Coping Mechanism for the Waiting of Infertility or Adoption

Dawn Davenport


Suggestions for how to survive the waiting of infertility and adoption.

Suggestions for how to survive the waiting of infertility and adoption.

In the mood for a little inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. J.B. posted the following on our Creating a Family Facebook Support Group group.  Immediately the comments started pouring in, and I’ve included a few here. What I loved is how so many folks took something that is undeniably negative and turned it into a positive without sugar-coating or denying the pain. I dare you not to feel inspired. Please share your best coping strategies. Pay it forward so others can be inspired.

Curious to see if anyone else has coping mechanisms for the pain of infertility, for waiting for adoptions, or for waiting for IVF cycles (etc.). Mine have been quite dramatic; I’m cutting out things in my life that make me unhappy. I quit a job I hated, got a dog, cut my hair short, and went back to art close to full time. Anyone else out there, or am I nuts?

  • I draw nearer and become more dependent on God. It is the only thing that has kept me sane through this. I focus on His timing, not mine and take things one day at a time. I also have realized that putting things off because I think I am going to have a baby by then or be traveling at that time is silly. Continue planning and living your life and everyone will understand if you have to cancel because the time really did come.  Good luck on your journey
  • For me, it was always helpful to be planning the next thing – doing my research, etc. (getting plan b, c, d and z together) then once the plan was rolling, to trying to focus on living my life as much as possible rather than it being on hold “just in case”. I did spend a lot of time not living fully because I was planning for “what if” – expecially with fertility treatment planning it can be tough to not get consumed in it. But the advantage of that over our adoption process was at least with ART, I felt like I was doing something, whereas with adoption waiting, I felt like none of it was in my control once I finished the steps for our home study, etc. So, being a planning and needing to feel like I’m doing something person – I put together my own personal adoption “outreach” plan – with a few tasks each week. I did it sort of in the spirit of the old sales expression “activity begets activity”. It turns out none of our outreach resulted in our match, but it made me FEEL like I was doing something, so it was helpful for my mental health.
  • I do a lot of charity work to keep myself too busy to really think about it – plus it makes me feel good and helps others… Win/win!
  • I have gotten back into photography. My old passion in college. It is so painful. The wait. The wait of whatever process u are going thru. My husband has gotten himself into stellar shape going to the gym during the wait. We could all write a book and just call it “The wait.” It is quite amazing how long the wait can turn into. Years upon years.
  • Well, there’s the traditional classes, reading, vacations, venting, etc. to pass the time. But, for us it really helped our sanity to think about our end point and when we would choose to step out of the process. Sometimes everything felt so out of our control that it was helpful to evaluate whether we’d reached our limit yet. Meant that we acknowledged that though we were tired, we were still choosing this path more than any other alternative. Sometimes I just found it freeing to remember that someday the wait would be over, and ultimately, we had control over when that would happen even if the result wasn’t necessarily one we were hoping for.
  • I also quit a job that I hated. Took up an exercise routine. Lost weight. Listened to new music/made new friends. Planted a garden. Allowed myself to grieve an adoption loss. This was 9 years ago and now have 2 kiddos I wouldn’t trade for the world.
  • I started running-trained for a 5K and loved it so much I started doing 1/2 marathons. This something that I have continued doing even after the adoption of my son!
  • Put “the wait” into a different light. Yes, it’s painful, but force yourself to grow and be the parent you need to be when the child you’re meant to have in your lives appears. It’s the way God works.
  • You are not nuts! I had “adoption projects” for my waits. I still haven’t finished the 1st project, but I did read all the books in my 2nd.  As for waiting during treatment, I just went crazy. ha.
  • I too focus on the fact that God does have a plan for us in this situation. I live by Jeremiah 29:11. His plan may not be ours but whatever it is, it will be perfect because He created it specifically for me/us. Our pastor hit the nail on the head last night…he said when people have struggles the first thing they let go is their relationship with God and worship when we/they need to the exact opposite and drawer nearer to Him.
  • I started writing. And researching every single topic that made me passionate. I became a huge advocate for ethical adoption practices, and for making adoption available to people who have a harder time adopting. I began to make peace in all my relationships. I made new friends who I know are going to be friends for life even if I never actually meet them in person because we are passionate about the same things. I built up a support system, and for the first time in my life I feel like I “fit” somewhere.
  • I went to therapy…A LOT…and worked through my own “issues.” Then I withdrew for a while and got very quiet and introspective (kind of a “nesting” process), and I poured myself into new ways to support my husband and bio son. I also spent hours and hours quilting…the creative expression was healing, and it kept my mind and hands occupied. Plus, I have some really cute quilts to give my kids!
  • Some things I’m doing… Learning new languages (slowly): Spanish, ASL, and Mandarin Chinese (for my friend’s son she adopted from China, who I want to be able to talk to a bit more easily while he learns English). I’ve also been working on my autobiography and family history. Working on growing my business as well, and I plan to add a photography class for children, hopefully this year.
  • You are totally *not* crazy…..good on you for finding things to feed your soul while you wait. I remember when I chopped my hair off a few years back in the midst of it all…it felt so darn good.
  • In light of foster care month – I think I need to say – another potential thing you could do that gives you that “good” feeling and helps ease the pain of not having a child… Foster a child.
  • Actually sounds quite similar to me!!!!  I cut my hair the shortest it’s ever been, got a dog (and chickens), and I’m studying Graphic Design at a local college. Instead of quitting my job, I went part-time.
  • Running and doing a lot of art — knitting, spinning, making books/journals, collage/mixed media…
  • It has been so many years, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I vividly see my husband saying to me, “it’s over and it’s ok”! We decided when it became about more than having a baby, that would be the time to let go. We started the adoption process, I quit my job and decided to work at a gym, nothing better than getting paid to work out, right! We made big move to another state and I immersed myself in myself. The call came that twins were available. 8 years later I have 4 internationally adopted children and a surprise menopause baby. That is FIVE and I could not be more happy. YES there is a plan out there that I am not in control of, and it is GOOD!
  • I throw myself into my work, thankfully I have a job that I love and keeps me very busy.
  • I knit. A lot.
  • I created a scrapbook – I called it my art therapy. I documented research I did, our first ivf cycle, our follicle count, egg count, embryo count, beta and miscarriage. I put in favorite quotes too. Not sure I had the energy left for any of the several following cycles, but it was good for me in the beginning. And for what it’s worth, I’m not “over” my infertility, but the 2 handsomest and smartest boys on the planet falling asleep in the next room sure help.

