Baby makin' in the light

I've been hemmin' and hawin', wishin' and washin', backin' and forthin' about if/when/how I should share the steps we're taking to add another Burden to our clan.

Everyone loves an adoption story, don't they? The exciting decision, the waiting, the referral, the travel or the hospital trip, the birth or the gotcha day, the long, long, long awaited coming home. It's powerful, inspiring, and emotional in the very best of ways.

But when you can't get pregnant adoption is not the only choice, of course. There are fertility treatments too.

Not too many people like those stories. Those stories are sad and medical. They get icky and hormonal. There's not too much of a soaring plot line behind injections and pee sticks.

There's also shame. Partially because fertility is related to sex and sex sometimes carries a little shame on its back, doesn't it? At least a little taboo. I've also discovered- sadly- that there's some shame in it because of the expense. When John and I announced our plan to adopt Arie I heard this comment on repeat:

I'm so glad you decided to adopt instead of do fertility treatments. Why would you waste all that money trying to have your own kid when there are already so many needy kids in the world?? 

Boy are there a few things I'd like to say about that:

1) Let's just all agree to not use the descriptor "your own" when we're talking about bio vs. adopted kids. My children are "my own" children no matter their origins. As an adult I let the phrase roll off my back, but I don't want my son to hear that one. He's my own, forever. The end.

2) Infertility is a medical condition, not a moral one. People who struggle with infertility have every right to pursue as much or as little treatment as they desire just as a person with any other medical condition does. People who struggle with infertility are no more and no less responsible for the care of orphans than fertile people. Adoption is a calling, not an answer to a medical condition. Which leads me to my last point:

3) Adoption doesn't solve infertility; it solves childlessness. Infertility brings with it a host of emotions. Shock, despair, sadness, anger... all the emotions of grief. There is no sidestepping that grief and no way to just "get over it." It is something each person needs to work through and learn how to live with. Adopting a child will fill the childless void after infertility, but it can't fill the void of pregnancy or the feelings of bodily brokenness a person experiences in infertility. The experience of infertility and the act of adoption are often related but still distinct and each person will work through the related emotions on their own time and in their own way. "Why don't you just adopt?" is not a good question to ask someone who is grieving infertility.

Shame has no business walking around in the waiting room of the fertility world. I understand the desire to be private about these things, but privacy is a word that should denote feelings of peace and calm, not anxious hiding or embarrassment.

With all that in mind, I've hemmed and hawed, wished and washed, back and forthed my way over the the side of no shame and I've decided to use my voice to take something that lives in the dark and bring it into the light.

John and I have decided to pursue fertility treatments instead of adoption for Burden #2. We want to adopt again and seriously considered starting the process at what would have been now, but after lots of prayer and conversation we decided to go the fertility route first. We wanted a grand divine gesture to tell us what to do. We asked for one. But we didn't get it.

You know how we made the decision?

A number. Namely, 28 which is the age at which most women peak in their fertility and also the age I'll be in 6 month's time. Since we already know we'll need help to conceive, we want time to be on our side.

We're feeling like it's a now or never choice and neither of us were comfortable with the idea of never. So here we go. We're starting a 10 day vacation on Thursday and when we get back I'll be making some calls and setting up some appointments to get this treatment started.

It's a little scary to think about sharing something so vulnerable with you- and to have faith in myself to walk that line between privacy and fear- but like I said I'm inviting you in because:

No shame. 


PS: Today I'm also sharing my story over at KirstenKline.com. Check it out! 


  1. yes, yes, yes. Your words really resonated with me! I'm so glad you shared and I think it's so important to make this a subject that "can" be talked about. We pursued fertility treatments to help us with our first two, and now we are adopting our third.
    Blessings as you walk another new road and journey!

  2. I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your dreams.

  3. Kudos for sharing your decision! I agree with everything you said and applaud your honesty. May your efforts be blessed and a sibling for Arie come into your heart and into your arms soon!

  4. So very glad you've chosen to "go public" with your choice - and the reasons behind it. Well said and thoughtfully written. May another little Burden be the loved and welcomed result of the journey, in His time.

  5. Thank you for this post. Good luck on this new journey. I am so glad you decided to share it.

  6. Anonymous7/02/2013

    I just wanted to say that it is beautiful how you so openly share your family's story with the world. One of the first stops to change something from being taboo to normal is TALKING about it. Infertility should most definitely not be taboo.

  7. Very well written Jillian! Although we did not adopt first, we dealt with many of those not so romantic tests during the first 4 years of our marriage. ((((hugs))))

  8. Dianna7/02/2013

    Could not agree with you more!! Its is almost as if some people shame us for being broken.. the emotions are wild, and range from so many things.. sadness, hope, denial, education, ugh.. it goes on and on!!

