Why Adoption Is Not the Cure For Infertility
When I was a little girl I wanted to be an astronaut. I was fascinated with space. The mystery and excitement that went along with exploring such a big universe drew me in. However, after my first plane ride and 2nd attempt at algebra, I realized that I had a fear of flying and was awful at math. As much as I would have loved to be an optimist, I just knew that NASA probably wasn’t in my future.
My next best choice of careers was to be a mom. I couldn’t think of anything else that I would have rather dreamed of becoming. Motherhood just made sense to me. I mean, when you grow up with the best mother on the planet, you just naturally want to follow in her footsteps. (Hi mom!)
So, as I grew older, got engaged and eventually got married, I just automatically assumed that the next step was babies. Until the next step was anything but babies.
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After a year of trying to get pregnant, we sought the help of fertility specialists who only told us that they had no diagnosable reason why we couldn’t conceive. It was unexplained infertility. We pursued many natural methods of trying to boost our fertility along with several cycles of failed clomid and several cycles of failed intrauterine insemination.
Moving forward, each month became more agonizing than the last. The pain, the mood swings, the waiting, the cost of treatment, and yet another month with another negative test, an empty womb and an even emptier heart. The pain of living with a broken body consumed me. My empty womb took over my life and ultimately took over my identity.
I would watch all the moms at church with their sweet little families, and wonder what was wrong with me. Why wouldn’t God give me a family. I wondered what I did wrong, or why I deserved this punishment. Seeing pregnant women was like a punch in the gut, and being invited to their baby showers was even worse.
I walked through infertility all alone. I didn’t know how to share about it. I didn’t know how to live in a world that celebrates pregnancy like it’s a requirement. I didn’t know how to be content not getting what I had always thought I deserved.
I didn’t know how to grieve something that wasn’t actually lost, it was just never born.
I didn’t know where I fit in the world, or where I fit in church. There were ministries for singles, and ministries for families, but nothing for the couple in the waiting stages and grieving an empty womb.
Infertility destroyed my heart, and it also destroyed our marriage. An act that was once used for building intimacy, became calculated, timed, planned out, and a check off of our to-do list. We grew apart. He didn’t know how to console me, and I didn’t know how to tell him what I needed. In reality, the only thing I even thought about needing was a baby.
Because I was so intent on having our own sweet little family, we jumped right in to pursuing adoption.
We went to all the meetings for all the different types of adoption and eventually settled on foster care. After we put in our application to get licensed, we had the long and drawn out process of background checks, home inspections, interviews, paperwork, and child preference questions. And then it happened. We got a placement in less time than it took us to get our license approved. It was two sweet, beautiful siblings; a boy and girl, 3.5 years and 10 months old.
I finally got my family!!!
I was a brand-new momma for these little babes. I was in over my head and completely overwhelmed like most new parents are. I had no clue what I was doing. But, I could finally have conversations with other moms. I could finally join the church activities for families. I finally felt like I got what I needed.
I finally fit in!
The termination of parental rights happened within 6 months of the placement, and we got the absolute pleasure of being able to adopt our children 9 months after they first came to our home. And, since we are a little bit crazy and really love kids, we opened our license back up again a year later and were placed with 2 more children, another set of siblings. We got the blessing to adopt them about 11 months after placement. Aren’t they all adorable?
So here I was with 4 children. I didn’t know a thing about parenting, I didn’t know a thing about trauma, and I had no clue about how to repair a marriage that was still hanging on by a thread. But, I had my family. I had finally got what I wanted.
But it still wasn’t enough
It still hurt to see pregnant women. I still felt an emptiness deep in my womb. My desire to get pregnant didn’t immediately go away. The aching heart and empty womb were still there. I came to the realization that I hadn’t healed from the hurt of infertility. I never finished grieving. I didn’t process my emotions, seek therapy, or even acknowledge my pain. I only sought to cover it up. I covered up my pain with kids.
While I don’t for a second regret any of our adoptions, I did learn some things that I feel may help encourage another sweet woman whose womb is empty and heart is shattered into pieces.
