Throwing in the towel

This is not a pity post. I wrote that one a year ago . This is more of a sharing post. Let's share. I'll go first. We have 1 child, a son who turns 4 on March 1st. In the past 2 and a half years, I've had 4 miscarriages, 2 of them second trimester losses. After my first miscarriage, I was sort of a mess. I miscarried while my husband was in an entirely different state--Arkansas, to be exact, where he was getting us a house and moving our stuff into it in preparation for his year working as a law clerk. I had my D&C, took a day off to sleep, and the next day flew basically across the country to a town where I knew nobody except my son and my husband, and moved into a house that was only partially unpacked. I hate to move. I hate to unpack. And I hate, hate, HATE cockroaches, which are beyond abundant in the South. It was a hard week. As hard as it was, though, I did not consider myself changed much. Well, I guess any trial changes you, for better or for worse, but I still thought of myself as a bascially healthy person who had just had a minor setback. And after all, scratch the surface of any Relief Society, and you'll find a plethora of women who have had miscarriages. I felt like I had my turn, and once I pulled myself together and felt good again, I felt ready to put the incidence behind me, and get back to the business of building our family. Things continued to go contrary to my plan, however. I miscarried again while in Arkansas, and twice more once we moved to DC. After the second one, I had an inkling that this whole family thing wasn't going to be easy, and I felt myself sliding into a new category. I went from the "healthy, young, and fertile" category to the "she's having trouble" cateogry. I've been in the "she's having trouble" category for quite some time now, and ironically, I'm almost comfortable there. You get into the rythym of the doctor's appointments, the rounds of testing, and life somehow goes on. I did have to redefine some of my thoughts about family, and certainly our number goal dropped significantly, but I still never fully stepped into the "she can't ever have more children" category. That seemed far away, distant, different from where I was. I continued to believe that the next test would reveal the problem, my OB would hand me the magic cure, and we'd have that second baby, at the latest, by the time Jacob turned four. Jacob will be four on March 1. And that "she can't ever have more children" category just zoomed a lot closer. Again, in the interest of TMI, I won't go into all of my various medical issues, but I was told today that if I were to ever get pregnant again, there would be risks. High risks. The doctor who told me this is not an OB, but he did tell me that I needed to speak to my OB, sit down with her and discuss whether or not she thought a pregnancy was really a safe option. He did not say, "You can't ever have more children," but he did say, "It comes down to a risk/benefit analysis, and you need to understand that there will be some higher risks for you." Pregnancy--a risk/benefit analysis. Sounds almost like he was selling life insurance. So, I want to be done. I want so much to be done. I want to look at my perfect son, rejoice in his happiness, and say, "This is what we've got? Wow, thanks!" and move on. And go an entire month without seeing or talking to a doctor. Something won't let me, though. Call it my heart, call it my upbringing, call it a prompting, call it hoo-doo voo-doo, but I don't feel like we're done. And everybody who has gone through similar issues tells me "You'll know when you're done". I'm not closed to the idea of adoption. Not at all. So many members of my immediate and extended family are adopted, it's practically turning into a family tradition. For those of you who have adopted kids, how do you know when it's time to throw in the infertility towel and pursue other options? Short of your uterus falling out onto the pavement, how do you really know when your body can not possibly give you any more? I want to do what's right, and I'm learning to to give up, little by little and not without more than a little fight, my will to God's. I dunno--maybe the spirits that have been promised to our family just have some serious work to finish before they could come to earth, and I just have to have faith. I mean, hey, that's cool, but it sure would be nice to know if I should buy a bigger house.


Blogger Russell Arben Fox said...

Thanks for sharing this, Heather; it gives me a glimpse into the doubts, conflicted feelings, sadness and desire that you've had to live with for so long, and that's a great gift.

Perhaps if I'd read more things like this, I wouldn't have written what I did about stillbirths last year, or at least not in the same way. For what it's worth, I still feel bad about that.

