the Loss of
of the questions prospective parents
are routinely asked during their adoption home study is whether they
"resolved" their infertility. This issue is raised because it is a
widespread paradigm in the professional adoption community that
prospective adoptive parents need to resolve their feelings of loss to
accept their children. Issues related to infertility that may impact
families include loss of a "dream" or idealized child, loss of
physical connection of pregnancy and biological heredity, and loss of
continuity of inheritance. Resolution of these issues and feelings is
to ensure that lingering frustration, anger, sadness or other emotions
create tension or avoidance of important issues within the adoptive
and moving beyond issues
of loss is an important part of the
life long journey of adoption for all members of the triad (adoptive
birth parents and children). While these feelings may sometimes
evoked by certain life stages or by emotional triggers, such as a
pregnancy, a person's outlook and the emotional intensity of these
usually transforms over time. If parents are able to move forward and
comfortable with adoption, they can support their children (and each
surmounting their emotional feelings and issues.
issues related to feelings of
loss due to infertility aren't
resolved, parents can end up feeling removed or even resentful toward
children. They may be unable to acknowledge that their children have
parents. Or they may be unable to accept with grace the ways in which
children are different from them in temperament or appearance or
of these reactions are perfectly normal at times. [For example, I have
that it is part of the bonding process for many prospective and new
to think much about their children's past (e.g., the existence of birth
parents)]. However, as with most things, continued denial can result in
imbalance in the relationship. Children are sensitive to their parents'
emotions and thoughts, even if they are unspoken.
what does it really mean to
resolve feelings of lose due to infertility?
During a recent discussion on our Adoptive
Parents of Vietnam
(APV) mailing list, parents proposed several useful definitions.
don't think that resolving any loss
ever means getting to a point
where the loss doesn't exist or doesn't matter any more. I think that
loss -- including infertility -- means putting it in its proper place
able to move on in life without being held back from going forward by
loss." Cat V.
adoptive mom provided this insight
on what it means to adoptive parents
to "resolve" issues of infertility.
my understanding, to have "resolved"
infertility means to feel firm in our intent to build our family
means other than birth. That we have determined that to keep trying to
birth child is not the important thing anymore. Our purpose is not
means of continuing to try to get pregnant, since our purpose is to have
children. We have resolved to go forward into adoption whole-heartedly
without reserve..." Debbie H.
photograph represents the emotional
losses of infertility in this helpful
metaphor presented by another parent.
point when the loss isn't
resolved -- the photograph is in
front of you, it is all you see, and it blocks you from moving forward
your life. During the grieving process this is, of course, perfectly
normal...Resolving that loss doesn't mean putting the picture behind
doesn't mean pretending like the loss never happened or that it doesn't
That would be denying the loss, nor resolving it."
the loss would be more like
putting the picture beside you,
but off to the side. The picture is still there, you still remember it,
still grieve your loss, and it does matter. At some points in your life
picture will come more to the forefront than at others and grief will
Yet, the picture doesn't block your way anymore... you can move
events are prone to trigger
emotional feelings related to
infertility loss - for example, a pregnancy, birth announcement,
birth in the family or a close friend's pregnancy. Parents shared
these trigger events in the discussion.
think that many of us were probably
asked during our home study if
we had 'resolved' our infertility. Yeah, right. We accept it, but I
wonder if it gets 'resolved'. I think it will pop up at certain moments
least expect it, much like adoption issues for our kids." Trish
when my first two kids were
little I was always immensely jealous
whenever I found out that one of my friends or coworkers were
of us, having been through
infertility ourselves, can be very
understanding of the pain that pregnancy announcements like these can
upon others who have dealt with infertility. When my dear friend called
months ago and gave me the news that she was now pregnant after having
twice, I must admit that I felt that old familiar twinge of pain from
infertility struggles. Of course, then I also experienced some feelings
and that old feeling of "Why me?"
occasion, reflective thoughts or
feelings related to infertility may
emerge even for parents who are fully committed to adoption and their
children. These thoughts and feelings are difficult to discuss openly
it is expected (and during the adoption process, it is actually
adoptive parents deny these feelings. And yet, acknowledging these
be an important part of coming to terms with infertility and moving on
presented several examples of
these feelings of "lingering
loss" in our recent discussions on the APV mailing list.
can't honestly say that I have
"resolved" the issue of
infertility although I do believe that I have come to terms with it as
of who I am and as a part of this life I am living. I think I will
sadness that I have not been able to experience pregnancy and to give
a child. Infertility has made me realize just how precious life really
what a wondrous experience it would be to participate in the miracle of
having a child. I still periodically feel waves of sadness about the
that dream." Eileen G.
