Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Monday, January 16, 2017

#Microblog Mondays: Have You Thought Of?



There is a question that infertile people are asked time and time again, especially when things go wrong, and it really needs to go the way of the dodo.

"Have you thought of..." 

Unless you are my doctor or my agency, this is not a great question. 

Because, I assure you, the answer is yes

Yes, we thought about gestational carrier, and we determined it was not an option for us. 
Yes, we thought about international adoption, but we found domestic adoption to be a better fit.
Yes, we thought about foster care, because anyone entering into foster care had better think about what is required, but we determined it was not an option for us.
Yes, we thought about private adoption, but we have about a zillion reasons why that is not for us. 

Not choosing any of these options does not mean we don't want it badly enough, that we're not trying to the best of our ability to have a family. Our reasons are very personal and grounded in experiences and conversations that are nobody's business but ours. I always feel like I need to justify myself when asked this, and sometimes I do. But the truth is...I don't have to.  

Pretty much anyone going through infertility has thought through all of the options, and the decisions that were made were made very carefully. I know that it is meant to be a helpful question, and it comes from a place of love (most of the time), but I beg of you -- unless it is something very new that hasn't yet become available to the public, save it. It's been considered.

That question feels like it is a judgment on our choices, which were difficult beyond measure and individual to our circumstance. Instead, when the going gets tough, maybe try for "I'm so sorry, this sucks so much," or "I love you and I'm sorry you're going through this," or "What can I do to help you during this difficult time?" These are far more supportive options that don't call into question whether or not we've truly thought through our decisions on this journey.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

31 comments:

  1. I am from South Africa,and adoption is nearly impossible.

    After 2 miscarriages,and then 3 more years of infertility,I started doing research about adoption.

    My husband and I do not have the funds for IVF (our medical aid covers zero of the costs) and we also cannot afford private adoption.

    However,when I contacted domestic adoption agencies,they all told me the same thing: as a white couple, we have close to zero percent chances of getting a baby,as there are no white,Indian or Asian babies available for adoption,and all the agencies prefer to place black and coloured children within their own culture.

    I couldn't believe that in a country with so many orphans,we were immediately denied without even so much as an interview.

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    1. That just sucks. I'm so sorry.

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    2. I am so sorry. How awful to be denied without even a process, to just be told no. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. Humans really don't do well with discomfort, hence the tendency to offer quick fixes. It's almost an impulse for many to jump in with "have you tired ...." It's because of this that education is needed. We now know not to ask cancer patients if they've tired chemo or have looked into X therapy (though there are many who still fail), but we are still very far behind with infertility.

    You're right, you shouldn't have to justify your choices for resolving. And people do need to learn that supporting someone doesn't equate finding a fix.

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    1. True, true. I find that most of things that people say that drive me bonkers are things that make them feel better, not necessarily me. It eases discomfort to offer up something tangible. Bryce was saying it's like if someone were talking to him about his PhD program, about the choices he's making there and the research he's following, and without really knowing the ramifications of anything offered up some kind of alternate choice. Good point on cancer treatment, I think about that too. For some reason, infertility just invites everyone's opinion into your business and with usually very little understanding of all the pieces involved with each choice.

      I wish more people would just choose to hold you in that moment, instead of offering a fix, too.

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  3. Well said! I am pursuing foster adoption right now and the social worker asked if I had "considered other options"? No, in the 10 plus years I've been trying to become a mother, I was close-minded and ignorant and never did any research or reflected on options. Argh! So I related to this very much. Sending good thoughts.

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    1. Thank you! Ugh, that's annoying. It's so hard when there seems to be this assumption that you just threw choices up on the wall and randomly threw darts. I did appreciate my social worker addressing "have you thought about what you might do if this DOESN'T work out?" as part of the homestudy, but she certainly knew that we had thought all of our options through and chosen the one that made the most sense to us. I wish people would give us more credit! :) Good thoughts to you as well.

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  4. This is such a good reminder.

    Last week, a woman came back to yoga class after many months away. Turns out she'd suffered a broken back during an exercise class, thanks to osteoporosis (this woman is young and an extreme athlete). I found myself wanting to "help" by offering suggestions about ayurveda, body/energy work, etc, when really, she'd already considered all that and a simple "What can I do to help you during this difficult time?" would best suffice.

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    1. It does work in different situations, right? I have to remind myself not to do these things in different contexts, hopefully I do a good job but it really is human nature to want to "fix" things. It just sucks to be on the receiving end of that.

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  5. I get this a lot especially when we are pursuing surrogacy. People repeatedly ask if we had considered adoption and why we went this route instead of adoption. I know that most of them mean well, and some genuinely want to know. But I do feel that sometimes there is a underlying assumption that one way (in this case, adoption) is better than the other. I have learned not to take offense and try to educate as much as possible.

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    1. Most comments come from a good place, but you're right, education is important. Also important is knowing that you don't always have to give that answer. But it's true, I do think that people tend to think that some options are better, or easier, and usually it's misguided as there is no easier or better option, not really. It's all so personal to each person/couple. I think it's not a bad thing to let people know that are more helpful things to say, to put those good intentions into something constructive. I'm glad you don't take offense and seek to educate more often than not! :)

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  6. I think it's just human nature to want to try and help...no matter how misguide the attempt might seem to the receiver.
    Question...what is the difference between "private adoption" (as you listed above as something not for you) and the adoption you are doing with an agency? Does that just mean you try and find your own birth mother vs having the agency find one for you??

