(The truth, though, is that the issue is in the eye of the beholder, of course.)
In case you’re feeling a little lost, let’s review…
Infertility is the inability to conceive, no matter what you try.
Hyperfertility is the inability to not conceive, no matter what you try.
And both can be devastating life challenges to the people involved… not matter how inconceivable that may seem. (Pun intended.)
Long ago, native Americans believed that the god of fertility was a visitor they called Kokopelli. It was believed that Kokopelli carried unborn children on his back and distributed them to women in need of fertility blessings. The couples welcomed Kokopelli’s visits, while young girls and unmarried women feared him instead.
Julio and Marta have been married for more than a decade. They both come from large families, and they are everyone’s favorite godparents. They’re both in excellent health. They have great jobs, with good benefit packages. There’s no known reason that they cannot conceive, despite having had costly consults with all the best fertility specialists. They long to parent, and they’re ready in every way, and yet, they cannot get pregnant, due to what’s called unspecified infertility.
And it’s devastating for them.
Mike and Stacy have been together for nearly ten years, for better or worse. They had their first unplanned pregnancy in their last year of high school, and wanted to make other plans, but their relatives persuaded them to parent instead. The next baby happened before the first was a year old, and being good Catholics, they made the best of it. Another pregnancy ended in a still birth, and then the twins came along, and Mike got laid off. Stacy was in a car accident, and then another baby was on the way, which they placed with a family member, but they separated briefly and by the time they reconciled, Stacy found she was expecting again, unsure of who the father was, and totally certain the timing was all wrong to try to add another child to the home. That’s what hyperfertility looks like.
And it’s devastating for them.
Don’t judge, please.
For some reason, our society finds it far easier to sympathize with the infertile than to empathize with the hyperfertile. People tend to consider the infertile as “deserving” while judging the hyperfertile as “irresponsible.” And yet, the personal loss of reproductive control is just as tragic for the one as for the other.
Sometimes, those with infertility have found that their condition was caused by delayed efforts to reproduce. And sometimes, those with hyperfertility have been handicapped by poverty or inadequate healthcare. Neither is an excuse, and both result in hardship. Each finds their condition can impact their relationships. Either can suffer from stress, shame, depression or inadequacy as a result.
Yet both are deserving of our support and respect. Both have the capacity to be wonderful parents. Either has the right to make their own best choices. Neither should be judged by others.
The Adoption Option
In open adoption, we often find that the needs of one can become the answered prayer of another. Yet it’s far too simplistic to think that adoption is always the solution to either problem.
Not every infertile couple is equipped to deal with the lifelong impact of an adoption decision.
Not every hyperfertile parent can live with the lifelong impact of a placement decision.
When the stars do align, open adoption can be a beautiful joining of the infertile and the hyperfertile. The once-childless couple can become not just proud parents but beloved adoption relatives of the children of the hyperfertile, who add not just the adopted child as an extended relative, but his or her adoptive parents, as well.
If you’re struggling with the loss that comes with infertility, please get grief counseling to help you mourn your losses and which can help ready you to consider all your options, including adoption.
And if you’re one of those parents who is secretly relieved to have read this and learned that hyperfertility is actually “a thing” and you’re thinking you may need to consider adoption yourself, please contact Abrazo anytime, and let’s talk about all your options, including adoption.
Infertility vs. hyperfertility: whatever your curse, you’ll find compassion here.