Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things I Could Live the Rest of My Life Without Hearing Again

For some reason, people can say pretty tactless things when it comes to discussing infertility/adoption. I don't know if it's pure nosiness or just that it isn't commonly addressed in social situations so people don't realize what is and isn't appropriate. I know that the people who said these things to me did not mean to be insensitive, so I don't hold a grudge. But I've heard all these things multiple times and I would be as happy as a clam if I never heard another one of these things again:

Now You'll Get Pregnant
We've been hearing this from the moment we submitted our application for adoption to the day we brought Joci home. I'm sure it happens to a few couples. But it's not the norm. Infertility is a medical diagnosis that cannot be "cured" by adopting a baby. This is this most annoying thing I hear. And it's only a variation on a theme that I've been hearing for about five years - You Just Need to Relax and You'll Get Pregnant. None of the three infertility specialists I went to told me to "relax" or "adopt" to cure my problem, but countless friends and family have. I've never heard a well-intentioned person tell someone else with cancer, or appendicitis, that they'll be cured if they "just relax" or if they "just stop trying so hard." (Probably TMI, but we've tried for about 80 months straight. If we haven't been relaxed for at least one of those 80 months - despite the cruises, vacations, and whatnot - I suppose we never will be.)

On a different tangent, infertility is a major loss and there is a grieving process that goes with it. We grieve for the baby with Justin's eyes and my curly hair. But unlike those who've lost someone to death and they know that person is never coming back, our wound is reopened month after month. Don't you think the "maybe this month..." thoughts go through our mind? Month after month. That wound is reopened constantly. We are tortuously aware of that glimmer of hope. People pointing it out in this way just pours lemon juice and salt into that never healing wound.

Are You Afraid She'll Search for Her Real Mom?
No, I'm not afraid she'll search for her real mom because I am right here. I've changed her dirty diapers, cleaned the boogers out of her nose, comforted her when she cried, rocked her to sleep, paid for her clothing and medical appointments, etc. If you meant to ask me if I am afraid she'll search for her birth mother, the answer again is no. We have an open adoption. Joci will have a relationship with her birth parents. She already does.

She's Lucky to Have Two Parents
People assume that Jocelyn's birth mom is a teenage statistic. Her birth parents are actually married and supportive of each other. They made their adoption plan together knowing it would be best for their daughter. I honestly don't mind questions about our adoption - I love to talk about it! But I get tired of assumptions.

I Could Never Give Up My Baby
Just count your blessings that you've never been in a situation to even have it cross your mind. I know our birth parents didn't make this decision based on what was "best for them." It was what was best for Jocelyn. And I am so touched and proud of their courage to make such a painful choice. Sometimes I wonder if people who say they "could never do that" really don't have as much love and courage.

Why Didn't/Don't You Try IVF?
People say this as casually as "Why did you get a Honda instead of a Toyota?" These choices are a lot more complex and not interchangeable in the slightest. It's a very personal question as well. IVF is very expensive with low odds. One month treatment is extremely expensive - most people can only afford to try once, let alone multiple times to compensate for the low success odds. IVF is physically taxing. Daily injections of hormones that effect moods, self-esteem, and overall health in general (my hormone therapy weakened my bones and caused me to lose about 1/3 of my hair). IVF also raises muddy ethical issues like the chance of having to selectively abort fetuses (or refusing to - anyone hear of Nadya Suleman?) or what to do with "leftover" embryos.

The decisions we made on how to grow our family were private and personal. These decisions did not come easily. We did some soul searching for our own needs, desires, and tolerances, and ultimately we hit our knees and took our problems before God. By questioning why we didn't chose IVF or asking whether or not we'll try it in the future feels like it belittles Jocelyn's adoption miracle and the divine direction we received for our lives.

Aren't You Afraid the Birth Mom Will Come to Take Her Back?
I'm not. Know why? I ask her. I talk to her. It's one of the benefits of having an open adoption. She sees how happy Jocelyn is and she knows and feels that she made the right choice and that we are her parents. This knowledge and reassurance is just one of the fringe benefits of having an open adoption. Plus, there is no legal way that could happen. It's called kidnapping.

You Still Visit/Talk to the Birth Parents? or I Could Never Have an Open Adoption
These comments are usually said with a derisive tone. I can tell these people are uncomfortable with the idea of open adoptions. That's okay. It's not for everyone. But like all of this, it was not a decision we came to lightly, and it is the best decision for us. It was seven months ago when we took Jocelyn home and it still is today. It's not for everyone, and that's okay. If those people ever adopt, they can opt to have a closed adoption. But we are happy and secure in our decision and if you can't support it, keep your mouth shut.

Are You Afraid She'll Have Problems?
It irks me when people automatically assume that adoption causes severe emotional problems. I had someone close to me tell me while we were doing our paperwork that all adopted children have reactive attachment disorder (a very uncommon disorder where children don't emotionally bond properly). Sometimes I just want to ask annoying things back, like "You have three kids sharing a room? Are you afraid they'll have problems?" or "Remember how you snorted Smarties in seventh grade? Are you afraid your kid will have problems?" or "Your son likes to play dress up with his older sister? Are you afraid he'll have problems?"

