Infertility after adoption (Bethany post, part 3)

This is the third and final part of a three part series I've written on our journey for our local Bethany Christian Services branch. 
After our son had been home from Russia for about half a year, my husband John and I headed to our fertility clinic with high hopes of conceiving and growing our family. We had been to this clinic once before, prior to making the decision to adopt, and knew our doctor felt optimistic about our chances. When we had consulted with him two years earlier, he suggested I take a medication to induce ovulation called Clomid; at our next consultation he thought he might make the same recommendation, but he wanted to run some tests first.
I had a battery of blood work done as well as an HSG, which is an x-ray test done to check the fallopian tubes. Because I had charted my cycles, I was confidant that I was ovulating; I was also fairly optimistic that I would not have any blockages or other problems like endometriosis because my body seemed to be functioning exactly as it should. John had done a semen analysis before our adoption that came back normal, so my biggest worry was that our infertility would be “unexplained,” leaving us without a clear course of treatment...


Here I am: hope in the dark after failed infertility treatments.

Following our final failed IUI in April, May has been something of a rough month. I've been tired, emotional and fairly overwhelmed as I come to terms with the reality that our fertility treatments didn't work. Most days have been hard. Some days have been hopeful. Mostly I've just been trying to wrap my head around the fact that this is my story. I'm someone who did all the testing, had a laparscopic surgery, did three medicated cycles and four IUIs, … and still didn't get pregnant. That's my story. I wish it wasn't. But it is. I'm here.

I'm here in this place where only a year ago I gravely feared being. On the other side of all those treatments, sitting on the couch, knees tucked under my chin and arms around them, the fronts of my thighs pressed tightly against my empty womb. I'm here.

There are some things here that I knew would be: an empty ache. Disbelief. Tears. Heartbreak.

Some things aren't here that I thought would be: mainly, regret. I thought for sure if I got here, I would regret all the time and mostly the money that went into our treatments. I don't. I have peace about where we went on our journey and all the choices we made. I wouldn't change any of our decisions either; I believe it was exactly the right journey for us. I have peace knowing I won't look back on this stage of my life and say, "I wish we would have tried…." We tried. It didn't work. But I have peace knowing we tried.

John and I spent a lot of time considering whether to move forward with either IVF or embryo donation and we've decided to move forward with embryo donation. We haven't fully closed the door on IVF, but we both would much prefer to be recipients of donor embryos than do IVF, if we can. Our clinic has not historically received donated embryos from other clinics (the type of donations which adoption agencies like Nightlight facilitate), so we are looking for a match within our own clinic. Our clinic also only has an anonymous donor program, but based on all our past adoption research we truly believe it would be best for any child(ren) born of donor embryos to know their genetic family; so we are hoping to find a donor couple: 1) at our clinic who 2) want an open or semi-open relationship with our family.

We're carving out something of a new path at our clinic by seeking a known donor couple. I am unsure whether anything will come of it, but I think it would be a beautiful way for God to redeem this really hard season in our lives if he would so choose. Watching him redeem our first infertile year by bringing about Arie's adoption was the most incredible experience of my life thus far; I am clinging to the hopeful expectation that he will do something wonderful again! And- honestly- hoping he'll do it soon. Because being here is really hard.

Looking forward to brighter days to come and in the meantime walking (stumbling??) as faithfully as I know how in the dark.



Adoption after infertility (Bethany post, part 2)

This post is part 2 of a three part series I am writing for our local arm of Bethany Christian Services.  You can read Part 1: Infertility- pain, shame, and isolation here


After a long year discovering we had infertility, I was desperate to become a mother. Motherhood was the thing for which  I felt I was created; it was the one constant vision I held of myself in my mind as I went through highschool, college, and post-graduate studies. My course of education evolved through those years as did the career in which I imagined myself, but I never once imagined my belly empty, my arms without a baby, or my hip without a child. Infertility was not supposed to be part of the picture.
Even as a dating couple, John and I talked about building our family. We agreed that in addition to having biological kids, we would like to adopt “someday.” When we married and decided on the path we would take to our family, we imagined having two or three biological children and then adopting one or two more. With our first year of infertility behind us, we went to a fertility specialist to see if we could stick to that plan, but we also began to consider turning it on its head: maybe God was calling us to adopt first?

follow this link through to Bethany's blog to continue reading! 


