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October 20, 2009
Q. One big challenges infertile women face is responding to ignorant questions from (possibly) well-intentioned third parties. You address these issues in Chapter 5 of your book, “The Road to Hell is Paved in ‘Just Relax.’” What's the best way to deal with unwanted (and frequently uneducated) comments from others?
Grit your teeth! What’s the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey?” No one is going to hear you if you immediately snap at them when they believe they are being well-intentioned.
If it’s a first or second transgression, you can gently correct and then distract (take them far far away from the topic of infertility).
If this is an on-going problem, address it head-on. If it’s still an on-going problem, well, you need to do what you need to do to get through the day. If it means not interacting with that person, so be it. Because it boils down to a lack of respect and support if you are clearly stating your needs and they’re not being met.
Now, the problem becomes bigger if you’re bumping heads with someone who you need to still interact with, such as a partner, sibling or parent. In those cases, if you are explaining how hurtful those types of statements are for you and they aren’t hearing your words, therapists can help mediate.
As much as we laugh with chapter five because we’ve all had random people offer that advice to us, it isn’t funny when it’s someone close stating those ideas as fact.
Q. What do you recommend telling the “pry-ers” who really want to probe into why you don’t have kids?
Why don’t I have kids? Kind: We just don’t. Actually, I had a question I wanted to ask you and I’ve forgotten it now…wait…give me a second.
It all has to do with tone. If I think they’re asking it because they’re genuinely curious, I’ll tell them the truth. If I get the sense that they’re judging, well, then I go through that three tiered list: kind, firm, and a free-for-all.
Firm: It’s not something I really like to talk about.
Free-for-All: We thought they might turn out like you so…yikes…
Why don’t I have kids?
Kind: We just don’t. Actually, I had a question I wanted to ask you and I’ve forgotten it now…wait…give me a second.
Q. As was painfully evident in the commentary to the recent New York Times article, “The Gift of Life and Its Price,” many people cannot possibly fathom why women put so much blood, sweat, tears and dollars into IVF. They think adoption is the universal answer. How do you respond to the people who say, “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Well, first my head explodes. And then, once I have it back on my shoulders again, I respond like this: There is no “just” in adoption.
That adoption isn’t a cure for infertility, and while it is a wonderful family building option, it needs to be considered on its own, without tying it into infertility. There are very real people with very real feelings involved in the triad — which is why there is no “just” in adoption. That is a term better applied to situations that do not contain such enormous emotion.
People don’t adopt because they’re infertile. People adopt because they want to build their family, become a parent, and raise a child. And that is the method they chose to enter that situation.
I'll be back with more Q&A tomorrow, but if you have any questions for me, please post them below and I'll answer them!