    My Journey is long and crazy.. but it is my story... we had loss, and sadness. We had hope and never a placement, we had more loss and sadness... then found the doctors I was looking for and at the age of 41 became pregnant with a child that I was able to deliver!!! JOY, Thankfulness, Blessings!!! as bittersweet as it was after the loss of a child in our family. I look at it now as God's timing.... he knew when not only myself and my husband but my entire family would need the next gift in our life, and that she is.

    I think I found it the hardest to deal with very well meaning Christians that thought all of the medical 'procedures' were not of God's will.. that if I were meant to be a Mother it would happen naturally... that was the hardest to hear.. I lost several friends on my Journey.

  9. Very exciting news. :) I trust that you will bless and be blessed by others as you go through this journey publicly. It has it's hard moments, but in my experience, the positives are well worth it. :) Looking forward to being along for the ride.

  10. Thank you for sharing this! It is definitely something I think about almost daily! Thank you! Good luck on your journey!

  11. Bless you. We have adopted 3. I love my boys. They are mine. Nothing can change that. But I still long to carry a child in my womb. I long to nurse a baby. It hurst when people say things like, "oh, your quiver is full". NO IT'S NOT!!!!
    Bless you. I am praying for you.

  12. I quoted number three on my FB page. (And linked to this post!)

    My husband LOVED this post, too! :-)

    We are adopting through foster care and plan to POSSIBLY pursue fertility treatments within the next year.

    Thank you for this WELL-SAID and enlightened post!! We truly appreciate it!


  13. Good luck! I hope Arie gets to be a big brother soon! And thank you for using your voice to make a positive change in the world.

  14. Anonymous7/02/2013

    Thank you! You have such a way with words and have really expressed things beautifully. After 5 pregnancy losses (3 late in the second tri and 2 at 10 weeks) I can relate to everything you have said above. Your # 3) above hit home for me. If you can even believe this, my 3rd loss was at 10 weeks and just after coming out of my ultrasound where the heartbeat could no longer be found, the fertility doctor said to me "you should probably think of adoption". What? That was like hitting me with two losses. The first one I just suffered in the ultrasound room. The second telling me (for no real medical reason) that I should not think of having a biological child. You do have to learn to let a lot of phrases roll off your back.
    We had already thought of adoption and that was a decision my husband and I would make. I did not need a doctor telling us and definitely not at that particular point in time. We had already started the process of adoption prior to that pregnancy. Not because we had no chance of pregnancy or that we had any idea we would lose all our future pregnancies, but because we wanted to start our family and that is a beautiful way to become a parent.
    I do have 2 beautiful girls through adoption and you are so right. It does not change the medical condition that stopped us from having biological children or take away the pain of losing all the babies we conceived, delivered and buried. It just brought two beautiful children into our life and made us a family of 4. It brought the happiness, the same happiness, that everyone experiences when they become a parent. You then have to let a lot of other comments roll off your back but that's another blog!! Thank you again! It was wonderful to hear your story. Wishing you all the best in your journey!! I hope you will have the joys of a second child however that child finds their way into your family. Peace

  15. Beautiful, just beautiful. Congratulations on taking the steps to expand your family! :D Wishing you and sending you LOTS of sticky dust when treatments take place. Blessings on you momma and papa and Arie!

  16. Hi Jill, it's Rachael (Kaptein) Cummings (one of your former Canadian Kuyper classmates). I saw Sarah commenting on your blog, and read your post. I remembered you having a gift for photography, but didn't realize that you also had such a talent for writing! I think it's fantastic that you're being open about your foray into the emotionally-laden world of fertility treatments. I can't say that I've been there, but I've experienced several miscarriages, and have talked about those quite openly. Older relatives and friends have told me that they wish so much that they could have been more open about their own miscarriages, but it wasn't as acceptable (or perceived as acceptable) years back. Openly communicating my loss, and the feelings surrounding it, definitely helped with healing, and helped friends suffering their own losses to feel not quite so alone. I'm sure your writing will be an encouragement, and faith-strengthener to so many people, so keep pursuing what you obviously feel so passionate about, and the way that God's gifted you to communicate.

  17. Great post!! I wish you all the best as you pursue fertility treatment!

  18. Good for you! This is a beautifully written post, and I am so happy for you that you are making the decision that is right for *your* family, disregarding any "shame" that society places on this decision. My husband and I are in the process of adopting our first two children, and while I'm excited beyond belief to bring them home in a few months, their arrival does not affect my desire to carry a child in my womb someday. The two are totally separate, as you so eloquently stated. Many blessings to you as you start this new journey!

    Jennifer @ www.fromhouse2home.us

  19. Some great reminders for me Jillian as I speak with couples and carefully and graciously engage in conversations that are filled with emotion, pain and longing. Thanks for your openness on the journey!

