Posts Tagged ‘Domestic Adoption Planning’
September 18, 2012 | By: Liz
You know it’s not that often that I see glaringly offensive comments or information from professionals in the infertility world. Most of us know to be very careful with the language we use so that we don’t inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. Today I was surfing Facebook and someone to whom I was connected (I am no longer “friends” with her) posted a comment about egg donation, adoption, and infertility. I thought at first she was referring to a blog and was hoping she was quoting someone else. Alas, I was very wrong and the link she posted was to an egg donation agency based outside of the United States (thank goodness for that — didn’t want to be running into her at any upcoming conferences lest I let her have it to her face) and the post was pretty much designed to bring attention to her agency. I am not a big believer in the old adage that any attention is good attention or that negative publicity is still publicity. In this industry, offending people is the kiss of death and well let’s just say I’ve been kissed.
I really don’t like the word “barren”. It’s an ancient reference to women who were unable to conceive and it dates back to a time period when women had no rights and would sometimes be replaced by another woman if she was unable to conceive a child. The Sixteenth Century this is not and I would have hoped that in the Twenty-First Century we would be a little bit more aware of appropriate terminology. I guess not because this FB poster (who shall remain nameless even upon kiss of death) seemed to think that all women who are having difficulty conceiving should be considered BARREN.
I don’t think so. Having difficulty conceiving does not mean we are barren. The word barren actually has many definitions (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/barren ) including “lacking inspiration” or “lacking charm”. For the record, I don’t consider any of my infertile clients, and certainly not my own bod, to be lacking in charm. Some of my clients are downright amazingly gorgeous women with incredible resumes and great personalities. In this case they are hardly barren are they? They also usually go on to become mothers which would seem to indicate that they are in fact capable of producing offspring (please note Miriam-Webster dictionary says nothing about those offspring needing to be biological children — at least its editors “get it”). But the word was used nonetheless in this FB post. The fact that the post tried to be “neutral” and present all sides of debates as they pertain to third-party assisted reproduction was totally lost on me by virtue of the selection of this word to describe me. Because that is who she is describing, me. The last time I checked I am still considered to be infertile.
The other problem was that this poster and her choice of words — and barren was by far the least offensive of them — revealed her own underlying belief that women who have difficulty conceiving, women like me who are infertile, are somehow lacking, less than other women, and are desperate. While she notes that “an element of respect” should be offered to these women, in and of itself that remark too is offensive. I am only entitled to “an element of respect”. 7 IVF Cycles, 9+ miscarriages (I stopped counting but there were more), three adoptions, and I am only entitled to “an element of respect”. Seriously?
Additional comments were made about whether decisions to use an egg donor were interfering with the “divine plan” for that woman’s life; and that what transpired to finally bring this barren woman to the point of actually considering using another’s genetic material could only be understood by the woman herself. Here I do agree with the post. However, I would prefer that she had not characterized the decision to choose egg donation as an act of finality, desperation, or somehow jumping off of the cliff of normalcy. Families are built in countless ways and all of them are normal.
Egg donors also were attacked for their decision to share themselves with other people. Let’s be clear that egg donation does not involve any kind of “sharing”. Egg donation agreements are clear that when a woman donates her eggs she relinquishes all rights to the resulting embryos and/or children. Egg donors do not share in the day-to-day life of the intended parents’ pregnancy, or their life as they raise their child. And let’s place the emphasis where it belongs, on “their” child, not the egg donor’s child. If this woman is counseling egg donors — and I fear she may be — then she is sending the wrong message to these selfless and generous women who donate their genetic material, their ova, to an infertile couple. They ain’t sharing those eggs or themselves with anyone.
Let’s not even discuss the offensive descriptions attributed to adoption. I will have a stroke.
I understand that this woman was trying to raise a debate, trying to draw attention to her business and what she does. But the choice of words she used as a professional in this industry was astonishingly rude and clearly revealed her own underlying biases. She is entitled to those biases. But as a professional she had a responsibility to keep them private and not mislead egg donors or intended parents. I also think it was a poor decision to use such inflammatory language if she was trying to promote her business. In all likelihood she sent potential clients running in the opposite direction.
I hope that the other people who read this post are wearing running shoes; they need to run as fast as possible. Most likely the very charming, inspirational women who read this post pulled their flats or sneaks out of their gym bag and took off their Jimmy Choo’s, and headed in the direction of a more sensitive egg donation/surrogacy agency, a therapist (I may need a session), shopping (in which case maybe they should leave on the Jimmy Choo’s), or a glass of wine and some Oreos.
