Monday, June 28, 2010

Embryo Adoption

When we started our infertility journey, "embryo adoption" was not even a concept explored by the medical or ethical communities yet. I still remember the phone call from a friend asking if we would consider adopting the sweet children they could not carry, created through IVF. Shortly after that phone call we watched Snowflakes develop, then Focus on the Family start talking about the plight of "unused" and sadly even sometimes "unwanted" extra embryos created through the IVF process. Eventually more and more agencies and organizations provided structured resources for those desiring to adopt frozen embryos.

One area that has been sadly lacking all these years is support for the genetic families who make the brave choice for life and offer the gift of hope to longing families through the loving (and often grievously painful) choice of relinquishment. I've known several families on both side of the embryo adoption equation and for the most part, placing families have quietly kept their emotional journeys to themselves as the spotlight has fallen on adopting families. How my heart has ached for families living this choice and yet I have had so few resources to suggest.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Placing Parents, a blog designed by a Placing Parent named Sheila, designed specifically to offer support to parents considering placing their embryos for adoption/donation. If you are already through your IVF journey and feeling the burden of love and responsibility for remaining embryos whom you cannot go back for another pregnancy attempt, you are no longer alone in the questions and highs and lows of considering an adoptive family for your unborn offspring.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Have You Voted for Hannah's Hope?

I feel both humbled and greatly honored that Hannah's Hope was nominated as one of the top four "best" infertility books of 2010 by RESOLVE. Public voting to select their single "Choice Award" winner closes tomorrow.

If you have been blessed or encouraged by this book, would you please take a moment and visit and cast your vote (one per email address) for Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss? Thank you so much!

Monday, June 21, 2010

True of False?

I've seen many "facts" about myself reported in others' reviews of Hannah's Hope. How well do you know me? Can you pick out the facts from the fiction? (Scroll down for answers.)

1. True or False: I am a pastor's wife.

2. True or False: We have lost a child to stillbirth.

3. True or False: I am dyslexic.

4. True or False: I have a degree in Christian counseling.

5. True or False: I grew up in Japan

6. True or False: We have two living children after our infertility journey.

7. True or False: I have been through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

8. True or False: I was homeschooled.

Scroll below to find the answers. If there are other things you think you have heard but just aren't sure about, or you are simply curious to know something about me, please ask! Here is something no one has written about me, but just as a fun "bonus" quiz question for one more chance to see how well you know me:

9. True of False: My favorite food is pizza


1. False
I am not a pastor's wife. The truth is that I am the wife of an amazing man who loves the Lord as he serves Him as an internet and social media expert. Rick's loving faithfulness through nearly 18 years of "for better and for worse" humbles and blesses me beyond words.

I have never known the anguish of stillbirth or infant death and would never pretend to exactly understand such anguish on a personal level. To my many friends who have survived such horror, you have my deepest respect, sympathies and prayers, always!

By stating that I don't have firsthand experience with stillbirth or infant death, I am in no way trying to minimize the heartache of parents who become bereaved through other forms of loss. There is no "too early" to matter, no "young enough" to invalidate the substantial heartache of a parent who has faced the death of their child, the rewriting of their futures, in any manner.

In truth we know that we have at least three children awaiting us in Heaven: Noel (1994), Joel (2001) and Hannah (2001) all died through miscarriage. I say "at least" because there were several other suspected early miscarriages including the probable twin of our oldest living son, though these additional losses were never positively confirmed.

We have also known intense grief through the losses of seven children we had hoped to add to our family through adoption. Each kind of loss is horrid grief in its own right.

To anyone who has know the heart-shattering pain of the death of your child (sometimes emotional "death" when referencing adoption loss), I want to wrap you in a huge {{{hug}}} and remind you that your sweet child matters and is not forgotten.

3. This one is True!
Words were my enemy for years. While I still can't spell worth a hoot, isn't God's sense of humor great that He would choose writing as my passion? :D As my brother once told me, I'm not a poor speller, I just like to "round to the nearest vowel". :)

4. False
I am a college drop out. :)

5. True
I am an MK (missionary kid) and moved at least every two years through my growing up years, spending a total of seven years in three parts of Japan. My parents continue to minister with Cadence International (formerly Overseas Christian Servicemen's Centers or O.C.S.C.).

