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Healing the Infertile Family
Strengthening Your Relationship in the Search for Parenthood

By Gay Becker

Healing the Infertile Family
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Review by Allison Martin

Healing the Infertile Family, by Dr. Gay Becker, is a thought provoking study of the healing process and issues that men and women face in resolving feelings caused by infertility. Dr. Becker's acknowledges and details the difficult emotional journey and pitfalls that are encountered in coping with infertility. She examines the differences in the ways men and women respond to infertility, the disruption caused by infertility in people's lives, how reproductive technologies affected their experiences and level of stress, and the means by which the disruption can be mediated. Her informed and compassionate approach will enable many infertile couples to come to a state of healing.

As a medical anthropologist who has also experienced infertility, Dr. Becker brings an unique outlook as to bear on the discussion of the social and emotional problems of infertility. Healing the Infertile Family is filled with quotes and examples from her large, long term sociological study - which lasted over two years and included 134 couples and 9 women without partners.

In the first half of Healing the Infertile Family Becker discusses infertility impacts - individual and family identity, potential disruption of identify by the discovery of infertility, the impact of infertility on the marital relationship, coping with feelings, and outside relationships with other family members and friends. The latter half of the book addresses the couple's work toward resolution - getting help, rethinking roles, and future plans. Healing the Infertile Family provides a mixture of scholarly reporting and personal examples that will prove edifying to anyone who wishes to delve into the issues of infertility.

Here is an example quote from the book:

Not only does the struggle for individuation go on ceaselessly as we move through life, the way that we address problems in our life and the efforts we make to resolve them may change for good. As we age, we turn increasingly from problem-solving through action to problem-solving through a more internal process of reflection. Part of this process has to do with what we learn as we mature - that sometimes there are no answers that are exactly right, and that many of the decisions to be made in life are really compromises.

That is certainly true of infertility, which reinforces the need to turn to inner resources to successfully cope. More and more we come to realize that how we view an issue has to do mostly with what is going on inside of us, with our identity, with our values. We learn it's a matter of perspective.

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