Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why Don't You...

A recent anonymous commenter asked me to consider becoming a foster parent. This is one of many 'course of action' questions/comments I receive often.

A recent article I posted on this blog explained the caution one should take in suggesting advice to an infertile. Most likely, we've heard it many times before. We are aware of the options, and are pursuing the course of action that makes the most sense for us in our lives at this time.

However, I have chosen to expose myself and my life on the Internet. In doing so, I understand that well-meaning people will give their opinion. And, since I seem to get the same suggestions often, I feel an explanation on a few of them from my point of view might be helpful. We'll start with the suggestion given most recently by a commenter.

1. Why don't you become a foster parent?

Even before we had decided to start a family, I had the desire to be a foster parent someday. I think Ryan and I would be great foster parents. We have the ability to love a child instantly, we are both patient and loving people, and I think opening up our home to a child in need would be fantastic.

Unfortunately, I have seen into the world of the foster care system and I know the difficulties that are there. My parents, as well as other relatives of mine, have fostered children before. Typically, the goal for the foster home is temporary placement. The county aims to return the child into the arms of their biological family, if at all possible. I have seen the devastation on the face of a foster parent when the child they have loved is removed from their home. It doesn't matter if you knew that was a possibility all along. It is still really, really hard.

Sometimes, foster parents are able to adopt their child, but this is not usually guaranteed.

Having said that, I also know that great joy can come from being a foster parent, and I wouldn't rule it out completely. But my wanting and yearning to be mother is so great, I am simply not strong enough to sign up for that kind-of situation right now.

I am looking for a forever family. I hope one day that could include foster children as well. But at this point, I would need a strong indication that they could be mine forever before I would pursue that path.

2. Why don't you use a surrogate?

First it should be noted that using a surrogate costs tens of thousands of dollars. So, this suggestion shouldn't be made lightly. You are talking about a major financial burden here, and one that many simply couldn't afford.

That being said, in my case, I believe pursuing a surrogate would be jumping a few steps ahead in my treatment plan. My understanding is that a surrogate works well for women who have chronic miscarriages, who have difficulty carrying a child. I have never been confirmed pregnant, so I have no idea whether I could carry a child.

If I end up able to become pregnant, but unable to carry the child, I would personally adopt rather than pursue a surrogate. I don't feel a strong need to have my own genetic child. I, myself, am adopted so I am very open to that!

Unless things were to change drastically, I don't see myself searching for a surrogate any time soon.

And, no, it is not funny when other women offer to carry your child for you. And it sure isn't funny when men offer their wife for this purpose either.

3. Why don't you just adopt?

I have no idea what causes people to automatically add the word 'just' before the word 'adopt'. Do people not know the massive emotional, spiritual, financial, and mental undertaking that adoption is? If not, I'd suggest reading this article again.

I mentioned in the last question that I am a adopted child. I love adoption. Whether I have biological children or not, I hope to adopt someday.

But unless you plan to give me $10,000 to adopt, please don't nonchalantly suggest it, and wonder why I haven't done it already. It is horribly expensive, and I am bitter enough that money has delayed parenthood for years. I don't need a reminder.

And, just for the record, only 2% of adopted couples go on to have biological children. So, if you are planning to suggest adoption as a way to achieve a miraculous pregnancy, I would re-think that thought. Adoption is beautiful way to create a family, not a means to an end.

4. Would you do IVF?

Not sure. For a long time, I said no. IVF averages $12,000 or more. I always thought I would adopt before pursuing that type of treatment. However, now I'm not willing to say one way of the other. Through prayer, Ryan and I will decide if this is something we want to try at one point.

5. Would you live childless?

I don't see how I could do that. I know women who have: strong, beautiful women. But it is just not something I can see for myself. I understand that, at some point, I might not have a choice. But that thought is devastating to me right now, so I refuse to even acknowledge it.


Meka said...

Oh people used to tell me to "just adopt" all the time! It bugged me so bad. I would say just give me 20,000 and I will! The thing people don't get, if you are suppose to adopt you will know when the time is right and the way will open. You have that revelation for yourself not them. My husband and I also did foster parenting classes where we quickly learned that the whole goal was to place the baby back with the bio parents. I was not in a position to have a baby I was longing for taken from me. If you ever have any questions about adopting through lds social services I would be happy to answer them.

Gwen Hawkins said...

Hi Michelle, I do read your blog every so often and I did read that article. I thought it was great and very well written. I think the world of you and truly admire you and your strength. I think of you often. :)

Luke and Nat said...