If you know someone in the military, please check out for support and resources!

6. False, but this one was a trick question. ;)

At the time Hannah's Hope was written, yes, we had two living miracles. We had a two year old son (he's now 10) at the time I started working on my book proposal for Hannah's Hope.

We learned we were expecting our daughter (she is nearing 7 1/2) a few days after submitting that proposal to the first publisher... See More I queried. I honestly was not too overjoyed about that pregnancy after two very recent miscarriages and the fear that we would loose her as well and I almost gave up on the book project all together because I was afraid that if God did allow us to bring her home, that as a mother of two living blessings that I was now "disqualified" from writing a book on infertility. I'm so glad God had bigger plans than my limited viewpoint!

The month Hannah's Hope finally hit bookstore shelves, we found out God was surprising us with our 3rd living blessing! It was a high-risk pregnancy with lots of preterm labor scares, he was a month early and my cervix tried to rupture during delivery, but God was abundantly gracious to bring both of us through that pregnancy to live birth. Our younger son is now nearly 4 1/2.

I had a medically-necessary hysterectomy about a year and a half ago, so though we had always dreamed of "at least 4," we know there will be no more biological children added to our family. Due to my health limitations is is highly unlikely that we would ever be approved for adoption, so unless God has an amazing miracle planned out for our future, our family is now complete.

7. False
While we did a lot of talking, played countless scenarios in our minds, prayed through many of the "what if" possibilities of IVF and made some specific choices about the parameters we felt God would have us work within should be ever do an IVF cycle, God never actually took us down this path.

I underwent several surgeries and other procedures, took many fertility-related drugs, and our oldest son is the result of IUI with injectables. In my chapter on making decisions (10 I think?) I shared a lot about the parameters we would use if we were to go through IVF. It was certainly an option in our minds, and not one we took lightly, but it was never a path God led us down. I'm not a stranger to the process, even helping a friend or two with her injections and going to appointments and ovarian ultrasounds with a few gals, but IUIs w/ injections was as far as my own journey went.

Our daughter was conceived shortly after an extensive surgery for Endometriosis (where I was told I had less than 5% chance of ever conceiving again even with medical aid, and that if I could conceive I would certainly not carry another baby to live birth) but with no other medical aid beyond progesterone support and blood-sugar regulating medication.

Our youngest son was God's evidence to us that He truly is the author of life and planner of our family. He was conceived during the first season of our entire marriage where were were not actively striving to grow our family. What a joyful surprise!!!

8. True
I am a homeschool graduate and am now blessed to be a homeschooling mom to our living miracles.

9. False
Pizza is actually one of my least favorite foods, mostly because it (at least the traditionally red sauce kind) has always made me sick. In recent years I have learned to enjoy most white sauce pizzas, but if we are eating with friends and red sauce is the only option, I don't eat.

My favorite foods are tomatoes (I know, weird since I don't do well with red sauce on pizza!), mushrooms (though I have to be careful with many kinds due to allergies), just about any kind of fresh fruit and the greater majority of veggies, or well-made sushi!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Prayer

Thanking God that He is the Healer of broken dreams, the Redeemer of pain, the Man of Sorrows who is acquainted with grief, the God who sees, the Father who loves us so fiercely that He willingly enter into the world of bereavement when He paid the price of my adoption with the life of His only biological child...

May the God of All Comfort enfold you tangibly with His overwhelming love this Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Please Vote for Hannah's Hope

Hannah’s Hope has just been named as one of the top four nominees for "Best Book" for the Team RESOLVE Choice Awards.

RESOLVE opened voting for the Team RESOLVE Choice Award for Best Book today. You can vote for your favorite infertility book and favorite infertility blog at Voting will close June 24, one vote per email address.

