Deciding to close doors on childbearing, open windows of adoption


I’m staring at a box of maternity clothes tonight, wishing it would release me. It’s just pants and shirts made of polyester and cotton, but somehow their grip on me is tighter than iron.

I don’t even like these clothes. By the end of both of my pregnancies, I hated them. That huge red T-shirt that was the only thing that would fit around my belly by the end. Those laughably large front-paneled jeans. I was so ready to strip them all off and never see another elastic waistband as long as I lived.

But when a friend of mine returned this box of borrowed clothes to me yesterday, I had a choice to make: Do I keep them or donate them? I have written in the past about my pregnancy-related heart failure and my doctor’s strong recommendations that my baby-making days be put behind me. In fact, around this time last year I wrote of how my doctor scrawled “CHILDBEARING COMPLETED” in bold letters in my chart.

And yet, here I am a year later still grappling with that decision. Here I am, staring at a box of maternity clothes that have somehow become the ultimate decision for me: If I throw them out, I am not having more children. If I keep them, maybe there’s still a chance.

Of course, the maternity clothes are not the real decision. The bigger one is that because of the dangers of getting pregnant again, my husband and I should be considering permanent birth control in the form of sterilization. I haven’t been able to take that leap yet. I mean come on, if I can’t donate maternity shirts that are seven years out of style, how am I supposed to literally snip away the possibility of more children?

Yet tonight, I am bidding farewell to these clothes and to that possibility. It’s not an easy thing to do, but words of wisdom from a good friend today have emboldened me. When I lamented the finality of a vasectomy, he said, “Final? What does final mean anyway?” He then reminded me that final in this earthly life isn’t final in the eternities to come. What seems final here is only a step in progress in the more eternal scheme of things. My children need me alive and well.

I know he’s right. I have more mothering in me, for my own children and for those who I hope to adopt. I am excited about adoption, although also a little intimidated by the whole process. Perhaps what I need is some finality to close this era of child bearing and move into my next stage of adoption.

So as I look at these clothes tonight, I’m thinking of the common phrase that “Sometimes when God closes a door, he opens a window.” Except, I think sometimes God needs us to close that door all by ourselves before he can bust open that window.

So tomorrow I’m closing the door. I will donate the clothes and schedule an appointment with a doctor. It’s time. And in all the tomorrows after that, I’ll be preparing so when that window flies open, I’ll be ready to welcome a baby that was never meant to come through the door.

When did you know it was time to stop having children? Have you faced the decision of permanent birth control?


  1. Cat

    I totally understand this delima. Even though I already had 6 children, was 6 months away from turning 40, had two not so easy pregnancies and postpartum depression, it was still hard for me to make that final decision. And once I made it, it was hard to not keep second guessing myself. I knew it was the right one for me but putting an end to that part of my life was hard.

  2. Brooke

    I loved this article and totally understand the joy and the pain that you are going through! I love in West Jordan and was diagnosed with PPCM in 2009 after the birth of my 3rd and now final child! Hugs to you heart sister!!!

  3. Carmen Morse

    I totally can understand your hard decision, though I firmly believe that you will be able to get the children you want even if you aren’t able to carry them yourself. I have talked with a great deal of mothers, asking how do you know when you are done have kids. Many say they never had a clear answer but knee it was time to say I’m done with that part of my life . Your are a great person and a wonderful mom Erin . I know God loves you and wants to give you your heart desires, it just might not be the way you thought it would happen.

    I don’t have the heart condition you have but I feel I have a similar dilemma to make about when I’m done . I keep have boys and so much want and desire one girl. I feel like I’m not done but I have others saying I should be done, because I provably will just keep having more boys and each time I have one the percentage goes up more and more to have another boy. But yet I still feel I’m not complete without a daughter. I wonder why I feel that way, I’m grateful for the boys I have and the fourth boy on the way. I’m grateful to God for give any children at all, so it’s hard to understand what I should do. In that sense, is where I feel should I adopted, there are so many children that need homes and families. I go round and round about it. I still have not made my decision and not sure when I will be able to.

    I hope you will be able to be happy with yours and know, that your health is so important and being there for your two adorable girls and your hubby.

  4. Carmen Herbert


    I have loved reading your posts! As fellow blogger, I sometimes sneak over to your page to see what you’re writing about. Your words always make me laugh, think, and sometimes cry. This is one of your best posts TO DATE. That picture in and of itself could be an entire blog. It speaks volumes about the kind of mother and person you are. You are one tough mama. I respect you.

    Carmen Rasmusen Herbert

  5. Patti

    Love this and love you Erin – I know how hard this is, but I also know God’s plan for you is more than you can hope for.

  6. E B

    It’s sad that in Mormon/Utah culture women are scared to admit they’re “done.” I learned from a wise woman that you know you make decisions with God’s help and by following the Spirit, and you can and should assume that other people do the same thing and that their decisions are none of your business and you have no place judging them for their decisions.

  7. K

    Adoption is wonderful and I have done that.

    But just remember two people have to lose the day to day mothering and FATHERING of a child and a child loses being parented by their parents for each child you adopt. You are blessed with the misfortune of others. If there is anything worse than not having a third child child it’s not being able to raise the one child you just gave birth to. Or staying with your mom and dad.

  8. K

    Why permanantly close the door? Aren’t there long term forms of contraception? It could be that there is a medical breakthrough with your condition. That way you can make the decision you feel right now and in the near future is correct, but then you can change your mind later. I suppose with a heart issue that may not be a good idea.

    I think you could have a child through assisted technology after a vasectomy?

    Why can’t we just be happy with what we have? You are a parent.

  9. Tiffanie Wride

    I’ve had very easy and healthy pregnancies compared to others. I just turned 37 and am expecting our 9th child, I’ve had one miscarriage. I don’t know if we’re done yet, I just take one baby at a time. I’ve heard from other mothers that when you’re done, you’ll know, and that if I don’t know yet, then I’m not. Not sure if that’s how it will happen for me, hope to read other mother’s experiences, but I’m pretty sure I won’t pack away my clothes yet… I can see how that would be a hard step!

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