I’m not sure what surprises me more—insensitivity towards the infertile or my continued surprise at this New York Times “Motherlode” column (A Non-Mother’s Day) expressing how Mother’s Day feels to someone who desperately wants to be a mother, but is denied this opportunity because of infertility. Pamela is the author of a terrific book about her journey through infertility and her final acceptance of a childfree life, Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found. Her NYT essay was as beautifully written as her book.
Juxtaposing a story of sadness and acceptance into the usual mix of joyful motherhood essays was an inspired choice by Lisa Belkin, the chief columnist for “Motherlode”, adding a nice balance to this Hallmark inspired day.
So far, so good. But then there were the comments. Most were either empathetic, having suffered from infertility, or sympathetic, having the ability to feel her pain without actually having experienced it. But more than a few were callously clueless.
- DH: This is ridiculous. What does she expect, for the holiday to be taken off the calendar and for nobody to celebrate their joy openly, just because of a handful of women like her? …Another thing that struck me as selfish is how the woman now considers motherhood a theoretical concept that she will never experience. I’ll probably be joining a lot of other voices in asking, what about adoption? Birth isn’t the only way to become a mother, and if that’s what this woman wants, then I don’t see why she can’t adopt a baby and stop overdramatizing.
- SacMom: Why can’t you adopt? What about a surrogate? Or go through foster care program as as foster parent or as a big sister or CASA worker for foster kids or as the best auntie ever to your friend’s little ones. There are other ways to be a “mother” other than biological. I’m sure it’s painful to be bombarded by everything but I think there are solutions out there that are more than just having the baby yourself.
- Sue: Not having biological children of one’s own is not a tragedy.
- Uproar: Wow, 10 years of trying and testing and surgeries and fertility drugs, but not one mention of considering the most wonderful option of all – adoption. You want to be a mom. A baby needs a mom. Duh. Always amazes me how much unnatural and risky procedures women are willing to put their bodies through yet adoption never crosses their minds.
There is not enough time or words for me to address all of these comments, but as an adoptive mom and an adoption educator and proponent, I feel uniquely capable of addressing the “why not just adopt” comments. Adoption was 100%, no really it was 1000%, the right choice for me, as it is for many many people. It is not, however, the right choice for everyone.
Parenting mean different things to different people. Most people, and I suspect this would include most of the negative commenters on the New York Times piece, never have to dissect what they want out of motherhood. They grow up vaguely assuming that someday they will become a mom, and then they give birth. End of story. But if you are infertile, you have to go the next step to decide what motherhood means to you.
Some people decide that their ultimate goal is parenting. They want to go through the process of raising a child: the wiping of droolly chins; the flat footed ballet recitals; the sitting on the bench of endless ball games; the Christmas morning chaos of paper, cookies, and wonder; the sleepovers; the teaching to drive; the senior prom; the coming home from college; the grandkids. These folks have options if they find themselves infertile– donor eggs, surrogate, or adoption. I don’t want to minimize their pain at losing a biological connection, or their need to grieve this loss, or the financial costs, but they can and most often do, move forward to become happy and content parents. For them these Plan Bs are an alternative path to their real goal of parenting.
For others, their dreams of parenthood are not so simple. Yes, they want to raise a child, but not just any child. They want and need the biological connection to this child. They crave the genealogical continuity. They are too wounded by infertility to risk adoption. Most people I talk to who feel this way, wish they didn’t. They wish they could just accept the Plan B of adoption or donor gametes.
Rather than judge them as a failure or as selfish for not being able to accept the more conventional second options, I respect them for knowing what is right for them and not trying to blindly make adoption or donor egg fit. If it is not “right” for them, it is also not right for any child they might have had through donor egg or adoption. Knowing yourself and having the courage to act on this knowledge is powerful. They make this decision knowing full well that others will not understand and will judge them if they express sadness about their choice.
I sense undertones of blame in some of the comments. An attitude of “You made this choice, so now live with it.” Life, however, is full of choices we’d rather not make. A friend of mine “chose” to have a mastectomy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Others in her position might well have chosen a lumpectomy, but given her family history and her propensity to obsess, she decided that a mastectomy was best for her. Just because she had a choice, doesn’t mean she’s not entitled to feel the grief of this choice. The same can be said for those who choose to live childfree. Most days they own their decision and make the best of it, but sometimes they think about what might have been. Mother’s Day is often one of those times.
