Changing the Conversation

Over the last few months I’ve gone back and forth on twitter and her blog with Claudia C. D’Arcy, a birth/first mother on the topic of infertility and its indirect impact on the demand in Domestic Infant Adoption. I’ve mentioned Claudia in past blog posts. She is someone that despite my disagreement with her on a lot of topics, I still respect her and support her cause. In our back and forth conversations I managed to do something that I happen to be good at, annoying the shit out of her. Two weeks ago, I made some comments that were nasty that lead to her needing some more room to respond to me so she put together a blog piece to respond.

Granted she’s not referring to me directly but she’s referring to discussions we’ve had. But I think she brings up a valuable point that as difficult and shitty a situation as infertility brings a couple any decisions they make on how to proceed must take their potential child into account. They also should not engage in unethical adoption practices that could be damaging to a child and their biological family. Infertility doesn’t give anyone the right to act inappropriately.

However, I do believe that the issue is that infertile couples are enabled rather than properly supported in addressing the pain that comes with infertility. Instead of the conversation being “just adopt”, “I know someone who did IVF/adopted and got pregnant” or “you just need to relax and it will happen” the conversation needs to be “I’m sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do for you?”. Supporting the infertile couple not enabling or guilting them into something that doesn’t fix their infertility. The only thing that fixes infertility is a pregnancy and birth of a biological child related to both parents. Adoption and Donor Conception are alternative ways to parenthood but are not cures to infertility as pointed out in this blog I came across.

In the comment section of Claudia’s piece, I ended up getting into some heated discussions with people who are members of her community. I’m not proud of some of the things I wrote as I got nasty. But towards the end of the comments one person had a great contribution:

I agree that infertility grief is not as well supported as it should be. I think many people in AdotionLand DO recognize and support that grieving. I know that I do. But, the average Joe / Jane on the street says, “Why Don’t You Just Adopt?” And that is where it all goes to hell… So, how can we change Joe / Jane so that they don’t say shit like that? How can we silence the “You Can Just Adopt” chorus? How can we change the uninformed public perception that adoption cures infertility? How can we change the public perception that adoption is all unicorns farting rainbows all day long?

Case in point: Not long ago, I was talking to a younger woman about my kids, and mentioned that I wish I had started earlier in life so that I could have a larger family. It didn’t take ten seconds for her to ask me, “Why wouldn’t you just adopt?” When I told her that I wouldn’t adopt because I am adopted and I know what living that life is like, she looked at me like I had grown horns on my head. Because, how dare I say anything negative about adoption, right?

So, although I am not infertile (just getting older) – I recognize the truth that we (as a society) don’t support infertility grieving the way we should. The uneducated masses hear infertility and shout “Adoption!” or “Fostering!”, as if these things will make the infertility go away. They don’t. They just add a whole new level of suckyness onto an already bad situation. Hearing that over and over fucks with the heads of infertile people in the worst way possible. They are pushed to become the people who have adoption fundraisers. They are pushed to become the people who pray for a family to be destroyed so that they can have a baby. They become adoptive parents like mine, who (after getting what they so deeply desired) realize that they are still infertile… and now they’re raising someone else’s fucking kid on top of it. Do you know what it’s like to hear “I wish I never had you” from your adoptive mother? I do.

I believe we need to change the conversation with infertile couples to address their pain and help them manage their situation. For me while I am not sure how my wife and I will proceed one thing I am confident in is that I’ll always be infertile. Whether we pursue alternative parenthood is irrelevant to our infertility. How I fill the void in my life that infertility has left does not replace a biological child that we’re unable to have. I need to continue to manage the pain infertility has left no matter what happens. But I believe I will be able to do that in time and leave open the possibility that I could become someone’s daddy.

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10 thoughts on “Changing the Conversation

    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      You’re right sometimes it’s not easy to get to the place you are looking to go right away. There is some work involved in getting there and it’s not easy.