2/28/2006 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa M. said...


I don't know...what to say. I did have a doctor tell me that there was not any chance in budda that I could carry a baby. I had experienced simular circumstances.

It had been twelve years and then BAM. I got pregnant. After I was *okay* with only one child.

We adopted my two half nephews, and I had my daughter (lost her twin at 27 weeks) and then a LONG twelve years.

We considered adoption. I had several hard and painful misscarriages...

The night before I found out I was pregnant (I am so not kidding) My husband and I were laying in bed and he said, "OH Lis, the kids will be outta the house in 6 years, we are still SO young. Just think, we can move around. Spend time and live for a while in San Fransico, the coast of Texas. We will be able to do anything..."

It took me almost my whole pregnancy and my husband even longer before we got *used* to the idea. Such a quick curve.

I know that it seems trite, but I would really examine your feelings. Consider something... give your heart and mind and spirit the time to adjust to what you are considering and listen to the spirit. Fast, pray, and take your time. That is what I would suggest. So much easier said than done, and I don't mean to suggest either, that you haven't done these things already.

Oh and Ethan just turned two... if you wanna borrow him for a bit? *GRIN*...

2/28/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger FrogLegs said...

Since we don't know each others medical profile, I do want to say I've been in your boat. It's slightly amusing, after I lost the last one- I just shrigged it off with a "bound to happen" attitude. We are starting the "hunt" for information on adopting. My son is 7. But when I was 13 I was told I would never have children, so at 20, when they said "you're pregnant" I told them, "no, I not." I spent the whole pregnancy waiting for it to end... I wish you well in whatever the best choice you and your husband decide on.

2/28/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

Blessings on you, Heather.

My Sarah has been told she will have some difficulty getting pregnant and will probably need to use fertility drugs, long story.

She's a newlywed, of course, but this is one of her biggest worries.

2/28/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Tri Mama said...

My heart aches for you because I have been there to a lesser degree. We had a hard time getting pregnant with our second, but things worked out after two years. It was a good lesson for me in patience and following Heavenly Father's Plan. I had a very hard time with hormones and letting go of my timeline. As I look back at my experience and the experiences of friends adopting I start to realize that we each have our beautiful families, but Heavenly Father is the only one who truly knows how and when they will come to us. Ulitimately, its about faith, but I had a hard time not doing everything I could to take control of the issue.

2/28/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I miscarried (2 yrs into our marriage)we started the process for adoption. That was emotionally stretching in and of itself. Especially when we got comments like "just try for another 6 months and then apply". We didn't wait, and it still took us 6 months to complete our application. Part of the reason it took us so long is because of the struggle you described to some extent: is adopting throwing in the towel? We hadn't been to a Dr., we don't know that we are infertile, we could get half way through the process and find out I was pregnant. Some thoughts I would share...

1) Adoption is not about giving up on biological children. In a sense, it is a way of pursuing the prompting you have about children and being able to actively do something that doesn't include Dr.'s visits and sex. We are not pursuing adoption because I won't ever get pregnant, but because Heavenly Father may have multiple avenues in mind for us.

2) Coming to terms with adoption, feelings about birth parents (and the emerging openness with them) takes time. Find out, meet with a social worker, identify your feelings, questions, etc. and find out what you think.

3) Adopting does not resolve infertility or your feelings about infertility. It allows children to be part of your family. But feelings about infertility don't go away. Adopting is not a solution to infertility.

My long two cents.


2/28/2006 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

Many more qualified commenters have chimed in about the fertitily trials you are experiencing, so just let me superficially say: cockroaches--I'm irrationally afraid of them. Why God, why?

2/28/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for this post. It's meant a lot to me. Your feelings about your first miscarriage were identical to mine. Hey, it happens to nearly everyone, right? It was just my turn. The next time and the next time were much more difficult to swallow. This _doesn't_ happen to everyone. What are we doing wrong? Does God know that deep down I'm only good enough to parent one child?

