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From the Outside Looking In

I wanted to be part of the club for so many years.

Six years to be exact.

I forked over tens of thousands of dollars for a chance at getting accepted, but my human body-turned-pin cushion never got the “BFP” (Big Fat Positive) acceptance letters.

Joining Club Infertility

In 2009, I joined the ranks of women and men in a club where I was welcomed with open arms. It wasn’t a club any of us wanted to be in. After all, who chooses to be diagnosed with infertility?

We chose each other, though, and those friendships were perhaps the shiniest silver lining.

Through each pregnancy announcement, we consoled one another.

With each gender reveal party plastered on social media, we offered comfort and tutorials on how to unfollow our cousin’s weekly bump-shots.

Before, during and after each baby shower, we cried together.

And with each successful infertility procedure, we celebrated and cheered for one another from a level of gratitude and appreciation only we understood from the trenches.

Next Stop: Club Adoption

Eventually, though, my husband and I decided to grow our family through adoption.

Without any upfront fees or pre-membership requirements, this club graciously welcomed us and our hundreds of questions.

After each interview for our home study, we celebrated.

With each profile showing to expectant parents, we prayed.

After each phone call notification of a match, we cried with bittersweet joy.

And at each adoption finalization, we gathered with love and understanding from deep within our souls.

The Instant It All Changed

Suddenly – after adopting our two daughters – our once battered, skeptical hearts beat with new life from a spontaneous pregnancy.

It was a blessing in uncharted territory that instantly changed our rank within the adoption community and promptly revoked our membership to Club Infertility. The place we established many of our friendships – whose members accepted us at our lowest and loved us in the midst of our brokenness – no longer wanted us.

We weren’t welcome there anymore.

And as it would turn out, that pregnancy club we had wanted to be part of for so long was much different after experiencing infertility, loss and adoption.

Sure, we had the BFP acceptance letters, and we were excited to join the club we spent years gambling to get admitted to in the first place.

Except it wasn’t what we thought it’d be.

I cringed when people told us how they knew we’d get pregnant when we relaxed (because raising two children under the age of two and relocating for a job while trying to sell a house is totally relaxing, right?).

I cried every time I heard people use our family as an example of miracles happening to infertile couples after adopting (as if our children who came to us via adoption weren’t miracles themselves).

I got angry when people congratulated us for having one of “our own.”

I felt misunderstood when people viewed adoption as a means to pregnancy after infertility.

I became annoyed when other women constantly complained about the inconveniences of growing a baby; as if the experience of pregnancy completely cramped their style.

And I was sad to experience pregnancy knowing the very people I cared so deeply about would do anything to waddle around in my shoes. I felt guilty it was me and not them.

A Lesson on Fitting In

It’s been three years into our parenting gig with three beautiful daughters — ages three and under — who each joined our family in tremendously special ways.

And to be honest, we still haven’t quite figured out where we belong.

While the isolation can be hard at times, we’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Sometimes these clubs and groups that seem appealing on the outside aren’t as carefree and fun when you’re on the inside. And when you’re swiftly kicked out of one club with automatic admittance to the next, you learn who your true friends are because they’ll stick by you. But perhaps most importantly, sometimes the revocations and hurdles along the way glean a new sense of empathy for people simply looking for a place to belong.

And in our home, our club and our family – all are welcome.

No matter where they’ve been or are looking to go, all are welcome here.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

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Shelley Skuster

Shelley is the writer behind http://www.shelleyskuster.com/. She's a former award-winning news reporter who -- after years of infertility, two adoptions and a pregnancy -- decided to leave TV news to stay at home and focus on raising her three daughters -- ages three and under.

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