Infertility is not a nice word; like many English words, it has a connotation of sadness, sorrow, and exclusion. Barren is no better; it implies emptiness, lack, and a dead end. Would reproductively challenged be more palatable? In today’s PC world, this term could catch on, but I doubt if it would make women in my situation feel better.
However I can talk about infertility now. I do not feel the same sadness I once did, but when I am honest with myself, (which is not often enough) I will admit that it still hurts once in a while. Maybe only because I know I cannot join labor and delivery conversations and be part of the group. Maybe because I would love to know what our biological kids would have looked like and been like ( I know, there’s and app for that.) Maybe because grandparenthood is around the corner (at least hoping so), and this brings up the next generation of infertility reminders. Having adopted three wonderful kids meant that the pain was pushed down for many years. I can honestly say that our kids brought us the greatest joy we have ever known (in earthly terms). However my recent interaction with newborns of my friends’ kids brought up some fresh issues that never occurred to me.
For example, our son married one of my closest China friends’ daughter. When Joanna has a baby, in addition to our beautiful Joanna and handsome Jack, we will see our dear friends, Heng Wing and Yhi Hua, but we won’t see Joe and I. It’s ok; we will get over it. But admitting that it might sting a little is just being honest. Joe and I joked that we will make up for it by implanting our personalities into our grandchildren, rather than our genes (we put the fun in dysfunctional). Some of you are now worried about these grandchildren because you know Joe and I a bit too well.
I think that such a private but real sting is just part of living in a fallen world, where sickness and sorrow and sin are present. Even though I have had a very happy life-there is always the awareness that some things are broken, and not all that they could be. When I die, I will be free of that tiny seed of sorrow that is still in my heart. And most days I don’t think about it actually. But when I look in those tiny newborn faces one day, I will probably be reminded of something that I almost forgot.
It occurs to me that some reading this will now say “Wait–your kids were adopted?!” “But they look (and act) just like you and Joe!” Smile. Our infertility/adoption story can only be shared in small bites, and I am ready to do it now. It will probably not make you laugh, but it did have a happy ending. Maybe it will help someone who like me, could not get pregnant. Maybe it will minister to someone who gave their baby up for adoption, or who was given up themselves. We all share in the joy/sorrow mix that is part of every adoption story. If it does, I will be most happy to share the journey. Much more to come.