The winner will receive notification after the 4th of July holiday weekend. The winner will be presented with the Hope Award for Best Book at the 13th annual Night of Hope, September 28, 2010.

I am overwhelmingly honored by this nomination and want to thank each person who took the time to share Hannah's Hope with RESOLVE. I would be greatly blessed by your vote and no matter the outcome I'm excited that HH has received this national spotlight and praying many hurting hearts will find hope in Christ as a result.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Preparing for Father's Day

Tim Nelson, author of A Guide for Fathers When A Baby Dies, offers a personal perspective on facing Mother's Day and Father's Day after the death of your child. While the blog is not Christian based, it is very simply and straightforward advice from one dad who has "been there" through a journey no parent could ever imagine to all other dads walking in these same painful shoes. I pray that you will be blessed and encouraged there today.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Best Infertility Book?

RESOLVE is looking for the "best book" about infertility and family building. If anyone would like to nominate Hannah's Hope, here's the info you will need for the simple, 3-question survey:

Book title is Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss
Author is Jennifer Saake
And yes, it is available for purchase online

Thanks for your help! :)

Pastor's Perspective on Miscarriage

Getting Through a Miscarriage
by Steve Burchett, as posted at

Sadly, miscarriages are common. Experts say that about 20% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage, but the actual percentage is higher if one includes those that happen without the mother knowing.

Members of my church recently went through a miscarriage, and it brought back memories of the three my wife and I have endured. The first stands out above the others because we learned about it at an ultrasound when we didn't hear a heartbeat. "I'm so sorry," the doctor softly said. Those words were kind, but our real comfort through each miscarriage came from other sources:

God and His promises

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away." (Job 1:21)

I had heard (and said) that verse numerous times at funerals, but it became very dear to me the first time my wife miscarried. "God has done this," I reminded myself, which doesn't imply that God is unloving. Scripture declares God's goodness and that He always does what is best for believers (Ps. 100:5; Rom. 8:28). Seeing God as both sovereign and good gives hope to the hurting believer—The Lord reigns, so He has "taken away" the child, and He is good, so he has loving purposes for not keeping the baby alive. The tears rightly flow, but hope remains.

There is a level of mystery in the ways of God in a miscarriage, but looking back, I affirm with the apostle Paul that since God gave His Son for His people, He will certainly give them everything they need (Rom. 8:32), even when they lose a baby (Rom. 8:37-39). Because Christ was with us in the trial, my wife and I never lacked anything we needed, and we were able to say with Job, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

The church

The hugs, prayers, and tears (Rom. 12:15) of other believers are precious to the suffering saint. I especially appreciated the meals the ladies of our church provided. These were not necessary, but they were tangible demonstrations of love that allowed my wife much needed rest.

I have heard people going through trials say, "I think I'll skip the church meeting this Sunday." There may be a physical reason why that is reasonable, but God has given us the church to comfort us in our affliction (2 Cor. 1:4) and to direct us to our Savior (Col. 3:16).


Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
(Katharina von Schlegel, "Be Still My Soul")

The themes of the Lord's sovereignty and providence in the above hymn might strengthen those facing a miscarriage. There is no command in Scripture to listen to hymns as a way of enduring suffering, but I speak from experience: Sound theology centered on the greatness of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ brings a right perspective and joy. I'm not against short choruses that repeat simple truths, but after each miscarriage, I was helped significantly by theologically rich hymns.

One another

I can only speak about this from a husband's perspective. After the third miscarriage, which I heard about over the phone, I remember thinking, "What am I going to say to my bride when I see her face to face?" Thankfully, I didn't preach a sermon to her on the sovereignty of God. Our discussion on that subject would, necessarily, come later. By God's grace, I said exactly what she needed to hear: "I love you."

Husband, you cannot fully grasp what your wife is going through both physiologically and emotionally when she has a miscarriage, but you should remind her that you cherish her and will do whatever is necessary to provide for her needs. And when your grieving process is over, and hers is not, remember Paul's words: "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them" (Col. 3:19).

Copyright © 2010 Steve Burchett
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address. All other uses require written permission