It never ceases to amaze me just how many people are affected by infertility. I don't know if it's my age (lord help me, I'm getting old) or just the fact that I don't have any problem talking with anyone about anything (my hubby interjects here that I never have. Ever.) or what, but it seems like I meet some one else who has struggled with this burden on a fairly consistent basis. Just this weekend I met another kindred spirit from the infertility battalion. While having dinner with some friends we started discussing the need to plan a baby shower for another one of our girlfriends. In the midst of discussion one of my fellow planners mentioned the irony in the fact that we work with so many kids who have lacking parents, when there are so many others who can't have children or have a terrible time getting pregnant. It was then that a new acquaintance mentioned her own struggles with infertility and miscarriage that ultimately lead to adoption. We quickly picked up a new conversation on our own individual struggles as well as our adoption stories, many of which had to do with the things people say to adoptive parents. Which leads me here. I think that often people assume that when you adopt you magically cross this bridge that no longer allows the wounds of infertility to fester. Well, we all know what happens when you assume. The funny thing is, just as happens with infertility, there are so many people who make comments that are hurtful, and often without even realizing that they are doing so. Since the whole premise of this blog began as a chance to spread awareness I find myself again looking at a rule of thumb guide. In other words, another list of what not to say.
Here are a few of my favorites:
"Where are their REAL parents?"(or anything to do with those "real" parents) Hm, silly me. In my humble (or maybe not) opinion I think that a child's real parents are the ones who love them, care for them, provide them food, clothing and meet their needs. That would be me and my hubby. So where are their real parents? Well, typically standing right in front of you.
"Oh, she just looks more like her mother every day!". Unless you are referring to my child looking more like me (in this case that sadly was not the story) this is again another one of those zip it and throw away the keys comments. I am her mother, and yes I do think she looks like me more and more each day.
"Well at least you didn't have to deal with diapers and midnight feedings." No, I did not. I would have in a heart beat though, should that have been graced to me.
In the course of the last 5 years or so, those are comments I've heard more than once and like I said, I don't believe they were said with the intent to cause heartache. The funny thing is what some people have said regarding biological families that they think are absolutely true and ok to say. I once had a social worker tell me that I should allow one of my children contact with a former friend of her biological parents, because this friend was now in treatment (again) and part of her 12 step plan was to rekindle old relationships. And after all, this is my daughter's godmother. Hold the phone there sweetheart. This person is NOT my child's godmother, that right was demolished after the adoption, and in my mind when they chose destructive behaviors. The question I posed back was whether or not they would like their child to have a recovering drug addict pen pal in treatment? No? I thought not. I really just don't feel it's my child's responsibility to assist an adult in their journey to sobriety. If you want to make amends, do so on your own terms and leave the children out of it. That is not a task they need to tackle nor a burden they need to bear.
It's a sticky subject, this whole infertility and adoption deal, isn't it? Please don't feel like you should walk on eggshells around me, I've a tough skin. My goal here is to help others who are hurting, or to offer a bit of advice for those trying to help them. I think it all really comes down to the golden rule-do unto others and all. If you wouldn't want some one else called your child's real parent, don't do it to your adopting friend and so on. And if you are the one hurting from these comments, I pray for your peace. And remember, the person who loves, the person who commits, the person who cares, that is the real mommy, not the one who is linked by blood.