When IVF and Adoption Both Fail

The sad truth is that infertility treatment doesn’t always work. It’s also true that many adoption matches don’t work out. When both happen to the same person, these losses are doubly sad. What can you say to a friend or family member who has not been successful with infertility treatment or adoption?

We got the following inquiry that has stuck with me this week:

I have friends that have experienced infertility. I’m lost as to how to help them.

Our friends did numerous infertility treatments until an emergency hysterectomy pretty much ended all medical treatments for them. After many months of grieving they started to pursue adoption. I was horrified by how difficult and cruel adoption can be to childless couples. They experienced failed adoption after failed adoption. Finally, after their fourth failed adoption, their adoption agency has told them they are now too old to adopt.

The Power of Listening

Wow, I’m so sorry for your friends. What an awful place to be. I am also so thankful that they have friends like you who care enough to try to help.

How, as a friend, can you help couples who have experienced so much loss? These tragedies are devastating, and there seem to be no paths left for them to have children.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to simply be with them through their grief. Don’t give false optimism; don’t give advice; don’t tell them about all the happy childfree people you know. Simply acknowledge their pain. You can’t fix it, and they don’t want you to. They simply need your kind ears. You can’t understand fully their pain, but they likely crave recognition of their loss.

I can’t recommend enough this Creating a Family show we did recently with Dr. Ken Doka on Coming to Terms with Infertility Grief.


Get Thee to a New Adoption Agency

I realize that I just told you not to give advice, but I can’t resist the temptation to say that if your friends are still in their 40s, age should not exclude them from adoption. Even if they are in their early to mid 50s, adoption may still be an option. This is especially true if they are able to afford some of the adoptions that are more expensive because of the expectant mother’s medical fees or living expense.

Try to feel out if your friend is open to a small suggestion of checking with another adoption agency.  You might suggest she listen to the Creating a Family show we did on What Expectant Mothers Look for When Choosing Adoptive Parents.

What do you say to friends who have a failed IVF cycle or a failed adoption match? Or if you were the one facing the failure, what did you want people to say or do?

Image credit: Ashley Rose