Today I’m honored to be sharing my space with Ange who is deep diving into a really fascinating infertility & adoption journey that she and her husband have been on for over 10 years….
Get married. Decide when to have kids and pop them right out? Nope! Not exactly how our story was written.
My husband Mike and I got married in 2005 with so much expectancy for our future. We thoroughly enjoyed our first few years together and after trying to duck around the clichéd “wait 2 years then start trying for kids”, we decided to throw “contraception to the wind” and rather call it “hoping” because which newlyweds “try” – haha!
Well, it seems that God knew that we weren’t into clichés and after a year of hopefully hoping to make a pregnancy announcement, we instead found ourselves grieving a very real and definite diagnosis of male factor infertility. There were no answers as to why this was the case, it is still unknown but we found ourselves joining the ranks of 1 in 6 couples battling through this same diagnosis.
I remember it so clearly, my body gave way to shock after receiving the cold call from our doctor (although I’m not sure that there would have been any special way to sugar coat something so future-altering). It really felt like I had received news of a death, and in actual fact, it was the very real death of a desire. I instinctively knew that a war had begun for far more than just our title as parents – there was a fight for our joy and hope as well, and I definitely didn’t want to lose all of that in the process. I remember right after the phone call, feeling like I was being covered with a heavy cloak of despair and it took every ounce of my strength and courage to lift my head and eyes ‘to the heavens’. In that moment I was reminded that although this might be a huge shock to us, it was no surprise to God and I had to put my faith into action and trust that our lives still had purpose, even if that purpose might not include children. GULP! And facing that possibility is something that no couple should do alone!
Over the course of the 6 looong years that followed, my hubby Mike and I literally did nothing, well, that’s what it looked like on the outside, but behind closed doors and in our hearts we were expectantly waiting, hoping, growing, processing, trusting and praying (sometimes through the night) and also still living and laughing 🙂
We chose to not pursue fertility treatment, which in our case would have involved a sperm donor. The other option that emerged from the mouths of so many people was to “just adopt”. Whilst that possibility was always there, we truly (still) believe that adoption is a beautiful conviction and not a quick fix. Adoption is about a child’s life and not a plug for a hole. We weren’t initially in a position to open that door, but what we didn’t realise at the time was that each step forward and each year that passed was one step closer to adopting our beautiful babies…. and when the day came that our hearts simultaneously opened (which was confirmation in itself), everything moved so smoothly and quickly.
The timing was perfect and we are still continually blown way at the amazing unfolding of our our family story. Just 7 months after meeting our social worker and handing in that necessary paperwork mountain, our daughter entered this world. We woke up one morning with a life changing phone call (muuuch better than that cold one years earlier) to say that our baby girl had just been born and was waiting for us to fetch her THAT SAME DAY.
Then, two years later, the journey to our son began after stumbling across an interesting podcast late one night, on donating/adopting a frozen embryo, also affectionately termed a ‘snowflake baby’. I had no idea something like this was possible and yet a couple months later we found ourselves receiving our son at embryonic stage and announcing MY pregnancy…. As I said, there’s nothing clichéd about this story of ours at all! 🙂
Now that you have the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you might have done differently before, during, or after, your tough life experience?
Honestly no. On the face of it some might wonder why we waited so long to adopt (with that little ‘just’ word), but that would have shortcut a very real character building, marriage strengthening, empathy creating process which made us see the world and understand pain in a way that has equipped us to appreciate and help others at a deeper level. But above all, the time that it took and the timing of our children’s births – was perfect. Any other changes to the story wouldn’t have equalled US. Our process was slow, and yet we truly felt that we were clearly led each step of the way.
What, or who, helped you to overcome or push through this experience? A book, a person, an incident, therapy, medication or was it just simply time?
We were asked this exact question as we sat behind the desk of a specialist after getting some early diagnosis tests done. Our simple answer was GOD, without one shadow of a doubt. This question and the conversation which followed with this specialist, was really integral in the adoption and birth of our son (which you can read more about over on my blog, Every Day is Written)! And then, of course, we also had the strength of our marriage, family and friends who felt deeply with us, included us, sometimes probed us and ultimately celebrated with us.
Obviously there is not always a reason for going through such hard times in life, but now that you have come out the other side of the “tough stuff” can you share any insights or personal growth that the experience taught you?
I think as humans it is our tendency to want to quickly fix situations, especially when we feel out of control. And that is a very real feeling! I went from being fairly relaxed about exactly when we would start a family, to finding out that we couldn’t, to then wanting quadruplets instantly. I never realised how deep my desire to have children was, or how much I had taken that privilege for granted. It truly is a horrible feeling when you haven’t willingly laid something down, but instead feel like it has been snatched from you.
However TAKING TIME to grieve and (prayerfully) consider our options and way forward, was integral to what I believe ended up being a rich life-giving process even in the mists of our heartache. It’s similar to the cautions around getting a negative health diagnosis and blindly diving backwards onto a fear-induced conveyor belt of unknown medication, first time opinions and surgery. Rushing in isn’t always helpful and infertility can bring on that same feeling of urgency to fix, but I do believe that even though time may not seem to be on your side, it is one of the essential ingredients, as well as seeking trustworthy support and counsel.
I also kept my hope alive, because even though we eyeballed the hairy fact that we may not be parents (more like a death-stared), I did not give up hoping… not for one single day and if you looked closely at my house and life, you would have found many little displays of faith… scattered all around.
Something else that I felt was important to fight for (apart from any illicit theft of MY joy and hope), was my identity. Not being one of the mothers did not make me an illegitimate human and, on the flip side, hiding behind or excelling in my career or some hobby wouldn’t give my worth it’s credentials either. Our lives all have a stamp of worth without any of the titles or tick boxes and I was very much meant to be in this world, with purpose. This is a truth that I constantly endeavour to filter down to my children today.
Where do you find yourself now?
Right now I’m in the crazy midst of parenting, as my two little people do a really good job at keeping me on my ballet pointe toes 🙂 I’ve chosen to pause my career and stay at home with them, which has been a great privilege. I’m also REALLY passionate about putting a spotlight on adoption and sharing our journey in the hopes that it may have an impact on somebody else. I know that stories, similar to mine, served as mini beacons at times and I believe that sharing is powerful… because I’m not the only one walking around with the most fantastically unexpected journey to parenthood (via the depths of heartache and joy to adoption)… and I haven’t forgotten what the journey getting there felt like either. Right now I’m really enjoying writing more and creating a beneficial space for others on a similar path. You can find more of my passionate heart rambles and made up words over at www.everydayiswritten.wordpress.com 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing your story Ange!