  20. I think its so brave and inspiring that your sharing the beginning of this journey. Best of luck!

  21. We did IVF with Dr Dodds and Dr Young, it's been a decision that I have NO regrets and we still have seven children in cryo left to meet. We have two beautiful girls who are our joy! Whatever route you chose to take people will deride your choices every step of the way- be strong, stay steady, regularly check your emotions and stay away from the pee sticks- they'll turn you into a wreck! God bless and good luck!

  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!!! My husband and I have struggled with infertility for nearly 4 years. We have had a hard time finding this balance and you described it in the perfect way! I was feeling guilty for pursuing fertility treatments at the same time as doing all the adoption paperwork we needed to adopt a child. A friend even told me that 'we all struggle with something and you shouldn't be depressed about your infertility' especially when you are pursuing adoption. What a slap in the face! But ultimately, it's more than about having a home filled with children and I am so grateful for you helpng me realize that. I'll be praying you find peace and comfort as you travel this path! I'll be rooting for you!!

  23. WOW Jillian, that is so beautifully written! NO shame! God is using you for big things in this life! I read your "interview" on Kirsten's blog too and I am amazed at the way you verbalize the wisdom God has given you. I honestly think you could write a book! You have a real talent for writing and such an amazing story! God is shining through your life... in your willingness to hold His hand through the trials as well as the joys... and in your humility and honesty in the process. Well done!

  24. That is such exciting news! And a beautifully written post.

    I am also in the process of adopting, and just just last week I started my own blog, Children Deserve
    . It is an advocacy blog for international adoption.

  25. Anonymous7/03/2013

    Hi Jillian, I've been following your blog since I stumbled upon your adoption maternity pictures on Pinterest during a very dark day here in my household as my husband and I have been struggling with the big "secret" of infertility for almost two years. Those pictures and your writings have brought me such joy and hope.

    I just want to give you a big virtual hug and a major THANK YOU for sharing this post with all of your readers. Let us not be ashamed or afraid of this topic, but instead receive love, support, and maybe a hint of understanding from those who have not walked in these shoes. I too often here the, "Why don't you just adopt?" suggestion. THANK YOU for taking this space to spread the light and understanding we so desperately need.

    Wishing you and your husband peace, comfort, and joyous success on your journey to expand your family. You're not alone in this!

  26. My husband and I struggled with infertility as well. It was never comforting to hear people say "You could always adopt" as if it was as simple of a choice as picking a new vacuum. We began treatment recently and this week I found out I am pregnant! There is hope for many who struggle. I wish you guys the best of luck. Also, thank you for your post.It was very articulate!

  27. Thank YOU for being so transparent in your journey! :) Praying for you guys along this path!

  28. Thank you so much for doing this. Adoption IS a calling, and adoption does not cure or fix infertility. I'm reminded of that every month. God bless you in your treatment journey. And keep listening to His voice!

  29. Congratulations on making that big decision. And thank you for this wonderful post. I agree that adoption is a calling and not a solution to a medical issue, but you put it much more beautifully. I've actually found that people expect us to pursue fertility treatments when we're not interested in any of any kind (something we had talked about before we married). Even harder is that I have already birthed one child so people get very uncomfortable if I use the word "infertile" - like I'm not infertile "enough" to use that word. Although I use it very sparingly, I do like having a word to describe our experience. I try to speak openly and push past the awkwardness because any child we adopt or birth should be anticipated with joy and I want our friends and family to go along this journey with us - whichever way the Lord leads us.

    My least favorite sayings: "You KNOW you're going to get pregnant as soon as you adopt" and "you'll get pregnant as soon as you stop trying/relax". My sister reminds me that people just say that because they don't know what else to say. :) We just finished all of our foster-care licensing and hope to be placed with a child soon (and hopefully one in need of a forever family!).

  30. No shame in seeking infertility treatments! My husband and I tried 2 IUI's, stopped while we were building our home, and then one round of IVF before considering adoption (which we are currently "waiting"). I documented my entire journey. I felt God pushing me into doing it because people NEED to hear about it. I love the points you brought up and more people need to read and understand how real they are. If you have any questions about any of the treatments, let me know! I've been through them all. Good luck!

  31. Thought i would share this prophetic word from a pastor I love learning from, thought of you when I read it.


  32. Jill, thank you for sharing your heart and how beautifully written. I think you express the stereotypes, the typical responses, and questions that people continue to wrestle with, and you stand up and answer them in such a beautiful way. Blessings on this new journey and I am looking forward to reading up your journey. It is exciting, faith-leaping, and humbling. Know that you are near in thought and prayer as you begin. Blessings!

  33. It's the written message below the video...should have been more clear...praying for you in this journey

    In Christ

  34. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. I admit I'm totally guilty of thinking of adoption being a 'better' decision than IVF. Your blog post was so well written that it has made me see this from another point of view and rethink my assumptions. I wish you all the best & look forward to following your story.

