Telling People You’re Adopting – Lesson 1
I’ve been so consumed by the world of recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility for so long now, that I’ve come to accept or at least tolerate all the helpful comments people offer us:
- Just relax and it will work next time.
- Just get a surrogate.
- Just do IVF. That helps people get pregnant all the time.
- Why not just be foster parents or adopt.
- Just eat more pineapples.
- Buy ovulation sticks, they will help you know when you ovulate.
- Make sure you are having sex the right way and always lift your legs up afterwards for at least 15 minutes.
I clearly have a lot of sarcastic responses to these comments now. Heck, anyone who has struggled in the baby making department comes up with great responses to all of this.
We have learned that we have a become educators of infertility. People make incorrect assumptions all the time, and we now spend a lot of our time and effort correcting people and educating them about the realities of surrogacy, sex positions and IVF. We do this because we are hoping they will learn and will be enabled to make more supportive comments to us and others in the future.
But, here’s the thing, we are just entering the world of adoption. In fact, we have only told 1 person our intentions to adopt, and we have only told her because we need her as a reference. (We plan to tell more people in our real life after we attend the mandatory seminar – we figure if there is a chance we are going to change our minds, this is when we will).
But here’s the thing, after telling my amazing friend about our plans to adopt she said one sentence that really struck me:
Wow, you guys are going to save an unwanted child. How amazing is that?
Now, I’m just at the very beginning of my personal adoption indoctrination / education. I am sure people who have been through the process have heard it all. But, what this one sentence, it became clear to me that I am now becoming an adoption advocate and will likely spend the rest of my life educating people about adoption.
Without hesitation I began correcting my friend on the two main issues I took with her sentence.
- This child is not unwanted. If it were unwanted, the mother could easily have had an abortion (although, note that in my opinion not all abortions are the result of not wanting a child – there are many, many reasons that women/couples choose abortion. You can read our termination for medical reasons / abortion experience here). The child is wanted more than anything, and the birth mother is actually giving the child the best gift she can. More than likely the birth mother actually recognizes that she cannot care for the child in the best way possible and wants the child to have opportunities that she cannot offer. This child, just like all children, is a gift and not a burden. Further, it is never okay to refer to any child as unwanted in any circumstance.
- It is my humble opinion, as we are choosing to do a Canadian or American open adoption, we are not saving our future child. It would be different if we were adopting a child from an impoverished nation where they would not have the same opportunities or level of care that we could offer as a life in an impoverished orphanage. In my opinion, the fact is with Canadian or American open adoptions, there is a substantial waiting list of adoptive parents. To become an adoptive parent, couples/people are required to go through intense scrutiny of every element of their lives – childhood, income, sex lives, marriage, life plans, etc. And, even with the daunting process, there are more couples on the waiting list then there are children available. This means, if we don’t adopt a child in Canada or the US, someone else who has been approved will and chances are the child will live a pretty darn good life. We are not unique in our desire to adopt, and we are most definitely not saviours.
So, what this first interaction has taught me, is that I need to be prepared for a whole new set of education. I need to be prepared to tell people respectfully that there statements and assumptions are inappropriate/unacceptable and why. I suspect as we get further into all of this, I will also have to tell people that certain things are confidential and not something we are willing to share (an example from our adoption agency is that people will ask about the birth mom’s medical history and that this is our child’s story to tell when and if they ever decide to, and for the time being the right answer is simply that this is confidential information that we are not sharing).
Adoption is definitely an entirely new experience for us, and I already know that in addition to raising a wonderful child (or two) through the gift of adoption, we will become adoption advocates and educators as we enlighten people on all the adoption misnomers.
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