Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Open letter to friends and family of someone dealing with infertility, and perhaps looking at adoption as the next step: 7 THINGS NOT TO SAY, in no particular order:

1.   “Take my kids for a weekend and see if you still want any.”  It’s not the same thing.  I don’t care how much you love a niece or the son of a friend, having them for a weekend would not soothe the desire for a child nor would it eliminate it.  Anyone who has felt the great blessing of being given the opportunity to raise their own child should know this.  I don’t want a weekend baby.  I’m not looking to babysit.  I want a son or a daughter.  This comment only pours salt in the wound that not only do I not have a child, but you aren’t enjoying the ones you have.  I remember Madonna making a comment once about how money was over-rated, and I thought, then why doesn’t she just give it all away?  It’s easy to say money is over-rated when you're loaded.  But when there is $10 in your bank account and you have a child to take care of, it doesn’t seem so over-rated.  A comment like this from someone who already has the one great thing you would love to have just hurts.  It isn’t funny.
2.  Adopted kids are just different/difficult.”  Well, thank you for raining on my parade!  I have one option to have kids—adoption.  So, for you, with your three kids, to tell me that my only path is subpar is insensitive.  I am not an ignorant girl who thinks kids are about people at the park telling me how cute my child is.  I know it will be hard.  But, frankly, there are no guarantees with a biological child.  There is disease and mental illness and hard-headedness and rebelliousness.  None of us are given a free pass.  I know plenty of adopted kids that have thrived in a loving home.  There may be issues.  Or their might not be that many.  But, I am thrilled at the chance to adopt, so although I appreciate your concerns, I’m not going into it blindly.  To me, having children is not about the picture-perfect Christmas card, although I love that as much as the next person.  Having children is about providing a child with a chance to learn and grow and thrive and be a better person, and that is as true for an infant as it is for a 10-year-old kid who’s been in foster care a good part of his life.  Maybe he will have more struggles, but the point is that he has a family, and someone to spend time with him and help him sort through the things that have happened to him and help him to be a better person.
3.  “Maybe if you adopt a child you will get pregnant.”  This is quite possibly the absolute worst reason to adopt a child.  We, as adoptive parents, need to be 110% on board with adopting a child because we want that child.  Not because we are hoping it will have some magical effect on our bodies and we will suddenly be able to conceive the child we really want.  An adopted child has already been through a lot, and older children have been through so, so much.  It is so unfair to expect that child to now be the sacrifice for something supposedly greater.  Most of us who adopt don’t feel this way.  And you, as family and friends, need to not think that way, either.  And if it does happen, and we get pregnant after we adopt, you need to know that to us, those kids are the same.  They are both ours and we love them both equally, so please don’t treat them differently.  Please don’t think because your family’s DNA runs in the veins of one and not the other, that that child should be the one to inherit the special family heirloom, or get the family name, or any other special treatment.  To us, these kids are our flesh and blood.  We don’t see them differently, so you shouldn’t either.
4.  RE: any fertility treatment:  “I just know this is going to work!”  I don’t know how many times I heard this.  The thing is, I know you mean well and are trying to be a cheerleader, but you CAN’T know it’s going to work.  You aren’t God.  None of us KNOW what is going to work.  And believe me, once you’re on your 6th or 7th or 10th fertility procedure, no one wants it to work more than you do.  It’s better to say things like “I sure hope this works!  I am keeping you guys in my prayers” or “You have been through so much, you sure deserve this” or “we love you and are there for you no matter what.  Please let me know what I can do to help.”
5.  (While in the middle of a difficult moment with your child) “Are you sure you want kids?”  It’s similar to the “Take my kids for the weekend….” comment.  I know parenthood isn’t easy.  But I do know it’s worth it.  I know that I desperately want a child, and if yours is acting up at the moment and you are frustrated, I also know that that will pass.  I don’t want your screaming child.  I want my own screaming child.  And I say that because I know my child will scream sometimes.  In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m in the middle of a battle of wills with my 2 ½ year old wonderful son, and he is screaming because he doesn’t want to pick up a handful of raisins he has thrown on the floor for the third time.  And though I'm frustrated, I am secretly smiling, because hearing him scream is a reminder that I have a son.  I know you are frustrated in that moment, and I know that sometimes, we say things out of frustration.  But, it is more salt in the wound. 
6.  “Just have faith.”  If everyone who wanted something in life was able to get it by just having faith, none of us would want for anything.  I believe faith is about believing that God will direct you in the path that is best for you, and often that means accepting a different path than you thought you were destined for.  And that’s not a bad thing.  I hear stories all the time of people who thought they wanted to follow one road, and an accident or tragedy or just a chance happening (if you believe in chance), led them somewhere else and it turned out to be a wonderful thing—better than the original plan.  I have faith that if I try to do what’s right, and pray to know what I need to be doing, then I will be led to the thing(s) that is right for me.  Infertility and chance meetings with different people led me down the road to adoption, and it has been the greatest blessing in my life.  I wouldn’t wish the disappointments we suffered on anyone, but I wouldn’t change it for us.  When you tell someone they could just have something if they just had enough faith, it is a backwards criticism.  In other words, you are saying you had enough faith because you have a child, but I must not because I don’t.  And I hope we all know that is not true. 
7.  “You are so great to give that child a better life.”  This is another comment that seems like a compliment, but it’s not a good thing to say, especially in front of the child.  I didn’t go into adoption to be benevolent or charitable.  And I know it may be a fine line, but it’s not a service project.  It is a human life.  And that human life needs a family, not a benefactor.  We want our family and friends to know that we want a child, period.  It is %100 selfish.  It is not to do a good deed, or at least it shouldn’t be.  A child deserves to be wanted.  Every child deserves that.

