I have a friend who has been trying to become a parent for over 6 years now. I am happy to say she is close now to adopting a child but it is still not certain it will happen.
I don’t really like the title of this article. This sort of waiting is not a game. Those of you that have been through it understand that it is agonizing. Those that haven’t can still imagine what it would be like to wait for years for something you want more than anything else in your life and not know if it will ever happen in spite of your best efforts.
In cases of unexplained infertility you may never understand why you can’t have a baby.
If you are going through an adoption there are other challenges that are out of your control. Foreign countries like Russia can suddenly say we will not allow any more adoptions. Perhaps it will take time for the biological parent to pick you out of all of the perspective parents looking to adopt a child.
It does seem to help when you know there are things you can do move the process along or to make the waiting period feel more manageable when you are riding the infertility roller coaster or trying to adopt. Here are some suggestions that can help you get through this “limbo” time:
1. Stay in the present. Take it day by day. If you get a bad lab report or test result, remind yourself that doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. Acknowledge that today may suck but tomorrow may be different and that you may be the next donor recipient or hear good news from your adoption agency.
2. Find a good team of experts to help you make your family building dream
become a real possibility. Get a good doctor, adoption agency, lawyer with
family building expertise, therapist. Think about who and
what you need depending on your goal. Places like RESOLVE or The
American Fertility Association have resource information on experts in your
area. Network with friends and family for recommendations. There is
some comfort in knowing there are professionals working with you to build
your family. Go to them when you have questions along the way.
3. Don’t let your quest to become parents overcome your marital and other
relationships in your life. Infertility can easily become all consuming.
Spend time doing things you enjoy with your partner or close friends and family and agree that this time will be free of any discussion around your family build efforts.
4. Make time for yourself pampering yourself doing things you enjoy.
Get a massage, see a great movie, read a great book, meet a friend for a
fabulous meal. Make time for some relaxation and pleasure.
5. If you do find yourself feeling depressed, unable to function, or note the stress of the treatment or adoption process is overwhelming you may want to seek professional help to get the additional support you need. It is a safe place to discuss your feelings and a way to get ideas about healthy ways to cope. Seek a counselor or therapist that has expertise with family building. You may want to consider joining a support group. Your doctor, agency, or clinic may have suggestions. Sometimes it just helps to know you are not alone in responding the way that you do and talking with others with similar experience can help.
6. Do your research. Fortunately we live in a time where people are more
comfortable and open about talking about infertility and adoption. Find
reputable websites, books, magazines, or chat rooms to gather information
to help you understand what your options are and what you are dealing
with. Gathering accurate information will help prepare you for what to
expect as you wait to take your next step.
7. If you find that the path you chose to become a parent is not an option are you open to considering an alternative way? Think carefully about why you want to become a parent? Is the genetic link an important priority for you or would you consider parenting a child who does not have that connection?
Would you consider adoption or using a donor or surrogate? Why or why not? This involves a candid conversation with your partner. It means understanding and accepting each other’s beliefs and values to try to determine some common ground in regards to how to proceed.
There is nothing easy about infertility or going through the process of adoption. We are willing to make incredible sacrifices to become parents when we learn that we are unable to become parents without some type of additional intervention. The ups and downs associated with the journey to become parents test us in many ways but can offer us insights into ourselves and help us find strengths and skills we didn’t know we had. Consider taking these steps or other actions you can think of that will help
you gain some control during this stressful time.
Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW is the author of the award winning Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. She currently writes freelance infertility and health related articles. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years. She has done workshops, individual, and group counseling with people experiencing infertility.