This guest post was written by Amanda, a Lifetime adoptive mother-in-waiting. Joe and Amanda live in North Dakota and are hoping to adopt their first child.
In honor of National Infertility Awareness Month this April, Amanda shared this post with her friends to give them ways to show support to those moving through infertility, inspired by RESOLVE, a national infertility organization.
Friends…there is SO.MUCH.WORK to be done when it comes to infertility treatments, coverage, awareness, and advocacy. I can’t make you learn the statistics and facts of infertility. I can’t force you to research ethical adoption. I can’t make you listen to the educated voices trying to explain why “foster-to-adopt” is not a thing. I can’t change people’s antiquated and hurtful language surrounding all of the above. Do your part and make a conscious decision to do better for the sake of your friends and family that are struggling through infertility. Know better, do better.
Here are a few things you can start right away in your relationships with people struggling through infertility:
DON’T minimize the problem.
“At least you can travel; sleep in; save your money; etc.” Being ‘spared’ of a responsibility doesn’t compensate for the loss.
DON’T tell them to relax.
Infertility is a medical condition that must be treated by a doctor. Would you tell someone fighting cancer to “just relax” to cure their condition?
DON’T complain about your pregnancy or kids to them.
Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the morning sickness and sleep deprivation you are struggling with. You have every right to vent about it. Just don’t put your infertile friend in the position of being the one to comfort you.
DON’T be crude.
Comments like “‘offering’ your spouse to help get the job done,” “are you sure you’re doing it right?”, “we can just pass in the hallway, and I’m pregnant” “are you sure you want kids?”, “everything happens for a reason,” or my personal favorite, “you can have my kids,” are irritating and downright rude. If you don’t understand why use the Google machine. Please.
DON’T offer your own suggestions.
I promise that anyone who has struggled with infertility for longer than five minutes has done all the research about the different options and has considered pursuing at least 95% of them. Please don’t ask if they’ve tried “A, B, or C” or if they’ve considered “X, Y, or Z.” They have. I promise. And if they wanted you to know about it, you would. This includes comments about pursuing adoption, foster care, surrogacy, and your latest weight loss program or miracle pill. Just don’t.
DO let them know you’re there for them.
Unless you’ve gone through this, you have no idea. Just let your friend know you’re there if they need to talk, vent, cry, or scream. We want you to validate that this SUCKS and then pour us another glass of wine.
DO remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day.
These holidays are important but incredibly painful for those struggling to become a parent. Remember your infertile friends on these days. Send them a card or text to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven’t “forgotten” them.
DO support them in whatever decision is best for their family.
No one can go through fertility treatments forever. At some point in time, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, which involves even more grief.
Even if the couple chooses to adopt, they must first grieve the loss of the baby, who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. Once the couple has reached a decision (to live without children, adopt a child, become foster parents, or pursue something else), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don’t try to open that chapter again.
Google is free to use, folks. We’ve been an open book throughout our process, but please remember that a) not everyone is as open as we are and b) just because we’ve been open doesn’t mean you’re entitled to every part of our story. Be courteous. Be kind.
We are grateful for the testimonies of hopeful adoptive parents, like Joe and Amanda, who allow their journey to parenthood to help others who are, or who know someone, going through infertility or adoption.
At Lifetime, we know each family who comes to adoption has a unique and personal journey, often including experience with infertility or difficulty carrying a pregnancy to term. If you or someone you know is walking through infertility, and considering adoption, here is a free download of a chapter from Called to Adoption, entitled “A Special Note on Resolving Infertility.”
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”
So proud of you precious niece. Love you, and here for you.