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen! Yeah, Michelle! You know I have the infertility and adoption viewpoint but we also did foster care too. Wow, what an undertaking. We signed up for foster care classes while infertile. (which btw in UT are very involved,time consuming and invasive) For anyone dealing with infertility, which we were at the time that we started, it's like adding a HUGE emotional burden to one that is already so hard to carry. I don't recommend foster care to many esp. to those that are going thru infertility. You are SO right! I can't even explain to people the emotions that come with this undertaking when dealing with the emotions of infertility. This was one of the hardest things/decisions we made during those 6 yrs as a couple and then one of the hardest things to back out was just too much. I applaud you for saying not right now maybe some day. I too think maybe some day. It is very hard to swallow all the emotions of taking care of someone else's child temporarily and indefinately because they have abused the privilege when I so desperately wanted children. It's also (sad to admit)hard not to take this out emotionally/psychologically on the child. What a huge stressor to any marriage dealing with infertility. I was very wrong in my thinking when we made this decision. I am intrigued with so many viewpoints on your blog...and I love that you let me have access to reading them and's very therapeutic and helpful to my well being and I hope that I never come across as "been there, done that". I feel HF has blessed me with so many experiences on this journey of infertility...I often wonder what besides a sigh of relief I will say to him when I see him again...something along the lines of... "were you kidding me?" or "that was not funny!". LOL!

Countless Tomorrows said...

We feel the same way in regards to Foster Care. It is something I want to do someday, preferebly after hubby is finished with school and I am hopefully no longer in the workforce. But I agree with you; I want to be a mother so bad that I don't think I could take it on a temporary basis.
I HATE PEOPLE YOU IMPLY THAT ADOPTION WILL FIX INFERTILITY! I will tell people that fact and they will still name off the people they know that it worked for. And yet I can still name dozens of dozens more who adopted and still didn't become pregnant.
If only money wasn't a issue. That is what holds us back. That is what pushed us personally to adoption quicker. I know we could have done more testing on hubby and maybe it's just something simple like a blocked tube or something, but I didn't see how we could afford a "what if" siutation. But we both know that we are meant to adopt.
That is a decision that each couple needs to come to on their own. I try to not mention it to others. I have a friend at work that has been trying for a year now to have another baby and the best I can do is just listen to her and let her know I care.
It's tough to bear your heart like this, because those who really need this message will probably not take it seriously. You have to do what you feel is right for your family and no one shoulc fault you for it. The problem I have a lot is people suggesting we adopt an oder child. I just can't do that. I want a baby too much to even consider it, but even though I posted about that it still gets suggester.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love hearing from others who seem to experience the same problems we do.

Melissa said...

Thank you, Michelle! Although I'm no longer sensitive to such comments/questions, I still wish people knew not to say them! They also don't understand how infertility is a journey, not simply a condition to be cured. We must work through the phases.

Manriquez Family said...

I just want you to know how much I have loved getting to know you over the past few months and what a wonderful person you are. I am so grateful that you are open and willing to share your emotions and feelings with us all.

Shannon said...

Thanks for this. It is amazing what people suggest for YOU. I haven't heard them all yet, but adoption has definitely come up. I know I've said it, but I love your blog.

Brittany said...

this is very well written and I am so glad you can say all these things. side note: I love the new blog lay out!!! we miss you guys.

Hillary said...

I love your explanations that I think many of us IFers can relate to! Like many other commenters said, each couple chooses a different path, but the common thread is that there IS a deep loss in the possibility of not being able to have biological children, and others can't just 'suggest' your next steps. Thanks for writing this!

Emily said...

Why oh why do people think it is ok to say these things??? I have heard them more times than I can count. Great post and you summarized many of my thoughts and feelings. May you be blessed with the wisdom to know your path...
thinking of you!

marianneanddoug said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. We too want a forever family and that does not mean being temporary foster parents. My husband said "Good Blog" Keep it up! You give us peace by reading your blog. As we too face our infertility trials and find ways to tolerate insensitive comments.

Susie said...

In going through different struggles than you (we've discussed) I got lots of advice and suggestions from people and I would feel the same way. Frustrated, angry. Like- Where do I even begin to try to explain to you what you will never understand and how it's not that simple. You only see the tip of the ice burg. 80% of the issue is hidden from you.
I got mad. I got mad at lot of people and even family members. But then I realized something and it really humbled me. They want to help. Like, really truly want to help. My pain hurts them too. If they could fix it for me than we could all feel better. Maybe they assumed I didn't think of this or that or whatever (I probably did) and if I did than everything would work out for me! Yeah!
I realized it came from love and true concern and that made me feel better. Even if I still got frustrated. People love you and care about you Michelle, and I think at times even though we just read your blog we feel as if we are fighting this fight with you. We feel connected to you and your struggles and maybe in a way it becomes ours too. It's empathy for our friend. But I know that not all suggestions come from love. Some people just like to offer unsolicited advice. For fun?
So perhaps insensitive suggestions are coming from a desperate place. I don't know. I'm thinking about my own personal experiences when I write this.
The good thing I've learned as well, through some of my hurt feelings is- listening and support means silence AND encouragement. And that can be tough. We all want to feel like we can help.
I DO like to be encouraged. I love to hear encouraging remarks. In fact, when I had friends (YOU included) and family who would hear me cry and tell me it was going to work out and I was being watched over and things would be fine I would cry even harder it felt so good to hear that. Because I felt SO discouraged. And I held onto those words of encouragement. Still do. All the time. Emails, letters, notes, I re read them constantly especially when things continue to seem so bleak. I want to believe it will work out, I'm pretty sure it will but sometimes it's hard for me to "keep the faith" and if someone has more faith than me I will latch on to theirs.I still do and it helps me feel better.
Love you Michelle. I pray for you and put on "the roll". I've said it once, I'll say it twice. You WILL get there. I think you're closer than you think. I really do. Crummy situations (like yours) make the term "blessings in store for us" take on a real meaning. They are there and but just in store for us. For now. Really really really truly. Don't stop being hopeful. Hope leads to faith which proceeds the miracle!

