Infertility and the Grief and Loss Process

The Steps to Reach Acceptance

When dealing with infertility, there are typically five stages of grief and loss that a couple may experience. Experiencing these emotions is normal and healthy way of transitioning from infertility toward adoption.

Individuals deal with the stages of grief and loss in different ways. Some will experience all five stages, while others will experience only a couple of them. Also, the stages of grief and loss can be experienced in any order, and even when an individual reaches the acceptance stage, he or she can always revert back to other stages of denial, anger or sadness. Again, this is completely normal.

When moving from infertility to adoption, prospective adoptive couples may experience the following stages of grief and loss:

Stage 1 - Denial

The denial stage is when a family is in a state of shock and cannot fathom the possibility of them not having children biologically. As a result, they do not allow themselves to process their feelings of loss as they continue to pursue biological methods of having children.

Stage 2 - Anger

Throughout the grief and loss process, individuals are often angry because of their infertility. Anger can manifest itself in many ways, including fear, jealousy, envy, guilt, resentment or shame. Sometimes the anger can be directed at the source of the infertility, whether it is himself or herself or even the spouse.

Stage 3 - Bargaining

Some individuals experiencing infertility do anything they possibly can to cure their infertility. This may include attempting infertility treatments multiple times, eating certain foods, changing their lifestyles, praying over and over again, and even beginning the adoption process because they believe it will help them get pregnant. A couple should not pursue adoption unless they plan on fully devoting themselves to the process.

Stage 4 - Sadness

Many couples feel not just emotional pain but also physical pain during the sadness stage. They may have low energy and physical complaints. However, these feelings are actually an important step in the grieving process – it signifies that they are moving in a healthy way past the loss.

Stage 5 - Acceptance

When a couple fully accepts their infertility and processes their emotions regarding the loss, they reach a stage of acceptance. Couples at the acceptance stage look at infertility as a time that was challenging and emotionally difficult, but it no longer consumes them. They begin to see adoption as not a solution to their infertility, but as a solution to become parents – just as having a child biologically is a solution to become parents. They realize they are not settling for adoption, and they are excited to pursue this next phase of their lives together.


While American Adoptions can help educate couples about adoption and reduce some of their uncertainty about the adoption process, couples must reach the acceptance stage before pursuing adoption. Consult a local infertility or grief and loss specialist to help you move on from infertility and get excited about growing your family through adoption.

An Adoption Specialist can answer any questions you have about adoption and can even recommend counselors in your area. Contact an Adoption Specialist today at 1-800-ADOPTION or click the following to request free adoption information.

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