I am way past the "she's having problems" stage. We have a beautiful ten-year-old girl, a miracle child. Doctors give me the same line: "It's a risk/benefit analysis." In fact, after moving to Utah, they say, "If I didn't know you were LDS, I'd recommend no more pregnancies." I know they mean this kindly, but truly it bothers me. Do they mean that if we choose not to try anymore we don't have enough faith?

Having faith doesn't automatically mean everything will turn out great. Having faith means accepting what we're given. I prayed for a long time: please tell me everything will turn out great. That answer never came. The answer that did come was the choice is mine and my husband's.

And we are acceptable in any case. This too takes faith.

2/28/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Chad Too said...

Heather O:

We'd only been able to conceive three times in all our years together. We found out about the first conception when it miscarried three weeks along. I remember the combination of emotions: deeply saddened by the loss of the baby but deeply thrilled that at least we knew we could conceive.

The next one was similar: three weeks in and done. The last time the baby went ectopic and required a rush to the hospital for emergency surgery. We almost lost my wife that trip too.

The decision to switch to an adoption plan was easy as I looked at my wife in intense pain as we drove to the hospital. I won't get into the circumstances here, but less than six-months later I had a beautiful baby boy in my arms and our parenting journey had begun.

Later, we prayed and fasted to know if we should adopt again. Our son was 2.5 years old and I was ready to add the next one. My wife suggested we dedicate the following month's fast to the concept which at the time seemed very silly because what Mormon couple doesn't believe God wants them to fill a quiver?

The answer was very clear: Your family is complete. Be happy with what you have. You could have knocked me over with a feather. My wife receieved the same witness independent of me.

So, we are a family of three. I had always assumed I'd be the dad of many. I love children and to this day I have to be really careful when friends offer to let me hold their baby because all the old feelings come back again.

I'm glad you've have positive experiences with adoption, Heather. I often have to remind people that adoption is simply a different way to create a family; it isn't first-runner up. Let us not forget that it isn't blood that bind our families together in the eternities, it's priesthood. There's not one drop of shared blood in my family but the Holy Spirit of Promise is just as in effect in my home as it is in a home where children were born in the covenant.

2/28/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


Thanks. Your is a really unusual situation, and I'm glad to know that Lord is ok with raising only children, too.


Your apology is accepted, as it was a year ago (has it really been that long?). I freely admit that I was reacting from something other than a rational emotional base.

Not that that has ever happened before. No way.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment. Don't feel bad about what you wrote--it's all good.

2/28/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Oh, and Wendy, SO with you on the cockroaches question. They are completely indestructible, and so overwhelmingly gross it made me want to run screaming from our home all the way to Minnesota, where I'm sure there are NO COCKROACHES!

Lots of snow there, though. Or so I've heard.

2/28/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

Nothing substantial to add, but I love you! Remember when "hard" was dating woes in the University Ward?

2/28/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger maria said...

Hi Heather,

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I won't go into a lot of details, but I do know how you feel. It really is a confusing time--you just start thinking you don't know which feelings/who to believe anymore. Nothing seems to make sense.

I am petrified of adopting. I know it probably seems irrational, but my fear is mostly based on observing the experiences of people I know who were adopted themselves or who have adopted children into their families. And they are all incredibly messed up (for a variety of reasons). And that scares the crap out of me.

I know that just because I've said this, a dozen commenters will get on here and say that they were adopted and they're fine or they know others who were adopted that turned out great, too. But the people I've closely associated with who've been in the situation are the only ones I've spoken to intimately about it, and they are all really messed up. All of them. Whether from the parent or the child side. Adoption is just really hard. And I don't think it's necessarily for everyone. It's one of the yet another decisions where there is definitely a cost-benefit analysis that has to take place.

