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Different Paths to Parenthood

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a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, June 3, 2010

I love participating in infertility conferences and workshops. When I do, I always bring along guest panelists, women and men who became parents after long struggles with infertility and/or pregnancy loss. I call upon several people regularly. I've come to call them my “speaker’s bureau.” They're the folks I can count on to drop everything to come speak at a conference.

The “members” of my speaker’s bureau are all very different from each other and they chose or followed different paths to parenthood.

One couple adopted their first child from Kazakhstan and their second from Burundi. They are incredibly adventurous and open minded. Another couple has done three domestic adoptions; they do a lively, funny and poignant presentation about open adoption. Then there are two couples who dealt with premature ovarian failure in their early 30’s and went on to have twins through egg donation. They talk about how much it meant to them to meet their donors, to remain in touch with them, to see features from the donor in their children. There’s also a woman whose colleague donated eggs to her. And a couple who thought they would “resolve without parenthood” and instead went on to adopt four infants of color.

My speaker’s bureau members work incredibly well as a team. As different as they are from each other, each seems to have a profound understanding of the others and a respect for the choices they’ve made. Each member is able to celebrate each and every path to parenthood and none ever conveys a sense of self-righteousness or competition.

While I value these traits in them, what I appreciate most is what I see them doing for our audiences. I watch as people in the audience fill up with tears — tears of relief as they realize that one way or another, people find their way to happy endings. After each presentation, there is inevitably a flood of questions, as eager attendees want to hear more from each of the panelists.

I often get phone calls from conference/workshop attendees in the days and weeks following a presentation. People want to come see me to get additional help and guidance in their complex decision making. Inevitably they comment on the speakers, quote them, say how much the presentations helped them.

What they may not realize is that the people who come to speak, who devote themselves so selflessly to the speaker’s bureau would all say that they get as much as they give. Each of them can remember when they were in the audience and hearing someone else’s happy ending offered them hope when they needed it most.

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