It's National Infertility Awareness Week.
I don't believe infertility happens for a reason. I don't believe that G-d made me infertile so that we would adopt. I don't believe that G-d wants a family to adopt a specific child. And I have very good reasons for these things, but I know how they sound when I just say them like that.
So here we go:
1. Infertility is a medical condition, like any other medical condition. It affects a person physically, mentally, emotionally. Ever talked to a woman with endometriosis to see how she feels? How about a man with varicoceles who's been through surgery to try to correct them? What about an infertile couple with no diagnosis? There have been repeated studies that show the depression of infertility is on par with the depression experienced by cancer patients.
Have you ever really wanted something? I mean REALLY wanted something? A dream job, a dream college, a dream person. You allowed yourself to hope. You prayed. You maybe even got superstitious about it. And then you didn't get it--you were probably pretty devastated. It takes time to get over the disappointment and figure out the next step, because you were counting on that one.
Now imagine that happens every month. Imagine the emotional and mental toll of having a dream destroyed every month. Imagine knowing that you don't really have time to get over it because you've got to hop right back into dreaming and hoping, while simultaneously dealing with the crushing disappointment. And imagine that you can't even walk down the sidewalk without seeing someone else who has your dream in their grasp. You can't watch TV without being reminded that others have what you so desperately desire.
Infertility is its own living hell. Does that happen for a reason? I can't believe that G-d wanted me to go through all of that. Seriously, for what purpose?
2. Oh right, because we chose to adopt when we were infertile. Except that we were planning to adopt before I got pregnant with Patrick. Now granted, I was already infertile and we knew that. But we planned on adopting AFTER I got pregnant with Patrick also, when we thought that our fertility issues had a pretty quick fix--I got pregnant very soon after being diagnosed and put on medication for PCOS. During that time, we didn't know that we would ever have trouble again and we STILL wanted to adopt. So the years of recurring infertility after he was born? Not "necessary". We'd figured on giving birth to the second and adopting the other two. So there wasn't a reason there.
But it did speed up the timeline (maybe--if I'd gotten pregnant right away, we probably would have been ready to pursue adoption at about the same time), which MUST mean that we were MEANT to adopt Melkamu, that G-d chose him to be in our family. And this is really the one I have the biggest problem with.
3. If we were meant to adopt Melkamu, that means his first family was meant to relinquish him. Did G-d really make his first mom just a temporary caretaker for him so that he could join our family? Did G-d make her create and love this child, care for him, hug him, kiss him, just while we were waiting to figure out the next step to the plan? Did G-d want her to watch him starving to death, suffering through painful untreated ear infections? Did G-d want her to suffer the intense agony of saying goodbye to her firstborn child and possibly never seeing him again?
And that doesn't address Melkamu's pain. Did G-d want him to suffer from lack of food and ear infections? Did G-d want him to suffer the confusion and anguish of being left in a strange place, watching his firstmom walk away and not come back? Did G-d want him to lose everything he'd known? Did G-d want him to suffer the fear and confusion of having strange white people come and take him away from yet another place that he'd become comfortable? Does G-d want him to suffer the confusion and identity issues that will undoubtedly come along as a transracial and international adoptee?
Is G-d really that cruel, to put them both through that so that Melkamu could be in our family? I can't believe that.
It's easy to justify saying "everything happens for a reason" if you just look at our family superficially. On the outside, we're the luckiest people in the world: almost 10 years married, two great sons. Infertility didn't break us, so it's easy to say that "infertility happened for a reason".
But our great happiness has come with huge costs, and we aren't the ones who bear most of those costs. In reality, the cost of infertility (and I'm not talking money here) was huge but temporary. It doesn't ever go away but the cost decreases over time. After all, I'm mostly OK with surprise pregnancy announcements now, while those would have led to a spiral of depression lasting for days while we were going through infertility treatments. Compared to the cost of relinquishing your child, of having to say goodbye to everything you've ever known--our cost doesn't matter. It doesn't even count.
We don't live our lives mired in the sadness of what Melkamu and his first mom have experienced, but we don't forget it either. Saying that "everything happens for a reason" is saying that there is a reason that they went through that--almost saying that they deserved it. I can't fathom a G-d that cruel, to put a family through something like that just so that we could have another child in ours. It's like saying that our suffering was more "worthy" and therefore we "deserved" a child while she "deserved" to have to say goodbye to hers.
There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for Melkamu, for how could someone fail to love this child beyond reason? And I am glad that there are families who have opened their hearts to children who need families, whatever the circumstances. But I cannot believe that G-d is out there saying, "Hmm, THIS is the child which belongs to that family. I just need to break up the first family so that this other one can have that child."