Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Making Peace with Living Child Free

January 04, 2023 Creating a Family Season 17 Episode 1
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Making Peace with Living Child Free
Show Notes Transcript

How do you know when enough is enough? What do you do when infertility treatment and adoption don't end up with you having a child. Join us to talk with Rebecca and Sallyann Majoya, co-authors of the memoir Uncertain Fruit, and Carole LieberWilkins, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist providing individual and couples counseling, as well as psychoeducational consultations, for those moving into alternative paths to parenthood and living child-free.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Deciding to live child-free is becoming increasingly common in the US. Research has found that 30 percent of women of childbearing age identifying wanting to live child-free. However, that is not reflective of the people we are speaking to who have likely tried infertility treatment or adoption and it hasn’t worked for them.
  • What is the right name: childfree or childless? Are you childfree by choice or childfree not by choice?
  • Age is less of a biological cut off point than in the past and that complicates the decision of whether to stop trying to have a child.
  • How do people know when it is time to stop trying? What are the signs that it is time to stop. How do you know when enough is enough?
  • Is making the decision to live childfree ‘giving up’?
  • Are there predictable steps for reaching the decision of when it is time to stop fertility treatment or adoption? 
  • Determining when you should stop.
  • How to decide to stop?
    • ‘Trying on’ the future
    • Seeking new goal/vision
    • Therapy
  • How can “giving up the dream” of children impact a couple’s relationship?
  • How to handle when both partners are not on the same page.
  • Once you’ve made the decision, should you take steps to not get pregnant? The “not-try-but-not-prevent” approach.
  • For many, the decision to live child free not by choice causes grief, but this loss is invisible. It’s hard for others to see or understand, so we mourn without the support of our community.
  • What can people do to help themselves resolve the grief of not having kids?
    • Writing a letter to the child you will never know.
    • Giving this dream child a “funeral.” Doing something with the letter that is akin to a funeral. Concrete reminders that the person is gone. 
    • Create a ritual to say goodbye.
    • Writing a memoir. 
    • Create a new life goal. A new vision for your future.

This podcast is produced  by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

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Please pardon any errors, this transcript is automated.
Dawn Davenport  0:00  
Welcome, everyone to creating a family talk about infertility adoption in foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show as well as the director of creating a Today we're going to be talking about making peace with living child free. We will be talking with Rebecca and Sally Anne Majoya, they live in Central Vermont, and collectively have experience working in education, writing, wellness and social work. But the reason they're here with us today is that they are the co authors of a joint memoir, titled uncertain fruit. We also have Carol LieberWilkins, she is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. She is licensed in California, Idaho and Nevada. And she provides individual and couples counseling, as well as psycho educational consultations for those moving into alternative paths of parenthood. So welcome, Rebecca, Sally and Carol to Creating a Family. This is a topic, I don't think we do enough, we do a disservice by not talking about enough. So thank you, I am thankful that we are talking about it. And I'm thankful to have all of you here to talk about it. Rebecca and Sally, and I want you you could you two could decide how to split up the talking. But I'd like to start with your story of infertility, infertility treatment and adoption. So that to put a face on the on the having to make the decision of deciding to live childfree.

Unknown Speaker  1:39  
Great. So boy, it we started the journey to have a baby and to broaden our family in about 2004. And it was a I had been diagnosed with PCOS. And it was a long process of treatments and insemination processes as well. Which which took about eight years,

Unknown Speaker  2:08  
eight years and there was a lot of naturopathic as well. Yeah. And tried both medical modern medicine ways to deal with the infertility as

Dawn Davenport  2:17  
well as primarily using IUI. intrauterine

Unknown Speaker  2:20  
primarily, yes. Okay. And we got to a point where we decided that this wasn't working in the way that we had hoped. And we were considering first we considered foster care, actually, it's still hoping to have an infant. So we were hoping that we could adopt through foster care. Unfortunately, though, we were a little weary of that even after we went through the training, because we know, you know, we have known people, first of all who have had infants. And since the goal and foster care is reunification, many times they ended up having an infant and then had to give the infant up or the child young child up after having them for a couple of years.

Unknown Speaker  3:07  
Yeah, long time. Yes. You had a baby for more than 18 months anyway, from from like five weeks, they got the baby at like five weeks or what five days. So we had a couple of times they went through this Yeah, give the baby back, which just seemed so difficult. We respected we respected the process of foster care. And that that is the goal. But of course it wasn't our but it doesn't

Dawn Davenport  3:28  
make it for you. It just we encourage people to make the best decision for them. There is no moral high ground here that says a train to subject yourself just because you are struggling with infertility, right?

