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Our adoption rainbow

Emma shares her story of adoption after recurrent miscarriage.

We wanted to share this for anyone who’s feeling shame about the idea of ‘giving up’ and that they’re not ‘good enough’ if they decide to stop trying to conceive, whether or not they go on to adopt or have a child in any other way.

As I write this, our rainbow is 3 and a half… My husband and I pinch ourselves daily because we can’t believe after the heart-breaking grief of 7 pregnancy losses, we are finally parents! Our child is an absolute delight and make our hearts both sing and melt simultaneously every single day! (As well as turning our hair grey and leaving us more sleep deprived than we knew could be humanly possible!)

This isn’t the usual story of a rainbow baby though…the one that starts with two lines on a test and a fuzzy scan picture to show off to the world. Ours started with an information evening, a phone call and a registration of interest form being put in the post.

We want to share our experience of adoption after recurrent miscarriage because when we were trying to conceive and suffering loss after loss, it used to seem as though the idea of stopping trying was such a taboo in the recurrent miscarriage world…as if stopping was a weakness. It seemed to us as though you only ever heard the stories with the same happy ending of a successful pregnancy leading to that rainbow baby.

I was an active member of a Miscarriage Association Facebook group, I even made a few really close friends through the group who I’m still in regular contact with. I remember that if there was any hint on a post there that someone was pondering whether to stop trying to conceive, they’d be met with messages like ‘never give up’, ‘stay positive’, ‘your rainbow is just around the corner’ and lots of stories and support from those who had been there and now had their happy ending. I don’t remember anyone saying their happy ending was through adoption though. Perhaps some of those who had adopted didn’t post because of confidentiality or safeguarding issues. Or perhaps those who decided to stop trying to conceive and to move to adoption or other alternatives simply felt this group was no longer for them.

The fact of the matter is that most people who have recurrent miscarriages do get there and some people have the strength to keep trying despite not knowing what the outcome will be. I know people who’ve had 10+ losses who went on to have their rainbow baby through a successful pregnancy. As lovely as this is, any thoughts of stopping trying to conceive or adoption felt like it was a ‘worst case scenario’ runner up prize for us. It just wasn’t really talked about.

We had a wonderful team at our local recurrent miscarriage clinic. They were really willing to try various treatment plans and worked in tandem with the specialist miscarriage team in Coventry. In fact we had several more treatment options to try when we decided to stop.

We found the decision to stop trying to conceive incredibly empowering and gave us so much strength. We came to the decision at different speeds but by the time I got my 7th positive pregnancy test, we knew that if this one didn’t work out then we wouldn’t be trying again.

For a time in that 7th pregnancy, we thought we were on our way to our miracle ‘magazine article’ happy ending. Weekly scans where we could see a flickering heartbeat and a little wriggly bean, lots of blood tests and happy phone calls to say my hormone levels were rising nicely and then BAM…a scan where there was just silence and clicking…trying to locate that little flicker, but it was gone. At the time my first instinct was relief… then shame. How could I be relieved that my last shot at pregnancy was over?

As much as we knew we wouldn’t be trying again, I felt like I was the only person who was too weak to keep going, didn’t have what it takes the way all those women who got to share birth announcements and scan photos did. Again this was because you only ever hear about the miracle pregnancy with the happy ending in the magazine articles and social media posts.

We were individually depleted and our relationship was depleted, we knew that we couldn’t keep putting ourselves through the trauma of recurrent miscarriage indefinitely. We had started to tentatively explore adoption after our 5th loss. We both came to realise that our end goal wasn’t to have a pregnancy and a birth, it was to have a family.

Realising this was like a huge weight was lifted. At that point we decided to exhaust all treatment options for recurrent miscarriage so that in future years we wouldn’t have any thoughts of ‘what if?’ and could give our whole hearts to a child; adopted or biological. After two more miscarriages that changed and I knew I had nothing left in the tank. My body, both our minds and our relationship had taken too much of a bashing to even think about trying again.

Once I entered the adoption world of Facebook groups for those in the process and those who had adopted their children, it turned out that there are loads of people who adopt after recurrent miscarriage. In fact I recognised lots of names from the Miscarriage Association Facebook group! To me if felt like these people would just slope off from the miscarriage group with no fanfare instead of that magical rainbow baby announcement. Perhaps if more people posted to say we were in the adoption process and looking forward to having a rainbow baby that way, like I did, it might help others feel less alone.

We did make one final visit to the recurrent miscarriage clinic. I wanted to find out the genders of the babies we had lost. Something I had never wanted to know before but now felt like a way to get closure in order for that chapter of our lives to end and move forward to the next one. If I could have danced a jig out of that clinic I think I would have! It was such a relief to leave it all behind.

Our rainbow baby came home at 7 months old…the time has flown by so quickly. I can’t quite believe it! We love them with all of our heart and soul. They feel no different to us than any child we had created and grown ourselves! In fact I even forget when the doctor asks about family history that it doesn’t apply to us.

I should note that adoption is not something to take lightly, it’s not a direct substitution, it is adoption. But in the same breath it isn’t something to be feared, or thought of as second best. It’s beautiful. There are loads of great resources available online and from your local authority to guide you should you feel the same way we did.

We wanted to share this for anyone who’s feeling shame about the idea of ‘giving up’ and that they’re not ‘good enough’ if they decide to stop trying to conceive, whether or not they go on to adopt or have a child in any other way.

Recurrent miscarriage was like a terrible game of snakes and ladders where we never managed to land on the ladder that got us to the top of the board. Instead we decided to start playing a new game and it paid off…every day we feel like we’ve won! (So much so that we’re planning to adopt a sibling for our child!)


Emma has also written a poem about recurrent loss and a new way forward, which you can read here.

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