The Problem with “What I Wish I Knew Then”

Dawn Davenport


The Problem with “What I Wish I Knew Then”

The Problem with “What I Wish I Knew Then”

“I loved your blog last week about what people wished they could tell the woman sitting in the infertility clinic on her first visit. I know you didn’t mean it this way, but after I read it I was feeling so sad for all the time we wasted in treatment. We are now 42 and 45 just starting the adoption process. We’re drained emotionally and financially. We are also considerably older now than the “ideal” adoptive parents most birth moms and agencies are looking for.”

I’m sorry for the pain that I caused this reader, unintentional that it was. Infertility is painful enough without someone dumping on more “what ifs” and” if onlys”.  How true it is that when you throw a pebble in a pond you can’t control the ripples.

Here’s the fundamental problem with the “what I wished I knew then” type of exercises that I failed to mention– You are a different person now than you were then, and you became the person you are now because of all the experiences you’ve had by not knowing then what you know now. (And yes, I realize how convoluted that sounds.) For a lot of people, these “what I wished I had known” or “if only I had known” exercises are just a shorthand way to appreciate where they are now. But for some, it takes on more of the beating yourself up tone. When it is the first, I love it as a way to reflect; if it’s the latter, I’ve got no use for it at all.

Your first choice was to become a parent through giving birth to your biological child. Nothing is wrong with that; in fact, that’s almost everyone’s first choice. Adoption didn’t become your choice until after the door on biological parenthood closed. If you had heeded the advice of the blogger I quoted, you would have skipped treatment and gone directly to adoption, which at that time would have been your second choice. That wouldn’t have been fair to either you or your child.

I still think it’s helpful to hear what other people have learned along the way. If you are wrestling with what to do next, it is often useful to hear of the choices others have made and how they feel now. But, the truth is, that we each have to make the best decision we can given where we are right then at that specific time in our lives. As we grow and change, so will our decisions. It’s tempting to look back and think that we should have taken a more direct path to where we ended up, but where we end up, and our satisfaction at being there, is dependent on the circuitous route we took to get there. And with that circuitous sentence, I’ll stop.

Image credit: Vincent Maurin

04/09/2012 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 15 Comments

15 Responses to The Problem with “What I Wish I Knew Then”

  1. Catherine Tucker Catherine Tucker says:

    “There is no right or wrong way to grow your family”


  2. Melanie Kristine Joy Seier Melanie Kristine Joy Seier says:

    I love to read everyone’s story of growing their family…each is different and filled with both frustration and pain, and the joy of growing. There is no right or wrong way to grow your family, and each of us are making the best choices we can with our own situation to consider. The end result is that the children, however they come to us, are loved, cherished, and part of a family who deeply desires them. This is happy news, indeed!

  3. Avatar Kathy says:

    I am here via the discussion that Luna mentioned in her comment and really appreciate this post. My journey through secondary infertility and loss is resolved now, but reading your post here helps further the peace that I feel with the choices we made along the way.

    I love this part of your conclusion:

    “But, the truth is, that we each have to make the best decision we can given where we are right then at that specific time in our lives. As we grow and change, so will our decisions. It’s tempting to look back and think that we should have taken a more direct path to where we ended up, but where we end up, and our satisfaction at being there, is dependent on the circuitous route we took to get there.”

    Thank you.

  4. Avatar Lea Ann says:

    I can sympathize with the responder to the question. I know that it was not meant to hurt anyone feelings. My husband and I went through IVF. However, at the time my insurance covered the procedure and I had to pay deductibles for the drugs. The only catch to this is the insurance only cover one IVF practice so I did not have the option in investigating other IVF practices. It was an emotional process. One the reason we stop was I was not responding well to the drug treatment. After sometime we decided on adoption. I can tell you the adoption process for us has been frustrating to say the least. We first started with China and closed our file with our agency because of the long wait. We went through another agency and began the adoption process for Taiwan. Needless to say both adoptions have not given us a referral. It seems that Taiwan is beginning the domestic aodption process in there country. Our agency has highly recommend special needs China program. It is not that we are not interested but finances are tight and we are not able to use our homestudy agency because they are not Hague accredited. I am not sure what advice I would give someone who is thinking about going through IVF. Looking back I guess if I received the advice not to do IVF I might have tried it anyway.

  5. Avatar Monika says:

    I’m glad that some friends of ours told us they wished they hadn’t waited so long to adopt. As soon as I heard that, I knew that now was the right time. What has surprised me is now that we have our boy (through adoption) I really don’t care about the fertility treatments like I used to. In fact, I feel like I’ve always known and loved this boy, as if I had given birth to him myself. I guess I really just wanted to be a mom. 🙂

  6. Avatar Melissa says:

    I had a different experience. We recently chose adoption over ivf and your blog made me feel better about our decision. I think your advice was good. It was not for people who chose ivf and failed but for the people “sitting in the chair,” and those people (like me) need to know what you said; you can be happy without draining your financial and emotional reserve. You shouldn’t feel bad for getting the information out there that those of us who choose adoption over treatment end up happy parents. People seem to think its weird to not try expensive treatment first. Our friends make the funniest comments about it. This post brought tears to my eyes and I loved it. And to your reader who feels sad, don’t be sad, your story will end happy too. And there is emotional backlash, no matter your decision, like the weird comments from people. There are a lot of bumps in the road for infertility but we all get where we’re going. I have faith you’ll find your child. Good luck!

  7. Avatar Heather says:

    I think it is important to hear what other people’s experiences are and what they wish someone had told them. I found the not starting the adoption process had little to do with it being a second choice (it actually was probably plan A), but I didn’t have the resources to figure out how to proceed. I could research adoption and fertility/re-occuring pregnancy loss at the same time because both are so huge. If something (like your shows and website) were brought to my attention earlier then stepping off of the fertility/pregnancy loss merri-go-round would have been much easier. When I finally stopped treatment it felt like I could finally follow the path I knew in my heart is where we would end up. Just no one else (except one friend who had been through it also) was happy for me. Letting people know there are happy outcomes could save so much heartbreak and college tuition.

  8. Avatar luna says:

    this is such an excellent post, and relevant to recent conversations I’ve had with others about knowing a particular outcome at the beginning. so timely, thanks.

    and I love this: “It’s tempting to look back and think that we should have taken a more direct path to where we ended up, but where we end up, and our satisfaction at being there, is dependent on the circuitous route we took to get there.”

  9. Avatar stacey says:

    I’ve often thought about the amount of heartache I could have saved if I had known just how wonderfully our adopted son would complete our lives. He’s perfect – and i can’t imagine loving a child any more than I love him – biological or not. However, if we had stopped after the first IVF cycle, or not completed the numerous embryo transfers, everything would have been on a different schedule. Our adoption paperwork, travelling to Kazakhstan – would have happened before our son was born. So although I’m sure we would have been matched with another child, it would not have been “our son” who I love more than anything. Some things are worth waiting for, and I believe that the universe aligned and we were brought together the way we were meant to be. And the heartache endured along the way makes our happy ending all the more sweeter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.