Unknown Speaker  3:40  
Correct. Yes. So then we explored private adoption from there. And actually, as the book details, we ended up having a situation where somebody that we knew knew a young woman who was considering and adoption, and in a short period of time, we were thrust into a private adoption. And it didn't go the way that we had hoped. And we lost the infant after 10 days.

Unknown Speaker  4:11  
And we actually saw that baby born she was so determined this young woman that she was gonna give up the baby that she wanted us in the room she wanted us to see the baby born she wanted it immediately taken the baby taken out of the room. She in the hospital let us make all the decisions about name circumcision, like any decisions, even though she had legal custody and physical custody initially, but then after we had had the baby home for almost a week, so we had the baby for 10 days. She changed her mind.

Unknown Speaker  4:43  
And there are were other extenuating factors in that circumstance and, and a lot of what we would later consider red flags, but we learned a lot through that the the hard way.

Dawn Davenport  4:56  
Yes. And then at that point, you I started considering seriously the option of stopping your request to have her adopted baby.

Unknown Speaker  5:09  
Yes, yes, we did actually try again with an adoption agency. But we did end up deciding that we didn't want to go through the process. We were a little dismayed with the agency process that we were working with. And that at that point was really when we ended our process, I guess you could call it

Dawn Davenport  5:29  
right. Okay. So we're going to come back to that process, decision making. But now I want to, it's an interesting thing, this research is that true. We all know, anecdotally that deciding to live Joffrey is becoming increasingly common in the US. And there's actually been some research on it that found that 30% of women of childbearing age identify as wanting to live child free, however, that is not reflective of the people we are speaking to, or to you, Rebecca, and SallyAnn. Because the these are people who have not made the decision to voluntarily live child free, they have actively tried treatment, or tried adoption and tried other things. And it hasn't worked for them. And that's a it's an interesting thing, too. And language, you know, what's the right name? Should be child free or childless? Some people think childless is negative other people thinks that some more and that child free is a better term, other people feel like childless is actually a pretty good reflection. Or do you? Do you say, child free by choice, or child free, not by choice,

Unknown Speaker  6:37  

Dawn Davenport  6:38  
whatever you call it. And I think that we have never, we have not quite settled on the proper name for that. Whatever we ended up calling it what we're talking about is people who are not voluntarily making this choice people who the choice is the choice, it's, well, I guess we could say the choice has been made for them. And in fact, that probably isn't the case. Because at some point, you know, especially, I think I've always had this image in my head of fertility treatment as an escalator, that you're on an escalator and the next expected treatment is automatically coming at you, you've had a failed IUI. Alright, we'll try another IUI. Or we'll try this one with injectable meds, or we'll move into IVF. It's always, if one thing fails, the next thing is coming right at you. Oftentimes, without a decision making point in there, it's just that as long as your money lasts, and with adoption, although it's a different process, it's also hard to know when to stop. You know, we've we've we've waited for one year, but it could be next month that you know, we will be selected by by an expectant mom. So and the other thing is that with both adoption, but especially with infertility treatment, it used to be with infertility, that after you reached a certain age, that decision was kind of made for you. But that really isn't the case. Now, it could be with adoption, but it isn't with infertility with donor egg, you could mean the the uterus is functioning to intuit so there is no biological endpoint to help you come to the reckoning of, of when to stop. So, Carol, how, how do people know when it's time to stop? What are the signs? And and how do you know when enough is enough? And that you it's time to stop? Well,

Unknown Speaker  8:28  
I like to think of it as resources that the infertility process for the process of trying to conceive and the process of trying to become a parent is one of utilizing resources, financial, emotional, familial relationship. I interested. He just Yeah. And we know that along the way of both fertility treatment, and the process of trying to become parents through adoption, all of those resources are little by little by little becoming depleted. And so part of the question to ask is, Is there anything left to actually give to a child that we end up having to we have financial resources such that our lives will not be so stressful going forward, that we can't provide in a way that we wanted to? Now, most everybody that you and I work with on a regular basis face questions like well, we're just going to stay in this one bedroom apartment for a while we're not going to buy a house because we're putting our our financial resources here or there. And that's fine, but at a certain point, for many the depression sets in and then there's a question of treating the depression so that there there's enough integrity left in your personhood or your relationship to give to a child Old, at the end of the day, deciding to live child free. And just to address that question of language, I do think that the answer is different depending on the circumstance and the people who make that choice. But to your point about age not being a limitation, it's not just because of the uterus, it's because of surrogacy as well. So with surrogacy and egg donation, we do have, unfortunately, you know, 60, and sometimes 70 year old individuals becoming parents. So there is no stopping point there. Good point. But the question of whether or not to stop whatever process, you know, one is engaged in as, as you guys did, is really one of evaluating whether or not in the twilight of your lives, the sunset of your lives, you can look back and say, we didn't become moms, we didn't become parents. And we've lived a fulfilling, happy, you know, lives that were meaningful in ways without actually being a parent. Sometimes trying on the future can be a very good exercise in regret avoidance. You know, when I, when I look at the paths in front of me, which one, may I regret the least, or not at all. For some people, for some people, it just simply is not an option to not be apparent that that is their driving force. And no matter how long it takes, and how many disappointments they experience, or how many losses they experience, they will keep getting back on that horse, until they are ultimately the parents of somebody. But for others, like you guys, and many others, apparently 30% of the population, I didn't know that, they can look into their, you know, 80s or 90s. And anticipate that their lives will be fulfilled by being active volunteers and mentors and ants, and, you know, involving themselves in rich ways. Otherwise, and for those people at a certain point, it makes sense to stop.

