For those grappling with infertility and adoption, whether adoptive parents or birth parents, Sheryl Sandberg’s luminous essay on Facebook today marking the 30-day Jewish mourning period for her husband, resonates:
“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void…But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.”
[Sheryl Sandberg, facebook.com, June 4, 2015]
When one struggles with infertility and adoption, seeing a pregnant friend, relative, or stranger can feel like a slap in the face. When a birth mother watches joyful mothers holding their babies, she can wince at the thought of what she is giving up. Hopeful parents’ failing at becoming pregnant or birth parents’ agonizing decision that they cannot raise their child—among our deepest human longings—is tragic.
Sandberg urges us to face our heartache one day at a time, one moment at a time. With her courage, she charges us not to despair, but to choose life and meaning. Finding a path to parenthood might mean resolving to use donor egg to achieve pregnancy, moving past fertility treatment to adoption, or choosing the right adoptive family for a child in an open adoption.
May the memory of Sandberg’s husband be a blessing and her words a beacon to face loss.