I also sense a bit of sanctimonious holier-than-thou stuff going on in some of the comments. “If you were a better person, you would ______(adopt or foster a child from foster care, become an uber aunt, etc.). I wonder how many of those who are making these suggestions have themselves adopted from foster care or forsaken parenting in favor of being the world’s best aunt. No one way of dealing with infertility is morally superior to all others.
How anyone can feel anything but compassion for those suffering with the disease of infertility is truly beyond me. At the very least, they can try to be open to their pain. Saint Francis got it right when he prayed:
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love…
To hear Pamela discuss why adoption was not the right choice for her, listen to her interview on the Creating a Family radio show on Living Child Free.Image Credit: MEL810
Add Your Comment
I totally agree. “Just adopt” is an offensive comment to both people with infertility and adoptees. A person with infertility doesn’t have a special ‘moral burden’ to adopt, and an adoptive child isnt a medical device for a person with reproductive disease. Fertile people can adopt kids just as easily as those with infertility can, and many do.
Hmm… I guess I have a few thoughts about this, as an adoptee.
In regards to those comments, I do feel that they’re somewhat judgmental and insensitive. I don’t know what it’s like to experience infertility, but I also feel that adoption shouldn’t be the “simple” answer for those who are experiencing it, as the writers of those comments suggest. I think it’s people like that who spread common misconceptions about adoption, and make it out to be a simple concept that’s anything but.
Having said that, though, I also don’t *really* like that adoption IS the answer for many people experiencing infertility. It’s a second option for many, and we know that. It’s one of the many things we have to deal with – knowing that our parents would have preferred to have their own, biological children before us.
Dawn, I was in tears reading this post. Just yesterday I went through a very similiar conversation with a “friend” of mine. She assumed I was throwing the thought of adoption out the window and focusing only on the negative feelings i have from going through my infertility. She knew nothing of my illness, and has never had to feel that feeling of … See Morewant that so many of us ladies do daily that are going through infertility. Adoption is absolutely an option for my husband and I. But I will always want and miss that moment when you find yourself pregnant, feel the first kicks, go through labor, and see My child laying in my arms. I want to thank you for your post. It means a lot to me, as Im sure many other women out there to know that someone understands how we feel. Thank you.
I was struck by Uproar’s comment “Always amazes me how much unnatural and risky procedures women are willing to put their bodies through yet adoption never crosses their minds.” It just shows how ignorant the commenter is on the topic of infertility. I cannot imagine there are very many women out there who have gone through invasive fertility treatments without ever considering adoption. Just because you do not adopt does not mean you have not considered adoption.
The one issue I take with this column is that most people who’s objective is parenting (as opposed to the biological connection) do move forward with a plan B and are able to parent. I believe this is far from being true. fertility treatments and adoption are very expensive. I know several women who desperately want to parent but simply do not have the finances to pursue either treatment or adoption. I know people are going to chime in and say you can adopt from foster care for cheep to free, but while wonderful, that is not really the same thing. It is very hard to adopt an infant from foster care and for many the idea of parenting starts with a young child who you raise through to adulthood. In recent years the number of babies being placed for adoption is decreasing and it makes it even harder to adopt. There are plenty of couples at my agency who have been waiting for years without being matched. So, adopting is not just about reconciling yourself with loss of preganacy and biological connection. There are also very real logistical bariers for many would be parents.
when someone asks, “Why don’t you just adopt?” it’s just like telling a donor conceived child, “You should be thankful you’re alive.” it’s very inconsiderate! But I’ve come to learn how clueless so many people are!
I’m an adult conceived via sperm donation. yes… 46 years old… no opportunity to know who my biological father is. with that in mind, I wanted to be a mom and it was important that she knows her history, etc. since I tried and failed to get pregnant at the age of 42-44, I’ve turned to adoption. I will only adopt a child in an open situation so that someday, my child will know her history.
still, there is a pain for me for not birthing a child. but I’m not letting that stand in the way of being a mom.
I considered donor eggs/embryos, but given my own history of being 3rd party conceived, I felt no need to do that – even though there are options for open donors today.
