Park City residents Evelyn and Jeremy Belnap will host Hopeful Hearts, a monthly infertility support group at Mountain Life Church beginning Jan. 7. The
Park City residents Evelyn and Jeremy Belnap will host Hopeful Hearts, a monthly infertility support group at Mountain Life Church beginning Jan. 7. The group will discuss ways to help strengthen marriages and how to cope with the issue of infertility. (Photo courtesy of the Belnap Family)
Nearly 10 percent of women who are child-bearing age are infertile, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Infertility is usually the diagnosis that comes after a women has failed to get pregnant after a year of trying or has a miscarriage after multiple pregnancies.

On the surface, infertility seems to be a women's health issue, but it isn't, said Park City residents Jeremy and Evelyn Belnap.

"Infertility affects the couple and can bring in a lot of issues to a marriage and everyday life," Evelyn Belnap told The Park Record.

The Belnaps will shed light on infertility in a new support group called Hopeful Hearts that will be held monthly starting Jan. 7 at Mountain Life Church.

"Hopeful Hearts is an infertility support group that provides emotional and spiritual support for couples experiencing infertility and/or pregnancy loss," Evelyn said.

"The group will focus on creating fellowship centered on sharing our stories, supporting one another though trials and tribulations."

The idea came from the Belnap's own experience with infertility.

"Having children was important to me, but it was very tough for Evelyn." Jeremy said. "Women, typically, are nurturing and have strong feelings about becoming mothers. So, it became about how I could support her properly and become the partner she needed and be strong for her."

"From a woman's perspective, I was very embarrassed and ashamed that this was happening," Evelyn said. "I began to question my ability to become a mother. I mean, I'm a woman, so I should be able to get pregnant and have children. I also became frustrated and began to question everything about myself, marriage and the relationship."

Knowing that other couples that experience infertility probably felt the same, the Belnaps took it upon themselves to host the support group.

"Many of these couples suffer in silence and don't want to talk about it because of an array of concerns," Evelyn said. "We wanted to provide a place where couples can talk about their struggles with these issues.

(The session) will serve as a comfortable place to create fellowship and share stories and experiences, Jeremy said.

"The big thing for us is that we don't want people to suffer alone," he explained. "And this can be difficult considering the family-friendly culture in Utah."

The sessions will evolve according to the needs of the participants.

"We'll begin by getting together once a month to talk about our struggles and support each other through the next stage," Evelyn said. "We are thinking of expanding the topics and ask couples who have had their own miracles happen, whether it was through their own biological children or through adoption. And if we have to, we'll see if we can meet more frequently."

The Belnaps are considering asking representatives from adoption agencies come to give presentations.

"One of the things that we need to address is that this isn't something that will usually just go away," Belnap said. "So we will also talk about ways to fortify and enhance a marriage, rather than break one up."

Although Hopeful Hearts will be held at Mountain Life Church, it is an open support group for all faiths, Jeremy said.

"We just want to get together and support each other, because no one has to do this alone," he said.

The Belnaps, who have been married for six years, have learned to turn their own experience into something positive.

"I'm amazed at how close Evelyn and I have grown and how close our relationship with God has become," Jeremy said. "We hear so many stories about how infertility breaks relationships apart but, for us, it has brought us together."

"Our communication has become a big part of that," Evelyn said. "We needed to be on the same page when it came to our decisions, whether they were about a medical procedure or, lately, adoption."

"That's what our journey has done for us," Jeremy said. "We're fighting together and it's important to have that support in a marriage."

Hopeful Hearts, an infertility support group that will meet monthly at Mountain Life Church, , 7375 Silver Springs Dr., will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 7, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. For more information or to sign up, contact Evelyn and Jeremy by email at belnapfamily08@gmail.com .