Saturday, April 16, 2011
My sister Julie and her family are hoping to add to their family through the miracle that is ADOPTION!
We LOVE adoption! We have had an amazing experience filled with love, joy, and gratitude through witnessing the adoption of Lance & Julie's son Zachary. He is their son, and there is no doubt that Heavenly Father meant him to be in their family!
I thought I would write three different posts to help educate about three topics that most of us don't know how to respond to: 1)Infertility, 2) Adoption, 3)Infant and pregnancy loss.
I've thought a lot recently about infertility, pregnancy (duh!) and how important it is to be sensitive to others. Julie and Lance found out about their infertility right after my first baby was born. Of course they were so happy for my husband and me, but I worried endlessly about saying the right thing, or that my sister would hate me. When I became pregnant with my 2nd baby 10 months later, Julie was one of the first people I told, I wanted to make sure she could be as much a part of my pregnancy as she wanted, and that she knew I would be open with her.
This week, Julie wrote this post about infertility. I recommend reading it, especially to learn how to be more sensitive to couples who are facing this trial. Last month, the LDS Ensign published a great article about infertility. Infertility is so much more common than we realize.
Here are some things I have learned about infertility over the last few years:
1. Never, ever, ever (EVER) judge anyone because of how many kids they do/don't have or how long they are "waiting" to have kids. So many couples keep their infertility private. They are embarassed, because it is such a personal thing, and so they may say things like "Oh, we're waiting until we're more settled/have more money/have a home/done with school/etc." When really, they are waiting for conception to occur, for clomid or artificial insemination to work, for the funds for invitro, or for the right time/funds/resources to begin the arduous and painful adoption process.
2. Be sensitive. I have learned this the hard way. Imagine how difficult it must be when you would give ANYTHING to be pregnant, and all your friends can talk about it pregnancy, and how horrible and difficult it is. Don't whine about pregnancy to your friends who struggle with infertility. Whine to your mom or something. Don't post it on Facebook (I would say a good rule of thumb is to not whine on facebook anyway, it is just annoying and may give people an incorrect impression of you). Maybe you can blog about it, but even then, be careful. If the person isn't your best friend, just steer clear of in-depth pregnancy talk unless they ask.
Now, I tried with my last pregnancy not to whine to Julie. Luckily I have easy pregnancies. Even so, Whitney and I were pregnant at the same time and Julie & Lance were still waiting to be approved for adoption, so it was incredibly difficult for her to be around us.
Other specific things to be sensitive about:
*Going on and on about how certain children look just like their parents. It's salt in the wound of a couple who will never have a child with their "genes."
*Saying "Oh, I'd rather adopt, that is so much easier than being pregnant and giving birth." You might as well tatoo "I'm totally ignorant about adoption and the emotional hell adoptive parents go through" on your forehead. Seriously. Don't say that. Ever.
* "You are so strong, I could never do that," while well-intentioned, can be a hurtful thing to say. I do think my sister and her husband are strong. But most people haven't seen the tears and the days of depression that accompany a diagnosis of infertility.
3. Realize that Adoption cures childlessness, it doesn't cure infertility. The only cure for infertility, and the pain that lingers, is pregnancy and giving birth. It is difficult for many couples to know they will never experience the wonder of pregnancy, even though their hopes for children are met.
I realize that you can't live life worried that everything you say is going to offend someone. You wouldn't avoid talking about going for a jog with a friend who couldn't walk, especially if that was an important aspect of your life. You shouldn't totally avoid the subject of pregnancy or childbirth with those who experience infertility. But the key is to be sensitive. And really, whining is just not ok. My favorite quote from Jeffrey R Holland: "There is no situation so bad that whining about it won't make it worse."