Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One phrase you MUST NOT SAY to an adoptive mom -- and 8 reasons why

I've heard it. You've heard it. Maybe you've said it.

You know someone. I know someone. Maybe you know 10 someones.

And yet saying it is seriously not cool.

 "As soon as you adopt, you'll get pregnant."

Ok, ok, I have an idea of what you're thinking.

"Rachel . . . seriously. Lighten up. It's just a little joke. You know, a little wink wink nudge nudge. Could you just not be so serious all the time!"

So, I take your challenge. And let me assure you, I do have a sense of humor. I'm even used to being teased. My husband is awesome at it. So is my dad. In fact, in my family, teasing IS a love language. (The first one.) So for most things, I'll let you slide. I'll even laugh a little.

But on this one thing -- could we PLEASE just stop saying this.

In case you aren't convinced still, let me tell you why I don't like it. (And to my knowledge, very few people who have adopted DO like it.)

1  -- No one likes a "know it all."

When a friend adopts a child, then announces a pregnancy later (no matter how much later), please just zip up this little phrase and keep it far from your lips.

When you say, "I just knew you'd get pregnant as soon as you adopted . . . ", you are in essence saying, "Everyone knew exactly what was going to happen to your uterus the moment you added a child to your life. Aren't you so glad you know now what the rest of us have known forever?"

Instead say, "I'm so glad *adopted baby* will be a big brother/sister."

2 -- You assume that they are adopting because they can't get pregnant.

The first time I was told this awful phrase was from a co-worker. (OK, you're still not convinced it's awful. Give me a minute.)

I had excitedly told her we were starting the process to get licensed as foster parents, with the hope of adopting. Her response?

"Now that you're adopting, you'll get pregnant."

I was TOTALLY taken aback. Our daughter Maddy was 2. We conceived her from just skipping a few birth control pills on accident. We had no losses. . .  no reason to believe that if we didn't just skip a few pills, we wouldn't be pregnant with another healthy child. In fact, I was convinced I was Mrs. Fertile Myrtle herself.

We weren't adopting because we couldn't get pregnant. We just wanted to adopt!

Instead say, "I'm so happy for you."

3 -- You take the focus off the child being adopted.

Imagine going to the hospital to meet a friend's brand-new baby. Instead of ooh'ing and ahh'ing over their precious little bundle, you say, "Now that you've had a baby, you are SOOOO going to get pregnant again right away.  It always happens. It happened to a friend's cousin I once knew."

Of course, your friend likely doesn't want to hear commentary on her fertility at that point. She just wants you to celebrate the beautiful addition to her family she has RIGHT NOW.

Instead say, "Your child is such a blessing."

4 -- Adoption is a way to add to your family. Adoption is not a fertility treatment.

"You know. We've tried IVF. We've tried ICSI, and IUs. We've run every test. We've given you every medication we can. In fact, you've had the best science has to offer at your fingertips. But -- have you ever thought about just adopting? So many women get pregnant THE MOMENT they adopt. It happened to one of my patients years ago. Come to think of it, why didn't we do that earlier and save you all the money and pain from the treatments??  Yeah . . .  So, go adopt, and see me again when you've gotten that positive pregnancy test. Consider that a prescription." -- said NO reproductive endocrinologist EVER.

If fertility doctors aren't saying it -- please -- please -- please -- don't you say it.

(Besides, adopting doesn't take away the pain of infertility either. Trust me on this one.)

Instead say, "You've had a long journey to get here. We're here for you all the way."

5 -- Adoption is not a consolation prize. And pregnancy is not First Place.

Whether you mean it to or not, this hated phrase sounds a lot like . . . "Now that you've gone through adoption, you can get what you REALLY wanted all along."

Adding to your family through adoption is not a lesser way to have a child. Neither is pregnancy the Holy Grail of family planning.

Instead say, "I love that your family chose to adopt."

6 -- Speaking of family planning, it's not really your business.

I'm guilty of this. (Although, recently, much less so.) For some reason, we think that the way others plan their family is totally our business. (It's not.)

If someone chooses to pursue pregnancy at the same time as pursuing adoption, by all means let them. (Without your commentary.)

Maybe they are adopting an older child and want to have their children spaced just-so. Maybe they weren't sure which would work out first -- adoption or pregnancy. So they were working on them both at the same time. Maybe they have a condition (me) that makes their biological clock tick much faster. Maybe they've had multiple losses while they've tried to adopt, and it just so happens that the baby they were able to keep coincided with the child they were adopting.

Instead say, "I'm here to support you as you grow your family however and whenever you choose."