I get so frustrated when well-meaning people suggest to me and my husband that we should "just adopt." Like it's "just" an adoption. The truth is that it's not that simple, and there are actually a lot of risks involved.

In any case, I pray that you will find more peace in this situation than I have, and that you'll eventually come to a decision that you feel is right for you and your family. Whatever that decision may be.

2/28/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Heather, this is such a scary precipice to stand on. I could go on for a long time, because I've had such a long time now to think about it -- nearly 10 years now since our infertility diagnosis during my last semester at BYU. Since then we have had surgeries, tests, procedures, and a lot of tears. Never a conception.

One of the most helpful resources for me was a book. No surprise, I tend to think there is a book for every problem. But this one is really good. The title is "Adoption After Infertility"
and the author is Patricia Irwin Johnston. If adoption is something you're really thinking about pursuing, I would really recommend this book.

One of the things Johnston said that made a big difference for me had to do with resources. Basically, each couple has limited resources for pursuing a goal. There are medical resources, or your health. There are financial resources. And there are emotional resources. Johnston said, and I'm just recalling loosely here, that if any one of those categories is tapped out, it's time to move on. It really resonated with me. At the time I read this, DH and I were only in our mid-twenties. Our doctor was telling us our chances of conceiving with IVF/ICSI were extremely good. And we had enough money saved up to do at least two cycles.

But we were emotionally drained. There was nothing left there. One more failure probably would have destroyed me and a destroyed wife would have been pretty rough on my husband. We left it behind.

Six and a half years and two glorious children later, infertility is not all better. I'm still raging a bit at the moment -- it comes and goes. CP is definitely right about that. BUT, moving on to adoption when we did has brought us tremendous joy. I know we did the right thing. Even at the time, it was a tremendous relief to me to step off that cliff and find that I didn't crash like the coyote chasing the roadrunner. There was something there to break my fall -- adoption has been awesome for us.

Maria, I'm so sorry about your negative experiences. It really makes me sad. I wish you could meet my kids. I'm not going to claim they're perfect. But they're certainly not "incredibly messed up." Just their bedroom. ;o)

2/28/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Tigersue said...

I don't think you are throwing in the towel if you think about adopting. Just think of all the people that adopt and continue to have more children as well. That isn't saying that if you adopt you will get pregnant, just think of it that sometimes children come into homes in ways that aren't always planned or anticipate.

2/28/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger maria said...


The Johnston book sounds really interesting. I wonder what she recommends for couples who have spent *all* their resources. Because that's where I feel like I'm at right now--in fact, I'm far overdrawn on all of these accounts. My husband is a little more positive about it than I am, but I attribute that to the fact that he hasn't had to go through all the physical stuff I have. As you can probably tell, I'm in a really bad "place" right now.

Still, I'm so happy for you that you have had such a good experience with adoption. It's encouraging to me to hear that. If I may ask, have you always felt this positively about it? Were you ever scared? Did you have fears? If so, how did you overcome those fears?

2/28/2006 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger maria said...

Just as a follow-up, I'm being really sincere in asking these questions. I would love it if you, Ana, and others who have adopted could provide a realistic description of what it has been like for you.

I say realistic, because one of the things that has been hard for me in talking to others about adoption is that when someone is trying to convince us that we should look into adoption, all they ever want to talk about is how wonderful, perfect, and amazing it is. And when I ask about problems they've had in the past, they just try to sugar-coat everything and say that those parts weren't "so bad" afterall. Even things like the birth mother showing up on the front porch, or the in-laws who have never accepted the adopted children as their own grandchildren, and treat them differently from all the other grandchildren. I could go on with literally dozens of other examples, all first-hand accounts, some far worse than these but I can't really share them because they might be too easily recognized in this small world we live in.

My point in saying all of this is that I think that some of my fears would be alleviated if someone were to just say "Look, it's been wonderful for us. I would recommend it to anyone. But here are some of the challenges you're going to face." And be honest about it. And let me and my husband use that honest information to make a better decision.