Dawn, Thanks for sharing the wealth of knowledge from all these wisdom filled women! Its ok to have differing points of view — we all have a journey! We adopted two children after several miscarriages in my 40s and considered egg donations which just didn’t feel right for me. Adoption was the right choice for me — my kids were meant to be with me and while I thank in my heart, their birth mothers for the choices they made,I’m not pinning any medals on them either. The added delight in my life is that I learned to value nonconformity; I’m older, wiser and not easily shaken by the status quo… as I raise my kids with the knowledge that they suffered a wound that delays them a bit … no big deal! As a result, I’m tougher when needed to rise to deal with some insensitive assumptions and judgments made by others when they see our ethnically diverse family coming and seeing that I’m a happy 50 something, not at all tarnished by the freedom, independence and career satisfaction I enjoyed in my 20s and 30s instead of marrying and having a family asap. Thanks for the forum Dawn! Great timing!
I got the “why don’t you just adopt” question all the time, from a particular friend of mine. I am no longer close to her because she judged me so harshly about using IVF to create my family, instead of adoption. In fact, I find that I don’t care much about her any more at all. She probably sees my daughter (born through IVF) as a mistake who doesn’t belong in this world, a child who is “stealing” a home from a third world orphan that we should have adopted instead. My child has just as much right as anyone else to be born and living in this world.
Each child is a blessing!
A comment way after the fact – sadly you also get comments when you choose to adopt. I don’t know why people feel the need to judge – but I’ve been asked why I didn’t do foster care or adopt domestically. I always try to explain myself – but seriously – why do I have to? I made the right choice for me. Same as everyone else.
I am an adoptive parent and a bio parent. I hate having to make that distinction, because I am simply a parent of three children, but I find it helps people to understand that I have been through both family building processes. They are two paths to the same summit, but both journeys aren’t for everyone. I think Dawn explained it brilliantly, which is why I don’t judge those who have made the choice to live childfree after unresolved infertility. My twins came after our daughter, so people assumed we still “needed” a biological child – we didn’t. We were fully prepared to adopt again because we and our daughter wanted a sibling, but an inexpensive IVF program had an opening and we thought “why not?” and it worked. Everyone has to make the right decision for them.
Also, as an adoptee, I have to say that I think a lot of adoptees have a romantic notion of what life would have been like with their birth parents. The fact remains that the birth parents chose to give a child up for adoption because, for whatever reason, raising a child was not an option at the time. Not all adoptive parents are perfect, I’m not saying they are. Not all adoptive parents are wonderful parents just because they adopted. Neither are all bio parents. The thing about adoption is that someone’s desire to parent overrides the biological inclination. Unassisted, natural pregnancy is 100% free, there are no legal issues, and any child that results has a biological connection – so that is the natural starting point for starting a family. I would not say that adopted children should always feel like “Plan B” because the natural desire that the majority of adoptive parents have is to parent – and just like you can’t “choose” a perfectly healthy biological child, you don’t “choose” exactly how an adopted child comes your way. You get that call, you prepare, you get excited to become a parent, just as you would with a positive pregnancy test. That is why I refer to adoption and pregnancy as family building methods, because they are two completely different paths.
I have also found that the majority of “just adopt” comments come from perfectly fertile people who have never considered adoption or the fact that a lot of people do not have the financial means to go through the adoption process (many fail, and the agency and attorneys still get paid). “Just adopt” is a statement of ignorance more than insensitivity, I think.
Dawn – I think you have it right when you said “Adoption was 100%, no really it was 1000%, the right choice for me, as it is for many many people.” For me, foster-adoption was the 5000% right choice and always was (and is again!) the way for me to become a mother. But, it’s NOT for everyone. Adoption is NOT for everyone. But, for many of us, it’s the absolute best thing we’ve ever, ever done in our lives (and we have some pretty incredible children because of adoption!). Honestly? There is NO way I could have birthed a better child – she’s a blessing and a gift for me and makes me smile so big and love so deeply that I cannot imagine life without her shining spirit. ♥
I’m not surprised at all anymore by such comments – what does surprise me is that I continue to feel wounded by them. Intellectually I understand that human beings need to be taught how to have empathy about certain things and that if you don’t experience a great earth-shattering loss in your life than you most likely will not relate or understand the loss of someone else and will equate it to a list of basic needs one has that can be met through a variety of means. What people do not understand is that motherhood is not a basic need, it’s an innate instinct and biological rite of passage that is irreplaceable. To give it up willingly is one thing. But to have it taken from you is quite another. There is no choice involved.