Unknown Speaker  12:41  
I think, want to just say, I'm the older person in our relationship by a little over 10 years. And 50 was sort of my I had this number in mind, and what and when we started, I mean, we were on the journey for eight years, I never thought I'd get to 50 and wouldn't have never do I really Yeah, you really don't you think of course I'll have a child in eight years, of course. And then we hit 50. And that's the year that the child loss occurred. And I kind of like rather than child for your child, less we have experienced child loss is kind of what I like. But then because of that, we did try for a couple more years. And but it did get to a point I was just like, I don't want to be more than 68 years old, and my child just graduating high school. And I knew I had less energy. And I knew I was just like,

Unknown Speaker  13:40  
but but it was a constant evaluation throughout the whole process. Yeah, and re evaluating and checking in with each other as well, you know,

Unknown Speaker  13:48  
thank goodness for therapy, therapy, and though entire, because it helped us to not just think about creating a family. But remember that we are constantly creating our own Couplehood our own relation. You are

Unknown Speaker  14:03  
a family. Yes. Yeah,

Dawn Davenport  14:05  
you are a family. Exactly. We're going to come back to that because I want to talk about the impact of this decision on relationships. Before we get there, though. You raised a point, Rebecca, that I think is a good one. We often hear that there are different there, there are markers that people will set for themselves. They will say if they're in treatment, they may say, Okay, I'll give we'll do three IU eyes, and then maybe I'll try one IVF. And that's all I'm going to do or I'll try three of IVs or I'll try for two years, or I'll try until I'm x age. That is a typical thing that we hear. And actually before people enter treatment, we encourage that we encourage them to think through what their endpoint might be. Now, the reality is that often changes with both new information and what Unfortunately, I still think sometimes once we're on that escalator, sometimes that changes, but nonetheless, I felt I think that it's still a valuable exercise to go through. Carol. How, what are some of the other predictable steps or markers that we could use to, that people other people use to help them decide when enough is enough? Or have I mentioned all of them?

Unknown Speaker  15:25  
No, you definitely haven't. Because the other really big one that occurs quite frequently before you get into like, now we're pursuing adoption, is that when an individual or a couple are pursuing pregnancy and parent or I'll say Parenthood because surrogacy is involved with their own gametes, that is one path. But oftentimes, what will happen is that if, for example, donor eggs are become necessary, we'll say or donor sperm, for example, that's a whole new decision tree.

Dawn Davenport  16:07  
We say you're moving off of one escalator onto another one. Fine, it's nothing. There's nothing is above or below. It's just a different escalator. Right,

Unknown Speaker  16:17  
right. And so so very often, sometimes what I say is in today's world, because you can take one from column A and one from column B, and one from column C, and the uterus is one and the eggs are one and the, or there's adoption is we definitely wanted to become parents this way. We wanted to become parents if I could be pregnant, and it was my eggs, and it was my partner's sperm. But do we still want to be parents, if that is not the case. And sometimes that's the point at which the decision tree or the escalators diverge. And sometimes people decide, you know, we really, really did want to be parents, and we wanted to have a child, but we wanted this child, we wanted the child that we were imagining, that carried our genetics or whatever, or in the case of same sex couples, at least the genetics of one, right. And so, in today's world, deciding not to be parents is really a conscious decision not to do something else. Because there are so many choices out there. It's such a and for that reason, I think, child free is a more accurate description, even though it certainly feels like childlessness, because God knows you guys tried like crazy, right. But you're still deciding either not to continue on a horrible roller coaster, or to, as I said before, in some cases, deciding not to pursue the alternatives that are available that would make a person apparent but not apparent the way they originally intended. And that's a decision not to move forward under those circumstances. That's a very conscious decision. Even though it might feel like, well, we tried, we just couldn't have a child. That's kind of not the way I view it. It's more you couldn't have the child that you imagined having or that you want it to have. And I do think that the consciousness, you know, for you guys, you made a very conscious decision, that after child loss, and after two attempts to become parents that didn't even involve your bodies, that it just gets too painful and too hard and that you start looking at maybe life could be better if we moved in a different direction, and brought positivity into our lives in a different way. Mourning the loss of motherhood.

