Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

An Infertile Adoptive Mom



Is there really such a thing as "closure"? People like to use that word when talking about experiencing a loss. For example, when you and your boyfriend break up, you may feel like you need answers as to why it happened so you can get "closure" on your relationship. Or someone close to you dies. People allow you to grieve, but eventually they feel as if you need to move on and get "closure."

 
The word itself suggests closing something. Like shutting a door to keep the bad thing away. Or lowering the lid on a chest that holds your hurt feelings. If people expect you to find "closure" in order to be happy, then you must unhappy if you leave the door or lid open. Right?
 
What would happen if you were given permission to not find "closure" but to instead accept the pain of your loss? I think it would be freeing. You would not feel like you had to force yourself to be happy before you were ready. Your life would not have to be put on hold until you chose to "close" that painful chapter.
 
When I chose to adopt, I was also choosing to no longer pursue a biological child. It was not simple to turn off my brain and heart from wanting a pregnancy. For the three years prior, it was all I worked toward with doctor appointments, tons of medicine, minor surgeries, and anxious waits for positive test results.
 
I dove right into the world of adoption and attempted to push my infertility feelings aside. I tried not to get upset when talking with a potential birthmother about her pregnancy. But it was very difficult. I tried not to break down in the hospital after our son, whom we adopted domestically, was born. His delivery day was two days before what would have been my due date for a failed pregnancy. I knew I was walking out of that hospital with a baby in my arms, but I still thought it was unfair that it wasn't me in the hospital bed. Part of me knew my feelings were irrational, but I couldn't keep them away.
 
Once I became a parent through domestic newborn adoption, I figured I'd be just like any other "fertile"' mother. Why would infertility rear its ugly head in my lovely world of parenthood? That is certainly what the outside world expected from me. So why could I not accept any invitation to a baby shower? Why would I cry on the way home from playdates during which the other moms would discuss when they'd have their next baby with such confidence? Was it because I was unhappy that I had adopted? Absolutely not. I knew then, and now, that adoption is the route I was meant to take.
 
It took a few years for me to accept that I never got "closure" on my infertility. This surprised me. I was still active in a local infertility support group for those struggling to form their families. I comforted women who were currently in infertility treatments, because I could empathize with their pain. Yet it had not occurred to me that I was still grieving myself.
 
Infertility is life changing. It's not just a medical condition that you mark in a box on a medical questionnaire. You are not the same person once you are labeled as "infertile." For most women, this label brings months or years of tears, questioning, and pain. It makes you question your relationships with your friends and family. You view the world differently. Stories of abandoned babies and teenage pregnancies enrage you like never before. You may begin to doubt yourself and your marriage. Some people stray from their faith, which they believe has failed them in their greatest time of need. I have yet to meet a woman who faced infertility and believes she was the same person once she ended treatments.
 
Does ending treatment mean you are no longer infertile? Not at all. So why should the feelings instantly go away once you choose to adopt? Is it because someone always has heard of someone who filled out her adoption paperwork and then, BAM got pregnant? Is that why infertile couples hear, "Just adopt. Then you'll get pregnant!" Of course, there are people who this happens to. I know some myself and they still consider themselves infertile women who just happened to miraculously get pregnant.
 
My infertility stems from a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which causes amenorrhea (no periods). Without a period, obviously there is no ovulation and therefore no chance of a pregnancy. Still, even 10 years after my last fertility treatment cycle, I have a tiny bit of hope that it may happen. I'm thrilled with my family formed through adoption and don't regret any of our decisions. But my infertile mind is always there hoping for the slightest chance that my body would work as a normal woman's should.
 
This doesn't sound like I have found "closure" on infertility, does it? I'd say the door or lid is about 90 percent closed. It's not as painful as it was when I was in the midst of monthly fertility treatments. Still, I don't think it will ever close, as infertility has made me the person who I am today. And I like myself.
 
Recently, I spoke to a room of about 100 people who were struggling with infertility. My topic was when to consider ending fertility treatments, choosing adoption, and adoptive parenting. I chose not to bog down the audience with all the vocabulary and steps in the process, which could be found in any adoption book. Instead I focused on the emotions involved at each step.
 
The main thing I wanted to get across to the audience was that they did not have to "get over" their infertility in order to choose adoption. I felt like this was the best gift I could give them. It was permission for them to still be grieving their biological child while rejoicing their child who would be theirs through adoption. I told them it was OK if they still didn't want to attend baby showers, baptisms, certain family functions, or to be around pregnant women. That didn't mean that they shouldn't adopt. It means that they are infertile and always will be. That is what they have to accept.
 
