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Systems of Support

Alumna offers hope, peace, and help to couples dealing with fertility problems.

Krista Oakes

Krista Oakes (above) has built a support network for Church members dealing with infertility.

After years of trying to start their family, Krista Ralston Oakes (BS ’88) and her husband Jared realized something was wrong. “I remember combing a local bookstore in Dallas looking for something on infertility—there was nothing,” Oakes recalls. “The only thing that gave me comfort was an Ensign article I had read years before by Ardeth G. Kapp (MEd ’71) titled ‘Just the Two of Us—for Now.’”

As Oakes became more open about her situation, she found many people in her ward and stake dealing with the same issues, yet no one was talking about it. So in 2000 Oakes started an e-mail support group and the Web site, now the largest and longest-running support network for infertility, pregnancy loss, and adoption in the LDS community.

“I realized there are unique challenges and blessings of being LDS and infertile. We are a family-oriented church, as we should be. We understand the importance of family and its role in the plan of salvation,” Oakes says. “When the opportunity [to have a family] is deferred for a while it can feel extremely isolating, and that is the unique challenge. The blessing comes from living with a gospel perspective, whether struggling with infertility or cancer. We have the truth to carry us through anything we may face.”

After Oakes had attempted in vitro fertilization three times and suffered through a devastating miscarriage, her mother, Lynn Christensen Ralston (BS ’66), a family law attorney in Texas and graduate of the BYU Law School, suggested adoption. “We thought the answer to adoption would be no again,” Oakes says, “but after praying about the decision, my husband and I both received a very profound yes independent of each other.” Oakes is grateful for her mother’s knowledge of law, which helped in the adoption of two children: Jacob, born in Houston in 2001, and Emma, born two years later in Washington, D.C. Both children were sealed to their parents in the Dallas Texas Temple.

Oakes continues managing, and thousands have joined to gain information, support, and advice from others in similar situations. As new members joined, Oakes found herself responding to recurring questions. “I realized a comprehensive discussion of this topic from a faith-based standpoint was essential. I had planned to write a book for a long time and I certainly had a lot of materials to use from the Web site,” Oakes says. “It took a cancer diagnosis to get me into gear.”

In December 2005 Oakes was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. “As I contemplated what I should do with the time I had left, I knew I needed to finish the book,” Oakes says. “It all came together so much easier and clearer than I thought it would, and I had some very special experiences while writing.”

Her book Fertile in Our Faith: Infertility, Pregnancy Loss, Adoption, and Filling the Measure of Our Creation was released by Millennial Press in March 2007. Oakes hopes the book will bring hope and peace to infertile couples and those who love them. “I wanted something that would let this experience live on and help people,” she says. “It validates my experience. It adds meaning to adversity when you can use it well to help others.”