More often than not, when people have brought up infertility with me, it has been done in a less-than-ideal manner. You can probably relate to the anger that is quickened by a comment or question that seems completely and totally insincere or offensive. You can probably also relate to using that anger to attack back, whether it be to their faces or behind their backs. It happens, let’s just admit it. As I have worked really, really hard at trying to be more proactive and respond more positively, I have found my ability to cope with comments or questions has changed. I feel more in control when I look at these moments as opportunities to educate rather than opportunities for others to criticize and offend me. Is this more easily said than done? I’ll share an idea. In a notebook…
- Make a list of some of the situations when questions or comments might arise. Some examples could be at work, baby showers, at church, or at a family gathering.
- Make a list of comments or questions you have heard before or that you can imagine being said in those situations.
- Decide what information the person asking the question or making the comment might not have that, if they did, the comment or question might: a) not be asked, or b) might be asked in a different manner.
- Decide a way to respond to the question or comment that would be focused more on educating rather than biting back at the other person.
- Share your list with others since it is always nice to have a new perspective and new ideas!
Step 1–Situation: Anywhere (how is that for specific?)
Step 2–Question/Comment: “Have you thought about adopting? You can just adopt.”
Step 3–Information: While filling a void, adopting doesn’t solve the problems of infertility; in fact, for most people, infertility lasts a lifetime. Adoption is a wonderful option for couples wanting to build their families, but it is not always an option every couple is willing to consider.
Step 4–Possible Response: “I know of a lot of couples who have chosen the route of adoption and it has brought them great joy. My spouse and I aren’t really at a point where we are ready to consider adoption (or…”my spouse and I are at the point of figuring out what infertility means in our lives”). Thank you for the suggestion.”
When you are prepared for such experiences, you might just puzzle those around you. You will puzzle them because instead of retaliating, you give them something to think about. You might even stump them because they realize that maybe they should have addressed the situation differently. And, of course, you will appear in control and confident rather than a mess (which just might be the case inside). You will most likely come away feeling empowered and successful rather than upset because you attacked them or angry because you said nothing. Try it…it might just work for you.