I also urged them to share this information with their loved ones, who aren't going to understand how infertility stays with you like a shadow over the years. Once you tell family about your decision to adopt, they may stop all of their attempts to protect you from your pregnant cousin or your niece's upcoming birthday party. In their eyes, you chose adoption over a pregnancy, so why are you still sad?
 
After my talk, I had many women approach me with teary eyes thanking me for my words. They said that they didn't realize that infertility and adoption could overlap so much. They had thought it was one or the other. But hearing my voice crack when I was describing how much my infertility still affects me to this day opened their eyes.
 
I wish I had heard words like this when I first chose adoption. It would have saved me a lot of anxiety as I tried to hide my feelings over the years. I didn't think people would accept that I was a happy new adoptive mother if I still cried when I received a birth announcement in the mail. Now I have finally given myself permission to feel these feelings out in the open. I am a proud adoptive mother. No one who sees me with my children could question my love for them. I am also proud to wear the label of "infertile" and accept the pain that comes along with it. So why find "closure" on something that led me to the amazing family I worked so hard to create?


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38 Comments

I don’t think you ever really lose the desire to be pregnant. I don’t necessarily want a biological child but I would love to share in the experience of being pregnant because it is something I dreamed about since I was a little girl. I think there is an instinctual desire in most women to become a mother the biological way. After all, that is the way it’s supposed to happen, right? It does not mean I love my adopted children less, I can’t even imagine how I could love a biological child any more than I do my two miracles! But I stopped feeling guilty for getting a little sad each time one of my friends announced a pregnancy. Now I allow myself to be a little sad, mope a little, pray a little, and move on.

By Gaby on Thursday, December 01, 2011 at 7:12 pm.

Thank for for your post.  I am an adoptive mom of 2 girls (now 6 and 4 1/2)who make my heart smile everyday.  As time passes, it does get easier however I gave myself permission a long time ago to stop attending baby showers!  As my children grow, I find the discussion has moved from birthing and pregnancy stories to issues about school and activities.  It never ceases to amaze me (and probably always will) when I hear a woman (or man) talk with assurance about having a baby, trying after a certain time, etc.  I fully agree;  I will never have closure about my loss of having a biological related child.  However, I am 100% ok with that being my reality.

By binaboose on Thursday, December 01, 2011 at 7:19 pm.

Once again you eloquently expressed my inner thoughts and feelings.  Not just about grieving infertility but just plain grief.  My dad passed suddenly in 1999.  It would be honest to say that while time goes on pain fades and I think of him less often.  I cannot say that my grief has ended nor do I expect it to ever “end”.  Even in 16 years when my son is graduating high school how can I not wish that my dad had lived to meet him?  Why should it not be the same for my infertlity grief?  For me it’s not the biological child or end result I’m grieving it’s the process.  Pregnancy is normal, exciting, accepted, less expensive, more controllable.  The list goes on.  Then there is the feeling that I’m still being excluded from the club.  Dissappointment I will never know what it feels like to have a baby kick inside me.  Sometimes I wonder if my grief would have been lessened if my family and friends had been more supportive of our adoption plans.  It would have been nice to get some of the same words of congrats that a pregnant woman recieves. Sometimes I feel this is the only place I belong.

By gqqfier15 on Friday, December 02, 2011 at 12:28 am.

Thank you for your comments.  This was one of the most emotional blog entries I have written.  It’s hard to admit that you don’t have all of your emotions under control.  But it’s lovely to hear that I am not alone!

There were quite a few comments about this topic and blog over on the Adoptive Families Facebook page,

Rachel Chylewski Garlinghouse You have to be at an acceptance stage, I think, before moving to adoption. It doesn’t mean you will never be sad about infertility or illness (we chose to adopt due to a disease which made pregnancy dangerous) again—-but it does mean you are fully embracing adoption as THE way to grow your family. To look at adoption as “second best” will haunt you.

Shayla Breckenridge I love to adopt

Jamie Turgesen Feigner i think my infertility and inability to conceive will always feel like a loss to me even though i am SO incredibly blessed by adoption and my amazingly beautiful son. i was at a place of being ready to move onto something different….i think it’s different for everyone and it’s impossible to say at what place a person “should” be in order to pursue adoption.