I'm sure there are more, and I know that we need to not be overly sensitive to everything people say.  But sometimes, in the middle of such an emotional, hormone-involved situation, hearing these comments for the 10th time can lead to a complete meltdown.  My biggest advice is to just be supportive and positive and don't avoid eye contact with us or avoid inviting us to baby showers because you don't want to upset us.  We don't want to feel alone because nobody knows what to say.  Just express love, support, and let's have conversations about other things, too.  We are going to cry, and that's okay.  Just cry with us, or buy us ice cream.  And when we get the call that we are getting a child, whether straight from the hospital or 10 years old, be super excited for us.  And love our kids as unconditionally as you would if you had been present at a live birth.  We will love you forever for it.

9 comments:

  1. Regarding #6, I liked what Elder Paul Johnson spoke about at Sunday's regional stake conference regarding faith. Faith is not our power to get what we want. We don't have a work for the Lord to do, but rather He has a work for us to do. Once we understand this truth, we can exercise our faith to find out what the Lord's will is for us, what work would He have us do, and then having the courage to go forward and do it. Having been one who has, on occasion, prayed to let God know what I want and when I want it, this better understanding of what faith truly is gives me great peace.

    Thank you for blogging these tips to help us all be more tender about the words we say. I think most people want to say the right thing, but we flounder when it comes to dealing with most forms of heartache. This experience we call life seems to soften the rough edges in all of us sooner or later.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Amy. I've had a few of those prayers myself! And I know I've said some insensitive things in sensitive moments before, not always knowing what to say, so I like to be aware of what is really helpful and what is not. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thanks for the reminder to think more compassionately before I speak. Hugs and kisses!

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    1. Thanks! I know I have been insensitive about things at times as well, so I'm always glad to know what actually helps and what doesn't. Thanks for posting and for sharing it on Facebook.

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  3. Hi, just found your blog and don't have a lot of time to read it right now but love what I see so far. I'm an adoptive mom and foster mom. My friend (also fost-adopt mom) and I have spent many hours on the phone talking about what people have said to us that's uncomfortable or completely insensitive. So I'm looking forward to relating more to your blog. Mine is 4littleeggs.blogspot.com if you're interested. I've been trying to be better about documenting the fostering process we're going through right now. Love your art also!!

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  4. Hi Mel,
    Thanks for stopping in and commenting. I hope you will post any ideas/thoughts you might have on any of the topics I write about. This one has been on my mind for years because, just as you mentioned, people have said some crazy things that I felt were insensitive, or awkward. I know they don't mean it, but it's still painful. Anyway, I've been checking out your blog, too, and hope to be able to read more of it in the next few days. I always love to be up on other people documenting the process. Are you just fostering now, or are you hoping to adopt more kids? I've been torn on fostering. Evertime I think I want to do it, something comes up and it has to go on hold, so I guess it's just not the right time for me right now. But will definitely keep up with yours and take some notes!

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  5. I was married at 32 and immediately tried to get pregnant. When I was unable to conceive I had blood tests for fertility and was told that I had an FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) of 54 and would not be able to have children. Even though the doctors knew that I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis since age 25, no one bothered to check my thyroid levels. my TSH was measured at .001. My Synthroid dosage was lowered. a friend advise me to contact a spiritualist who help with fertility with his medicine, i collected his contact and explain my situation to him he prepared a herbal medicine which i took as describe I by him. i became pregnant very quickly, I had a successful pregnancy. I have my baby august 2014. to get pregnant at age 35 with my 2nd child in september 2016, thank you papa, email contact if you require his help mallamabuduspiritualhome@gmail.com Or whatsapp him on +2349055637784

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