Adoption is another way to parent and create a family, but it should not be seen as the same thing or an alternative route that is equal to the other. It is an additional way that can bring some women a lot of satisfaction – mostly women who have been told that having a child biologically is in impossibility or life-threatening – so they choose that route as there is no other one available.
And it has nothing to do with the amount of love you give or feel for a child. It has to do with passing on one’s soul through their DNA. It’s a part of you that will live on. It’s a part of you that you dreamed about meeting all your life to impart on them all the history and ancestry and stories that have gone before them and that you desire to live on afterward. Can you pass on these things to adopted children. Yes. It is it the exact same experience doing so? No. But the love is.
Dawn, I stumbled upon your blog and I am so happy that I did! This is another amazing post that speaks to me, and many others who have struggled with infertility treatments, tests, shots, medications, surgeries, failed pregnancy and the roller-coaster of hope and despair. Then, acceptance of the fact that my eggs weren’t cutting it, and the decision to try donor eggs – and failing. Ultimately, while I would have loved the experience of being pregnant and all that goes along with it, I know that what I really have always wanted is to be a great mother to a child. We are very excited about our decision to adopt and pray that our wait isn’t terribly long. Our blog is at http://babyadoption.wordpress.com Thanks again, Dawn!
I am so right there with you folks. I have both bio and adoptive. I am subject to constant wellmeaning advice. With it being a foster adopt at young age with very few of the stereotypical situation i am subject to much "advice". I give the benefit of doubt that people are trying to be helpful. I am always trying to be sure that I don't sound like I'm asking for the "take" on situations.
You have done it once more! Superb writing!
Thank you for saying what I haven’t been able to find the word to say. And thank you for your shows, all of them. They have become my rock through this whole awful mess of infertility. I subscribe on iTunes and they are the highlight of my Wednesdays.
As if it was so easy or as if it is the right choice for everyone. It means more to me than I can say that you are an adoptive mom and a huge supporter of adoption and yet you understand. Thank you for your compassion and thank you for always being unbiased in the information you give on the site and the show. It’s why I always keep coming back.
Really great read! Honestly.
I’m going to print this off and send it to every member of my family. They don’t get it. They think the only problem with IF is not having a kid. It’s much much much bigger than that. Thank you for putting my thoughts and feelings into words. It means more because you are an adoptive mom so it’s not like you’re not in favor of adoption.
I am so right there with you folks. I have both bio and adoptive. I am subject to constant wellmeaning advice. With it being a foster adopt at young age with very few of the stereotypical situation i am subject to much "advice". I give the benefit of doubt that people are trying to be helpful. I am always trying to be sure that I don't sound like I'm asking for the "take" on situations.
As a parent who has had 1 bio and then adopted siblings 10 years later, I am amazed at people who haven't adopted recommending adoption as the "easy" option. I have very dear friend going through infertility so I hear about her struggles. She's listened to my vents about my children issues related to their rough early life and institutionalization. Neither path is easy and I am flippin' tired of folks who have no idea about either path offering unsolicited advice. The only thing that makes me more tired is when a pre-adoptive parent ignore wise sage advice from those have been there done that because, "her adoption" will be different and of course perfect.
Personally, I was appalled at some of the incredibly insensitive comments posted in response to Pamela's New York Times article. I blogged about the article and I left two comments on the New York Times article itself. It hurts me to see so many people saying hurtful things. I have seen many of Pamela's articles and the one thing that's predictable is that she *will* be attacked in the comments to her article. It happens every time. It saddens me that so many people make such hurtful comments. I agree that some people unintentionally make remarks that end up being hurtful to those struggling with infertility. However, a close look at the comments (currently at 162) to that article reveals some mean-spirited, intolerant, nasty remarks. Our world will be a better place when society gives infertile couples the support they need rather than the judgment and scorn that far too many people dole out today.
Martha, I couldn't agree with you more. Stay tuned to my blog next week. Also, please post this insightful comment on my blog and also include in the signature a link to Rainbow Kids.
I think the compassion does need to go both ways. I get very tired of hearing the same questions over and over again about adoption…but I try to have empathy for where the person is coming from. I actually feel compassion for people who have not had the joy of becoming a family through adoption…or who have NOT parented a special needs child and had the world open to the joys of meeting others who are on the same, and many times wonderful, journey.