Kristin said...

You've done such a fabulous job addressing all these questions/statements people make. Wishing you good luck and success in your journey no matter what path you chose.

Misty said...

We also are dx with unexplained IF and have had all of those suggestions. My personal favorite is the surrogate comment. I haven't ever been pregnant, so I don't know why people seem to think that would solve our problem.
We are getting ready to try IVF, which I thought that I would never attempt, but here we are.
I wish you guys a lot of luck and hope that you defeat unexplained infertility!

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Thank you for speaking the answers to the tactless questions/unsolicited advice we all get. I wish I could direct every woman who has suggested alternatives for us to this post. What always bothers me most, is that these suggestions come from people who have had no problem getting pregnant, staying pregnant, giving birth, or who didn't want kids in the first place.


Parenthood For Me said...

Wonderful post! All great answers and I hope some readers who don't understand will "get it" now. Good for you.


Anonymous said...

LOVE your responses. I feel like I may need to print them out just to have them on hand when I get the "how about adoption?" question...I know most people just don't know how to react when you discuss infertility...but we aren't stupid...we know our options. It's just that most come at such high costs...both monetarily and emotionally! ICLW

Nic said...

I think this is a great post. I dont think people can suggest solutions as everybody is different and have different hopes and dreams. I personally am so desperate to carry my own child but others are less worried about that. We are all different and I would never suggest solutions. Hope your struggle ends soon. ~ICLW

Missy said...

This a great post. I can see you working through all your options and how difficult this is because every option is hard.


Anonymous said...

You have given some excellent answers to some typically insensitive questions. I hope the person/people who left you the original comments read this post and learn something from it.


Faith said...

Great answers to some terrifically ignorant/thoughtless questions. Thanks for sharing. Here from ICLW.

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

hi, I am visiting from ICLW...No. 103 to say hello and to check out your blog.

very carefully and thoughtfully worded answers... gosh people can be so unaware.

I am luckily in the minority I didn't even know about we adopted over 14 yrs ago, 10 yrs later we conceived naturally but our daughter was stillborn @26wks (no known reason) ....then IVF gave us our miracle twin sons.

I hope you have answers to your prayers by the grace of God.

My Little Drummer Boys

Beautiful Mess said...

I am so floored with some of things people say. I just don't see how being an inconsiderate a$$ is helpful. You did a wonderful job with these questions or statements that women sometimes get. I'm praying that your miracle comes home soon, without any more pain in your heart.

Stacie said...

It always amazes me when people make such suggestions to those of us with infertility. Do they really think that we haven't considered our feelings about each of the possible scenarios? Sigh.

You did a wonderful job answering these questions. I hope your answers give the anons pause for thought in the future.

Good luck on your journey.


P.S. The word verification was "unbeatin". I think that describes you pretty well!

Jo said...

Thank you so much for this post. I feel like I could have writtten it, word for word. The only drawback is that those who need to read it, probably won't.

As for your anonymous commenter -- I am really taken aback by the nerve of someone trying to give you this kind of advice HERE. I'm used to it IRL (we all have had THAT experience), but I find my blog to be kind of a "safe zone." It's sad that someone else can't see it as such.


teridiane said...

Amen, sister!! If I had a dime for every time I heard those lines...Btw, your blog looks so cute!!

Chhandita said...

I totally agree with point 3! Adoption should NOT be the last resport. It should be soemthing a couple should feel naturally attracted to.

I hated it when people told me to wait when I started my adoption process. And now that I am pregnant people are saying "i told you so" Well, i plan to go ahead and adopt too! adoption was never a second option for me. It was something I always wanted to do. Its nice to carry a child but the most important thing is to be a mother...

Dawn Stokes said...

Hi Michelle, I realize that you probably posted this note a while ago but since I just found it...I wanted to tell you how much I appricated hearing your veiw point. As a women who hasn't had problems with fertiliy, I'm afraid that I have been guilty of suggesting adoption to people in your situation. I think that anyone who says that, does so, not to belittle your situation and desision, but instead, to offer comfort. Having said that, and after reading your note, I can understand how hurtful it must feel to hear those things over and over. I think that you will make a wonderful mother ever you and God, choose to make it happen. I'll keep you in my prayers. Love, Dawn

Smitty76 said...

Hi! I'm a first time reader (via ICLW) and wanted to applaud this post. Very thoughtful, thorough responses to questions that we all face at one point or another. Thank you!

Waiting Lisa said...

This is my first time visiting your blog. Great post. My husband and I are doing domestic infant adoption.