Unknown Speaker  19:01  
Yes. Not necessarily better, but different. It's like, yeah, yeah, decided to take a different Yeah, too. Right.

Unknown Speaker  19:08  
Yeah, exactly. And we really, I really did feel like we lost the child that we had dreamed of when we lost that infant. So there was that whole grief piece there as well that, you know, it was grief for on so many parts of the escalator, obviously, but oh, that definitely informed a lot of the choice. Yeah, I think definitely, definitely how much you motional.

Dawn Davenport  19:32  
I want to say one thing before I come back to that. And the only thing is I want to also Carol, as to your point, many of the additional steps that you described, donor egg surrogacy and they require a lot of money. So the reality is that it's sometimes people it's not that they don't choose to do those steps. It's that they simply don't pass not Yeah, they can't do those steps. We hope you will follow or subscribe to the creating a family podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, we have been doing this for almost 15, not almost over 15 years, 15 years in October. And we have a huge library of archived shows, many of which are directly relevant to what you are experiencing. Now, once you follow our subscribe, you will have the option and have access to our full library of historic shows. Now, Sally, and Rebecca, I want to come back to you and describe the process. Now, you know, Rebecca was 50. And that makes Sally and somewhere around 40. And you had a child that you thought was going to be your child in your home for 10 days, then you applied to an adoption agency. So what's the process at that point? How did you make peace with the decision to go forward and say, We are enough? We are a family and that family is is enough? How did you come to that? You've already mentioned therapy, thank God for therapy. So yeah, definitely.

Unknown Speaker  21:09  
Yeah. That's a good question. I

Unknown Speaker  21:11  
think that a piece of it for me was just, I mean, the devastation, like I just wanted to keep trying because of, you don't want to see someone you love and pain like course, I was in pain as well. And then SallyAnn decided to begin a program, a master's degree in speech language pathology, which she thought about ages ago, but then put off in and her eyes lit up, is the only way I can it's the first time I had seen the light in her eyes. Since the two years prior, when we had lost the baby. And there was this hesitation, I remember her to be like, should I or shouldn't I do this? And I'm like, go, I don't care how much it costs. I don't care, anything because there is the spark in your eyes again. So that was part of it for me. But how I made peace was seeing this joy created in a different venue.

Unknown Speaker  22:07  
Yeah, I don't, you know, I think it took years and I think writing the book was part of how I was able to make peace as much as I could. And certainly getting that out there for other people to read it and sharing this this story of various book events and hearing other people's experiences. And I think that that is that sort of the generative part of me that wanted to have the baby, at least we were able to pour that into the book itself, and know that that's its own creation. And that was

Unknown Speaker  22:38  
a huge part of our healing, because we had the immense ability to run away from home, your will and live in a 24 foot RV together. For almost a year, after we lost the baby and we spent met, we got to work remotely, but we spent hours writing because we both loved to write. And then we would read to each other but we had written so it was this constant check in like, you know, one day I might be so angry about the medical system or something, you're so angry. And on that same day SallyAnn might be in complete denial and thinking, maybe the mother's gonna change her mind. And she's gonna call us again, and we're gonna get the, you know, but this constant, checking in with each other, and going through the grief and listening to where you're at today was very healing and I think helped us process through.

Unknown Speaker  23:30  
Yeah, and I, you know, we would read the pieces to each other. And we sometimes read them again and again. And I feel like even doing that and doing it right now, as we are you know, traveling around at book events. I feel like we process it again. And we come to it from a different vantage point. But making peace takes a great deal of effort just like everything else has.

Unknown Speaker  23:54  
So grave grant. Stafford

Unknown Speaker  23:57  

Dawn Davenport  23:57  
has some takes time. And it takes effort. It's a very active process. Yes, yeah. And we'll come to that, because I do want to think through some of the ways, some of the ways to, I always use the word resolve with air quotes around it, because I don't really know that grief is resolved. But making peace is probably a better way of saying of with the grief and with the decision. But before we get there, I want to go back to Carol. We've heard how Sally and Rebecca came to the decision. How do you see other people you've mentioned trying on the future? Yeah. And we've mentioned a big one. Yeah. What are some other ways that people can? They don't know if if they've reached the point where they should stop and are they giving up their dream, you know, or is this is this foolish? That type of thing?