What has helped you cope?


Image credit: Adib Roy

15/05/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 13 Comments

13 Responses to Coping Mechanism for the Waiting of Infertility or Adoption

  1. Avatar Melinda Grace Walsh-Sullivan says:

    To the rest of the world we are the happy, successful couple that have it all. I have done a good jb at being happy. I am infertile and have been so for 24 years (im 37 lol). I am still asking myself that question… Can I be happy childless is a loaded question lol. For most of the day I can. At night or when it is just me, or when I go to the 50th baby shower, or on those special holidays when kids make it such a blessing not so much. I didn’t know what I was missing, it was much easier whenn I was outside looking in. Infertility is a daily strugle but something I refuse to let ruin my life.

  2. Avatar Jessica Boehman says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this. My point is this, and it may only be good for me. I’ve been struggling with endometriosis (knowingly) for 6 years. Knowingly infertile for three years of trying. But, do I want to define myself by this? What if I never bear a child? What if adoption does not work for us? I do not want this to be the thing that defines me. So what else am I? A great professor. A darn good illustrator with hopes and aspirations. A good sister and aunt. Can I be happy with those things? I have endometriosis, but I don’t want it to have me. What can I do to have a happy life despite my disappointments? Can I be happy childless? These are the questions I am trying to answer.

  3. Avatar Melinda Grace Walsh-Sullivan says:

    one dog, 2 cats and a foster baby and guess what? I still long to be a mom to a baby that wil be here more than one christmas. College was a good distraction, Work has always been a good distraction. But the problem with distractions is they only last a short time. At one point in my life I did go see a therapist. The answer she handed me a bottle of pills. Yeah I need them along with my calcium, Vid D pills, and the Hormone replacement drugs (good answer doc). Over the years I have found more therapy on various web sites. I can give other support and know the right things to say. But when it comes to myself well I don’t take my own advice.

  4. Avatar Kristina Grish says:

    I just wrote a story about our adoption bucket list for Redbook!

  5. Avatar Jack says:

    My quiver is full but I am anxious for every young couple I know. We tried for so long before we found a problem that could not be fix. Our children came into our lives unexpectedly. They were not babies, we missed all that. I had never changed a diaper until our grandson was born six weeks ago. Now I think I was made to parent older children who can talk and tell me what I am doing wrong. This baby boy came to our house on our 34th anniversary. Such a long wait for a house with eight rockers. The joke went like this, “I know it’s our anniversary and I don’t mean anything personal but if you get pregnant I’m leaving.
    Greg I have been where you are and there is nothing I can say other than maybe adopt a waiting child. It’s an ache I remember well. I turned to the scriptures, Psalms 113 means a lot to me.

  6. Sara, your comment reminded me of how I felt when I had 4 little kids and 2 cats. Someone “offered” us a new cat and my first thought, before I said NO, was “Oh Lord, don’t give me something else I’m supposed to love and care for!!” Unfortunately, I said it out loud, so I guess that’s the reason I never got Mother of the Year.

