Getting over it: on acceptance and adoption

A part of me has always known that I would not have a biological child. I’ve just always had a feeling that it would not be that way for me. It used to break my heart and I spent so much time worrying about it. Don’t get me wrong: it didn’t consume me entirely–I enjoy my life very much, particularly the last few years–but I also lived with a dull, ever-present heartache for a long time. Psychologists say the emotional pain of infertility is similar to receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. There have been moments when I absolutely believe that. Not being able to start a family when everyone around you is doing so is absolutely, end-of-the-world devastating.

Summer-s-Stages-of-Grief-the-oc-10182118-333-500Looking back now, I can see that I went through all five stages of grief (illustrated here by that girl from the O.C.): 1. Denial: It’s no big deal. I need to “just relax” about it. If I try this supplement or that herb or stand on my head for twenty minutes or whatever, it will happen. 2. Anger: I can’t take seeing another pregnant woman or newborn! Why can everyone get pregnant but me?! Screw you, body! Up yours, world! 3. Bargaining/pleading: Please, please, I will do anything. I will give all my clothes to charity, volunteer at the soup kitchen every night, help old ladies cross the street, anything. 4. Depression: Crying. Crying. More crying. Sappy chick flicks. Not wanting to get out of bed. Avoiding life in general.

I cycled through numbers 1-4, on and off at varying intensities, for several years. But then like a ray of sunshine… the stage I had been waiting for finally appeared, # 5. Acceptance: I’m not going to have a biological child. And that’s OK. Get me off this crazy train, please.

There is no doubt that my affinity for adoption (along with my amazingly supportive husband) is what helped finally move me from another cycle of denial, anger, bargaining and depression on to acceptance. I realized that what I was grieving was not that I couldn’t get pregnant (though that was certainly frustrating). I was grieving not being able to start a family. I love kids and I have felt sort of empty not having any around, with no one to dress up for Halloween, create magic for at Christmas, or tell stories to at night. That is why my heart was broken. Not that I couldn’t experience a pregnancy.

Adoption-wordsWhen I realized that I didn’t have to get pregnant to have a family–that adoption was not only possible for us, but nowhere near as time-consuming and difficult as I had thought it was, I immediately began to heal. We both knew we’d love an adopted child every bit as much as a biological one, so we threw away the info sheet our doctor had given us on IVF and went confidently, and happily, in the direction of adoption. And acceptance. I am in such a good place now and am so excited about adopting. I’m 100% positive that this is the right path for us and, believe it or not, I would not even want to be pregnant right now if I could be. That is the honest truth. I am so in love with Charlie and the gift of adoption that I am totally over any instinctual desire I had to be pregnant.

Earlier this week, a friend of mine who has also been struggling with infertility, told me about a supplement she has been taking called DHEA. After receiving unsuccessful infertility treatments and throwing in the towel, she had taken DHEA for a couple months for an unrelated issue and just learned she had gotten pregnant naturally, at 42. After I got all excited and congratulated her, she said I still had plenty of time and suggested I take it to see if it would work for me, too. I thought about it for a second. “Nah, I don’t think so,” I said, “I wouldn’t want a pregnancy to mess up our adoption.”

And I meant it.

7 thoughts on “Getting over it: on acceptance and adoption

  1. Ok – so I feel like the nosy neby always leaving comments here… but I want to share something with the friends and family factor. One I’m so happy Allie mentioned the psychological effects of infertility but she sugar coated it…. studies show that getting an infertility diagnosis impacts on the psyche of someone is only surpassed by those who get HIV/AIDS diagnosis…. being folks with Stage 4 cancer realize their life is short and come to accept quicker they are going to die. HIV/AIDS people realize it’s never gonna get better and they get to live with it, suffer it, and never change it. Only people actually given a death sentence have more psychological effects then those given infertility diagnosis. Which brings me to something that I feel is so so so harmful to folks adopting and to folks given infertility diagnosis. About 5-10% of folks who were given an infertility diagnosis (regardless of it they seek treatment) will get pregnant naturally. I did it – several times. However the part no one shares (because everyone knows someone who adopted and then had “their own” children) is that less then 2% go on to have a live birth. So sharing things like…. oh now that you adopted you will get pregnant with your “own baby,” is really a hurtful thing to say. An adopted baby is your own baby. Just ask my daughter. A majority of these women that get pregnant naturally do so in a peri-menopausal state…. meaning the body isn’t working very efficiently and releases a gob of eggs at erratic intervals. This is why 20 years ago twins and triples conceived naturally were conceived by older women – my mother was one of them (she’s a twin). However it should also be noted that there is just as often an unhappy story as was the name sake of Allie’s Aunt Sally, who died at birth. Babies and mother’s conceived later in life often never make it to birth, are born with complex birth defects, or gestational mother’s end up in bed rest and hospital situations prior to birth. And to say things like “oh now you will have your own baby,” insults you both. Because adopted babies are our own babies. Ok Allie you can kick me off your blog now. MacFat = Cousin Jennie

  2. Jennie – thank you for your comments! You are not nosy – I love your comments and perspective and feel so fortunate to have you and your experience in my corner. You’re right on all counts. Infertility put us both through more pain than people who have not experienced it could ever realize. And no one talks about it. If you can’t get pregnant, you feel very isolated, embarrassed, and ashamed that your stupid body won’t do what it is supposed to do! At least that’s how I felt. Like less of a woman. Like a complete failure.

    But feeling like I do now and hearing your story makes me feel like maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I am a different person today than I was when I was desperately trying to get pregnant. I am stronger, less selfish and more receptive to my path in this world.

    Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog is so that people who don’t understand might be able to get a glimmer. People say insensitive things all the time and I know I will hear many along this journey–especially if we adopt outside of our race. But I think, at least I hope, that the majority of people don’t mean to be hurtful… they just don’t get it. Which is why I think it’s important to share my story and for you to comment and for people to talk about it. 🙂

    1. Don’t know what to say but that I am proud of you and so proud of our families’ support. I’m hoping your home study agency is offering you all some classes. Ours had amazing classes things like; How To Handle Kind People Who Say Stupid Things, Coping With the Wait, Preparing For Schools and Doctors, and All the Things You Wish Your Brought With You to Your Hotel to Pick Up Junior. If not I’ll pull some nuggets to share with you. 🙂
      macfat = cousin Jennie

  3. Thanks Jennie, we haven’t gotten any further classes from our home study agency, other than the ones we had to take to become certified. Maybe I should ask our caseworker about that because that sounds really helpful. I just read Adoption Nation – it was OK, but mostly about the history of adoption and it seemed kind of negative. Not really of much help.

    Thanks for commenting, Amber – let’s keep in touch!

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