I’ve been meaning to write a post about infertility since this past fall – September, in fact. On a perfect September Monday evening the stars aligned, and I had the greatest time catching up with an old friend over dinner. This particular friend and I are almost exactly the same age, and frankly, we are old enough to have been through some serious garbage. Even though she is married and has a wonderful young daughter, she still knows exactly what it is like to struggle with infertility. Over dinner, the conversation naturally turned to foster care, adoption, and infertility. I will never forget what she made me realize that evening.
First, know that I’ve known that there is virtually no way I’ll ever become pregnant since I was 10 years old. I am not going to be one of those women who adopts and then miraculously wakes up pregnant one day. In fact, that is another topic I will discuss shortly. What I failed to realize, and what my friend made clear so eloquently, is that having a biological child doesn’t automatically “heal” infertility or change everything. It made me realize just how many women I know who don’t quite have the families they envisioned. My friend’s daughter is an only child, and that was not the plan. Another good friend has two beautiful little girls and wanted a third child. I could go on.
I once read that no one ever quite gets over infertility. It is a process – and there is no end. One day he or she may be fine, and the next, it all comes flooding back. In fact, you can read my response and the original article here. So true. So very true.
Somewhere along the line, I think society makes this expectation that infertility is somehow “fixed” once a person adopts or becomes a foster parent. “You can always adopt.” I am not exactly sure where that comes from, but it is completely inaccurate. Women who struggle with infertility and have a biological child (or even children) don’t even register. Yet, they struggle just as much as the rest of us for whom biological children won’t happen.
There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t wonder where I went wrong or what I could have done differently. Maybe if I had been more clear with my ex, he would have been more open to adoption – or I would have moved on much earlier. For the record, I told him before we ever really dated (we were friends first), so none of it should have ever come as a surprise. Maybe if I had done x, y, or z, i would have adopted by now. Frankly, I need to stop beating myself up. But I also need to acknowledge that not a day goes by that these thoughts run through my head. They are at the heart of what keeps me going and keeps me fighting for the family that I want so badly.
Unfortunately, our society and even some well-meaning people do not help. I am tired of being told that “it will happen” one day when he or she knows nothing about my medical history. Nosey, but usually well-meaning, people seem to ask the most intimate of questions. As I have said before, not being asked when I will get married and/or have kids is one of the absolute best things about being single. I am tired and frustrated by assumptions that seem to be everywhere. All of us need to be more careful. Unless we know the details, we have no idea what a person is truly going through at the moment.
And then there is religion. For years, my cynical nature made me skeptical of anything having to do with organized religion. By the way, I am completely comfortable separating organized religion from my personal belief in God and Jesus Christ. I am not angry with God; I know He has a plan. I am angry with how insensitively we treat anyone in the church who isn’t a part of a traditional family unit. My views toward organized religion may have changed somewhat, but the church can and should do better. It doesn’t have to be related to infertility, although that is what I will discuss here.
Again, well-meaning Christians may tell those struggling with infertility that he or she is praying or that “miracles happen all the time.” Both are absolutely well-intentioned; however, what if she doesn’t get her miracle? What about cases of infertility that cannot be remedied by current medical science? What about the woman who is alone and plans to adopt on her own? What about the woman who is still struggling after she and her husband do have their miracle baby? What about men who struggle with infertility? I could go on. Instead, we just need to try not to jump to conclusions. Yet, it is so easy to do.
I finally decided to discuss infertility yet again thanks to a jaw-dropping blog post that discusses the clash between infertility and foster care. With the exception of the author’s discussion of her daughter Lil Red, I could have written this article, especially regarding pregnancy. I expect that once I do adopt, I will feel much the same way she does towards her daughter. Her post touched me in a way that I can’t fully explain. You can read it here. I am so glad that I live in a time where women can truly express how they feel towards topics such as infertility, loss, pregnancy, etc. I can’t imagine not being able to express all of this.
I am not other. I am not sick. I am definitely not less-than.