Grieving Infertility as an Adoptive Parent
How to Honor National Infertility Awareness Week While Adopting
Whether you’re in the process of adopting a child, or you’re raising a child who came into your family through adoption, you likely experienced a difficult road to reach this point. Many adoptive parents have struggled with infertility, sometimes for many years, before pursuing adoption.
Don’t Pursue Adoption Until You’ve Fully Grieved Your Loss and are Ready to Move Forward
This is why it’s so important that you take the time to mourn the loss of your first dream — a biological child. Only once you’re able to let go of that dream will you be ready to fully embrace a child through adoption.
If you haven’t fully let go of your infertility grief, you may find yourself wishing away your child’s adoption roots. However, your child's biological connections and adoption story are an important part of their identity, and if your child feels you wished you had them biologically, that can be damaging.
If you’re struggling to heal from your infertility grief, consider seeking specialized counseling.
Take Time to Honor Loss
In some ways, it can be difficult to feel as if you’re moving on and leaving grief behind, especially if you’ve suffered pregnancy loss. So this National Infertility Week, take a moment to honor your infertility journey and the losses you experienced.
Some ways you can do this could include:
- Writing a letter to yourself
- Planting a flower in a memory garden
- Lighting a candle
- Reciting a special poem or prayer
- Taking a walk to a place that’s important to you
- Talking about it and sharing a memory with your spouse, a family member or friend
Take Time to Honor Blessings
Whenever someone goes through a difficult journey like infertility (and adoption), they experience loss — but they often gain something important. No matter how small, you likely gained something from the pain of your infertility experience.
These blessings don’t negate what you went through, but it’s important to take time to acknowledge what you’ve found alongside what you lost. Ask yourself if you gained:
- A stronger relationship with your spouse, a family member or a friend
- The support and love from people around you
- A discovery of your own strength
- A stronger spiritual connection
- New relationships in the adoption community or with your child’s birth family
Maybe you even gained a child through adoption!
Talk About It
It’s alright if you’re not ready. But talking about infertility, especially your own experiences, can be as beneficial to you as it is for others. One in 8 couples in the United States will be diagnosed with infertility, so if you don’t already know several other couples who are struggling, you will.
It can be as simple as sharing a graphic on social media or sending an email with some links to educational resources. If you’re not ready to talk about your own experiences but you want to help raise awareness about infertility in general, start by sharing some basic information this National Infertility Awareness Week.
Share Your Story
It can be cathartic to open up about your own experiences, and it can help others! Not only will you educate others, you can open their eyes to infertility and adoption through your own story. They may be going through something similar and find comfort and advice in your experiences, just as you may have been inspired by reading the stories of others.
Talk about it with others who have been in your shoes by getting involved with National Infertility Awareness Week. Participate in the #WearOrange campaign, fundraise, donate, attend a local event, or host your own.
Adoption Doesn’t Fix Infertility
Adopting a child is not a Band-Aid on the wound of infertility. It can be hard for others to understand this. They may believe that, because you’ve chosen adoption, you’re completely “over” your infertility grief.
Even when you’ve successfully welcomed a child into your life through adoption, your infertility diagnosis doesn’t go away — and neither does the grief that may linger with it. Infertility is something that must be separately addressed and mourned. When you’re able to release that grief, your child can live unburdened with thoughts of being “Option B.”
This National Infertility Awareness Week, let someone know that adoption doesn’t “fix” infertility. Adoption is an amazing way to bring families together, but it’s not the right path for everyone. Educate those around you about infertility, adoption and the journeys that families undergo to find one another.
How do you plan on honoring National Infertility Awareness Week? Let us know!