2/28/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous April said...

Just throwing in my two cents!
I have 2 kids that I had myself, yet all my life I have thought about adoption. Both my husband and I have wonderful deeling about adoption possibly being in our family... even though my family and myself have no issues with fertility. So I don't view adoption as giving up, just more as giving more to a child that might not be so lucky as to have a loving and eternal family like the one you could provide.

2/28/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Bek said...


I have so much to say on this topic but if you want to know what I think, read my blog!! :-)

We chose adoption rather then spend the money to do the fertility stuff. I knew that I could deal with the emotional upheaveal that came with it. I knew that there as NO WAY I could do the dr. appointments, the "am I?" waiting, etc. I didn't feel emotionally equiped for that. I also knew that my husband and I were ok with adoption, that we felt we would love them the children the same, etc. We do. Not everyone does. For some, biology is too important and that is ok too.

Ironically, we had 3 failed adoptions and one disrupted placement in our adoption journey (not the norm, I assure you). I got pregnant too somewhere in there & lost it second trimester. Then the baby we brought home went back to his birth mamma. All w/in 5 months of each other. Yeah, adoption is emotially easier. :-)

We did lots of things wrong on the adoption side, so if you DO decide to take that route, do your homework, ask the hard questions and then give me a call and I can tell you the mistakes to avoid. :-)

Adoption is a wonderful thing, not without its drama, but it has been a great experience in our family (even with all the crazy drama that resulted from it). My kids are 4.5 years apart....PERFECT spread if you ask me! It is about building our family. We are an "out loud" adoptive family so it remains a topic of discussion almost daily (people ask LOTS of questions) but otherwise we don't think about it that much. It is what it is.

I am sorry that you have to do this. There are many, many familes that struggle with this and the answer for each is different. Finding your peace with your answer is the hardest part.

Good Luck.

2/28/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Thanks, Ana, for that book recommendation. I will definitely order it!

2/28/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Oh, and Deborah, dating in the single's ward WAS hard! Maybe it was hard in a different way, but you couldn't PAY me to go back there!

2/28/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

Heather -- Good point. (But at least there was the comfort in lots of late-night steamed milks at Espresso Royale with girlfriends . . . I wouldn't go back, but I loved the bonding.)

2/28/2006 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adoption is not, as CP said, "throwing in the towel." Children aren't yours just because they come from your body. For me, understanding and embracing the fact that all children come from God first, freed me to truly rejoice in the blessing of adoption. It doesn't matter how they come. If you want them, you can make it happen. Maybe the Lord is just holding that spirit for you when the time is right, either biologically or through adoption.

2/28/2006 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous mimi said...

Adoption:the good, the bad, the ugly...

We have three children. Two are biological, one adopted. The first two were concieved easily. DH and I THOUGHT about sex and I concieved. I spent the next nine months cursing my husband, my mother, Eve, and anyone else who directly or indirectly was a part of my pregnancy, including the higher being who made my pre-mortal body female. They were tough pregnancies but do-able and I loved the result of them, my boys. I waited and waited for the "feeling" that it was time for another and it never came, well not the one we expected. We did however get the feeling that our family would expand through adoption. There was of course a lot more that went into it, but that is the short version suitable for posting. The result of that feeling is a beautiful baby girl that is the light of our lives. She is bright, funny, sweet and quite possibly the most gorgeous child ever born (not my words but a general opinion of my ward). I don't know if I could have concieved a third time but my guess, based on previous experience, is that if hubby and I have a "careless" night, #4 would be on his way. I don't mean to be flip, your heartbreak is palpable and I will never unberstand why it seems that those who want children the most are the ones that stuggle the most. I mention my pro-creative ability simply to make a point; adoption is not throwing in the towel. Too often adoption is thought of as a last ditch attempt at parenthood, the last resort or second best choice. In reality, it's just as miraculous as birth, just different(think about it, I had to FIND my baby :)!!). Also, as mormons we know that family extends beyond the boundries of DNA. At an EFY I attended with my YW, the speaker gave this quote(from a conversation he had with his adopted son),"The day we knealt at the alter with you in the temple, you became just as much our son as the ones born to us. There is no difference in my eyes or in God's."