Elizabeth Falk I think that each person’s journey is unique. For me (after 4 years of infertility and two miscarriages) my diagnosis of permanent infertility left me feeling adrift and emotionally depleted. So I knew that I needed to get acquainted with myself again, heal my heart, and find my joy again. I needed the time to grow into the healthy, strong, and focused mother that I wanted to be. That process took me another four years. But it was SO worthwhile for me because when I did adopt my son I was completely ready. I was not struggling against any conflicted or sad feelings at all. I have been completely present and completely devoted to him. I have zero doubt (and zero remorse) that he was meant to be my child all along. I am proud and happy that I was destined to be an adoptive mother, and, best of all, Will’s Mama. ♥

Kim Walker Hurt I feel like god had a plan for me from the beginning giving me my infertility so that he could bless me with my son through adoption. I do feel that emptiness of never being able to experience the whole pregnancy glow, and the actual birth of a child and the loss of never getting to see what my husband and I could have created, I’m sure it would have been beautiful. The great thing is I have my son who may not have my looks or color but he is the most handsome, good natured, well mannered and lovable boy in the world. He has my curiousness and my determination, he has my husband’s sense of humor and his own sense of style. Only a person that has gone through adoption can relate to that small portion of our hearts that will never be filled but through adoption the biggest part of our hearts are filled with the most wonderful experience in the whole world. Our children no matter how they came into our lives are the most wonderful of all creations and I thank god everyday for giving me the chance to be a mom!!

Jesica Ferrari I don’t think is something you can forget or not think about… I do every time a friend gets pregnant. But I been blessed with my son and that’s all it matters to me. I’m his MAMI and nobody can’t take that way from me. Even if I had the chance to get pregnant I will still adopt and do it all over again. I wouldn’t change a thing!!

By Danielle Pennel on Friday, December 02, 2011 at 6:40 pm.

Patty Diana I don’t know that you can ever have “full” closure, but dealing with it is important. Adoption allowed me to enjoy my friend’s pregnancies again. I still feel a loss, but it is not overwhelming as it used to be.

Tara Lynn Shroats-Day I am adopted myself. My dream is to have both bio and adopted children and to love them so they can’t feel which is which. Time will tell if we have bio children. There will always be a part of me that mourns it if we don’t to be honest. For me, it is the dream of having someone who looks like me. Either way, my children will know that I love them more than life itself. Even our fosters who stay one day or one year!

Amy Krohn Hoskins Such an interesting article…infertility brings pain and heartache to so many women. Adoption brings joy and happiness to families. I think both sets of emotions can exist separately, in different parts of your heart. Adoption doesn’t cancel all feelings of loss for some women, and that’s ok.

Hillary Moore It is, who is to say right or wrong. One day might I by chance (probably not after ten years!) But I adore our new children..life is life you deal and keep going. Was it devestating oh yes…would I say someone who has JUST learnt or not come to some terms adopt, no..sadly we have seen first hand what that can do to a child. But most ppl who adopt just want to hear mum..be a mum…life moves on..and it can be just if not more of a blessing once your adoption happens. My two cents

Maureen Foley Arnstein Honestly never needed to mourn my infertility. God has a plan for me & am delighted adoption is a part of his plan. Never once felt sad about it.

CarlosChristine Menendez One child is never a replacement for another. I believe you love each child individually separate from each other. I will not love my adopted child less but I am sure I will be sad he/she will never get to meet their older brother/sister that could have been in our lives

Gina Vogel Miller I believe each person is different, but I did have to take the time to come to terms with my infertility before moving on to adoption. I got to the point where I wasn’t yearning to “have” a baby, I was yearning to have a baby to love and raise. I knew at that point that I was ready to adopt. There are still moments when I wonder what might have been… but they don’t consume me. If I had gotten pregnant, or if a baby had come to us through adoption at any other time, I wouldn’t have the 2 amazing sons I am blessed with now. My boys are my world and I wouldn’t change that for anything!

Laura Goldsmith Nikolas Before we fully committed to adoption, we privately mourned the loss of a biological child. Once that happened we were 100% full of excitement about our decision and journey ahead. Now, as I type this, I have a spirited 2 year old adoptive son who couldn’t be more perfect for our family, and I am nursing our 8 week old bio daughter, his sister. We didn’t plan on her, but life is funny (and beautiful) that way.

Laura Goldsmith Nikolas I should add that we never of adoption as a “last resort”. We chose to adopt rather than pursue fertility options because our

Laura Goldsmith Nikolas ‎^^ it felt right sorry, on phone)

Amber Austin I am so glad that you posted this!! This is something I have long struggled with. Nice to know I’m not alone or crazy!

Diane Vadnais Rotondo it has been both 1 year since we finished our treatments and begun the process. We don’t have a baby yet so I am not quite healed. I still feel sadness when I see someone pregnant. Whch recebtly is a lot—- I am a teacher so it is a constant assult on my senses. I hope one day I won’t feel so conflicted

Amy Thompson Morris Diane- I know how you feel-I was the world’s worst “infertile”. I made a lot of my friends mad b/c I wouldn’t go to their showers and husband’s SIL still hates me for not feeling the joy of her 1st p/g. But, once I finally held my child, I was no longer so sensitive to pregnancy issue. There will still be times that it’ll hurt, just not as intense.