Unknown Speaker  24:48  
Well, yeah, they are giving up their drink. And the question is, can they and again, some people can and then change the dream. So you know sometimes in photo The counseling when we're helping people make decisions to have children in a different way than they thought that would I use the expression, if you can't have what you originally wanted, maybe you can want what you can have. Mm hmm. So maybe we can want a lie, if that looks different than we originally intended. You know, you and I have talked before dawn about an active grieving process of saying goodbye to the child that we've tried to have. And that might be the genetic child, it might be the child that we carry in our bodies. And it might be the child that we ended up not parenting at all. Yes. And so yes, I think this is applicable here as well, that for you guys reading the book was very much similar to something we've talked about here before, which is writing a letter to the child will never know. And, well, that is an exercise that I recommend to every single person who's going to become apparent and in a different way than they intended primarily, you know, genetically speaking, is writing a letter to the child will never know, I think it's quite applicable here as well. It's incredibly hard. It is so sad. Everyone cries when I kind of describe this exercise to do. But you know, when when we experience a death in the family, we have ritual around it. We have, you know, cultural norms that allow us to say goodbye to people who have left us. But when you become a parent to a child, you didn't originally think you'd be parenting, or you don't become a parent at all. You are indeed saying goodbye to the child, you'll never know. And that is saying goodbye to somebody you never got to say hello to. So I think this exercise of literally writing a letter, you know, to the child you imagined and for you guys, it is a child through adoption as well, the child that you lost, and then having a ritual that, frankly, I know it's hard to talk about, and people are like, Oh my God, that's so morbid, but it's really giving yourself the funeral that you don't get, because it's somebody that wasn't here. Yeah. So and in your case, they were here. They just weren't able to stay with you.

Dawn Davenport  27:38  
Well, some of the cane some of the types of failed IUI guys would have indicated that to vet that for that child was not there for the child through adoption, that child was there. So it was exactly right. Yeah, yeah, exactly. We'll describe what you mean by giving yourself a funeral.

Unknown Speaker  27:54  
So the exercise that I've talked about here in terms of moving into non genetic parenting, for example, but it applies for making a choice not to parent is writing a letter to the child you'll never know and then doing something with it that is akin to a funeral and gives you that ritual. So for example, you know, we have funerals are for the living, right? We go, we go to a cemetery, and we see somebody being lowered into the ground and we say goodbye, and we cry, and there's a church service or depending on your religion. You know, people get together, they eat food, they tell funny stories about the person who's gone. And there really is a recognition when that happens, or you scatter ashes. They're very concrete kind of reminders like they're really gone. I can't call grandma tomorrow to see how she's feeling. But we don't get that when we're trying to say goodbye to somebody who's amorphous, you know, somebody who we never really got to meet. And so giving yourself a funeral. One of the examples that a lot of my clients do is they plant a tree or a bush in their garden, and they bury the letters that they've written along with the tree or bush and you're watching this beautiful thing flourish. But the act of digging this hole and planting a plant and putting the letter in with it is very grave, sidey. It's very, you know, few nariyal and very physical and it feels like you have really like buried this child that you didn't get to meet or in your case, ladies, the child you did get to meet and last. And another example, I'm in California in Southern California, so a lot of my clients will go to the ocean. And the ocean is very ephemeral. It's very eternal. The tides come in, they go out, and so they will read the letter to eat to other, and then rip it up and throw it in the water and watch the tide kind of bring it in and out and in and out. And it's very healing.

Unknown Speaker  30:10  
Can I just piggyback on on that just for a moment, I just, I really, really appreciate it, that you acknowledge that Carol and these different ways to, you know, provide the ritual for the grief. I know, certainly, part of when we ran away from home, when we lost the baby that we had, as well, we didn't have that ritual in place. And, and most of the people in our life, these people that had been welcoming him into our world, also didn't know what to do, and how to support us. And I think that they felt very much either lost or just weren't able to acknowledge it. Some people were like, well, that's okay, you'll have another chance. Or at least you

Unknown Speaker  30:53  
got to have, you know, days, at least, people say stupid things, when they don't know what to say they say stupid, you know, and not to be. They just, they just do. And yeah, and so I think all of us were at a loss. So I love that you mentioned love and having family and friends come. And and I have sort of a funny little story. So I had a miscarriage in a previous relationship. And I planted a tree that died a few months later. And so But what's fascinating is going out there ripping up that tree, and smashing it was incredibly more therapeutic than like anything,

