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The gift of infertility

Infertility didn’t always seem like a gift. It felt like an enormous cross to carry. I remember being so sad and confused that we could be so open to parenthood and yet find ourselves waiting for a child.

All the conversations with God left me feeling there had to be a greater plan. I tried to trust, knowing this was God’s story to write. Months and years passed, however, and my husband and I were still waiting and wanting to become parents. It just didn’t make sense.

There is an emptiness and sorrow to infertility that is hard to describe. There’s also something particularly challenging about being Catholic and childless. When we went to Mass, I always saw large families with many children. It seemed as if we didn’t have the same status somehow. We were just as open to life as those other families, but still we had no baby to hold.

I didn’t know if or when we ever would. That was hard to accept.

It’s so much easier to look back now and see how that time prepared me for the future. I realize now how my intentions changed from praying for a baby to praying for motherhood. God helped me open my mind and heart to possibilities I hadn’t fully considered. By the time John and I started talking about adoption, we were primed to begin that journey.

Our yearning to become parents led us to the other side of the world—twice—to meet and fall in love with active toddler boys, each with his own beginning, his own story, his own life that would forever be intertwined with ours. We look back now and can’t imagine becoming parents any other way. Adoption is so much a part of our family story. God knew what He was doing. He always does. And He knew just the right moment for us to meet each of our sons—not just for us, but for them.

During National Infertility Awareness Week, I remember the grief and the struggle and the pain of infertility—and I pray for those who are on that difficult road. But I also look back on our experience with deep gratitude. If that door to parenthood hadn’t been closed to us, we would never have become parents to our sons. I simply can’t imagine life without them.

I never would have expected a path of such sadness to carry me to such immense happiness—and to help me grow in faith and trust in God. I try to hold onto that when I’m experiencing those times in life that feel particularly heavy, where it’s difficult to see where a dark path might be leading. There is always hope, of course, but there’s also the understanding that sorrow can lead to joy.

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