It’s hard to put into words just how difficult the road of infertility can be on a couple. It is taxing physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. From the day a couple discovers conceiving naturally will be difficult, they are thrown into a complex world of options, opinions and decision making. Is IVF an ethical route to take? Should we foster or adopt instead? What about donor eggs or sperm, or surrogacy? Will we be lonely later if we don’t try forming a family at all? Merryn and I know these emotions well. We’ve been there.
I thought it would be helpful to pull together some resources that may be helpful for the couple facing infertility – particularly the Christian couple. This list will grow, so be sure to bookmark it, add to it in the comments, and share it with anyone you know facing infertility.
On IVF and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Personally, researching the ethical issues involved in using reproductive technologies was one of the hardest aspects for me. When does life begin? Is any life lost in the In Vitro Fertilisation or ICSI process, either when creating embryos or in the thawing process? I spiraled around these questions for many months. While it wasn’t available at the time, the first article below generally describes the approach Merryn and I took when trying IVF. We know couples who were more relaxed than us, others who were more strict, and others who felt uncomfortable using IVF at all. Whatever your decision, I hope you’ll take the time to investigate the ethical aspect of these tools.
Article: What to consider before using reproductive technologies by Daniel McConchie
Book: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Megan Best
Book: No Easy Choice by Ellen Painter Dollar
Book: Children on Demand by Tom Frame
On Fostering and Adoption
Every month dozens of children are taken into care to escape chaotic, traumatic, abusive, neglectful or desperate situations (more than 50 children are taken into care each day in the UK alone). Some of these children need a temporary home until they can return to their families, or an occasional home to give their families a break. And some of them need a permanent home with a new family. As the video above by my friend Krish Kandiah explains, fostering and adoption is an important mission for the Church today, and an option an infertile couple can prayerfully consider.
Link: Home for Good UK
Link: Barnados Australia
Book: Home for Good by Krish and Miriam Kandiah
Book: The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier
Book: Making Sense of Adoption by Lois Ruskai Melina
On Sponsoring a Child
Don’t forget this option! All of us can have a profound impact on a child in poverty through sponsorship. I have seen the work of Compassion International first hand in six developing countries, and FH/Food for the Hungry’s work in Ethiopia. By writing letters to your sponsor child you go beyond providing the necessities of life to sharing your life with them (anyone read the bit in Resurrection Year where Merryn and I meet Riza?).
Article: Want to change the world? Sponsor a child by Bruce Wydick
On Broken Dreams and Starting Again
If you are ultimately unable to have a child, or choose for whatever reason to bring the journey of starting a family to an end, it will hurt. You will need to give yourself time grieve and heal after this broken dream. But do know that you can start again, and the ‘time between the tears’ gets longer over time.
Video: Does the pain ever go away? by Sheridan Voysey
Podcast: When do you let a dream die? by Sheridan Voysey
Podcast: Will I regret it? by Sheridan Voysey
Video: Four ways to have a Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey
Book: Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey
Film: A Journey Through Broken Dreams
In this 30-minute Day of Discovery TV documentary Merryn and I speak candidly about our decade trying to start a family without success, how that effected our faith and our identities, how we stayed together, and the surprising lessons learnt along the way. Beyond the single issue of infertility, the film gives a glimpse of how you can start again after any broken dream.
Webinar: Finding Hope with Empty Arms
RBC Ministries produced this live 1-hour video webinar featuring Merryn and me. With host Tim Jackson, we share our story, explore the personal, relational, social and spiritual effects of infertility and broken dreams, share ways to journey through them well, and take questions live.
Webinar: Shepherding Infertile Couples
Designed specifically for church leaders, this second webinar focuses on how to pastorally help infertile couples. In it we explore the figures (your church has more people wrestling with infertility than you realise); the unique ethical, emotional and spiritual challenges such couples face, the unexpected isolation encountered, the importance of understanding ‘miracle birth’ scriptures correctly (‘God gave Hannah a child, so why not us?’), Mothers and Fathers Day sensitivities, a biblical theology of the family, and more.
Question: What have I missed? If you know of an important article or story couples wrestling with infertility should know about share it now (but please, no spamming)