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    1. Oh, absolutely. I see the good intentions in everything that people say. And people say really weird stuff. I have been congratulated, "Good for you, adopting one of OUR babies here in the US!" Um, I have totally selfish reasons for doing that. It has nothing to do with patriotism. And that implies that international adoption is somehow less-than. So strange, people's thought processes, but always good opportunities to educate, like Binky Moongee said.

      Private adoption is pretty much what you said -- you find your own birthmother through advertising, 1-800 numbers, websites, you do the vetting and talking to women in crisis who may not ultimately make the decision. It can bring about many more opportunities but doesn't necessarily bring about more placements. I am happy to have the agency do that part of things, because they have far more experience than I do and that is their job...I have a very time-consuming and emotional at times job, and I don't honestly think I could do both. (See what I mean? I totally justified my decision there...but it's you, so I don't mind whatsoever. Ha ha ha.) Great question. I had a post brewing on this topic with more details, maybe I should bring it into being! :)

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    2. To clarify, you're not totally on your own. You have an adoption attorney to advise you. In NY, though, your adoption attorney cannot legally find you opportunities. You can also do private track, where you do all that legwork and then refer the expectant mother to the agency for counseling, advisement, and have the benefits of support from the agency. There are a whole bunch of reasons why I would rather do agency than private. Lots of varying opinions on this one, though.

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    3. Thanks for explaining. Private sounds like it would be a very difficult thing to try and do. I do know someone who went that way and successfully adopted, but they paid a lot of extra money and there were some shady things about the process, and the money, as in where it was all going exactly, and even where/how this particular attorney was "finding" birth mothers. My friend admits she was desperate for a baby and that things weren't likely on the up and up.

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  7. I totally get why non-infertile people would be asking these questions. People just want to be helpful and offer some advice. Lol, unfortunately that's probably the worse they can do. I remember distinctly when I started talking about us trying donor eggs on my Facebook page. And some woman, I'm sure well-meaning (I hope) asked, "Have you thought about adoption?" I wanted to be like, "Yeah, duh. Of course I did." And then cry because it's like donor eggs wasn't good enough or noble enough. It was hard. I wish people would cease the advice and just be supportive.

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    1. Yes, this: "I wish people would cease the advice and just be supportive." I'm sorry you had that experience, ugh. It is interesting that people place a higher nobility on certain choices... I feel judged sometimes because we're not doing foster. I get the "have you considered an older child" question all the time and while I can explain why we aren't (or not), I still feel like somehow I'm confused selfish because we really want an infant.

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  8. I am reminded of the tech support personnel who asks if the machine is plugged in (or turned on).

    May the question go viral; "what can I do . . . ?"

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    1. Exactly! Maybe if I think of it as a rhetorical question it will feel less irritating? It sure would be nice if "What can I do..." became the default.

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  9. Yes to this. I can't tell you how many times throughout the IVF process people asked me if I had considered adoption (I had a snarky desire to sometimes reply "Well, of course. It's my ovaries that are the problem, not my brain." I never did, but definitely a temptation at times). That being said, I know people meant well...but it's a frustrating thing to endure after making brutally difficult, emotional, expensive choices. Support is definitely better!

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    1. Oh wow, I love that response. I probably wouldn't say it either, unless it was a dire situation, but that's a great mental reply. It is frustrating for sure, even knowing that people just want to help. The best people say these things, but I wish there was a different go-to.

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  10. Such a sensible reminder and Jess, I have always said this on your blog. Good times will come. The phone will ring.

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    1. Thank you so much, Parul! The one has rung, I just hope the next one end with our selection. It's hard to keep not getting picked. I appreciate your optimism!

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  11. I agree that this probably mostly comes from a place of wanting to help, but I'm so sorry you're on the receiving end of such inadvertently hurtful comments. I agree with Parul - this is a wonderful reminder to be more aware of our responses, and I don't doubt the phone will ring.

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    1. It does stink when you know the person is trying to be helpful but the response is just...not. I think awareness is everything. More awareness can't hurt! I hope the phone rings and we get the long awaited news that we are chosen.

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  12. Yes to all of the above. I know people mean well and are fumbling around for a way they can be helpful... but believe me, whatever it is, we've thought about it!!

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  13. 100% agree. People have no idea. We've thought of all the standard alternatives, all the contigency plans, and really some pretty crazy shit. We are living and breathing this. And the things they are casually suggesting are complex - not casual - decisions.

    In general, empathy and support tends to be a much better path than trying to fix someone's issues or challenges.

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    1. Absolutely. I love that -- complex, not casual decisions. And amen to the pretty crazy shit. I cringe sometimes thinking on all the insane interventions I attempted over the years...

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  14. And I thought I'd responded to this. I love inconceivable's response. I want to use it!

    These days I tend to be sarcastic. Or offer information. But you're so right - none of it is helpful. I don't know if they're actually trying to be helpful, or just trying to get us to shut up, which helps nobody but them.

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    1. Wasn't that awesome? I don't want to be in the position to use it again, but I might if it does and the person is off base enough. I always hope that they're trying to be helpful. It's almost always the case with me -- which makes it hard to be sarcastic. I have a tendency to justify and inundate them with information so that it's clear how well-thought-out our decision was, but that's passive aggressive too in a way...

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