Of course it's not all flower petals and happy dances. Anyone that thinks post partum depression is for bio moms only is un-imformed. The changes rock you to the core, and there is no nine months to prepare. Bonding is not always instant. I thought the minute that I saw my baby choirs of angels would sing and I would "know" her. I didn't. The only thing that kept me sane was the sure knowledge from Heavenly Father that I was doing the right thing. Sometimes even that wasn't enough; a lot of tears were shed those first months. You also become physically exhausted. Remember when you were pregnant and those last few months you were too uncomfortable to sleep and when you did manage you had to get up an hour later to pee? Well, apparently that prepares you to get up every two hours to feed the wee one without dying. Adoption means 8 hours to 3 without a warning. Oh, and having that giant ball attached to your stomach for nine months prepares your back for carrying around a 10 lb. baby. Now, we went through the state for adoption, not private, for various reasons, so add to that court dates and stupid social workers and delays and inspections and delays and more court dates and things like that. Then, of course, there are the wonderful people who diminish your roll as a parent by asking stupid questions like do you know who the REAL mother is?. Ther is the stress of wondering if birthparens will change there minds, and although it didn't to us, birthparents wanting the baby back. However, contrast that to vomiting, dehydration, hormones, stretch marks, migranes, bladder control problems, episiotomies(sp?), back aches and nine months of doctors poking around you nether regions and it may not be even, but it's close.

Children are children no matter how they get to you. Adoption may not be for everyone, it is a decision that should be made with the guidance of the spirit and trust in the Lord. I can honestly say there is no difference in the way I feel about any of my children, bio or not. I don't know why Heavenly Father chose this path for me. I may never know. One thing I do know for sure is that I was meant to be this child's mother. She may not share my DNA but she shares my spirit and Heavenly Father chose me as her mother way before the word "adoption" even exsisted.

So, there you have it a very LONG post to explain in a very SHORT way the good, bad and ugly of adoption.

2/28/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

Be safe. . . . .

2/28/2006 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

All I can figure out is that mothering, no matter how you go about it, constantly re-breaks your heart. We love, and put our lives, hearts, bodies and minds on the line, and one way or another, our hearts break, and we know it, and we do it anyway.

My prayers are with you. I hope whatever path you find yourself taking eventually brings you joy.

2/28/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous jbn said...

Open all the doors and let the Lord decides what comes through. Then you'll know you've done enough.

2/28/2006 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Selwyn said...

I have no idea if I'm infertile. I DO have PCOS, and my husband has had a vasectomy, and has no intention of getting it reversed. So why am I posting? Because I want more children. No doubt there are those thinking "Sheesh - should have thought about that SOONER!!!!!!!". But hey, what can I say - at the time of the "V" we prayed about it and got a definate go ahead.

As I was later informed that due to Boy #2's sleeping habits (none)I was chronically sleep deprived, I thought that maybe I hadn't got the answer I thought I had. So 2 years after "V", I was going mental about it, prayed about it, and was told then and in the following blessing that it WAS the right choice.

It still doesn't make the wanting any less, let alone the feeling of "I only get two? Am I THAT terrible a mother?" But again and again I try to remember to immediately turn to Heavenly Father, and ask for peace, acceptance and strength.

I don't know what it's like to lose a child, but I understand the pain of not having "more" possible.

Thanks to all of the commentators, and Heather for this incredible post.

3/01/2006 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Ana said...

Maria, I will post some adoption stories at my blog (linked on my name). Hope I can help you. I can feel how much you're hurting right now and I'm so sorry!

3/01/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Chad too said...