  35. Thank you for your post. I admit that I'm totally guilty of thinking that adoption is a 'better' decision and a better use of money than IVF. Your post was so well written that it has made me see this issue from another point of view and rethink my assumptions. I wish you all the best with your treatments and look forward to following your story.

  36. Anonymous7/08/2013

    Welcome to the infertility treatment club! The club none of us thought we'd be in yet somehow we found membership here without ever even applying! I am mid-cycle of follistim injectables cycle with a trigger shot currently hoping this will FINALLY be it after fail after fail. Last cycle went perfectly just didn't get pregnant, but at least we got things working perfectly and hoping this one goes smoothly with a little sticky bean! I wish you luck and keep your head up, much like your adoption this is treacherous grounds emotionally and physically but with modern medicine and the motivation to persevere I'm sure baby Burden #2 will be on its way :) You can do this!

  37. I have been following your blog for awhile-I am a foster mama to a 3.5 year old girl that we plan on adopting-I also just had my first biological child last week...both experiences of growing a family are different but beautiful in their own ways. Wishing you the best!

  38. Hi Jillian -

    Please don't take this comment as any opinion on IVF - it is just purely for information sharing....have you heard of NaPro Technology? It is a method of reproductive assistance endorsed by the catholic church which takes *detailed* looks at all the possible infertility issues (hormones, sperm, uterus, tubes etc) and tries to get everything working in tip top shape (with medical and surgical management as needed) with the hope of getting you pregnant the old-fashioned way. Diet, supplements, and lifestyle issues are all addressed as well. The research on it seems to suggest a much higher "come home with a live baby" rate. While IVF pregnancy rates are high, I think it is still something like less than 30% of people come home with a baby at the end. With NaPro, it may take a bit longer to get a pregnancy, but they report an 85% live baby rate.

    I mention it only because it seems that almost nobody knows about it. As an infertile midwife, I thought I knew it all! And then my doctor sent me for a second opinion to a woman in Toronto and it blew my mind. I wish I had found her 5 years ago when we started trying - I wonder if things might be different for us now.

    Anyway, I just wanted to mention it and suggest you look into it. If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to chat about my experiences with it. Just ask Steph P or Dieuwke - they can put you in touch with me, since I don't want to post my email address for all to see! :)

    Take care,

  39. You are such a beautiful writer. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I agree with you. No shame.

  40. My husband and I are adopting!!! We always knew adoption would be apart of our story just never knew when. I struggle with PCOS, found out when I was 19. I have a blog about PCOS. I started to waver with posting after it became apparent that I was having issues getting pregnant. God spoke to our hearts and whispered "It is time". It was like he filled our heart with his words of love and promise of a child. We found we could breath easy again. Not always waiting for to see if "This was the month". When we got married almost 3 years ago God placed an image of our family in our minds. It showed skin tones of the world. Our first adoption is infant domestic and then the World. I stumbled onto your blog looking into adoption fundraising. From that moment on, I started from the beginning of your blog and have laughed, cried, rejoiced, and have seen God's promise of always being with us. I am starting a blog for our friends of family. My husband is from West Michigan (we met in High School there) and his family is still there. We want everyone to be connected through out this journey. After all my rambling, I want to say THANK YOU!!! Thank you for sharing the story that God has written with you. Thank you for being blunt when things got tough. Thank you for showing that smiling face of a blessing. Thank You from the bottom of my heart. Emily

  41. I am so excited to read this! I have been going through treatment for the last year (IVF specificially, we have male factor (count of 900,000 almost zero motility and severely low morphology, husband is also a carrier of cystic fibrosis), and I have a luteal phase defect. I just want to encourage you to never give up. We plan to adopt in the future, but we knew while we were young we had to give treatments a shot. Especially since we were lucky to have a bit of insurance coverage (those $20,000 cycles really add up!. I can't wait to read your newest journey, your adoption story truly touched my heart in ways I can't explain. Sending prayers and love your way!



  42. Anonymous7/24/2013

    "Adoption is a calling, not an answer to a medical condition." BAM. Thank you for this. This process is so deeply personal, and I think it's different for everybody. But here's my progression so far: I went from less invasive to more invasive, while doing all the naturopathic stuff in tandem. (I found out I had endometriosis at 32, and knowing I didn't have much time, I dove right in.) 3 rounds of Clomid, one round of IUI with superovulation - which worked but ended in a miscarriage. After lots of inconclusive testing, did another superov IUI with no results, and am now going in for a 3rd. I don't know about IVF yet. Will cross that bridge when I get there (possibly after this round of IUI? Possibly after the next one?) Praying about adoption - feel compelled by it - always have, but feel like I can only handle one massively intense process at a time, and given my age, I'm focusing on this one. Rooting for you guys! Happy to chat if you want to about any of it. I'm at eliscorner.wordpress.com


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