Wow, what thoughtful and sensitive comments. I love them all. Lisa, it is so true that we all say things either not knowing or not thinking. A little forgiveness goes a long way. Please, please please add you comments to the blog itself so many others can learn from your points of view. https://creatingafamily.org/blog/
I'm not sure that it is an intentional insensitivity. I didn't know the true cost of adoption and infertility treatment, the emotional factors that come along with both, and the time factors until I was in the position of having to seek out those options.
Lisa, People ask me how much it cost to adopt my daughter all the time. Never bothered me. I honestly assumed when people ask that they are thinking about adopting. People have ask me lots of silly questions. I just look at it like at least I can get a good laugh out of it. Last week somone saw a pic of my daughter and said "she looks like you."
I think that infertility and adoption are not really related. (There is my profound contribution!)
For example, before we adopted I once asked someone how much "it cost". I got the frosted look where I know now exactly what they were thinking as do you all of course. I did not mean their child was an it. I did not mean they paid for their child and certainly did not mean to imply their child was a commodity on some store shelf to just be picked up. I did not mean to imply it was an easy process. That parent, having been through the process and already sensitized to it, reacted visibly to my question. I realized I misstepped and not wanting to reveal too much personal information, even though I'd asked a very personal question, realized I needed to explain myself. So I said we're considering this but I want to know if its even feasible or if we need to just stop considering this now. I was forgiven. Now, of course, I am acutely sensitive to such remarks. I try to remember being on the other side and that there could be various reasons behind someones questions. Not everyone is a jerk. Of course there are jerks out there also. I think we just need to remember we are sensitive and remember not to assume what motivates others. Regards.
I've had insensitive things asked and I've asked insensitive things. Had a conversation on this topic recently. Think sometimes its not that people are trying to be insensitive its that they are possibly trying to understand, compare, or validate their own feelings or just trying to understand yours without assuming they know how you feel or why or everything that goes into this. Maybe they know someone in similar situation just not as far along and are trying to get input from someone who has "been there" and don't exactly know how to go about asking. Just something to consider.
On the flip side, I have had friends tell me that they regret going through infertility treatments, because they were unsuccessful, and now they do not have the money to adopt. They love our boys (adopted from Vietnam), and love seeing us as a family, and really regret the loss that they now have.
Just got that question today from a well-meaning friend. I've stared answering with, "Adoption is sometimes an option for some people. May I ask why didn't you adopt?" in a very kind tone to help them think of all the reasons we have to consider when choosing how to create a family. I was feeling the same way when I first read the comments Pamela's piece, Dawn. Surprised at the insensitivity or surprised that I'm still not expecting it.
it is unfortunate that there is insensitivity-in a way regardless of our choices to become parents (infertility treatments or adoption) people just do not think before they speak. If I had a dollar for everytime someone asked why I did not do fertility treatments I could probably finance my adoption (ok maybe an exaggeration).
Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!
Thumbs up, and keep it going!
So so true! WE are probably going to move to adoption soon, but your post so perfectly summarized our issues.
Speaking as a reunited adult adoptee..the only comment I have is to share my disgust at being labeled as someone’s “Plan B”.
Adoption is wonderful..for the adoptive parents. Not necessarily for the adoptee who loses out on growing up with their natural family.
I left a comment on Motherlode regarding that posting as well. It was veyr much sympathetic to Pamela. There is something wonderful about conceiving a child with someone you love and having the entire experience from quickening to birth — this is absolutely true.
Adoption is not THE answer to infertility. It is one answer. That is also absolutely true.
Still, as the mother of both bio and adopted children (4 in all) I it does sadden me that some people who are devastated by not having their own kids feel unable to consider adoption as a serious alternative.
I have two bio children and am in the process of adopting. I feel the wonder of both, and like you wrote Dawn, I feel very lucky to experience both.
Adopting is not just about raising a child. There are other issues involved, especially if that child is of another culture and race. It is simply not enough to want a child. An adoptive parent has to have the nerve to maneuver through the process, have the money required, have the strength of character to deal with people’s reactions, have the patience and skills to deal with a child who may have serious behavioral and health issues, etc. Just because you want a child doesn’t mean you are right for adoption.
I know plenty of super mothers out there who just do not feel they are suited to adoption. It is a different parenting experience, and in my view, should not be treated as just a ‘substitute’ for conceiving biologically. I think it takes a very wise person to recognize this, like Pamela has.
