Tuesday, March 1, 2011


About a month ago I was asked to preview this soon-to-be released book, Inconceivable, by Carolyn and Sean Savage. It's no exaggeration to say I, anxiously, checked the mailbox every day until it came. My contact did not tell me of their decision to fight or relinquish rights, only that they had one shot at IVF and were implanted with another woman's embryo. Such a thought is shockingly, jaw-dropping.

My walk-away from Inconceivable is strange in that I, confidently, say, with conviction - It is a must read for all prospective adoptive parents, while at the same time, admitting it's not the best-written book I've ever read. This book is compelling on so many levels and I want to spend a majority of this review exploring those points, but I need to be honest in my feedback. I found myself gripped by the Savages courageous story, but their written words left me wanting more. Does that make sense? I skimmed through some of the chapters, quickly, and found the swapping of perspectives, between Carolyn and Sean, a bit repetitive and somewhat disjointed. Overall, their, horrendously, pain-filled story was relayed in a methodical way that didn't maximize the intensity of the emotions described.

That being said, I must reiterate, every prospective adoptive couple should read this story. There are so few resources available, in the adoption community, that realistically portray the birthing mother's devastation. As an adoptive mother, I related to Carolyn's pain on so many levels - the desolation of infertility, the world's callous reaction to her predicament, the heart-squeezing bond that developed between her and Sean, and the spiritual overhaul that knocked her to her knees.

 Sean and Carolyn's darkness, coupled with the distancing behaviors of the genetic (relative to adoptive) parents, is enough to make you want to spit in the face of adoption and pray to God for another way. Even in the most loving scenarios, the birthing mother loses. I had to stifle sobs when Carolyn wrote, "the truth was that I felt gutted." Gutted. The gruesomeness of that word has replayed in my mind over and over again.

I found myself advocating for the Savages in such a big way, willing the genetic parents to open their hearts wider...to see the pain their coldness caused. One of Carolyn's closing remarks is in response to the birth announcement she receives from the family raising the baby she carried. Carolyn says, "Shannon had sent me a birth announcement for Logan at the same time and in the same way that she had announced him to her extended family and distant friends. This was what stabbed at my soul. I was now and forever more a bystander in his life."

I'm not sure any adoptive parent could read these words and not be challenged by their weight. In the opening chapters of Inconceivable, Carolyn and Sean describe the legal aspects of their case and Carolyn's words are haunting: "This baby could not survive without me, but judges had ruled repeatedly that my contribution to this life was irrelevant...I desperately wanted to read something that said I mattered."

Whether tied to adoption or not, I hope you'll allow the Savage's story to inspire and challenge you to love bigger. For more information please visit  Sean & Carolyn's blog.


  1. heart breaking...the horror of it all. I cannot imagine...

  2. I just ordered this book, I agree, a must read. As a survivor of IVF, I always wondered if this and what the outcome would be. Such a horrible painful expereince but what a gift they gave.

    I cannot wait to read it.

    And you are such an inspirational and emotional writer, I think you should write a book. I know I'd buy it. :)

  3. I read about this story on the news and thought then that I'd like to read the book at some point. Now with your review, I'll have to add it to my "must read" list. Definitely a harrowing story!


  4. I've been on the wait list at the library to read this... Thanks for the review!

  5. Oh this makes me sick to my stomach. At the same time there is another family's story. Was their embryo for themselves? Did they offer it to the Savages? Or was Carolyn mistakenly implanted with the wrong embryo? It seems in this case no one can really "win". There's a biological family whose expensive snowflake baby was put in another woman's body and there's a woman carrying a baby she hoped would be her child. Sad on ALL levels.

  6. I dont know what the story is. I want to know now of course. Ill have to order the book.


  7. I have seen their story on both Oprah and Dateline and it's a heart-wrenching one. It's difficult to even BEGIN to imagine what that experience was like for them, with such complex issues twisted around the existing pain of infertility and loss. Thanks for sharing your review of the book!

  8. I have read about their story before and have always thought that is was one of the worst mistakes that the fertility clinic could have made. Yikes. Should be an interesting read.

  9. Its a terrible story with such a hard outcome. I can't help but wonder why she continued the pregnancy knowing she would not keep the baby. It would be different if you had wanted to carry a child for someone else. At least they do have children.

  10. i JUST saw this book in Target and just from the title knew immediately what had happened to this couple.

    i was horrified immediately for them. they sound like amazing people though. i will have to check it out.

  11. Thank you so much for your honest review as part of the book tour. I agree that this would be an extremely powerful read for adoptive parents - thanks for making that recommendation.

  12. I have not read the book, but I have to say I am really disturbed at how adoption is getting the slap in the face for this. This is a story of IVF, a botched job by a clinic, and the legal process to decide who really is the parents and who gets the rights in a bizarre case. I cannot say I would ever spit in the face of adoption and ask for another way, and particularly not because of a horrific IVF-gone-nightmare reality like this.