What to do.

To add a little to yesterday’s post, I want to write/remember a few of the things that my friends & family have done that are the RIGHT things to do in response to infertility & adoption. {Well, things that have been right for me, I guess I should say.}

*Educate yourself on what the couple is going through… When I was struggling through a hard period of grief, my mom did a little reading on her own about infertility grief. Even though she’s never been through it personally, she was able to validate my experience and encourage me to allow myself to go through the process. Since mom was my main sounding board as I worked through everything, the “research” she did on her own {both in reading & talking to a friend of hers who has been in my shoes before} was really invaluable to helping me sort through everything.

Recently a friend of mine told me how she had done some research on what to say/not to say to couples in our situation. She knows how painful parts of this process have been, and she wants to make sure she doesn’t say or do something that will add to our hurt. When she told me this, I thought it was just the sweetest thing…and it really communicated how much she truly cares for me.

*Listen… This is a big one. A lot of people don’t quite know what to say in response to infertility, and many have limited knowledge of adoption…so when they feel as though they need to say something, it usually ends up being something cliché, hurtful, or ignorant. It’s not that their heart isn’t in the right place…not that at all.

I have felt most encouraged by our friends who have said “I’m sorry girl. I don’t know what to say except I love you, I’m praying for you, and I’m here for you.”

*Ask the right questions… In general, tread lightly when asking questions. With both infertility and adoption, the couple’s privacy is compromised over and over with doctors appointments, home study questions, etc. Unless you are very close to the couple {and they have opened this door to you in the past} don’t ask a lot of specific questions about treatments they are doing, costs of the adoption, etc. You wouldn’t ask intimate “sex questions” of a couple who was trying to have a baby the old-fashioned way. :/

Also, don’t has questions casually. Infertility questions are not appropriate for small talk. What you may only have a passing interest in at that moment could be ripping a scab off of a painful wound for the person/couple you are talking to.

When it comes to adoption, all questions should be asked through the filter of what is respectful to the child. Asking a lot of hushed “questions” about the birth family are like someone casually asking you to disclose all of your private family drama.

The questions that I have appreciated most are those that check on Chris & I, ask for prayer requests, help the asker understand the process or clear up adoption misconceptions, and checked in to see how the process is going {with the purpose of encouraging us and letting us know that we are in their thoughts.}

*Share… Kind of a two-fold point here. If you have faced infertility, or been a participant in the adoption process, your thoughts and experiences can be incredibly helpful to others. Chris and I, along with our families, have been amazed by how many people we interact with on a daily basis who kind of “came out of the woodwork” and shared their stories with us. I can’t explain how helpful it is to have people walk alongside us, offering encouragement & wisdom.

Even if you haven’t had personal experience with infertility or adoption, many people “know of someone” who has. Sometimes the stories are good, sometimes they are nothing short of horror stories. A good rule of thumb is…don’t share the horror stories! Chris and I struggle with battling fear & anxiety as it is…your horror story of your best friend’s uncle’s wife’s sister-in-law is just not helpful. On the flip side, I received an e-mail just this week from a friend of mine with an excerpt from an adoption blog she’s reading that was beautiful and encouraging. It gave me a new perspective and I appreciated her sharing it with me.

{Special note here…when a couple shares part of their story with you, remember that they are sharing it with YOU…and that it’s not your business or job to go around telling others specific details. I was never super hush-hush about any of our stuff, and didn’t tell the circle of people we were talking to not make our infertility struggles a part of their random conversations with others…but it did happen a few times. Once at church a new friend came up to me and started asking hushed questions about a doctor’s appointment I had been to earlier that week. She and I had *never* talked about any of this before, and I have no idea how she knew specifics as to what we were going through. It didn’t make me super angry, but it did weird me out to know that conversations had been going on about something that is incredibly personal to me.}

*Mourn with… An interesting aspect of infertility loss is that you are mourning a death…and yet it’s not the type of death that is recognized by most people around you. No one brings casseroles, flowers aren’t sent. You have to keep getting up and going to work, and when you just aren’t yourself most people can’t understand why.

That’s why it was so meaningful, so validating, when family/friends were willing to enter into our mourning with us. I had a friend who just cried with me one day, my parents drove up to acknowledge our loss & hug us & weep with us, other friends brought me chocolate and flowers before our final appointment at the fertility specialist.

{Another friend came by privately to tell us that she was expecting again, and brought with her chocolate and Kleenex. It was a sweet gesture to show that while she knew her news was happy and that we were happy for her, she also knew that it would be a hard reminder for us of what we had lost. I don’t expect people to keep doing this for me for the rest of my life, but she knew we were in the middle of our grief and we needed to be able to absorb the news privately.}

*Celebrate with… When we accepted God’s call to adopt, it was fun a fun surprise to see the ways our friends & family celebrated with us. There were squeals, hugs, congratulations; I received a card or two to encourage me…my parents sent flowers when we sent off our pre-application to the agency. Those in our “circle” have truly embraced this process wholeheartedly & recognize it as our “pregnancy.” My sister-in-law to be promised to be the person I can ‘dream big’ with…when we talk about everything we act like our baby could be coming tomorrow. She celebrates with me by giving me the chance to put caution and reason aside & just giggle…that’s why she was the first one to know when I bought that giant teddy bear. 😉

One of my dear friends from church offered (from the moment we told her we were moving forward with adoption) to throw us a little party once we mail off our big application. She knows how much I love a party & that I would have loved to have been able to do a gender reveal…so she wanted me to be able to have something special to celebrate the adoption process. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to!

***********************************************************************************

There have been other things people have done to support us…let me borrow books, sent me encouraging videos, those sweet little baby blankets that came in the mail from my mom’s best friend, my parents buying us a crib for Christmas. I’m just so thankful for each act of kindness…for the love of Christ that has been shown to Chris & I through our friends and family.

Blessed am I.

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