Infertility: pain, shame, and isolation

Today I'm linking you up to a guest post I wrote for our local branch of Bethany Christian Services' blog. John and I didn't use Bethany for our adoption, but we have friends who did so I knew them as an adoption agency. Turns out: they are so much more! Among their many services is a counseling branch, ready to wrap arms around those who are healing and in search of help. I met the clinical director of our local branch through our church and she asked if I would write about infertility for them; a topic that's often stored up in the dark places of our hearts and needs desperately to be brought out into the light. So today I'm doing just that: bringing my story of infertility out into the light for you all to see. 


Hi. My name is Jillian and I am infertile.

Nice to meet you.

I’m sure you can probably guess that I’m more than just infertile and you’re right: I’m a wife, a Russian adoptive mom, a blogger, a pastor’s spouse, and a Christian among other things. Being infertile is not all of who I am, but I have to be honest with you: it’s a big part of my story and it has greatly shaped the person I am today.

When I was young I loved to watch that TLC show “A Baby Story.” Every once and a while they would feature an adoptive couple; in the get-to-know-you interview part of the show, the adoptive mom would say something like, “We tried to get pregnant and it didn’t happen so we decided to adopt!” Her infertility glossed over in a brief sentence; the tiniest little gray cloud with the brightest of silver linings. As an adoptive mom I can say that absolutely yes my infertility brought me to one of the greatest joys in my life: my precious son. But I can also say that infertility has wrecked me, bringing me the greatest pain and the deepest wounds I have ever known.


Every year there is just enough time between harvest and planting for me to forget how awful I am at gardening.

Actually, it's not really the gardening per say that I'm so terrible at… it's the watering, and the weeding, and the pruning… those are the things I always forget to do. I'm awesome at picking the vegetables (when they actually grow).

I've gardened for three summers in a row and seem to get worse at it each year, but this year is going to be different. This year, I will rock my garden. I will grow so many vegetables, no one in my family will even need to take a multivitamin all summer long. I will garden my little patch of soil until even the earthworms bow in my presence.

Yep. This is my year.

A few weeks ago we had one of our first warm spring days and I took Arie out back to plant our seeds.
I look angry. I'm not. I have a hostile concentrating face.

One thing I love about my little boy is that his enthusiasm often outweighs the situation. I mean, all we were doing was dropping little seeds into plots of dirt but you would have thought we were growing chocolate and jelly bean trees by the measure of his delight! His little body bounced and his fists tightened into excited balls each time I told him to pick the next seed package.

"Should we plant green beans or watermelon next, Arie?"


He's almost four and he still naps practically every day in addition to sleeping 11 or 12 hour nights… I think it's the full tilt in which he lives. There is no lack of joy in his little body!

Once we started seeing new growth Arie began his daily questioning, "Can we eat it now??" I guess I should have been more clear when I told him we were "planting vegetables to eat." ;-)

We're about two weeks away from planting our garden outside, although my green bean, zucchini, and watermelon plants may go out this week if we can get a break from the rain we've been having. I can't wait to get in the dirt with my little boy and show him the magic of growing your own food.

Maybe he'll even do the watering, weeding, and pruning for me this sumer. ;-)



Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit 2014

Last week John and I were thrilled to attend the 10th annual Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit. The Summit is a growing two day event where thousands of Christians gather to learn and be equipped and inspired to help orphans all over the world. There are four large group gatherings and dozens of break-out sessions dealing with issues from family preservation to serving birth parents to preparing for foster care. I ran into a few different friends and acquaintances over the course of the conference and asked, "How do you like the Summit so far?" The answer was always the same:

"I'm so overwhelmed."

I could only agree.

In lieu of a very long and boring summary of what I did and learned, here are five of my favorite learnings and resources from the Summit!

5. Next Steps Booklet. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent in my life researching adoption agencies, both before Arie came home and lately as John and I consider how to grow our family. I have grumbled on more than one occasion, "Why isn't there a list somewhere of what adoption agencies work in which countries??" The process of just finding an agency is overwhelming to say nothing of the adoption process itself.

Well hallelujah the Christian Alliance for Orphans has come up with just the resource I've been searching for! I actually gasped aloud and gleefully waved this little booklet in John's face when I pulled it out of my Summit Welcome bag! The booklet is called: Next Steps: Trustworthy organizations to help families and churches in every aspect of adoption, foster care, and global initiatives. Inside are long lists of organizations sorted by both ministry category (adoption, foster care, mission, etc) and country. The booklet has a gold cover which I found very appropriate because I'm sure it is MORE than worth it's weight in it! Follow the link above for a pdf version.

