Infertility, the apples and the oranges: Is blood truly thicker than water, and is an Ed.S. a failed Ph.D.?

Last night I read a wonderful article written by a mother. In the article she urges the reader to close their eyes, and then to imagine the person in their life who knows them best, inside out–the one who loves them, no matter what–the person who they fall back on when times get hard. That one individual who knows what it means when their face makes that one certain scrunched up look. The person whom they know is there with them in the good times, and the bad times–the one who shares their load.

And then she asks: Who is it? And are they related to you by blood?

In her experience, nine times out of 10, people will say that the person they are picturing is their spouse. And obviously, they are not blood related.

And so she aptly ponders: is blood really thicker than water? Is biology of the body more important than commitment of the heart?

When two people marry they come together, not through blood nor biology, but through love, dedication, and a commitment to see each other through the rest of their lives. And in coming together by choice, those two individuals become the definition of family–and that definition does not involve blood.

So, I was left wondering, is blood really thicker than water? And is it possible that ties of the heart can trump ties of the genetic pool? If so, then why is adoption portrayed so often in our society as the second string players in the super bowl of life?


This weekend my school received accreditation to offer an Ed.S. degree. Ph.D. students who are ABD (which is me after my dissertation experience from he**) can take one final capstone course (one month long) and graduate with an Ed.S..

And so I wondered, is an Ed.S. a failed Ph.D.? Even though I just don’t have it in me to spend the next two years of my life repeating all of the work I have done over the last two years of my life, am I failing if I graduate with an Ed.S.?


In life we are often presented with apples and oranges. We are presented with black and white. We are presented with dichotomies in which one must be superior to the other, and where difference is the harmony behind the melody of life.

But what if apples and oranges really aren’t that different? What if it is more about the palate of the diner than the delight of the dish?

What if blood isn’t thicker than water? What if family means more than swimming in the same private gene pool?

And what if an Ed.S. isn’t a failed Ph.D.? What if they are like ebony and ivory, living together on the piano keyboard of life, and both necessary to make music.

What if . . . .


  1. I don’t think blood always is thicker than water. I believe it’s all in the relationship between these people, spouses or parent-child or friendship.. Good luck with the offered course if you take it!

    1. Thanks marwil, I’m seriously considering taking the Ed.S. option so that my life can move on. And I do definitely agree, we are all different, and every relationship has beautiful nuances and gifts–either by blood or by choice.

  2. Hmmm, could be an option (the Ed.S), good luck with all the decisions, I don’t think it’s a failure, just another option / open door for you… I agree with Marwil… you can have good relationships with both, right now I am really appreciating the relationship with my mom, she really dropped everything to come look after me..

    1. Thanks Heather, it’s definitely not an option I even thought possible, yet it’s interesting the timing that it came to me. In many ways it feels “right.” It’s so wonderful that your mom is there helping you. I too have a very close relationship with my mom, and it’s a true gift. Hope you’re resting and taking good care of yourself!

  3. I graduated a first in masters, a classmate didn’t graduate but gave birth to a beautiful baby girl instead. I’m sure she didn’t see it as failure and I remember writing on her Facebook wall that her baby was worth more than any title or grade. I still believe that. I am glad for my first but it seriously did run me into the ground. I’m not so glad for that. Whether you do it or not- just make sure you look after you and your health. x

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that story Mina. I really feel that I don’t have it in me for another try–I took myself down to “empty” over and over again during the last two years working on my dissertation before the bottom fell out. And now, it’s time to put that energy into starting our family 🙂

      1. I almost started another course last winter to distract me from all this infertility stuff. Big mistake. I crashed. You really have to listen to your body, your heart and your gut. If it’s telling you want a family, then throw that passion and energy in that direction. You didn’t fail. Fate turned you in another direction. Remember that post you wrote about Letting Go? You gotta read it again 😉

        I’ll photoshop you a certificate. You can have a PhD in Mummyhood.. through the University of Life.

      2. LOL, awesome Mina. You made my day! 🙂

  4. No, a Ed.S. is not a failed Ph.D., but I can see why you would be tempted to think that. I found the whole PhD/academic track to define success in the most rigid of terms. If you do not get the PhD, get a tenure track job, publish your dissertation, and get tenure, then you are a failure.

    Of course, that’s BS. Many of the people I know who never finished their dissertations are some of the happiest, most well-balanced people of my grad school cohort. Some are teaching high school, some joined think-tanks, others have jobs in universities. They are the success-stories from my program because they were the quickest to see through the lie that success only comes in one flavor.

    I was raised to believe that blood is thicker than water. In my dark moments, I wonder if I will never feel connected to the child that we adopt. But I think you are right that that adage is a fiction. I have an uncle who married into the family. My sis and I are far closer to him than any of my alcoholic, verbally abusive blood uncles.

    1. Thanks so much for your inside viewpoint on the Ed.S Sarah. I really have come to believe that Ph.D. programs are more about breaking people, and keeping as many as possible out of the “elite” few, than about engraining a love for learning and education. Unfortunate really. And you are so right, I would rather be happy than own a title.

      And as for the fear about feeling connected, I hear you. I have had that same fear at times. And then I have friends, who have biological children, confide in me that it tooks months, sometimes more, to bond with their child–and that some still struggle to do so. Go figure. I suppose it is more of a human condition that anyone would really ever admit. And perhaps for those of us who have fought so hard to hold our child in our arms, we already have a leg up on the others–because the desire runs so deep.

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