Unknown Speaker  31:32  
planting the trees and planting the concrete, it's something concrete that we can do that really acknowledges a loss that is otherwise invisible. And it's very hard to grieve losses that are invisible not only to us sometimes, but to others. So these exercises really give us a very concrete way of saying, especially when people write letters to the child that they're not going to know or not going to have is often when people realize that they've been carrying around a very specific child in their heart for years and years and years. And for most people, it's a chip off the old block, it's somebody who looks just like grandma, or has their particular nose or has a particular talent that runs in the family, and oftentimes is even a specific gender. And sometimes it's not until you write this letter, that all those things come to the fore and you realize he really is a very specific child that you've been grieving. It's not just the idea of parenting, and

Unknown Speaker  32:44  
different griefs happened through like, I have had an emergency hysterectomy. Right around the time that we were starting to expand our family. So there was that feeling? I can't even do anything about it. Yeah, you know, I can't help but I'm sure that, you know, maybe in a same sex couple, like with the whoever the problem is lying within, you know, or the obstacle, the other person in the couple can be like just that feeling that grief of helplessness, I guess happen.

Dawn Davenport  33:20  
In your case, Rebecca, and Sally, and it sounds like you came to this decision, not exactly the same time, but you were moving in together towards this decision. And we're checking in and but but I'm curious. And Carol, I'll throw this to you what to do when when people are not on the same page. When one person says, and this is assuming that the people are coupled. One person says, You know what? You talked about resources, my resources are out. My I don't want to keep spending money on this. I don't want to keep spending energy on this. I'm tired of seeing you cry all the time. I'm tired of seeing I'm tired of our life being nothing other than about this quest. But the other person says, My life will not be complete without this. What then?

Unknown Speaker  34:14  
It's probably the hardest it is it is probably the question that does not have a decent answer. But I will say that it's not that different from other conflicts that couples encounter where one person has a very strong opinion in one direction and the other person has a strong opinion and the other direction is how do you resolve those differences? Talk Talk Talk, counseling, counseling, counseling. But I I will say at the end of the day, the person if there is a person who doesn't want to parent, maybe parent that way, as I said before, and this is not a PA popular opinion that person Trumps. Because it's never fair to bring a child into a relationship where one person is ambivalent. I mean, ambivalence is normal, right? I mean,

Dawn Davenport  35:14  
everybody has some apprehension, right? But it's not fair to bring a child into a relationship where one person said, I really don't want to do this. But acquiesce is somehow to please their partner. You know, Carol, I would say that that's not that that person Trump's, but it's the best interest of the child, that would be brought in saying that trumps because ultimately, to bring a child into this world where one of the parents is not wanting it is,

Unknown Speaker  35:45  
right, it's just and that often means, again, bringing a child into that relationship that way, and we see this I know you do. And I see this so often, particularly around adoption, where there's been a fertility journey, it has not worked out. And adoption may be the last best option. I mean, I don't think of adoption that way. I know you don't either. But sometimes it is for people.

Dawn Davenport  36:11  
And there's nothing wrong with saying, I don't want to parent a child who is not genetically related,

Unknown Speaker  36:16  
I think we can get on are the biggest gift we can give right? Sure,

Dawn Davenport  36:20  
exactly. If that's not for you, then for goodness sakes,

Unknown Speaker  36:24  
do it, do it. But as you said, couples don't always agree on that. And one person might feel very comfortable pursuing adoption. So it's just very challenging. And there's there's no good option. What I see honestly, most often is that one person acquiesces. And in, I like to think most cases, they fall in love, they end up being great parents, you know, they go forward at cetera, et cetera, and it works out fine. But honestly, in some some of those cases, the relationship doesn't make it.

Dawn Davenport  37:05  
Well, that's a great segue, because I wanted to talk with Rebecca and SallyAnn about how in your case it sounds like and from reading the book, it is that you were more or less on the same page at more or less the same time. But how has the decision to live childfree? How has that impacted your relationship? It's a big

Unknown Speaker  37:30  
it is a big question. Big answer.

Unknown Speaker  37:33  
I think there are so moments I'm lonely for another child. Yeah, there's just this loneliness is this kid shaped hole. I know after my miscarriage, I literally remember it feeling like my arms were literally in pain for the baby that I wanted to hold and wasn't there. And, and sometimes I'll randomly I remember being in a store and we did like a lamb theme in the in the nursery and seeing this blanket with a Lammy kind of thing and just bursting into tears. And it was after it was quote resolved.

Dawn Davenport  38:14  
That's why I don't like the word resolve.

