Unfortunately, a rite of passage into adulthood is realizing that the holidays can bring on a lot of additional stress. An onslaught of activities, family time and financial demands can add to pressures that have already been building, and this is especially true for a family struggling with infertility or waiting to adopt a child.
It can be tempting to approach these families and ask questions about their family-building journey, especially as the holidays are a time for families to come together and catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. And under no circumstances are we saying you shouldn’t make yourself available as a listening ear or comforting shoulder if your family members want to talk about what they’re going through. However, a misplaced question or sentiment — however well-meaning — can serve to ruin a holiday for someone who is grieving their infertility or attempting to be patient in the waiting process to adopt a child.
With this in mind, then, we encourage you not to say the following things to your family members at this year’s Christmas lunch:
“When is it going to be your turn?”
Whether they’re in the process of adopting a child or coming to terms with their infertility, the last thing that family member is going to want to hear is your expectation that they produce a new family member soon. We promise you, they’re trying. It’s probably almost all they’re thinking about.
“Have you heard anything about an adoption match yet?”
The day an adoptive family is contacted about an adoption opportunity is one of the most memorable days of their lives. If it’s happened and they want you to know about it, they’ll spill the beans immediately. There’s no need to ask.
“Have you tried so and so? It worked for one of my friends!”
If a couple is experiencing infertility, we guarantee you they have tried everything imaginable. If you are a medical professional or an adoption specialist that they have sought out for advice, then feel free to pipe up. Otherwise, there is no need to preach on the benefits of a certain vitamin or supplement, and it’s unlikely that your adoption expertise surpasses an adoption professional unless maybe you have gone through the adoption journey yourself.
“How long has it been? It seems like it’s taking a long time!”
We promise you that your family member is painfully aware of how long it’s taking them to have a child. This is an extremely insensitive question, as the waiting period can be one of the hardest during the adoption process.
“I have a friend who found an adoption match this way!”
It’s quite possible that one of your friends did connect with a prospective birth mother using Facebook or some other method of advertising, but there is a very good reason your family member has chosen to work with an adoption professional. Insinuating that there is more they could be doing to grow their family is both offensive and inaccurate.
Any type of platitude.
We promise you, your family member has heard them all. “It’s meant to be, the right baby is out there, etc.” None of these sayings are helpful, and it can be hurtful to assume an all-knowing tone with someone who wants nothing more than to have a child.
Any opinions about adoption.
You don’t need to tell your family member that you think they’re doing something admirable by “saving” a child, nor do you need to weigh in with any controversial adoption opinions. They have chosen to adopt a child, and that is completely their decision. Your take on it is not necessary.