Ok, Maria, here it comes. With both barrels. ;-)

Parenting this child hasn't always been easy for us. The biggest obstacle for us was when he was diagnosed with cancer just before his third birthday. We've been a cancer family for six-years now and though things continue on a good track, there's always that little nagging voice in the back of my brain that is ready to panic that every bruise, bloody nose, or headcold is the leukemia showing it's return. A little boy diagnosed similarly about the same time my son just relapsed before Christmas and I must admit it spooks me a little bit.

I don't tell that story because it is somehow indicative of what happens in adoptive families. I tell it to show that no, it's not always roses and teacakes. However, had our son been biological instead of adopted we would have been in the exact same situation, wouldn't we?

As to specific challenges as an adoptive family, we chose to take a very strong pro attitude. There is no shame in our voices when telling people how we came together. It's just a part of our family makeup. We've never hidden his adoption from our son. He knows that there was a very nice young woman who had a baby in her tummy but wasn't in a position to take care of it so she found a family that could take care of him.

He's seen the hospital where he was born. He considers himself a Minnesotan even though he only lived there three days. That's Ok, I suppose, we know his ancestry is Scandinavian and Finnish (mostly Finnish) so his Viking good looks are more Minnesotan than Carolinian anyway ;-). He was torn as to who to cheer for in the recent gold-medal hockey game at the Olympics (he chose Finland, Sweden won).

We had a frame made up with our family portrait, a copy of the Proclamation on the Family, and pictures of the Las Vegas and Bountiful temples. Vegas is where Mommy and Daddy were sealed together, Bountiful is where he was sealed into the family.

So far he hasn't asked many questions about his biological heritage. We have some basic info that we'll share once he's 18. I really thought that by now he's be more curious, but despite all our openness about it (or perhaps because of) he's not shown any interest.

You mentioned the in-laws. My parents have been nothing but supportive. My wife's mother was a little unsure about the whole thing at first but came around very quickly. I don't know about your specific situation, but I'd suggest open and honest communication is probably the first step.

Risks. Is there anything we do that doesn't involve risk? Driving to work is taking a risk, eating out is taking a risk. There are no guarantees with the adoption process, but there are no guarantees with the biological process either. Both involve taking a risk.

As has been said, do your homework, save your pennies, endure intrusions into your life (social workers had to tour our home, complete criminal background checks, etc.) learn more about family law than you ever thought possible (especially if the adoption crosses state lines or an international boundary) and be ready for ups and downs.

Any other questions, just ask!

3/01/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Chad too said...

Oh, and despite having no power-tool skills at all I'm STILL expected to carve out one of these &*%^ Pinewood Derby cars by the end of the month. We adoptive dads aren't cut any slack by the Cub Scouts.

3/01/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Echoing what Chad said -- any challenge that can happen with an adopted child can happen pretty much just as easily with a bio child. In our case, sure, adopting opened us up to things like prenatal substance exposure. But our gene pool would've opened us up to other risks, like bipolar and diabetes. I don't know that one of those is necessarily that much worse than the others.

I had a great aunt and uncle who had adopted four children. The first two "turned out" well, meaning that they fulfilled their parents' hopes about serving missions, going to college, marrying in the temple. The second two struggled with substance abuse and other choices.

The family I grew up in has six bio kids. Two are gay, one has left the church. Only one has served a mission (same one who has now left the church); one more may when she is 21; that one and two others of us may when we are seniors. Two have graduated from college and two more probably will; the other two may never do so. Two are married and one engaged; of the remaining three, who is to say? A lot depends on luck and laws about gay marriage.

My point is, you have no guarantees whatever you do. Sometimes we think that kids with our genes will be like us. In truth they will be themselves and make their own choices.

My mom once told me "When you become a parent you open yourself up, both to the greatest possible joy and the greatest possible sorrow." I think that's true no matter how your family grows. But it's so important -- if a person stays on the sidelines because she fears the sorrow, she will miss out on the joy.