      Reply
  1. Mary Jolynn Harrison

    Hi, Greg
    I followed your conversation with Claudia and others on the blog entry in question, and I even commented on some of it myself ( I signed in under a different name because to be honest, Claudia’s blog and those represented by it scare the life out of me but I felt the need to respond to the unfair and unjust ways that IF people were being talked about by people who refuse to understand where we are coming from). With all due respect to Claudia and the folks that she represents with her ongoing work, I would like to tell you not to be too hard on yourself-these topics have struck a nerve with many people (FM’s, adoptees and IF’s alike) and as such people can have a tendency to get carried away. That being said, it may not have been right for you to act inappropriately (as an IF survivor) but it is not right for those on the other side (the first mothers/birthmothers) to act inappropriately either. The whole blog post falls for me under the category of inappropriate, and I echo the calling out of it as blatant fertilism. The tone of it left a nauseating taste in my mouth and has made me hesitant (if not resistant) to seeing adoption from the side that they represent. I tried to make comments that reflected this point of view in ways that were as respectful as I could be, but the responses from some of that community that were trying to get me to justify my position will not get a response because I don’t want to encourage someone who has no response but to be rude and hateful in response to an honest set of questions and comments, and I was afraid that I would sink to a level that I do not want to, if I haven’t already As I mentioned before on a comment on this blog, I have reached my saturation point when it comes to trying to justify my desire to be a parent despite the IF that my husband and I are struggling to overcome in a life-giving way. By “life-giving way” I mean a way that will allow us to become parents in a way that we ourselves can live with-this is a private decision that only we can know for sure is right We won’t be jumping into it immediately-we are right now taking the time to grieve the loss of our biological children (which I can assure you is a very real grieving process-different from grieving a flesh and blood child, yes, but a grieving process that cannot and should not be discounted by ANYONE) so that we can work through as much of the grief as we can before we move forward on any other paths to parenthood-the grief will never completely go away, but with time and much effort, we will learn to carry it better than right now when it is so heavy. If/when the day comes that my family as it stands now begins the process of pursuing adoption, we will do it in the most ethical way that we have the power to undertake. We will not be adopting to “replace” the children that we have lost to IF-that is impossible anyway-we surely wouldn’t go into adoption to “replace” a living child who had died-we will be adopting a child or children who will be their own persons and we will do all that we can to respect who this child we will be called upon to raise is and who they will be. We will learn everything that we can about open adoption so that the child we will be hopefully chosen to raise will grow up whole-with all of his/her parents/family members in the picture as much as possible. We will hopefully work with our child’s first parents/family to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of boundaries and respect for one another and for the child that will be growing up in this environment. All of this is in the realm of what might yet be, but it is my fervent hope that with enough education, awareness and determination to make it work is will not be impossible. We will continue to learn as much as we can about how to most healthily navigate the way to parenthood through IF, but I’m afraid that in future I will be a lot choosier about the sources that I seek out to gain a well rounded picture of adoption in the world today. With all due respect to you, Claudia-I have a lot of respect for the reforms you are trying to bring to the world of adoption, but I just cannot bring myself to learn what I need to learn about adoption from a site that seems to take almost a sense of pleasure in adding insult (and ignorance) to the injury that is IF. From where I am on the IF journey-a place where I am trying to heal enough to be a good parent to a child through adoption-the rhetoric and propaganda on your site just makes things worse. I wish you health and healing in your efforts to reform adoption ,even though I do not agree with your methods. I have learned a great deal from sites like yours, but I will have to work hard to separate the “wheat” (the good learnings) from the “chaff”-(the insulting and dehumanizing attitudes expressed towards IF suffers PAP’s and AP’s by the people your site stands for.
    Greg, I wish you and your wife all the best on your IF journey. I will keep reading your blog from time to time-it’s nice to know we who are IF are not alone, and that we have courageous folks like you to tell your story so that others will learn more. Take Care P.S. Happy wedding anniversary to you and your wife 🙂

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      Thanks for the feedback. I agree with just about everything you said. I look at Claudia’s pieces as a resource but not the gospel when it comes to adoption. I’ve learned what I am able to from it. As you stated you have to separate the stuff you can learn from the ranting hate. Make no mistake about it whether my wife and I decide to pursue adoption is our own its not going to be swayed by anything I read.

      I wish you the best on your journey.

      Reply
    2. YoungInfertile

      Sorry for commenting on an old post (I’m working my way through the whole blog), but I agree with Mary. I’ve read Claudia’s posts on other blogs and while I think she has many valuable insights into adoption, it’s hard to take her seriously when she writes a post that’s basically a litany of every hurtful cliche thrown at infertile people. I know that she has been very hurt by adoption, but what does she hope to achieve by casting infertile people as the enemy? Not only does it not make sense (not all infertile people choose adoption and not all who adopt are infertile, and most people who adopt do so through foster care), but it’s not really fair to deal with one’s own hurt by hurting an entire group of people, many of whom had nothing to do with your pain.

      Reply
      1. gsmwc02 Post author

        You have a good point. And a few months after this post I’ve come to accept the fact that she lacks empathy for those going through infertility. That’s fine though. Not everyone is obligated to do so. I get why too if I was her from her perspective, I’d have a similar stance.

      2. YoungInfertile

        That’s fair. I guess I can understand how she came to feel this way though I don’t agree with her.

  2. Gidget

    Greg, I have stumbled here from musings of the lame… My partner and I are in the midst of adoption at this point. We are in Australia, entirely different to the US system and we come to adoption as our first choice. I read musings of the lame to educate myself and like you I don’t take everything as gospel. Anyway I just wanted to say it was great to read your blog.

    Reply
  3. marilynn

    Now Greg your down right reasonable in this post. If you could take that bit of understanding you gave on Daughter’s blog saying that you think donor offspring have a right to feel as they wish and know their biological families if they wish then realize they don’t in fact have that legal right then you’d be on to something deeper. What should that legal right look like? There is a push to end anonymity that sounds pretty good right? Well how is that legal right equal to the rights of everyone else born? Who else has to wait til they are 18 to know the identity of their bio parents and other bio relatives? And what good is a legal right to know them at any time if they don’t have an equal right to live life as their legal relative? It’s not their fault their parent did not want to be a parent or raise them should it effect legal recognition of any of their kinship relationships even if you just look at it from health and safety perspective…are they not still related? Making the right you believe they have – to know their bio relatives – a reality to the same extent that it is for every other person whether their parents wish to be known or act like parents is imperative. To suggest changes like ending anonymity for donors without holding them accountable as parents on the record leaves donor offspring with unequal rights and if that is done as a service to infertile individuals instead of trying to cure infertility its not much real help to them and it hurts the donor offspring they might raise terribly.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      A donor regardless of anonymous or not has no interest in parenting. They are donating to help someone become parents be it an infertile couple, same sex couple or single mother. That’s why infertile couples pursue third party reproduction or adopt not cure their infertility but to provide them with an opportunity to become parents. Ending anonymous donation allows the child to know who makes up 50% of their biology without having to go through the extensive searching that children of anonymous donations have to today.

      Reply

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