Unknown Speaker  38:17  
Because I it's, but like, you know, I was extremely close to my grandmother who died most 30 years ago, and I'm still alive. And I'm okay. And it doesn't mean that once in a while at Christmas, I don't cry, because I miss her. You know, I'll always miss Graham Sinclair. But there's, it doesn't mean that there isn't joy in our lives. And I think the most amazing thing for me is to have a partner, who, when I start crying in the store, can put her arm around me and say, Hey, tell me what's going on. And I can say, Libby boy, she just throws her arms around me and hugs me and is fine with me sobbing in the store, and can feel the pain with me. And then we can go have hot chocolate with little Marsh balls in it. You know, you can, I guess having a partner who is there with you?

Unknown Speaker  39:18  
Yeah, I think that, you know, first and foremost, we have made a commitment to each other. And I feel like even throughout the struggles, and you know, and the loss losses that we experienced, that we kept doing what we could to show up for each other. Yes. And it wasn't always easy. And I definitely think counseling made a big difference as well. So,

Unknown Speaker  39:47  
having someone remind you to even though you're we're reading to each other things we're thinking and feeling or, you know, it could sound like we're totally on the same page, but there's always going to be moments in the relationship when you need that. that person like Carol to say, I'm not sure you actually heard what she just said, from your response, let's, you know, think about this differently, or all the zillion wonderful things that counselors bring to the table, and help you see the other person's

Unknown Speaker  40:18  
changed in your relationship was that you shifted directions and you birthed a different kind of child and in the form of the book, you you created a new goal. Yes, we have to have goals, right, in order to keep keep us moving forward, no matter what it is, even if it's day by day or hour by hour. And you very much changed your goals. You created a new career, you wrote this book together. And so it seems like you envisioned a different life going forward? Yes. As opposed to this vast emptiness. Yes. And, and you have to write because otherwise, we would just sink into into huge depression,

Unknown Speaker  41:06  
totally. And we're both such people, people be social workers, education, things we've done. And the idea that we created something, I mean, we looked for books that didn't have the perfect happy ending, because we're also avid readers. And there's just a good point, there weren't any books that we could relate to relate to made us feel much even more alone. And so what we've finding our book readings and connecting with people is exactly what we wanted is that other people pick it up, read it and go, Oh, I'm not the only one that is going through all of this, and ending up at the end of the road without a baby in my arms. And if it's just that's another goal. Another Yeah, way of connecting and making it feel worthwhile

Dawn Davenport  41:54  
making a difference? Yes. Yes, making a positive difference. And you and the book and by the way, that book of give the name again, I'm certain fruit by Rebecca and Sally and Majora. The it does. You're correct that the vast majority of books I only know one other one that that that does talk about this. But from a memoir standpoint, but I also think that organizations like ours, we talk about the you know how you get there, but the decision but But what if that getting there isn't where you thought you were going to get you're not going to get the happy ending that you expect and and that does happen and I think we have left people high and dry in that respect. So I I'm so appreciative that you took your pain and directed it to something that could help others. This show is sponsored by cryo international sperm and egg bank. Prayas International is dedicated to providing a wide selection of high quality extensively screened frozen donor sperm and eggs. They use for all races, ethnicities and phenotypes, and from their sperm bases, both for home insemination, as well as fertility treatment. Prayas International is the world's largest sperm bank and the first freestanding independent egg bank in the United States. I have an unusual question, or it's not actually unusual. It's actually a very common question. It doesn't apply to same sex couples, but it does apply to other heterosexual couples. And that is, once you've made this decision, you've come to peace as a couple or as individuals, you've made the decision. Do you start using birth control? Do you? Do you take D? Do you stay in that place of not not trying? You know, what we're really not trying but we're not trying to prevent? Or do you take active steps to keep yourself from getting pregnant? Carol thoughts? Well, if you

Unknown Speaker  43:55  
you know, for people with a strong spiritual or religious bent, many of them will say, well let God decide. I think they're lucky, if that's what they believe, because it's something to pin on. And therefore they would not necessarily prevent pregnancy, they would just let some higher power decide that. I don't know that there is a drawback to not using birth control, even though I'm a huge proponent of a very conscious decision not to parent, as we talked about earlier, to be child free. But I don't know if it's a contradiction to say we are child free, we have decided not to pursue alternative paths to parenting. And also say, you never know. I don't know that there's a drawback to doing that. But for some, they really needed to be a much more definitive so that they're there Aren't there, they're not again on that roller coaster because we know that some of those people, they may get pregnant and have more losses. And that is devastating. And for those people, I think they do use birth control, because they really made a decision not to stay on that craziness.