For all those who read that post and felt in any way diminished as a human being because of their infertility, let’s get one thing straight: anyone who can get through this stuff is one tough, rockin’ mama. Emphasis on the word “mama” because that is what you will one day be called.
Filed under: adoption, Current Affairs, Deadly Silence, Egg Donation, Faith and Infertility, I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman, In the News, infertility in the media, IVF, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Thoughts on Choosing an Egg Donor, Thoughts on Donor Egg Recruitment
July 30, 2012 | By: Liz
Everyone who knows me, really knows me, knows I am sucker for all things Emily Giffin (I mean we have sooo much in common . . . you do know I said that tongue in cheek right? although the similarities in our lives, associate in a big law firm turned author of best selling book . . . although admittedly she’s had slightly better publishing success than I), and that I like Danielle Steel too. There I have outed myself. Chic lit and romance novels are my thing.
But Emily Giffin’s new book, Where we Belong, has adoption and reunion of birth mother and adoptee as it it’s theme. I respect Ms. Giffin tremendously. She did a fantastic job addressing infertility and child bearing in Baby Proof as noted in a previous blog; and I understand from discussions with colleagues that Ms. Giffin interviewed reproductive lawyers and perhaps other professionals in the world of ART in order to properly address issues of infertility in Baby Proof. So I’m guessing that she probably did a really good job researching adoption and is nothing but politically correct, sensitive and thoughtful when writing about this very delicate topic. (If it’s okay by you, I’m just going to call her Emily. She is after all my soul sister.) I see on Emily’s FaceBook page that people are asking her if she will do a sequel so it must be good. But are any of those people who are asking for a sequel part of an adoption triad or an adoption professional????
I have read so many books and articles that are written by people with good intentions but nonetheless totally botch the job when it comes to adoption language and/or addressing the emotions and feelings that come up for people in adoption triads. I won’t mention the titles here — why bad mouth a book you might enjoy — but I have had to put a couple of them down and just agree to disagree with the author. Anyone who knows me also knows that once I start a book I HAVE to finish it no matter how bad or boring is the tombe. I am that anal that I will force myself, yes force myself, to finish something I hate. Even on a beach on a vacation, I will force myself to gut through the last few pages of a book which I think is really awful. So I am very careful these days about what I will read. Knowing that I am committed from start to finish I only can choose books that I feel will truly entertain or enlighten. And thus, I do my research and read reviews and blogs (and FaceBook pages) to see what people think. So far, Where We Belong gets amazing reviews. And yet, I won’t download it to my tablet or buy it . . . what’s up with that?
I guess I am really afraid that Emily will hurt me or bring up emotions that I would rather not face. I am after all, an adoptive mother and one who feels very strongly about the use of positive adoption language and who wishes that adoption came without bittersweet feelings or even shall we say, threatening feelings. I worry about legislation that will open adoption records that currently are sealed and thus create a greater potential for dramas like the one portrayed in Where We Belong to unfold for my friends. (btw, I “get” both sides of the argument to open adoption records, and while I have my own opinion on this topic I do respect those who don’t share it, so please don’t spam me on this particular topic, I leave this up to legislators and their constituents to figure out whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad).
I also really care about the birth mothers I have represented and knowing what they go through, I can only imagine how they would feel — especially those who wanted a closed adoption or less contact with the adoptive family — if one day the child they placed for adoption knocked on their proverbial door.
And please let’s also be clear, I hate the term “gave up for adoption” . . . this term runs rampant throughout reviews of Emily’s book so I am worried she uses it IN the book. Please remember that this is a decision someone makes and it is NOT an easy decision for anyone. Birth mothers have “placed” their child for adoption, a term which hopefully is more respectful of their decision to enter into an adoption, as opposed to “gave up” or “give away” which makes it sound like babies are a commodity and birth mothers don’t care about what happens to their baby. “Gee, I think I’ll just give this baby away today . . . ” I think NOT. I hate this terminology and while I never know what is right or wrong and often worry about what words I use with my own clients and in my family, I really don’t think this one particular term is respectful to birth mothers.
And as I have recently discovered it’s not even politically correct to call my clients who are considering making an adoption plan for their baby, a birth mother. These women now request or prefer to be called “emoms”. An emom is a woman who is expecting a baby and is considering placing her baby for adoption. I would strongly suspect that emoms don’t consider what they are thinking about doing (emphasis here on thinking) to be “giving up” or “giving away” . . . This is such a highly charged issue with advocates for both terms that I suspect just by talking about this language I am going to get a ton of hate email.
