Fostering While Infertile: What I’ve Learned On This Journey

I am the one in four women who have experienced a miscarriage. 

I am the one in eight women that have unexplained infertility. 

I’m a foster mom and I struggle daily with wrapping my mind around the fact that I can’t have kids, but that my kids’ parents can pop them out every year with no problems. 

Handling the struggles of infertility while caring for children of parents, who more often than not, care about other aspects of life more than their children is one of the toughest struggles my husband and I have been through. It can sometime seem impossible to remain patient for our angel baby when we hear from a DHS worker that a mom of one of our kiddos is pregnant…again. The mom usually does not give up her recreational drugs or smoking or alcohol and receives minimal, if any, prenatal care. When the baby is born, he or she will suffer from withdrawal, low birth weight, developmental delays, or any other number of complications that come with unplanned and uncared for pregnancies. How is any of this fair to both us and the babies born into these situations?

I have been involved with foster kids for about as long as I’ve been infertile and still, to this day, have not found a way to be completely at peace with why I’m suffering and they are not.

One of the ways that I handle this is to rely on my faith. I have to remind myself daily that my struggles are part of a larger plan. In all honesty, if we had not struggled to become pregnant and stay pregnant, we may never have considered fostering. That decision would have affected the eight children we’ve had in our home so far. Would they have ended up in an abusive foster home? A shelter? I don’t want to think about what would have happened to them if we had not opened our home. 

When talking to my husband about what his thoughts and feelings were when it came to fostering while infertile, he brought up the serenity prayer that is frequently said in AA meetings: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Even though we don’t understand why some couples who would make great parents are infertile, and why some parents abuse or neglect their kids, and why the ones who choose to do so aren’t the infertile ones, we know a way that we can change the life of the child that’s been abused or neglected. We are taking something we can’t change (our infertility) and are using it to change something we can (the life of a foster child). 

I’ll be honest, even with the serenity prayer in mind, it can still be difficult to find the positives in our situation. I have come to terms with the idea that I will never know why I am infertile or why I continue to miscarry. I’ve also come to terms with the idea that I will never understand why unwanted pregnancies happen to women who don’t want them or refuse to care for them. 

So long as there is injustice in this world, there will be couples that struggle to conceive and children who suffer. 

And what can I do? I can continue to show kindness, and gentleness, and love to all the kids who come through my home. I am unable to change the circumstances of a foster child’s life, but I can snuggle them and kiss their boo-boos. While I can’t change the home they are born into, I can provide a safe and warm house with food in the fridge and books to read. I can’t change the financial situation of the family they come from but I can let them peruse the toy aisle in Target for as long as they want and buy them that toy they’ve been eyeing because fostering is one way I can change some of life’s sorrow into good. 

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