feelings about infertility:
is definitely a good topic,
because I've rarely seen this written about. Sometimes I regret never
to finish a pregnancy and give birth, but it's not a strong feeling.
something it would have been interesting to have experienced..." Jo
now 52 and starting our second
adoption after hoping for a
biological child in my late 40's which did not happen. We are very
Marc who needed a family and who is now the baby we want to parent. But
sometimes wish I could have been the one to give birth to him." Karen
these occasional occurrences
of regret, adoptive parents are often
pleased to find that they are moving forward on resolving these issues
embrace the reality of parenting their children. Adoptive parents also
been so relieved to read about
other people who feel the same
things as me after feeling so isolated in my confusion, including the
conversation about "resolving" their infertility ..... I have
accepted it, to a certain extent..... but to know that the social
question us about "resolving" it - out of my life, forgotten
etc. No way..."
since starting the adoption
I can cope with these issues so
much better. Adoption feels positive and as though we are
building our family that we have always wanted. It is not a
anymore, but a when..." Paula
finally resolving these issues,
parents find that they can separate their
own feelings and experiences from those of other people.
come to terms with our own
issues on how we will build our
families. I have long since separated what MY situation is from what
other peoples lives. Although there was a period of time after my
when I simply couldn't walk past a maternity store, baby showers and
through kids clothing/toy displays wasn't an issue for me since it just
about my own situation." Jan C.
friend's pregnancy announcement
also affords me a new blessing in
that I can not experience pregnancy personally at this time, but I can
experience it through her if I can only toss aside my personal feelings
so that I don't miss a single moment. We all say that our goal is to
pregnant necessarily, but rather to create a family." Kathy
year, while we were in the throes
of infertility treatment, I
volunteered to be the Worship Leader at my church on Mother's Day. I
that it was time that other kinds of families got recognized on that
including those who didn't have children for whatever reason. Most
easily have children, just as they always planned, forget about those
struggling with how to build a family. Infertility is hard enough
smacked upside the head with Mother's Day, even in church! The
allowed me to lay to rest what wouldn't be our family plan, and go on
something that would work for us." Jan
some parents, coping with the the
feelings of loss related to
infertility helps them to understand and emphasize with the similar
loss arise for their adoptive children.
that our loss and our adopted
children's losses will always be
part of what makes our family. It is who we are. Often times, the
theme of adoption consists of quite a bit of loss when considering all
involved. That's just the way it is and has always been. We deal with
losses, as a family, will be what connects us through our worst
can create an unbelievable understanding between an adoptive parent and
child. I can understand to some degree the loss that my son or daughter
experience in regards to the process of adoption. I have experienced
very similar - that day that I buried the idea of having my dream child
would never conceive." Kathy S.
hope and future that adoption
offers is an antidote to the despair and
grief of past losses. It may not cure other disappointments, but it can
vital affirmation of healing and renewal.
my husband and I had several
years of (infertility)
"stuff," including 3 miscarriages, my mother died totally
unexpectedly. It was the worst loss of my life. Afterward, I told my
"I can't go through another loss" after Mom. We stopped the fertility
months later, I found out about
international adoption (there
wasn't an agency in our town, and we knew nothing about it). I figured
when God closes a door, he opens a window."
my mother died, I've never
looked back (other than missing her
terribly). Now that I have my daughter (who have become daughters), I
envy anyone having a bio child. I HAVE my child (now children). I would
hot coals for them. I would do anything for them, and I can't imagine
would feel any differently if I had given birth. They are mine and I am
theirs." Ann L.
resolution of feelings of loss,
adoption provides a way to move
forward with hopeful anticipation into life.
second child died of prematurity
in 1988. He was a boy almost 3
pounds born at 30 weeks, but this was before they really knew how to
prematurity with lung treatments and steroids. His loss was devastating
and my husband. We would never be the same... Now we had two girls, and
a son. However my history of premature birth scared me...
social worker needed our assurance
that we had resolved the death of our
baby, my secondary infertility, and my oldest child's disability. Each
think about my first son but the pain is bittersweet now, not sharp as
to be. I am a more interesting, empathetic person than I would be
experiences. I think that you have resolved them if you can say that
you are a
better person as a result of surviving them." Kim
now that through our
struggles, I have been given the two most
wonderful gifts in the world. I have been granted the passion to love
little family. And, I can now say, that in an odd sort of way that I
been given the blessing of infertility." Kathy
Although it is not always easy,
resolution of feelings of loss associated
with infertility allows parents to focus on the future with their
move forward with anticipation into a new and very different life.
A Paramount Decision
Adoption Home Study the Best First Step in Your Adoption Process?
the Loss of Fertility
Beauty of Adoption
Adopting? You can do it!