We know things will come up and we actively learn all we can to handle those things as best we can. Research has proven that adopted children tend to do better in school, have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to do drugs. It's really offensive that people assume she'll have problems because she was adopted.

Okay, so that's my rant for today. I know I was very honest and maybe even bordered on rude. But seriously, these things are rude. And I've heard all of them - more than once. They're hurtful and disrespectful. We love our baby girl and the journey we went through to get her. It is no less than a miracle and we'd do all again - in the exact same way - in a heartbeat.


Mom on the Go said...

That was a long rant, but I bet you feel better now right? I think you guys are amazing, so just keep doing what you're doing. Love ya!

Angie said...

LOved your post! I could so add a few to that list myself! Your daughter is beautiful, congrats!

Liz Smith said...

This is probably the best post i have read on anyone's blog in a long time! I understand what you're saying. We get a lot of rude comments from people because we have been married for 5 years and don't have kids. I just wish people were better about supporting other peoples' personal decisions, regardless if they agree or not. And youre totally right, most of the time, they don't mean to sound rude or intrusive, but they are. Im glad you don't hold grudges and im lucky i dont either....but it's okay to vent once in a while. I have loved reading all about your adoption story. Joci is beautiful and you guys are amazing parents. I'm sooo happy your family has been blessed so much!

Andrea said...

I came across your blog randomly. You don't know me. We adopted 2 months ago, his parents are married develop mentally delayed, open adoption, and it's only been 2 months and I'm tired of these same questions. You are wonderful! and let me know that I'm not the only one. Thank you!

Groff Family said...

Great rant. While different from my issues, I also hear/heard many insensitive things about miscarriage, so I can relate. I hope that I haven't made any of those comments to you. Next time someone says something that you don't like, just refer to your Joseph analogy and ask if they are Christian and do they think that same way about the "adoption" of Crhist by Joseph. It ought to make them think!

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure I want to post this, but will nonetheless. I am probably one of those so called insensitive jerks, but I have gone through many of the same things and yet it took us 6 years before Justin came along. We had filled out the adoption papers but had not turned them in quite yet when we found out we were expecting. So for whatever reason it did happen (a miracle) and then another 6 years and another miracle came along. Again our doctors said you are trying too hard just relax so I guess we relaxed for 12 years. I believe in my heart that it could be possible but if not then so be it. Joci means so much to all of us and it wouldn't matter nor does it matter how she came about, she is still our precious little miracle. Yes, I've had great concerns about an open adoption and I applaud you and Justin for being able to be so open for Joci's sake. I will definitely think about your feelings as I do know how it is and how hurtful it can be. Thanks for the reminder.

Mom Z

Jendi said...

I know we dont know each other but I came across your blog this morning while viewing a friends. I noticed the title of your post about adoption terms and found myself here, reading your thoughts and feelings on what I feel is one of the most beautiful parts of our Fathers plan for families- having them be joined together forever. I feel that is what adoption does. The Lord sends all willing spirit children to earth to learn and grow to become like Him. While they are here, they are placed in the care of His earthly children. The way we come into a family is a miricle that is as unique and special as the process of forming that child.

Thank you for sharing so many personal feelings of your heart and allowing others to see and learn from your experience.

sara jane said...

If you can't tell I love just reading your blog. :) so I comment on older posts.

Anyway, I am pretty sure I have said things like that to you or others. How brave you are to come out and say that it's not ok. I think too often people get worried that they'll say the wrong thing back and make things worse. I am so grateful that you posted this so that I can hopefully never offend someone on this topic again. Thank you for opening my eyes.

I think the same can be said for other things that are on common--like natural births, homeschooling, even with just raising children in general. Let us all think twice before we decide to give our advice or opinions.

LOVE YOU LARA, you are a beautiful and loving mommy.

UK Yankee said...

I think a lot of the blame for infertility/adoption myths can be laid at the door of the media and Hollywood. We never hear stories of successful open adoptions like yours, but we hear horror stories of psycho birth families, or the traditional Hollywood storyline (I think you addressed it a few months back?) of adopting and then getting pregnant. I think you guys are amazing, and the more I read about adoption, the bigger a fan of it I am! (Is that proper grammar? You know what I mean!)

Jewls said...

Great post...totally hear you on every single one of these!

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journal said...

It irritates me when people throw at me the "You should try..." statements. Yes, of course I've heard of IVF, IUI, surrogacy, egg/sperm donation, international adoption, foster-to-adopt,etc. ....and obviously we are not going with any of those routes. Why do they ALL think THEY must be the first person to inform me of these things? Uggggh....

One day I will get the courage to say "Oh, really??! Oh, Que, come quick! This lady says there is something called 'IVF' can you believe it?! Oh wow, you've saved me!" Maybe I'll shake their hand.


DMN said...

Love this post! I've heard most of them... Glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like the "real mom" term. I've been chewed out on my blog for saying that!


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