Novelist Hansen (The Monsters of St. Helena, 2002, etc.) chronicles the journey he took with his wife through years of fertility treatments and adoption proceedings.
New advances in reproductive technology have given unprecedented hope to couples with difficulties conceiving a child. These advances can also, as they did in the Hansens’ case, lead to a six-year cycle of daily hormone shots, intrauterine treatments and dwindling financial resources. The author reveals the isolation he and his wife Elizabeth felt, despite relatives’ and friends’ well-meaning efforts to be supportive. Eventually, the couple decided to adopt, which proved to be equally harrowing and expensive. They found themselves selling their qualifications as parents in short classified ads, sizing up the genetic pros and cons of potential adoptees and finally traveling to the ends of the earth—Siberia—on their quest to be parents. There was no shortage of bumps along the road, and Hansen makes palpable the couple’s yearning for the life with children they had envisioned since they got married. Their desire for some approximation of the family they planned on led them to rule out an open adoption in the United States: “Just because we’d been through the IVF wars and lost,” writes Hansen with characteristic wit and self-awareness, “that didn’t mean that Elizabeth should have to resign herself to the role of co-mother.” They went overseas, searching for a child with whom they felt a deep connection. Supplementing their story with lucid explanations of fertility options and procedures, the author has crafted a book that is both a helpful guide for infertile couples and a personal memoir appealing to any empathetic reader. The title tips its hat to Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus, and the much-covered subject of infertility does indeed benefit from the addition of a male perspective.
A tender, humorous account of a couple’s struggle to start a family.