Infertility is so much more than the inability to conceive. Many women and men who face infertility all desire to be parents and raise a child of their own; that desire is why many couples choose adoption.
Michaelina and her partner had a son that passed after 30 weeks of carrying. They struggled with infertility in their first pregnancy and decided not to conceive again. They now have two full siblings adopted domestically and in an open adoption, and they also adopted a daughter internationally.
Michaelina shares her journey of coming to terms with infertility
“A first step is deciding when to stop your treatments, and having to let go of that biological child is the hardest part. As parents, there is the excitement of having a child that has your color eyes, your hair, and parts that resemble you. However, when faced with infertility, having to let that go is the hardest part”
There is a grieving process that you go through, and it is different for everyone. Seeking support can be helpful in your process.
“Take time to go through your grieving process. Allow each of you to go through that process. Your grief process won’t always be the same as your partner, but it is important to allow yourself to feel those emotions.” Everyone’s grieving process is different. When faced with infertility, “there is a point where you are ready to accept, but that does not mean you’re letting go.” Whether it is going to a support group or seeking counsel, having support during your process is essential.
Michaelina found reading other’s people’s narratives, and their journey facing infertility helped her in her process and encouraged her to write and keep a journal. “It helped me express what was inside of me that I couldn’t get out to anyone. It felt like I was having a conversation with myself because it’s your thoughts on paper. It’s you and your thoughts there, so I felt like having a conversation with myself helped me through it.”
When you are adopting, communicate with your partner that you both are in a place where you are ready to accept and start this adoption journey. Michaelina and her partner knew they wanted to adopt during their high-risk pregnancy and began applying to agencies. “As you are leaving one journey and starting another, make sure you have support on both ends. Both from the infertility perspective and with adoption.”
The Adoption Journey
As you start your adoption process, it is crucial to find an adoption agency that supports you and your partner’s process. “For couples that are having infertility complications, the excitement of adoption is there, but then the reality of that too. Is sort of still out of your control, but it is that the goal of starting a family that pushes you forward.” With adoption, you know you will have a child by the end of the process.
Make sure to find an agency, attorney, or whichever route you decide to go that they understand your previous journey and are prepared to work with you, on your terms, on your adoption journey. An agency is assisting you in these next steps in your journey. It is necessary that you feel comfortable about that because forming a trusting relationship with your social worker will help you through that journey.
Michealina and her partner knew that they wanted to adopt while facing infertility and decided to move forward with adopting a Korean baby through Holt International adoption agency and were placed with a Korean baby girl. Later, I also adopted two full siblings domestically; that was an open adoption. “Even though Michael was only with us for three days, he remains a constant presence in our life, and obviously they never met him because they came after that, but they knew about our infertility growing up.”
By the time Michelina’s children were one, she started moving out of teaching and entering the adoption field. Growing up, her children were always aware of their adoption. “Before I worked for Adoptions From The Heart, I was working for another adoption agency and would be working in my office at home, and my children would always hear me answer the phone. One day I saw them playing in my office and pretending to work in the office and answer the phone, repeating what I said “’Levine Adoption Agency, how may I help you?’ even before they fully understood (what adoption meant).” Michaelina stressed that although their family may look different from the family next to them, that family will look different from the family sitting across from them and so on. Emphasizing being different was something that Michaelina embraced in her family.
Michaelina has continued to work in the adoption community and is a social worker here at Adoptions From The Heart. “As a social worker that has experienced infertility, working with infertile families, I can touch into those feelings because people can only know if they have experienced themselves. Not only does it help me on the adoptive parents’ sides as far as their fertility, but also with birth parents because I lost a child and had to grieve that loss. I know in there, making a plan of adoption, they’re going to have to go through grief and loss as well, and I can tap into their grief and loss through my own experience and know what it is like.” Although Michelina did not have control over her decision, birth parents do, but that does not mean that they will not experience that same feeling.
Advice about Facing Infertility
“One thing I would like other people to know is that this process is full of exploration and joy about what’s coming forward but still understanding that women and men facing infertility, some things will be difficult for them. Sometimes they can sit with a smile on their face, but deep inside, there is a lot of pain”. It is essential to be aware when listening to someone’s story about infertility. You can listen but can’t understand what they feel and that their pain doesn’t go away. Friends and family need to recognize that there is some sensitivity around pregnancy, and the experience of facing infertility will always be with them.
“For couples facing infertility, I would advise them that staying strong as a couple is important because infertility can pull people apart. I was blessed enough to have a husband who said, “this want to be a parent does not mean we have to give birth,” and that doesn’t always happen in every family.” Communicating well and supporting each other through this process is crucial because only you and your partner will understand how it feels. You both are in it together. Whether it is finding a support group together or seeking therapy, finding support and supporting each other is very important and can certainly help.
“Look at the joy of what is to come. I know the journey to adoption is tough, and it’s not easy, but if having a child is such a significant part of your life, this is the option and the journey you should go through because your options are either being childless as a couple or having a family with a child in it.” There will be bumps along the road, but if you and your partner know that having a child is what you both want, stay along the journey