real life

A different kind of infertility: "I call myself honorarily infertile, and it's heartbreaking."

There is a simple dream we are taught by this society from childhood.

One day we will grow up and be very beautiful, perhaps meet Prince Charming, and just like our parents got to be mummies and daddies to us, we will have little ones of our own. But sometimes fairy tales become twisted, not everyone gets to follow this magical gradient of a life.

I was told when I was sixteen a slice of information that would send me searching for information on adoption, and then again, more firmly this time, at nineteen. The second time was worse. There were tears, tantrums, and tribulations. I had a certain familiarity with physical pain but had never experienced emotional hurt quite this strongly. Why did it hit so hard? Didn’t I already know this? Yes. But it’s one thing for the mind to understand a blow, another for the soul to learn it.

I believe wholeheartedly in the value, importance, and rightness of adoption and foster care. I am grieving, but this is not an attack on the children who I will one day enjoy the privilege of calling my own.

For me, the upset of being unable to carry my own children has little to do with biological relation. Instead, it relates to the first steps, words, kisses, birthdays, dirty nappies and sleepless nights I am so afraid of missing. It also has a lot to do with the way this decision has had to come about.

I am not typically infertile, at least not to my knowledge. I have a genetic condition. Because of the statistical likelihood of passing this on to my children, and because of the failing connective tissue which would likely make pregnancy dangerous for both myself and my child, I sadly call myself honorarily infertile. Being forced to this decision has been difficult, but I have no doubt that I make it for the sake of my child.

The condition is Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, it has a range of sub-branches, but it is a genetic condition affecting collagen and connective tissue, and therefore most bodily systems.

Since learning the difficult path my future will follow I have shed many tears and have found it difficult to care about much other than children I am wishing for. In many ways, this event feels like one with a clear before and after; I suppose that this is what grief does.


Living in Australia, I have been faced with the obstructions in our adoption system, which exists as a series of intimidating roadblocks. I have become passionate about child protection, and about advocating for children in care.

One thing that helps me to make sense of this new reality is the belief that this is my God-given purpose. I believe that, however hard it may be, I am supposed to fight for this. I did not want to fight. I wanted my life to go easily, but we as people are not allowed to make that choice for ourselves. I have had to adjust my goals and hopes, what I now want is the ability to make this new dream possible.

As heartbroken as I feel when I see yet another bump shot, or a tiny onesie in a store, I know that there is a role for me here to improve the system, and to bring a child in need into my home. I have always wanted to be a mother, with all I had, and I really believe I deserve to be, but much more than that, I know that the long lists of waiting children deserve to be valued members of families.

I will continue learning, researching, advocating, and growing. I will do all I can with this extra time I have been given by finding this path so early to ensure that I am the best mother I possibly can be to the child who needs me, and so that I can be sure we will be allowed to find each other.

Maybe things happen for a reason, and maybe this has happened because my baby is not waiting in my belly, because I needed that extra nudge to find them when the time is right. I’m doing what I can to make this system workable, to understand it better, to help children find the families they need and deserve. And to my little one, somewhere out there, probably not yet a thought on the universe’s radar; I’m trying, and however it hurts I will carry on doing so. Mummy is coming.

Shannon Jade is a writing student with passion for adoption. In the future, she hopes to write children’s fiction and do advocacy work for foster care and adoption in Australia, before adopting children of her own.

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