Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What I Wish You Knew About Adoption and Infertility {Part 2}

Earlier this week we started to talk about adoption and infertility, specifically the pain that comes with infertility. Families I work with have graciously allowed me to share their stories and thoughts on the important topic of how they've grown their family. 

Today, let's dive into how others add to the pain. Often, unknowingly, others trying to step into grief or offer an encouraging word actually do the opposite. People can make insensitive comments that can hurt rather than heal. If you're someone who struggles quietly with infertility, this might offer some solidarity with others who have been where you are. Or maybe you're on the other side, watching dear friends struggle. Let this open your eyes and open your heart to the real pain of infertility and the ability to walk with them through it.

Part of this series is to address the myths that many people have about adoption and infertility. Today, my families address many of them head on...

The thing that struck me most about our journey with infertility is how easily people belittle that painful journey. They say things like "Well now you don't have to deal with the bad parts of pregnancy" or "Just relax and it'll happen." Really?! How rude and painful to hear! No one can understand the deep deep wounds that infertility causes until you have gone through it. Unfortunately, when individuals belittle our journey to me it rips those wounds right back open. Just yesterday I was speaking with two women about children and grandchildren. One women looked at the other and said, "Well I mean your [grandchild] is actually a part of your DNA." She didn't even notice what she had said but it took my breath away for a moment. That someone would say that after looking at a picture of my beautiful daughter and make reference that she isn't actually mine burned my heart.  - Amanda

Telling a person who suffers from infertility to 'just adopt' is insensitive. Also, adoption is not something that everyone that is infertile is called by God to do. It is something you need to discern just like a fertile person would discern it.  - Lisa

After finding out we're adopting and saying, "oh now I bet you'll get pregnant because you won't be thinking about it" is insensitive. That implies infertility is someone's fault. We aren't choosing to adopt in hopes of getting pregnant.  - Tyler

Stop saying [our daughter] is lucky because we "saved" her... If anything she saved us! And the infertility is definitely a grieving process. It took me a long time (and I mean a long time) to be ready to let go. I am amazed every moment that God wove [adoption into] our path and I will be thrilled and in disbelief for as long as I live.  - Wendy

Just because we have chosen to adopt DOES NOT MEAN WE WILL GET PREGNANT. For the life of me, I cringe every time I hear this comment because it implies that adoption is a back-up plan and that pregnancy/childbirth is worthy of more celebration.  - Shelley

I know they mean well. They tell me it is about relaxing. After you adopt, you will be relaxed and not trying so hard. I heard this many, many times.  - Heather

My husband and I were pretty young when infertility turned our world upside down. We knew we always wanted to adopt (even before infertility) but it was disheartening that no one respected or took our wish to adopt very seriously till after seven years of infertility. All we ever heard was "you're so young, just relax it'll happen. There's no need to think about adoption yet." As if adoption was our back up plan and only acceptable after all fertility options had been exhausted. And yes, we've also been told too many times to count "I bet you'll get pregnant now!" It's so painful and belittling.  - Maria

Someone actually just said to me yesterday "I just know once you adopt you'll get pregnant.” It pains me to put a smile on my face and just say "hmm, maybe?" Because it's too exhausting to explain why the comment is hurtful. I hate that pregnancy still always seems like the "better" gift. Like I won't be content with adopting - and I'll need pregnancy to really make me feel like a parent. Ugh.  - Amy

Telling a person who suffers from infertility to 'just adopt' is insensitive.  - Lisa

I'll attest that pregnancy and childbirth do NOT make you a parent, despite what some people imply. The sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, midnight feedings, early morning snuggles, unconditional love...all of that makes you a parent. No pregnancy needed.  - Shelley

People do belittle our journeys and it's hard to not let their words cut us deeply. - Amy

As someone who is currently pregnant unexpectedly after adoption…everyone said it was because we "relaxed" and this happens "all the time" -- and it made me want to scream, as I knew exactly what our infertility issues were and how extremely unlikely this pregnancy was. However the people that "got it" call both our babies miracles and how God had his hand in forming our family this particular way. And to that I whole-heartedly agree. I always say His plan is incredible for everyone and it sure can catch you by surprise sometimes.  - Carrie 

Infertility hurts...badly. It changes you as a person (in good ways, but it's a very hard road). There are those who care enough to really "go" there with you and witness and support you through the pain and loss and it changes those people too... then there are those who flat out don't care enough to "go" there with you. Sometimes it's surprising who those people are and amazing how insensitive they can be...from telling you, "Okay, no big deal just do IVF..." without acknowledging the pain you are going through or the expense, stress, pain, and loss that's still possible with IVF... or (when we decided not to try IVF) "well, why wouldn't you try to have your own baby first?” to the ever popular, "I just know you'll get pregnant now that you've adopted…" We've even had a family member say to us, about our adopted son, "Well I guess he's good enough to be a [part of our family] and I guess we'll let him in the family pictures...." The ignorance and remarkably hurtful comments will always be there. But another thing infertility can do is knit a husband and wife together in such a way that you can stand together against others who try to tear you creates in you a maturity, love and devotion that enables you to rely on each other and on God; others that just don't/won't get it don't have to hold an essential part of our lives. In more ways than we ever thought, infertility completely reshaped our lives....and God has worked it for our good.  - Katie

Stick around. We'll chat about the choice to adopt later this week...


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. At times I thought I was the only one that heard all of the ridiculous comments. Or wonder why those comments hurt me so badly. It helps to know that other people have struggled in the same way. I will be sharing this post for sure!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post! What a gift when we know we are not alone in the journey...

  2. So much of this I know all too well. Thank you for posting. One thing I would add is please don't say that God chose this for me. I respect people's beliefs and religions, but don't diminish our pain.


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