10 weeks) and it feels like I gave birth to them. Oh, how I wish I had! We couldn’t possibly love them any more. I highly recommend adoption, but it’s not at all for the faint of heart! It’s expensive (even domestic adoptions), emotionally exhausting, and laden with red tape. I’m really blessed to be a mother at all, so to me (to us) it was entirely worth it. But it can be a challenging journey. We love our boys and think they are the most wonderful boys in the world! No one can tell, just by looking at us, that our children are adopted. I’ve had people tell me how much our oldest looks like me, and our youngest looks like my hubby. God knows our heart, and this was sort of important to me. I really see much of myself in Hannah, Rachel and Sarah. And like these women, God remembered me, too, and it’s an amazing testimony in my life.
Barry Wallace said:
What a beautiful story, Muhala. It’s evident that God was faithfully sustaining you, even through the painful times. His lovingkindness is everlasting!
Thanks for posting this, Barry! I am often encouraged by reading the stories of others who have walked where I am walking, so I hope this can be of some encouragement to someone else.
William Marshall said:
I agree with my wife in thanking you for posting this Barry. As I was reading the two stories in the comments section I could not help but see again the need for local Churches to try and help offset adoption costs. Glenna and I could not have made it without the help of Trinity and I pray other Churches will see this need and do all they can to help.
Barry Wallace said:
William and Glenna
I love you guys. There have been so many times when I’ve thanked God for the opportunity to go through all of the hard times and all of the good times with you.
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Tiffany Partin said:
My husband and I married in the spring of ’98. We tried for years on our own to have a baby. We finally sought the help of an infertility specialist in 2001. I was quickly diagnosed with PCOS and a misshapen uterus. Even with surgery, glucophage and an amazing doctor, it took years of unsuccessful IUIs (intrauterine inseminations) and a failed in vitro before we got our miracle. Our daughter was born in late 2005.
We considered adoption, but we had already spent everything we had trying to get pregnant on our own. We just didn’t know how we could afford adoption. Even as I type this comment we are hoping to have a second child. At this point, we cannot afford the infertility treatments or adoption, so we are trusting that the Lord will bring a miracle in a new way this time.
I think an important thing for people to know when they are trying to encourage those who are dealing with infertility is that most of us don’t want or need another suggestion on how to get pregnant. We’ve heard them all. We also don’t want to hear about how your cousin’s friend’s sister adopted and then got pregnant right away. It doesn’t help to hear those stories. At least, every woman I’ve talked with and counseled with has said as much.
What do those dealing with infertility need? A hug from a friend, to know you are really praying for them, and encouragement (but not the empty “It’ll all work out and be OK” variety. I’m not trying to sound like a negative Nelly, but every baby shower, every unwed mother, every story about a child abused brings fresh feelings of injustice when you deal with infertility. You ask “why” so many times that you quit expecting an answer and ask out of habit.
I never considered adoption as a last resort. I’ve always thought that I would love to adopt whether I had biological children or not, but like a previous commenter mentioned, it is extremely expensive and very emotional. It is sad that there are so many couples who would make amazing parents and would jump at a chance to adopt, but just can’t afford it.
However we become parents, whether our children are born into our families or adopted, they are miracles and should be treasured as the blessings they are!
Barry Wallace said:
Thanks for opening your heart, Tiffany, and giving all of us some helpful advice. May the Lord bless you.
I think that people should know that up to this point, only a tiny amount of our $20K fees have come out of our own pockets. There are SO many ways to fund adoption. Our church, for one, has been a major contributor, but we have also had large sums donated to us by folks who support our decision–folks we both knew and didn’t know. It has been AMAZING to watch the Lord provide EVERY cent. And now, with our loan and our tax credit in place, the money is just there. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked with who write off adoption because it’s expensive. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!! I was definitely one of those people who would have never in a million years thought we’d be able to adopt because of finances. Never. And yet….the money has been there every step of the way. And that has happened to more people than I can count who have pursued adoption against all financial odds. God is bigger than my bank account! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He has proven over and over again that He would take care of the financial aspect of our adoption.
I would also like to second Tiffany’s advice about what NOT to say to couples with infertility. I can’t tell you how many well-meaning comments have cut me to the core. Comments like “Just relax–it will happen” makes me feel like my infertility is my fault. Or, another one I’ve heard: “My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant, haha!” That one simply make me feel like less of a woman, and I feel it is safe to say that my husband would feel the same way. One statement that is equally painful, though well intentioned, is the one about enjoying my time now because kids are hard and make life difficult. “You don’t know what you’re really wanting here.” I want to scream at people that I would much rather be up all night with a crying baby then to enjoy my clean, quiet home with only an empty quiver to show for it.
As Tiffany suggested, I just needed someone to listen to my hurt, to pray for me, to acknowledge that I lived in continual pain. What’s hard about infertility is that it is incredibly isolating. As a believer, I struggled (still do!) with selfishness because it is so easy to dwell on what you don’t have. Bitterness was my constant companion for many years, and it still threatens to undo me some days. What I need to be reminded is that God is sovereign, that He is wiser than I am, and that He loves me more than I can understand.
A great resource for people who are walking through infertility or who know someone who is: Hannah’s Hope, by Jennifer Saake. This book deals with infertility, pregnancy loss, and adoption loss. There is a section at the end of each chapter for “burden bearers”–the ones who want to know how to minister to someone experiencing any of the aforementioned losses. I recommend it!
Barry Wallace said:
Thanks for the book recommendation, Glenna. I linked the book title to Amazon.
Clark Bunch said:
The Bible has a lot to say about family. God uses the family relationships we know and understand to explain what he is like. Marriage, brotherhood, parenthood, childhood; these are all things God uses to illustrate what a relationship with Him looks like. Adoption is no different. We as Christians have been apopted into the family of God as children, brothers and sisters to one another and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. If we have the heart to adopt, it’s a God thing.
Barry Wallace said:
Well said, Clark. Thanks again for sharing your story with us.
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DEAR SIR, THE CHILDREN ARE BORN WITH A GIFT FROM ALLMIGHTY WHO KNOWS WHO CAN TAKE CARE OF HIS CHILDREN AND ACT ACCORDINGLY. THE BOY OR A GIRL IS ALSO DECIDED DEPENDING ON THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE INDIVIDUAL.