The words we use…or don’t use…and what infertility has taught me
Posted by: Barbara Collura at March 18, 2014
Category: Infertility Advocacy
Each day RESOLVE uses its Facebook page to post a question from the community, that is, our community. People who follow us, people who volunteer for us, and people who just want to connect with someone else going through the same journey.
We post these questions because it gets the community engaged and frankly provides amazing insight, advice, support, and information to others. The community helping the community. We love it.
So yesterday, March 17, we posted a question from a real person who reached out to RESOLVE. Many people were offended by the language used by this person. This was the question: “I have PCOS and my tubes are not blocked. I tried chlomid and that did not work. I cannot afford IVF and over 40 the insurance does not pay. We are in the middle of adopting but I want a child of my own. Any affordable treatment?"
In response to this question, the posts from the community started coming in, and then more, and then even more. And so I thought I would add my two cents and post my response. While RESOLVE believes in positive adoption language (and for all other family building options), we chose to post this question for two reasons:
- This was a real question with an opinion about adoption that we hear and we know exists.
- We trust and rely upon our social media communities to be part of these discussions and to support and educate each other. This is a place for our community members to use their voice and lead the conversation.
Words matter. They absolutely do. Full disclosure – I went through infertility, failed treatment, and then despair. I sat in a therapist’s office for over a year, trying to move on. I felt so much loss that I couldn’t even put it into words. Then, I went to a RESOLVE educational program here in the Washington, D.C. area and I attended a session called “Adoptive Parents Panel.” I heard about their stories, their struggles, and their journeys. And then I heard one of them say “What changed everything for me was realizing that what I really wanted was to be a parent.” That is what I needed to hear. But I needed to hear it from someone who had walked my walk, but was farther down the road than me. I needed to hear it from someone “on the other side.” I needed to hear it from someone who was not judging me and saying “just adopt”. I needed to be taught those words and this new language.
At RESOLVE we don’t judge anyone on how they choose to build their family. Many, many people tell me they just can’t go through with IVF – for whatever reason. Many, many people tell me they just can’t go through with adopting – for whatever reason. Even those who decide to adopt, you often hear people say “I just couldn’t adopt internationally” or “I just can’t do an open adoption.” That is how people feel – that is real. We don’t judge them for having those feelings or saying those words. But we can provide support, information, resources, and a community that can wrap our arms around them and support them, in whatever they decide to do.
Let’s use this opportunity to get better…to be open to others wherever they are, and use our collective wisdom to support them – but inform them too. We do have an obligation to the public to educate them about the world of infertility, and to use the right language and words. We can do the same with each other, in the most caring and supportive of ways. So let’s not judge this woman for being honest and saying how she feels today. Because it may very well be that because of the feedback from the community, she’s now learned something and tomorrow she uses different words to describe her feelings. That is all we can hope for as advocates for this community.
I am grateful that one adoptive mom shared her feelings because it made me realize that my holding on to “having my own child” was really “I want to be a parent.” My son (adopted at 5 months) is now 13, and I’m proud to be his mom.
I want to thank everyone for their input and sharing their feelings with us, as this type of discourse moves our community forward.
Barbara Collura is the President/CEO for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.