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.