Lisa and I met and started dating in March of 1985. We have been married for 35 years. We are both cradle Catholics and active in our church community. Our faith is important to us and it was a guide in helping us determine our path to parenthood. Our hearts go out to any couple who has to deal with infertility.
While we had high hopes of becoming parents, our relationship was also important and we needed to ensure we did not lose sight of our relationship. Lisa’s endometriosis was very hard on her. I think that helped me accept the unsuccessful attempts to conceive, and eventually to move on. I felt, at times, some more strongly than others, that God’s will was at play here and whatever happened, we would be okay.
The infertility and then the adoption process gave me time to look at myself and straighten out some of the issues that I was dealing with, which I knew would probably have a negative effect not only on parenting but on my marriage as well. I think this was another example of God’s hand in our lives. Obviously, I think patience, and most importantly love and compassion for your spouse are the things that I would stress for anyone going through this difficult time. Have an openness to hear one another.
Our faith also shaped our personal choices regarding what medical options we considered, and what should be our next steps. Couples need to be mindful and respectful of the other’s feelings and religious beliefs when deciding on a course of action. Lisa became exhausted by the ups and downs of becoming parents biologically and we both felt that we should explore our options to adopt.
As much as you want to become a parent and love a child, you must reflect and be open about your limitations, without judgment. On one occasion we were referred a child with noted medical concerns. We had a local physician review the child’s medical records and he told us that this child was seriously sick and would need extensive care and medical attention in the future. I know that I was conflicted about the issue, wondering “is this part of God’s plan?” But I had an overwhelming sense that I was not ready for this kind of commitment, and I voiced that to Lisa, who agreed. We turned down the referral, but I can’t tell you how much I wondered about our choice going forward. You have to be honest with yourself and your spouse about all those things: country, race, age, health, etc.
As far as the adoption process, it can be a long, frustrating experience, and faith and patience are paramount. We initially began the adoption in-country, but after a period of time we began the process for an international adoption. Unfortunately, the agency we were working with decided to withdraw from our country program which meant we needed to begin the process of paperwork for a different country. We were very upset, frustrated and angry, to tell you the truth. We both wondered if we were ever meant to be parents.
Lisa had decided that emotionally she could not continue. She had enough of the disappointment and wondered if she hadn’t prayerfully been listening. A relative had heard about what had happened and contacted her friend who was a social worker with an agency working with South Korean adoptions. She contacted us and asked if we would be agreeable to finding out if our paperwork would transfer (at this point everything was current). We received a call around Thanksgiving and that our paperwork could be transferred. We contacted the agency and decided to go ahead, and we received a referral for our son by Christmas. This was expedited by the fact that we had already completed a portion of the required paperwork. In April we traveled to New York and picked up our son. It was a great example of one door closing and another opening. Two years later we started the process again and welcomed our daughter, also from South Korea, through the same agency.
I can tell you honestly now that adoption was the right path for us. We have been open with our kids about the process and I hope they feel free to talk about their adoption. It’s not an easy process by any means. Your relationship, your faith and your ideas about parenting can all be tested and tested severely. Especially after the experience with the initial agency, I at times felt that being a parent was just not meant to be. Thank God we didn’t give up. I think the infertility and adoption process, and then the parenting afterward, was just made easier because we had God and each other to turn to for support.