1. Adoption doesn’t erase the pain of infertility.
How I so wish that on the day the judge slammed down the gavel and declared these children ours, that the gavel would have been a promise to take away my aching heart with it. But it didn’t. Infertility carries a pain so deep only those who experience it can truly understand. It’s unexplainable to grieve the intangible. It’s confusing to want something so bad that doesn’t even exist. It’s a dry heaving kind of ache in the depths of your heart to open God’s Word and read how women were created to bear children only to look in the mirror and wonder, “but why can’t I?”
Adoption is not the cure. It’s not the fix or the answer for infertility.
Adoption is an answer for healing forward from a brave choice that a birth mother chose to make. Adoption is an answer for a child who unfortunately doesn’t have a safe home environment. Adoption is an answer for a child whose parents may have died and they need a new home. Adoption is an opportunity to give a child a new life, a loving family, and a safe place to heal. Adoption is awesome, but it isn’t for you, and it isn’t the answer for healing an empty womb.
2. Raising a child from trauma with an unhealed heart is really hard.
I was so immersed in my own desires, that I didn’t know a thing about trauma. I was swimming around in my naïve and false ideologies about being a rescuer to these kids, that I had no clue what baggage to expect them to carry into my home. I mean like duh….they were removed from their families, transferred between homes and eventually placed with us. I don’t know how I could have just assumed we would have morphed into some form of the Partridge Family. I think I was so blinded by my idolization of having a family, that I really thought we would just start breaking out in song and dance while holding hands and singing hymns and live happily ever after.
I. Was. So. Wrong!
I quickly had to put so many things on hold to care for physical health conditions, mental health conditions, doctors’ appointments, ER visits, hospital stays, and constant phone calls from school. This meant that I put on hold my own healing. I stuffed the pain deep down and just kept chugging along.
An unhealed mom can be a good mom. But, a healed mom can be a mighty warrior for her kids. At the time, I was just getting by, and with kids that truly needed an advocate and a loud voice to fight for their needs; getting by wasn’t enough.
3. Adoption was worth the pain of infertility
While I don’t wish the pain of infertility or a broken heart on anyone. I do wish that everyone could experience what it’s like to have God break your heart for a child that isn’t yours. I wish everyone could experience watching an orphan be given a home. I wish everyone could experience the breaking down of your own desires, only to have them built back up into a deep desire for adoption advocacy and sacrificial love. Because when I look into the eyes of these children that’s what I see. I see love. I see a love that not everyone gets to experience. I see a love that moves mountains. I see a love that was chosen, that was fought for, and that was worth all the pain.
It was worth it because there’s nothing closer to experiencing the relationship that we have with God than when you watch a judge slam down a gavel and declare that these children are no longer orphans. He declares that they have a forever home. This was a perfect visual image of how God declared you and me no longer orphans. It was a perfect image of how he has slammed down his gavel and said that we have a forever home and a forever family in the body of Christ.
And so sweet adoptive mother to be; if you’ve read this far, it might possibly be because you carry the same aching heart for being a momma. I get it, I really do. I want to leave you with some encouragement before you go.
Adoption doesn’t take this pain away, but Jesus can. The love of Christ is really the only thing that can heal this pain. But it might take time. It might take therapy, lots of prayer, and many still moments before the Lord before the pain starts to lighten, and the ache begins to soften.
You might need time to heal. Take it.
Heal deeply and heal well.
Don’t rush building a family to fit in with the Joneses or cover up the pain. Healing is possible, and those kids are worth it. Adoption will be the best thing that can happen to you, and having a mighty warrior as a momma will the best thing that can happen for those kids.
Thanks for allowing me to share part of my story with you. I would love to know your thoughts. I openly welcome loving disagreement, questions, comments, and prayer requests. Leave me a message below or click on contact to send me a private note and make sure to sign up for my email below to be the first to know when I publish a post or create a new product or course.
Kristen Ekiss is a Navy Veteran, speaker, coach, and adoptive mama of 4. She gracefully merges her Biblical counseling training and 15 years of health and fitness experience to teach women how to grow a stronger faith, raise a stronger family, and build a stronger body.