I know I’ve suggested adoption to someone because it has been such a life affirming and wonderful thing for us. I hate to see people suffering for years in infertility and not doing something. I guess you’re right that it is not for everyone, but maybe people should stretch to figure out if it couldn’t be for them.
I think the point is that adoption can work and that people should look into it. I hadn’t really thought about that parenthood means different things to different people. I guess that could be true. It sad though that someone who really wants to be a parent can’t get over the biology thing and “just adopt”.
Thank you for this. I am from a family of 8 – 5 girls of which I am the youngest. I have never had a really strong desire to have children by birth so when I was 30 and still single I decided to move forward and adopt without being married. I may not have to explain “why not just adopt” I have to explain “why not just get pregnant”
My 3 sisters with children by birth love my daughter to pieces, but still think I may change my mind and want children by birth some day.
My older sister who was having many problems with fibroids at the time I was adopting, was doing everything possible to fix the problem so that she could get pregnant – it never happened for her. When she and her husband realized they wouldn’t have children by birth they made a decision not to adopt. I never understood it because they were the most supportive of me adopting. I think my sister would have, especially after meeting my daughter, but her husband wasn’t willing to go that route. This helps me understand his thinking more clearly. Thank you.
I have to say that after a reading a few of those comments I could read no more. While it was Pamela they thought they were talking to—they were talking to all who have not been able to have children of their own.
I have, as indicated in my blog post today, heard all of those comments that Pamela got and then some. I just don’t understand why this topic brings out such vitriol and lack of compassion from those who can have kids. I seriously just do not get it.
And speaking of “just adopt”, it was in trying to adopt and having that fall through that my heart was so broken that I literally could not get out of bed for nearly a month. I couldn’t go through another adoption process anymore than I would try another IVF. Adopting is not as simple or easy or as certain as people like to believe. Adoptions can fail just like infertility treatment can.
Thank you so much for this post. It is so lovely to find others who are outraged at the comments.
Thank you for all of your time & work.
I didn’t JUST adopt. I adopted. It may not have been our first choice, but it was the best choice and the best decision we ever made.
One again, your blog hit the nail on the head.
Personally, I was appalled at some of the incredibly insensitive comments posted in response to Pamela’s New York Times article. I blogged about the article and I left two comments on the New York Times article itself. It hurts me to see so many people saying hurtful things.
I have seen many of Pamela’s articles and the one thing that’s predictable is that she *will* be attacked in the comments to her article. It happens every time. It saddens me that so many people make such hurtful comments.
I agree that some people unintentionally make remarks that end up being hurtful to those struggling with infertility. However, a close look at the comments (currently at 162) to that article reveals some mean-spirited, intolerant, nasty remarks. Our world will be a better place when society gives infertile couples the support they need rather than the judgment and scorn that far too many people dole out today.
Thank you for posting this. Far too many people throw that “just adopt” phrase around!
Ironically when we told people we were adopting some asked why we weren’t persuing fertility treatment! What I have learned about this process so far is that it’s so PERSOnAL- and people just have to find their own way to parenthood. It has given me so much more empathy for what it takes to become a family.
I totally agree with you. As an adoptee mom (and someone who as experienced infertility). I understand that you have to be in a different mindset when you are adopting. And it’s not for everyone. I think the comments were harsh, but then one comment to the question, “why not just adopt?” was “Adoption is not the same as having a baby of your own.” was harsh as well. It actually really bothered me. It’s not the same as having a biological child, I know. But you love them just them same. You would be the same parent. I think for me I want to shout out to people that want children that adoption is awesome! And I don’t mean to be insensitive. But I’ve experienced it and it is magical. And I’m in love. My daughter is everything to me and I can’t imagine the love being any different if she were a biological child.
Anne: I too have been thinking a lot about one of the other comments on Pamela’s NYT’s piece. As you said, it was in response to the “Why not just Adopt” comment. I plan on blogging on that comment as well.
So sad – especially when it’s women not supporting other women who are going through pain to become mothers. As someone who has gone through 6 failed IVF cycles before going on to adopt our wonderful daughter via an open domestic open adoption almost 6 years ago – there is no “just adopt” for many of us.
I love my daughter with my whole heart and at this point my only remaining grief is that I did not get the chance to carry HER in my own womb. But the journey to her was 6 years long and with many bumps along the way including 2 late 1st trimester pregnancy losses.