You're welcome. ;-)

4. National Child Traumatic Stress Network. I'm always amazed at how much time I spend in the "adoption world" and how I can still totally miss out on some of the most incredible resources! In one of the panel sessions I attended, I learned about the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This network is brimming with help for parents, caregivers, professionals and anyone who has a child in their life who has experienced trauma. I know I probably sound like a broken record because I say this a lot, but when John and I were preparing for our adoption we read so much about everything that "go wrong" for a child who has experienced trauma. I don't regret any of the education, but boy was it scary and in desperate need of a little hope! The NCTSN does just that: offer hope for healing. Whether you are considering foster care or adoption, supporting a friend who has, whether you work with children or volunteer or if you are parenting a child who has experienced trauma, this site will be an excellent resource!

3. Preparing Children at Home for Adoption/Fostering. John and I have talked a lot about adopting again or doing foster care in the future. One of the questions that always comes up in our conversations is: how would it effect Arie? I went to a seminar by Josh Caldwell from Lifeline adoption services and the most helpful thing he said was basically that yes if you adopt or foster when you already have a child(ten) at home your current child(ren) will be effected! Especially if your current child already comes from a hard place- like an orphanage or a neglectful/abusive family- they may regress or act out. It is a big change for them and may bring up some hard emotions! The rest of his session was about how to prepare yourself and your children with resources for the transition. The "how to prepare" part was very practical and somewhat obvious, but I found it very helpful to realize that yes adopting or doing foster care would absolutely disrupt our lives, but there are lots of great ways to prepare and reassure child(ren) and make a healthy transition for everyone.

At the end of our session Josh warmly invited anyone anticipating this type of transition to send him an email or give him a call as they work to prepare for it. Check out the link above for his contact info if this is something that would be of help to you!

2. Positive Outcomes for Orphaned Children Study. During one of the General Sessions we heard from Dr. Kathryn Whetten, a researcher from Duke University, who talked about one area of her research called the Positive Outcomes for Orphaned Children study (follow the link to read more about it!).  I thought the most interesting thing she shared was that when it comes to how orphaned children are raised the framework doesn't seem to matter as much as what's inside the framework. In other words, whether the children in the study were raised in a group home, an orphanage, or a foster family, the outcomes of these children were related to the quality of care their received not the kind of structure in which they received it.

I know in the Christian/evangelical orphan care movement, we talk a lot about the value of putting kids in families, but Dr. Whetten challenged us to look carefully at the best interest of each child rather than make the sweeping judgement that families are always better than institutions. Yes a great family is almost always going to be a better place than an institution, however if we rush to get kids out of institutions we may be moving them from good institutions into bad (unloving/neglectful/abusive) families. I actually remember our case worker in Moscow having reservations about Moscow's movement from orphanages to foster families for this very reason. This is not to say we shouldn't work to put children in families, but that we should be careful and wise when we move these vulnerable children. As she said, it is easy to empty orphanages; you just take the kids out. It is much harder to make sure these children are moved into good, loving homes where they can thrive!

One of the criticisms of the orphan-care movement has been that there's too much zeal and not enough wisdom. I thought Dr. Whetten's presence and words at the Summit this year served as a helpful corrective to that criticism.

I tried so hard not to be awkward when I got
this photos. I failed. And I got a bad photo.
I do for you you guys. ;-)
1. Sarah Groves on Art and Advocacy.  My absolute favorite hour of the whole Summit was the one in which I heard recording artist Sara Groves talk about Art and Advocacy. She talked a lot about the unique role of the artist/writer/singer/etc in advocacy: a role of contemplation, of portrayal, of story-telling. She challenged us to move away from being didactic, utilitarian, or teacherly…. to not be prescriptive but instead to find the stories that need to be told, to enter into them, and consider- each of us- how we are uniquely gifted to portray and protect those stories.

As I blogger I know well how many others blogs "just like mine" are "out there" on the web, yet over the last two years I have not stopped writing because I truly believe God has called me to write for his purposes. My heart leaped as I heard Sara speak directly into this conviction by saying:

Let me just shut down the voice inside that says there are too many blogs or books or songs… There are enough ears! The things of the Kingdom are not commodities!

The things of the Kingdom are not commodities. That's something worth remembering. If you're an artist of any kind and you've ever wondered about how your work matters in the Kingdom, take a minute to listen to Sara's song, "Why It Matters." 

Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it's protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Also check out this beautiful place called Art House North that she and her husband have founded. I left her session beyond encouraged and deeply inspired.


Five short snippets from an intense two days. Waiting anxiously to hear where the summit will be held in 2015 and already hoping to attend again!

Have you ever gone to the Summit? What did you think?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...