Dawn Davenport  45:20  
I don't know if care if you would agree with this, but it seems like that it needs to be an individual decision. And if you are continuing on the emotional roller coaster, even if you're not getting pregnant, but you have your period every month, and you're crying, because you and even if you're saying, Oh, we're really not trying, but if you're counting days, and you go maybe a day late, oh my god, you know, am I pregnant? Am I pregnant? And that if you can't get off that roller coaster, yeah, then that may be the reason that you decide because you're running

Unknown Speaker  45:49  
days, you're not child free. Right? No, you really have well childless.

Dawn Davenport  45:55  
Yes. And so I think it almost has to be an individual decision. And you're right, people who've experienced repeated losses. That's a different situation entirely. They're getting pregnant, they can't keep the pregnancy and they may not want to keep getting pregnant and not keeping it. So I think you are Yeah, I think it feels to me that it almost has to be an individual decision. And, and that decision can change too. I certainly know of couples, who were not not trying, you know, they were not not preventing, but we're not really trying type of thing. Because they had been unsuccessful, and then started getting very comfortable and beginning to see a new life. And it was almost a good transition period for them. And then one case, the this was a heterosexual couple and the guy went out had a vasectomy. And it was because a joint there was a joint decision. And that was because they were at this point saying, You know what? We like the new life we've committed, we've done we are doing things that are exciting and fun. And we see the future. And we want this future. And so we don't if we were to get pregnant out, I don't know how we'd feel. So anyway, that's a throw that out there. Yeah. So I we've talked about the the, the ambiguous grief or the and the unrecognized grief. And that is another really hard part of this. Another hard part, I think, is society not quite knowing what to do with people who have made this decision. And I'm curious SallyAnn Have y'all turned it to both of you could decide Sally and Rebecca, have y'all experienced that where people don't quite accept your decision after a certain age? I will point out that that stops, but have you all experienced that?

Unknown Speaker  47:42  
Um, you know, it's a really, it's interesting, because I don't really feel like we did get a lot of pushback. And but also we were older. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  47:52  
I think I got more pushback when you got more

Unknown Speaker  47:54  
pushback. When I was continuing? Yes. Then you got a lot of people going, which you're getting so old, are you? And are you? Like, come on? You really don't? You know, why don't you admit to her? You don't want to do this?

Dawn Davenport  48:10  
That's really helpful. Yeah, really helpful. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  48:14  
Are you sure about that?

Unknown Speaker  48:18  
Are you sure. And I think after anyone who knew us very well, at all, knew the loss that we had gone through. And I think we're very understanding that we didn't want to have that happen again, that the just the the level of pain. And

Unknown Speaker  48:37  
but I do and I have, you know, we both have several friends who have chosen to be child free. And I know that they have repeatedly gotten a lot of pushback from family members, especially that you know, oh, come on, you've changed your mind. Now, you're really going to have a child? And I think that that is a very real situation for a lot of individuals. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  48:59  
definitely. Definitely. It's insulting to suggest that a decision that you've made so consciously and with so much thought that, you know, you just don't really know, you don't really understand what you've done. It's really offensive. And, of course, this time of year is rendus. Because there's so much socialization, and anybody who has made this decision, let alone anybody going through fertility treatment, as you know, Don dreads the Do you have any kids? So do you have any kids? So do you have children, any holidays with this would hit but you're totally you know, whether you're still trying or you have decided not to pursue parenthood? It's a it's just a dreaded question because there's adult Fudd in the room after the The answer is no, actually I don't. So everyone really needs to find their responses in a way that You know, maybe to make themselves feel more comfortable and maybe to make the asking person feel more comfortable to include then, you know, maybe you talk about your pets, but That's so cliche. But maybe you talk about your life. Maybe you talk about your career, because for so many, understandably, your career is your baby. Right? But that it's so hard. It's just well, in

Dawn Davenport  50:27  
your case, y'all could say, well, no, but we have a book that

Unknown Speaker  50:32  
there you go, we have friends who are of the age group of friends who are like, who will whine about their kids not giving, giving them grandchildren. And I am quite quick to say that's, that's not that's about to decide when that's right for them and if that's right for them, and you know, kind of reining them in, but yeah, we've given birth to a book.

Dawn Davenport  50:56  
Thank you so much, Carol, Lieber Wilkins, and Rebecca and Sally and majorda. Their book is Enki certain fruit, we are so thankful to have the three of you talk about this topic is when we need to talk more about so I am very appreciative that you are here to talk about it. And I would say that it's it's not just other people, but it's the infertility professionals in fertility nurses and for infertility doctors. I think they are equally as uncomfortable with this conversation, and perhaps even more so. And so I think that this is a service to educate all of us professionals as well as patients and lay people that this is a decision that is the ending for many people, and we need to support them in this

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