I also suffered from depression after Ariel was born due to the fact I did not take time while waiting to become a mom to process my losses.
I now work as an adoption coach and counselor to help others who do choose adoption as their own path to motherhood.
Adoptive Mom and Adoption Counselor and Coach
There is no “right” path when you are facing infertility. What works for my family, may not even be on the radar screen for someone else. But they are all good options and we should all celebrate each and every choice available!
Even post-infertility, I find Mother’s Day sad. I wake up knowing how difficult this day is for so many women…I always write a letter to all my legislators to tell them about the difficulty of this day for so many families and to remind them that infertility is a disease and to not legislate anything that will block treatment but instead work on legislation for insurance coverage for treatment and diagnosis of this disease and retaining tax credits for adoption.
And reminding them that there is no “right” choice but different choices that work for different families.
Thank you for spreading the word and mostly thank you for your compassion. Your show has been a lifeline for me during the last 2 years of trying and failing to get pregnant. I can’t thank you enough.
We are considering adoption, mostly because of information you’ve provided on this site and show, but it won’t be “just” adopt. We will do it with an open heart. But the lack of compassion by those people still breaks my heart.
They are only two little words, but they feeling behind is huge: Thank you…
Goodness gracious those comments were heartless, thoughtless, and insensitive! It seems to me that too many women are being blamed for their own infertility as if they must have done something wrong to hinder their chances and should be punished for it. Is it not enough to go through years of medical treatments and heartbreak? Now an infertile woman has to suffer being called selfish when she expresses reasonable feelings of pain and loss. The implication being that if one can’t get pregnant, they deserve childlessness, and should be ashamed enough to stay quiet about it. Staying quiet and accepting has already lead the infertility/adoption community down wrong paths, while talking about our experiences and grief is healthy, necessary, and in our best interests.
The flip side of this for me was when I expressed my desire to adopt and was told by a family member that I should plan on having biological offspring or have to accept childlessness (fantastically enough, it is NOT her decision to make). It seems to me that all too often these negative comments are made by others who have never had to know what it is like to truly fight and sacrifice just for the opportunity to parent.
The “why don’t you just adopt?” question is frustrating not just because it is calloused to Pamela Tsigdinos grief and the grief of others, or because it is completely false in assuming that adoption is the answer to infertility, but because it almost implies that children are just these interchangeable things. It’s a little over the top but how many women who have had their children the “old fashion way” would be willing to exchange them for a child who is not biologically theirs? I appreciated the person who’s comment to Pamela’s essay pointed out that women who have children without the use of fertility treatments are never called selfish because they chose not to adopt. When I talk with friends who discuss their infertility I am struck by how humbling and emotionally exhausting their journey is. Any woman who goes through all of that and chooses to reconciles herself to childlessness is very brave.
Thank you SO much for this, Dawn. I think I will just refer people to this link whenever I get the dreaded question!!
There are many groups of people who find Mothers Day to be emotionally difficult–those who have lost thier mothers, who do not have good relationships, birth mothers who do not have contact with their children (and those who do), those with infertility or who have lost a child, etc. The list of motherhood-related personal tragedies is endless. One year, my church did a service around its origins. It really helped put things in perspective for me.
Julia Ward Howe was inspired by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis. In the 1850s and 60s, Jarvis worked to improve sanitation through “Mothers Friendship Day”. Jarvis ognaized women’s clubs to learn about nursing and sanitation. Howe wanted to use the power of women to promote peace. She started Mother’s Day for Peace, an annual event in June. She championed the establishment of an official holiday. Anna Jarvis, daughter of Marie reeves Jarvis, successfully worked to get the national holiday passed, but deeply regretted the commercialization that followed.
Sara, good point about it being a hard day for many people, not just the infertile. I encourage adoptive parents to do something for their child’s first mother on this day because it is often a tough day for first moms as well. Thanks for reminding us.
And also, there is no such thing as “just adoping”. Having been through the adoption journey twice, I know that along with the overwhelming joy of raising two wonderful children through adoption, comes a rollcoaster of emotions (often grief)and an incredible financial expense. We enduring long waits and crushing disappointment and disruption before we were successful in completing our family. And many people simply cannot afford to adopt. It’s not that the bad outweighed the good, but adoption takes nerves of steel, IMHO.