For many of us, the dream of starting a family is the hope we hold most dear. Sometimes though, things don’t go as easy as planned. There are few who will admit the hardship this brings— from struggling with infertility to the daunting process of adoption— and we end up suffering in silence and solitude.
In this candid and thoughtful memoir, author Ashley Biddiscombe takes an unflinching look at the struggle she and her wife faced in starting their family— something that might be especially familiar to LGBTQ couples like them— and their eventual decision to adopt children with special needs. Biddiscombe’s story gives voice to countless difficulties that often go unspoken along journeys like hers. Beginning with the secret traumas of fertility treatments and the heartbreak of having the “baby door” close, she examines the strain this can put in one’s relationship both to one’s partner and to one’s very self. Moving into the intimidating world of adoption, she proves the difficulties of raising children with unique and difficult traumas of their own, of establishing and maintaining a relationship with birth parents, and isolation one can feel as a LGBTQ couple in a world generally catered toward the straight. Finally, she relays the unique and often very private struggles of raising children with disabilities— from the social alienation one might feel from the “outside” world to the difficult process of finding the right diagnosis and support system. Ultimately, Only the Strong Survive is a story of resilience in the face of great pain and indomitable power of unconditional love. No matter where you are in starting or raising a family, you are sure to find compassion and understanding herein.