3/01/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


We are in the process of upgrading some things in our home, which means that despite the fact that it's supposed to eventually look great, it looks awful right now. I thought just today, "If some social worker came by right now, unannounced, we'd be screwed." Hopefully they're just checking to make sure we have running water, etc, and they'd over look the overflowing laundry and the goldfish crumbs on the floor, right?

3/01/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous heidi said...

As a mother of seven (four adopted and three biological--triplets) I have a few comments on the adoption vs. biology question.

What is hard about adoption:
1. The worry, especially with the first one, that he/she is not really "your" child. I remember rejoicing when my first son was nine months old because I had had him longer than his birthmother (selfish?), and then again when he was officially adopted, and then again when he was sealed. But with subsequent children that was easier.
2. The fact that your child doesn't have your DNA. This has been less of an issue for us. My oldest, who is now 10, just came home with an assignment from school to make his family tree back to his grandparents and include any traits that were inherited (eye color, hair color, etc). He said at first that this wouldn't matter because he was adopted, but when he finished and saw how well he fit in, he said "Hey! It's like Heavenly Father meant for me to be in this family!" (Note--one of my other adopted children doesn't really look like part of the family, but she still feels like she belongs.)
3. The invasiveness of the paperwork. I think the emotional invasiveness of adoption paperwork is about at the level of the physical invasiveness of infertility treatments.
3. International adoption (our fourth child). This was excruciating, since the baby was already born and in an orphanage in terrible conditions and we couldn't get to her without filling out always new and improved legal requirements. This was much harder than domestic adoption, in vitro fertilization, or giving birth to triplets.

What is good about adoption:
1. The children. I had some of the strongest spiritual experiences in my life about my adopted children, and knew that they belonged to me. I don't know what I would do without them.
2. It's not really that different, once the child is here. You have problems with any child, biological or adopted, and you just get through them.

That said, it is all a very personal experience. With all of my children, it took a lot of fasting, prayer, and searching before I thought I had found the right method for getting the next one(s) into the family. But when I finally found what I thought was right, it was a very strong impression.

Good luck to you.

3/01/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Chad Too said...

Heather: They were looking to see that we had a fit home for children. They wanted to see that we had enough room for the baby; closet space, bedroom, bathroom, etc. I'm sure they were checking to see if there was blood ont he carpet too, though that isn't said out loud of course! ;-)

These things vary by state, but for us the social worker visit wasn't un-announced. We knew when she was coming and were able to meet her and show her around. We knew in advance what the state required her to report on so we could be prepared. We were working with a private social worker and I don't know if that makes a difference or not.

I'm not saying a well-rented off-site storage locker wasn't part of the plan mind you...

3/01/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


Thanks for the explanation. When we were pregnant with Jacob, we lived in a small one bedroom with a very large walk in closet. We seriously considered turning that closet into a nursery, and putting our clothes somewhere else. We simply had no other place to put him!

That said, we moved into a small two bedroom a month before he was born. But there were plenty of other students who were living in tiny spaces with lots of kids. I've often wondered how many people I knew would have been unacceptable as adoptive parents.

3/02/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for this post. This is exactly what I needed today, as I feel especially down about fertility issues. I'm feeling much better now, and strangely close to people whom I've never met.

3/04/2006 02:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Chad Too said...

If you have any specific qeustions I'd be happy to chime in, as would others. Heather, you and Nate too. If you want to take it off list that's cool too.

3/06/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Thanks, Chad. I'll talk to Nate.

3/06/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we conceived after battling infertility. the entire time i was going through infertility, i thought, i just need one and i'll be happy. now that our son is 4 months old, i can't wait to be pregnant again. only i wonder if it will happen and if it does how long will it take and how far would i go. i can understand what it must be like to feel like there is nothing left, but not feel done.

3/07/2006 06:45:00 PM  

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