7 -- It makes it sound like infertility (if they have it) is just all in their head.

Ok, I know this one is a stretch. But follow me out on this one.

The idea behind the "just adopt so you can get pregnant" philosophy is that someone has an aching need, a need so great and so big, it's self-destructive. They don't have something because they want it too much, or are just trying too hard.

And finally, once that need (aka a baby) is filled through adoption, their body magically opens itself up to more babies. Ta-da!!!

So the reason they weren't getting pregnant wasn't that they had poly-cystic ovaries. Or their husband had crappy sperm. Or their uterus was an abnormal shape. Or they had an autoimmune disorder. Or they had a chromosomal abnormality. Or their fallopian tubes were blocked.

No. None of that. It was just all in their head. Right?

Instead say, "I wish I could have spared you from all the pain you've endured on your way to growing your family."

(Please only say this if you know for a fact they've endured pain. Again, don't assume infertility unless you know for sure.)

8 -- This phrase never gives someone warm fuzzies.

Along our adoption journey, I've had this said to me every time I've gotten pregnant. I've been pregnant 4 times since we started this process -- and each baby did not make it.

Now that we will have officially adopted (as of this Tuesday), I fear that I will hear this whenever we get pregnant again in the future.

Adopting, or starting the process of adopting, did not save any one of my much-wanted babies. Having my adopted child to hold and love has NOT solved the fertility issues I now face.

If we get pregnant again, and carry to term, it will be an act of God. And will have nothing to do with adoption.

In this time of adoption -- and in the subsequent time of maybe having another biological child if God allows -- please do give me lots warm fuzzies.  And not cold pricklies.

(And if you were still confused, the "you'll get pregnant now that you've adopted" is definitely a cold prickly to me.)

Instead say, "I love your family. And am so glad to be a part of your life." And trust me, I know that you do. And I love being a part of your life, too.


  1. Wow amazing. Exactly how I feel.i was just never aware how to explain it. You did a marvelous explanation . Awesome and we'll said.💜

  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this out in such great detail. We hear it all the time too, and it's stupid for all the reasons you describe. I would add to it that many infertile people have conditions that make pregnancy difficult (like me, or you), but others (like two different friends of mine) have conditions where pregnancy is impossible. Like, not .01% chance, but not possible. They are sterile, for various reasons. They are both adoptive parents, but they are still sterile and this will never change. So less you inadvertently speak to someone in that situation, just keep your mouth shut with getting pregnant and be happy for the new addition.

    1. I agree. You never know what someone is dealing with when it comes to fertility (or lack thereof.)

  3. I never liked that phrase for many of the reasons that you listed. Today you Have given me a few new ones too. It reminds me of the "just relax... Stop thinking about it ... Go on vacation... And you'll get pregnant." Always ironic when said to me since I've already been pregnant 4 times, clearly the issue is staying that way. Do I go on a 9 month vacation?

    Just another one of those very unhelpful pieces of advice offered up way too often.

    1. Can I join you on your 9-month vacation, Shelby? Oh, where would we go?? The possibilities! :)

      And yes -- the just relax comment almost made it to my blog. Because adopting is OH-SO relaxing!

    2. But of course!!! As long as it is warm and sunny, I don't care. Anywhere away from the cold Alaska weather haha.

  4. I can say from personal experience that if you do get pregnant during an adoption, it sure puts the adoption on the rocks! A couple of months after we paid the big fee for our international missy, I did get pregnant, and our adoption process slowed to a crawl. (No infertility was involved, we are adopting because we love our little girl...) anyway, baby is now 5 months old and the adoption process drags along. I love my two boys, and #2 came at just the right time for so many reasons, but dang if missy hasn't been stuck in an orphanage so much longer because of it.
    So... Don't say that to adoptive parents... Just leave it in God's hands, k? He knows what He's doing.

    1. Mama V, so glad you had your little Missy . . . but so sad to hear that it caused a delay in your adoption.

      For us, having miscarriages put us on the "back burner" for a while of profiles. Which explains the year of silence from our agency with no placements for us. (We didn't know we were on the back-burner about this, either.) So, yeah, pregnancy while adopting isn't always the easiest for the adoption process.

  5. THANKS A MILLION for writing this!

  6. Love love love this! I am proof that pregnancy does not occur just because you adopt. Yes, I have friends that have had a surprise pregnancy after an adoption placement, but that does NOT mean it will happen to everyone! Thanks for sharing, girl!

    1. Thanks Bumbers! So glad you liked (I mean love love loved) this post. :) I so appreciate all your support!