  7. I hate to admit this, but I had some self-indulgent coping mechanisms. During my miserable trek through infertility treatments, I exercised. That was good. But, to be honest, sometimes I cried all the way around the two-mile loop I walked. In the adoption wait, I drank wine almost every night! And, I went to bed early to make the days go by faster. Terrible, right? Once we were matched with a birth mother, I coped with the wait by focusing on her. I prayed for her and bought her inexpensive little treats. By the time we went to the hospital, I could barely lift the basket full of goodies!

    The two healthy habits that sustained me were prayer and time with my son Houston. He was 9 months old when we started trying to conceive and eight years old when we welcomed his baby brother through domestic adoption. Hang in there families. You have my prayers!

  8. Avatar Jessica says:

    As for the dog: we got a dog a year ago to help us take our mind off of the pain of infertility. A year later, no baby, same dog. I don’t regret that choice. At least someone keeps me company when my husband is away on travel quite frequently.

  9. Avatar Greg says:

    Anon ap,

    For me I don’t even need an ideal experience. As someone who is learning disabled with ADD nothing in my life has been ideal. But I’ve made the best of it and excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. I would just like a experience of becoming and being a parent. Someone who I could help grow and be there for. With my wife not sure what she wants I don’t know if that can happen. And even if she did there are no guarantees we would be privileged enough to be given an opportunity to parent. The uncertainty I am struggling with. The only thing I am certain of is that if we were given the privlege of parenting I would cherish each day and take nothing for granted. I would support that child in every way possible and would be forever grateful to the people who have us the opportunity.

    Thank you for your feedback. Best of luck to you as well.

    Thanks as always Dawn. 🙂

  10. Avatar Greg says:

    This is something I am really struggling with right now. I just came back from a vacation that completely disconnected us from everything. It was a great trip that got my mind off things. I came back very refreshed. But in the last 24 hours I found out that a friend a grew up with that his wife is pregnant and today found out that a former co worker who is around my age is pregnant.

    While I am happy for both of them, it is just another reminder that I will never be able to experience the joy that they are. Sure I may end up with an alternative version of that joy but I’ll never experience my wife’s pregnancy or the birth of our child.

    While I can do things that temporarily keep my mind off things it doesn’t change reality.

  11. Avatar Greg says:

    Hi Dawn,

    I have been seeing a counselor that specializes in IF and Adoption since Mid January. I don’t know where I would be w/out it and the support of my wife and family. For me finding the energy for a new hobby to take my mind off things is tough. My work days begin at 4:00 am, leave the house around 6 (1 hour and 15 minute commute each way) and get home around 5. Then it’s getting dinner ready and taking care of the dog before my wife gets home. On the weekends a lot of our time is spent doing errands, exercising and getting ready for the work week. Now I understand with a child there is even less time and energy but I think we can turn it up a notch along with adjusting my work schedule. Right now I don’t feel the motivation to change that. My wife has done a much better job of finding time and energy to do things on her own despite working long hours herself.

    Having been diagnosed not even 6 months ago (after 18 months of trying) I understand this is all still very fresh and need to be patient with it. But that’s the hard part and finding a way to do something to keep my mind off of the situation.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Greg, I’m so glad your seeing someone good. I just wish there was a quick fix for your pain. Hang in there and keep connecting with us. We are here for you.

  12. Avatar anon ap says:

    Sorry to hear you’re having a rough week, Greg. Hopefully you’ll be able to let yourselves do some necessary sulking this weekend. My husband and I certainly have had our hide inside with chocolate and the xbox days. Wallowing just feels right sometimes.

    I know it doesn’t make the pain go away, but I findit helpful to remind myself (post wallowing – it’s a necessary intermediate step) that we have no idea what form a prenancy would take for us, even if it were a possibility. Premature labor, hyperemesis, enforced bed rest, serious complications with the baby, dangerous delivery complications, an ideal pregnancy and labor, placental abruption, etc. All of these are examples of what pregnancy meant for our friends and family. I was sometimes mourning the loss of the ideal experience as told to us by various media sources; othertimes I was mourning the loss of the ease and familiarity of the “got pregnant easily and nine months later are parents” story. Sometimes I was just madder than a wet hen that my body betrayed us so thoroughly. Anyway, whether it’s a pregnancy story, a surrogacy story, adoption, or whatever, each of our paths. that get us to parenthood are unique. It probably won’t help today to think about it that way, but maybe it will tomorrow or Sunday. Or not. We’re all unique in the way we experience our infertility pain as well.
    Regardless, for what it’s worth, you’re not alone. Good luck getting through Friday. One more day gone is, hopefully, one more day closer to being a parent, even if you don’t know when that will happen.

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