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Rachel Nielson's Adoption and IVF Journey
Hi! I’m Rachel, and I have two miracle babies (well, they aren’t babies anymore, much to my dismay!). I am honored to get to share my experiences with infertility, adoption, and IFV with The Slice of Sun Family today.

I knew from the time I was a teenager that getting pregnant might be difficult for me. I had extremely sporadic periods--sometimes going up to 6 or 7 months without bleeding--and the doctor said I had something called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and endometriosis. He assured me then that this didn’t mean I would never be able to have children but that I should expect for it to require some medical assistance.


I am grateful that I knew about my condition from a young age. I was able to adjust my expectations for what motherhood might look like for me, and I decided then that I would “just adopt” if biological children didn’t happen for me. (The phrase “just adopt” makes me laugh now because adoption is incredibly complicated and difficult, but I of course didn’t know that at time time, and maybe that’s a good thing!)


I told my husband before he married me that getting pregnant might be a struggle, and he was on board to do whatever we needed to in order to build our family when the time was right. A few years later, we chose to start infertility treatments and the adoption process...at the same time.


Looking back, going down both of those emotional roads at the same time might not have been the best idea. It was so much to handle, all at once. But we felt strongly that it didn’t matter to us if our child was biological or adopted, and we wanted to leave the door open to either option and allow God to direct our life. We also felt strongly that if we ended up adopting, we didn’t want our child to feel like, “Mom and Dad tried for years and years to have their ‘own’ baby and then gave up and adopted me.” We wanted that child to know that we were open to adoption from the very beginning.


I love our reasoning behind why we started both processes at the same time...but, my oh my, it was an emotional road. While I was doing invasive fertility treatments and taking complicated medications, I was also navigating the ups and downs of the adoption experience. We were chosen by 8 expectant mothers who were considering adoption in the span of 18 months, and every one of them changed their minds before the baby was born. This was their right, and I always tried to be respectful of that, but the losses felt shattering and like miscarriages that I wasn’t really “allowed” to grieve.


Meanwhile, I was also dealing with the physical and emotional turmoil of infertility treatments. 

I did 10 rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) and had an ectopic pregnancy and resulting surgery. When I think back on that year, I think of sterile doctors offices, many nights crying myself to sleep, and so much uncertainty and grief. I was exhausted in every way--physically, mentally, and spiritually. 


Our “happy ending” begins on February 10, 2011, when I was driving home from work and got a call on my cell phone from an unknown number. I don’t usually answer those, but something told me that this was important. When I picked it up, a young woman on the other end of the phone said, “Hi, my name is Katie. Is now a good time to talk?”


My heart quickened, and I knew this had something to do with adoption, so I pulled over the side of the road and said, “Yes, I can talk.”


She went on to tell me that she was 16 and pregnant, and that her father and my mother-in-law were cousins, and she had heard about our desire to adopt through a Christmas card. Then she asked the question that would change my life forever: “Would you like to adopt my baby?”

After so many adoption disappointments, it was difficult to lean in to my relationship with Katie and trust whatever God had in store. But for six months, Katie and I wrote letter back and forth and supported and loved each other. I was there with her in the delivery room when Noah was born, and it was, without a doubt, the most sacred experience of my entire life.
 

 

We were beyond blessed to form an open adoption with Noah’s birthparents, Katie and Drew, and they have become a huge part of our lives. Heartbreakingly, Katie passed away when Noah was six years old, and I am so incredibly grateful for the memories and photos that we have of Katie and Noah together. We still see Drew frequently, and I know he will be part of Noah’s life forever.


 

 

 

 

Amazingly, our miracle didn’t end there. When Noah was three, my husband and I decided to do IVF and our miracle baby girl Sally was born. Her middle name is Grace, as a constant reminder of the goodness of God in bringing these children into our family.



Throughout my experience with infertility and adoption, I used writing to cope with the stress and grief I was feeling. I love to write, and I shared some of the most tender parts of our experience on our family blog, so friends and family could support us. Though I no longer keep up with this blog, the vulnerable posts I wrote in the midst of infertility are a treasure to me, and I hope that they might encourage you as well if you are in the midst of this journey.


Posts about adoption

Posts about IVF



My Noah is now almost ten, and my Sally is almost seven. And even though we are into the “golden years” of parenting (our kids can dress and wipe themselves! everyone sleeps through the night!) I yearn for another baby, and I have decided to do IVF in the coming months to see if another blessing is in store for us. 


To be perfectly honest, I am terrified. When I started my infertility journey ten years ago, I really didn’t have a clear understanding of just how difficult it would be, but this time, I feel like I am staring into the abyss because I know the difficult emotions and experiences that are in store.


BUT, I also know the joy of motherhood. And I know that these miracle children are worth every moment of the pain and grief. I have a lot more tools for emotional resilience now than I did back then (thanks to lots of counseling!), and I have faith that I can do this really hard thing in order to bring another miracle into our family.


The road of infertility is so difficult and refining. If you are in the midst of this trial right now, please know that you are not alone, and you can do this. During the darkest days of my infertility struggle, I often thought of the scripture from Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes in the morning.”


I don’t know how long your “night” will last, but I promise you, joy is in store. Just keep holding on!

 

Rachel is the host of the 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms Podcast, and she has done several episodes about her experiences with infertility:

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