I, like almost every other infertile woman in the world, have heard all varieties of stupid comments from people when they find out that I am infertile.
"You just need to relax!"
"All my husband has to do is look at me and I get pregnant!"
"Just stop trying and it will happen."
"Why don't you just adopt?"
And, like almost every other infertile woman in the world, these comments piss me off and frequently get an equally offensive response. All that said, I have had a revelation over the last week. The people who say those things aren't stupid. The statements themselves aren't stupid. They are just uninformed. Every person that has ever made a comment like the ones above to me really meant well. They were all extremely nice people who never intended to be hurtful. They just didn't know what to say because they have never experienced infertility. I need to cut them some slack.
Let me explain how I came to this personal revelation. About a week ago some of the women that I follow on Twitter were having a conversation about adoption. One of them stated that the term, "giving a child up," is an offensive one. I had no clue. I asked her about it and she explained that it had a negative connotation and made adopted children feel unwanted and unloved by their birth mothers. Adopted children (or their parents) shouldn't be made to feel that way. In my opinion, a woman who places her child for adoption because she knows that she cannot give them the life that they need to thrive is the most loving thing that any woman could ever do. I have said that someone, "gave their child up for adoption," many times in the past. I had NO CLUE that I was saying something that was hurtful because I have never gone through the adoption process. I was uniformed.
Just a few days after that I was talking to a friend who adopted two beautiful children after years of dealing with infertility. We were talking about where my husband and I intended on going from here as far as our treatments go and I said, "I just really feel like I am going to have a child of my own." My friend very nicely informed me that her children were her own. I felt HORRIBLE. I never meant to imply that her children weren't hers. I just didn't think about what I said before I said it. I apologized profusely. She laughed and said it was okay, that she was just trying to change people's vocabulary regarding adoption. She did it with much more grace and understanding than I have with comments regarding my infertility.
That's when it hit me. I don't know the right things to say to a family going through the adoption process because I have never been through it myself. I am uninformed. I have said offensive things without ever realizing it. People who haven't experienced infertility also don't know the right things to say. They haven't walked in my shoes. How can I expect someone to know the right things to say if they have never been there? I can't because, like me when it comes to adoption, they just don't know.
Think of all the other situations that you may have said insensitive things without ever knowing it: the death of a loved one, being fired or laid off from a job, receiving a cancer diagnosis, etc. The list could go on and on. This is why we need to cut fertiles some slack. Chances are, you have said something hurtful to someone without ever knowing it too. Let's show people the same understanding that we would want them to show us. That doesn't mean you can't kindly correct them. It just means that you need to keep in mind that at some point you were, "that person," too.
FYI: The blog now has it's own Facebook page! Like me at http://www.facebook.com/RachHasHope