Thursday, November 20, 2008

Her Own?

Here’s a little background on this incident.

I’ve been in touch with a couple of girls with whom I went to high school – all those many years ago. Let’s call them A and B.

"A" is a girl who I’ve mentioned here before. She got married, and after a couple of years, they discovered they weren’t getting pregnant. Her DH was against the idea of taking their private lives to doctors etc, so they decided to make their family by adopting. They first adopted a girl, and then later a little boy, and now they have a full family life. "A" has been in touch with me sometimes frequently, sometimes not so frequently. We haven’t met that often because we both live in different places now, and I don’t get to see her when I go home.

"B" is another girl who I’ve been in touch with off and on. She got married, had 2 kids, got immersed in being a stay at home mom, looking after her kids and hubby. Till very recently, she lived in the town where we grew up, so I got to see her every time I went home. She was never very connected online, so but for those visits home when I met her, there wasn’t much other interaction.

Recently, both "A" and "B" have connected with each other on a social networking site. The other day, "B" pinged me, and this was our conversation:

B: I see A with 2 children in many pictures. Who are they?
Me: They are her kids.
B: Her own? I thought she had issues. Good that things worked out for her.
Me: (Silence. I was trying to figure out how to answer that one. Yes, they are her own kids, but if I just say that, I don’t want B to say something insensitive to A. If I say they’re adopted – am I implying that they aren’t hers? I also had an under-current of anger in me. Why was it B’s business? Why does she need to know?
Finally I said: Yes, they are her own. She adopted them.
B: How sweet of her to adopt.

(And by the way – in all these years, "B" has NEVER asked me what’s going on with me – and I sort of appreciated that. But now I wonder if people talk like this behind my back. I guess they do – but like this?)

I was ruffled not just for A, but for myself and any other girl out there who is suffering from IF. Why is it the business of the world to ask and know and judge everything you do?

Tomorrow, if my IVF doesn’t work and I’m left with this raw wound gaping at me, and if at some point in the future, I do decide that I am ready to move forward with adoption, are people going to ask, “Are they her own?” or “How sweet of her to adopt”?

“Sweet”?? I think the sweet part would be the birth mother agreeing to trust us with her baby. The sweet part would be the baby embracing us as her own family. My action would be sweet if I were bringing home a bunny rabbit or a kitten! “How sweeeeet!!”

I know it shouldn’t bother me – the world will talk, and I can’t stop it from doing that, but it did bother me. It bothered me and made me defensive and “protective” of my friend "A". I know the pain she must have gone through before they healed their hearts with their adopted children.

I don’t know if I would have had the same sensitivity if I had not been dealing with IF myself. I shudder to think how I would have reacted – would I have said, “No they are not her own. They’re adopted.” ? God, I hope not.

IF has put so many things in perspective for me, made me so much more sensitive to other people’s situations, that in some ways, I am grateful for the challenges I’ve had to face.


nancy said...

I just don't think people understand how the words they use sound to "us".

How SWEET. bah.

Lorraine said...

It's true that dealing with OF is like a long program in sensitivity training. I'm sure I make all kinds of unknown gaffes anyway, but I know for a fact that I am more thoughtful about anything that may have a larger, personal story behind it, and I am definitely more aware of those subtle ways someone may have of trying to steer the conversation in another direction...

Maybe I'm just seeing things through the super-sensitive lens of my own experience, but I think it translates fairly easily to other areas. It's one of the few things that all of this has given me - which I am especially grateful for, since I usually think only about the toll it has taken.

I would be willing to bet B has just never had to think too deeply about any of the implications of anything she said - she would probably feel awful if she thought she was being insensitive - which maybe she suddenly did after your answer?

Linda said...

IF has totally changed me, I think. And sometimes for the worse. However, I do think that I have developed more compassion as a result.

Anonymous said...

OMG I cringe when I think of the things that I've asked-said to people wanting a child BEFORE I started this process. I literally had no idea. Lorraine is right, IF is one huge sensitivity lesson. I am so careful now.

And yes I'm sure you're being talked about in the same way. I've busted people on my social networking site talking about me and my IF. It p#^&es me off, but I simply wrote them a note that said I would be happy to answer their questions if they cared to ask me.

April said...

arg. yes they are her own. yes they are adopted.

how sweet of her? how sweet of the other friend to "slum it" by taking on someone else's kids? seriously.

those fertile myrtles don't really get it sometimes.

i think you responded well. :)

I Believe in Miracles said...

Grr. Sometimes fertiles just don't get it. And we have to throw them a bone when we just want to take their shoulders and shake them hard. Blah.

Jackie. said...

Everyone's conclusions come from their own experiences that none of us can change.

When someone yawns in front of others, one observer might ask," Am I boring you?" Another might might observe and think, "She needs oxygen."