And I have already upset myself thinking about adoption language and whether Emily used it appropriately . . . As a result of my discussion of terminology I have relived allot of what my own family, and our adoption triads, have gone through, as well as some of the adoptions my office has handled . . . I can’t even write a blog about this topic without getting myself upset and disjointed, so how am I going to do reading this book? And I HAVE to finish it if I start it . . . And yes, I know that’s ridiculous and nutty and if I don’t like a book I should put it down, but that’s just not ME people. I am nothing if not thorough (and loyal) right through to the end.
F*&^k. I love Emily’s work and I feel I have a professional obligation to read and review this book. And yet I am scared sh!tless at the thought of reading it. But read it I must. Right? Wrong?
Crap. What to do . . . stay tuned.
Filed under: adoption
Tags: adoption, Birth Family, birth moms, Birth Mother, books, Domestic Adoption Planning, hope, Inspiration, talking to birth mothers, The Infertility Survival Handbook, The Ultimate Insider's Guide to Adoption
March 8, 2010 | By: Liz
I have decided that the Dixie Chics have the best infertility anthem ever; the song “So hard”. Actually that entire album is great when you are down on your child bearing capabilities or waiting for a baby. I was listening to it this morning at the dog park and I was thinking about the comments Celine Dion got on her story in People Mag, and on an unsolicited series of communications I received from a partner at a law firm I used to work for. He linked to me in Linked In and proceeded to accuse me of committing all sorts of sins by helping people have babies through IVF and even domestic adoption. Much as one reader criticized Celine Dion for not adopting internationally, this man accused of me “moral relativism” (whatever that is) and said that IVF was conceited. Yeah, well, to each his own I guess. Quite frankly, to all those people on high horses thinking they have done something god like because they rescued a child from an orphanage somewhere like Russia, I ask what about all the children in foster care in this country? I think The Blind Side (the movie Sandra Bullock won her oscar for last night) is an incredibly eye opening story about what Americans are not seeing in their own country, and how children are suffering here. And Precious. OMG.
I mean really, you want to accuse me of moral relativism for going through 7 IVF cycles, 10 miscarriages, and three domestic adoptions (only two of which resulted in permanent placements, and my gorgeous beautiful babies), fine so be it, but don’t give me some holier than thou BS, you want to do good and say you are superior to me, adopt an older child from the foster care system, someone who has been abused or abandoned. Sandra Bullock thanked all those very wise and strong people who have loved a child that was otherwise left without hope. Indeed two of the Best Picture nominees, The Blind Side and Precious, would be movies I suggest the people who criticized Celine Dion and the gentleman who accused me of having poor morals, watch and think about.
Do you really think that any single one of us has the right to judge the other? Especially when it comes to something so intimate like family building. I don’t believe it’s conceited to want to feel a baby grow inside me. I don’t believe it’s conceited to want to adopt a newborn, nor do I think the vast majority of birth mothers in the US are “coerced” (as that gentleman alleged) by other people into placing their child for adoption. They may be economically coerced, they may be coerced by the life they are stuck in, but any birth mother that can make the self sacrificing choice to place her child with another family to give that child a better life (whether in this country or another) is someone truly worthy of being called a hero. And the international adoption community was until recently (and may still be) rife with black market baby stealing, and ethical issues that the Hague was designed to prevent. No system of child bearing, family building, whatever you want to call it is better than another. None of us are morally superior to the other. None of us. We all have to walk our own path.
And as the Dixie Chics understand very well, for most of us infertile people, that path is So hard.
So do me a favor. Lay off Celine Dion for trying to have another baby through IVF. Lay off me for trying to help people have children however they choose to do so. My goal is to build families and to return the gifts that have been given to me by Dr. Chung (a gift to his patients and reproductive science), all the amazing people at Cornell (M. and L., Dr. Rosenwaks and Dr. Spandorfer), my husband, my children’s birth parents, just to name a few of the people who have blessed me.
And know this, my office, my practice, my agency, are and will always hopefully be a safe haven for my clients. I promise never to judge you. I promise to help you achieve your dreams (even if that means working with another agency, lawyer, whatever) . . . I am paying my blessings forward (as another great movie would say). Moral relativism or not.
And what the hell is moral relativism anyway?
Filed under: Thinking Out Loud