Beverly Harrison Langella I agree with Kim Walker Hurt, my son is a special gift and fit so perfectly into our family that some days I look at him and think I couldn’t have done better if I had carried him myself. My son is the best part of everyday!

By Danielle Pennel on Friday, December 02, 2011 at 6:40 pm.

I don’t think my pain was ever really about not being able to get pregnant.  Mine was always about having children…which is different.  The day we saw our son for the first time, those feelings of pain and envy went away like a street sweeper came along and took them away.  I have two adopted children and, yes, it would have been nice to go through pregnancy once, but do I feel that I’ve been short changed because I have never been pregnant?  Nope.  Of course I’ll never know what it feels like to have another person grow inside me, and I’ll never experience the pain and overwhelming satisfaction that people say you feel after giving birth, but I got what I needed, a family. I even got the obligatory baby shower with our second. 
For friends and family who do get pregnant I feel nothing but joy for them for I know what a miracle it is they are going through.  I love their stories as they start to grow and change and, I guess you could say I live vicariously through them.  I do have to say though, whenever someone comes to me and tells me they are going through infertility treatment I cry.  It breaks my heart to see someone I care about going through the pain and uncertainty of what I went through.  If I could take it away from them I would do it in a heartbeat.

By Lmm0306 on Friday, December 09, 2011 at 11:04 pm.

THANK YOU for this post.  Reading it has made me feel less alone and more validated.

By Tattooed Mama on Friday, December 09, 2011 at 11:22 pm.

I can relate 100% to this article.  Thank you for writing it!  I didn’t enjoy the few treatments we tried and was relieved to switch to adoption, but it was always in the back of my head that maybe I’d still get pregnant because nobody ever found anything wrong with me.  It’s hard to let go of that way of thinking.  When our son through adoption was about to turn one, I ended up surprisingly pregnant.  We saw the heartbeat and all was going well, but then I miscarried in the first trimester.  I was perfectly happy with our family of three and then that came out of left field and did a number on me.  I have since come to accept it and later made the decision to have a procedure to ensure I would not accidently become pregnant again.  I have various reasons for doing this, the most important being that I don’t want us to suffer another miscarriage no matter how unlikely it is that I would become pregnant. 

Some of the things that have always stung continue to sting, but only a little bit, and I still don’t go to many baby showers.  I have come through it all a stronger person and have a beautiful little boy who calls me mommy.  It was a long journey, but well worth it.

By hope548 on Friday, December 09, 2011 at 11:49 pm.

An interesting take. We did infertility for five years coupled with some rare autoimmune issues.  It definitely shaped me. We did two IVFs one which ended in mc baby had Turners Syndrome) However, I experienced a different reaction. I never felt sadness at friend or relative’s pregnancy. I was honestly happy for them. I did despair at teens who were pregnant or people who treated their children poorly. I guess we all react differently.
We adopted twins. While I was waiting I decided to have my tonsils out after years of debris filled tonsils. I completely gave up on ever getting pregnant.  Mo more keeping track of periods with the impending disappointment.  I got joyously lost in the world of motherhood.  I was done. One boy, one girl.  When the twins were fourteen months, I found out I was 11 wks pregnant.  I was actually embarrassed that people would think i planned having twins and another 21 months later.  I then went on to have another planned pregnancy and birth. So 4 in almost 5 years. The constant remarks over the past years about how “everyone” gets pregnant after adoption is demeaning and belittling to those of us who have traveled this heartbreaking journey of infertility.  It is also demeaning to those who adopt. It goes back to the days of adoption being scorned and that is something we have to work to rid our world of. . As far as working through the grief, I have. But I do feel some anger about this treacherous journey, but then again I wouldn’t have my eldest two if I hadn’t endured….
We all go through the 5 stages of grief at different rates and in a different order and every one is acceptable.  (depression, anger, bargaining, acceptance, denial)

By Lymbo4y on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 1:38 am.

With so many responses, adding another “me too” to the mix seems redundant.  I am writing anyway, though, just because it does feel good to know that there are those who “get it” and really understand.  Though I live with unexplained infertility, I decided not to pursue the infertility treatment route. (That decision alone was fraught with anxiety and shame and easily comprises a different and lengthy post.)

While I know adoption was the right decision for me and my now 6 year old son (who came home at 5 months) is more than I can have ever imagined, I still fight those occasional pangs. Like so many have said before me here, it is still confusing to me that it is so easy for people just to get pregnant.  People get pregnant just by having sex?  Who knew? That is the farthest thing from my reality.  I still occasionally feel like I am on the outside looking in - even with all the same parenting challenges as the bio moms.  I am not sure that will ever totally go away, though it has certainly eased with time.

By karwar68 on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 5:09 am.
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Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel

Missouri

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Newborn

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