Monday, July 30, 2018

Tired (literally) of Sharing My Story

I may never share my story in detail again. I might, but I might not. I'm just so tired of how it always ends.  It wears me out and often makes me mad.

Last week I decided to share the fact that it's not by choice that I don't have children to a very sensitive, empathetic, and smart woman I have come to know. She also happens to not have children as well. I thought she would get it. Or even if she didn't get it, I thought she wouldn't say anything stupid.

I was wrong.

I shared with her that I had always wanted children, I had planned my whole life around having children, I had bought a beautiful house for my children, and then I didn't get to have my children. I said I tried everything and nothing worked. I described it as traumatizing and shared that I was still recovering from it all. That, in a way, I would always be recovering from it. Grief is not linear and it doesn't necessarily end.

She asked, "Did you lose a baby?"

I hate this question. I hate hate hate it. It makes me feel like others think my loss isn't as big, isn't as meaningful, isn't as important, isn't as devastating and life changing.

I told her, "It's not that I just didn't get to birth my babies. I also never got to conceive them." And then to clarify I added, "I didn't have a miscarriage; I just couldn't ever get pregnant."

And it didn't end there. If it had ended there, that would be one thing. But she went on.

She asked, "What about adoption?"

I haaaaaaate being asked this.

I usually say I tried that too and it didn't work out and leave it at that. But I was having an open, in-depth conversation with this woman and I trusted her, so I decided to educate her a little bit. I shared how long I researched adoption agencies, how I finally found one I wanted to work with, and then (thankfully before we had invested any time, money, or hope) they went bankrupt. I told her how I couldn't do it anymore. I informed her how adoption has changed a lot over the years: how society has changed (for the better) and that single mothers are not as stigmatized and often receive more support from their families now and so there are not as many newborns available for adoption as there are families wanting to adopt. I told her how international adoption laws have changed, making international adoption much harder, if not impossible for some countries. I shared some of the ethical issues that arise with adoption. I shared with her how both of my sisters tried to adopt. One had a failed placement, while the other never received a placement after years of home studies, interviews, money, and waiting. I told her the average wait for adoption was at least 4 years and that I had aged out of the process according to my own preferences. (I added that other people may choose to be older parents, which is fine, but it's not my choice for myself.) I told her that I knew people who tried to adopt for many years and never became parents. I ended by telling her, "Not everyone who wants to be a mother gets to be a mother." And, by then, I was totally, completely, and absolutely exhausted.

She did reply with, "It's not fair that there are people with so much love to give and they don't get to have children." So she got it. She really did listen to me and everything I said, understood it all, and took it to heart.

I don't regret sharing my story with her. She is a kind, wise woman. But if one of the kindest, wisest women I know still asks me about pregnancy loss and adoption, I really don't have much hope for others. And I'm just tired of answering and/or deflecting those questions.

I'm just so tired of it all... So, it is quite possible that I may never share my story in detail again.


  1. Dear Phoenix, I fully understand how tired you feel... and yet I think only people who went through the same journey as you can get it without asking questions (it is also my experience). What seems to be an evidence for us is not for others, and I think they just cannot figure out what we are thinking. It takes a lot of energy to explain, but hopefully it will foster general understanding to share our reality with people who are not from our tribe. I'm glad you talked to this woman and that she finally understood :) xo

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Lea. I think you're right. Only people who have been through what we have been through will get it. I've certainly stopped holding out hope that my own family will get it. So why would I put that expectation on others, total outsiders?

  2. I'm glad she got it (mostly) too. I've found that some strangers get it, when others close to us don't. But yes, every time we tell our story, it takes a toll. Uh oh. I think you're inspiring yet another post from me!

    The adoption question is so frustrating. It's so automatic, said without any knowledge. For some, it's a way of shutting us down. For her, I hope it was a way of genuinely wanting to learn.

    1. That's a good point that some strangers get it when others close to us don't (like family). It reminds me of a friend I have. We are very close, but she doesn't have children and never wanted them. And somehow she just GETS IT. She has never said anything dumb or hurtful and she was really there for me when I was in the thick of it. She's one of those people that is a blessing to everyone who meets her, a very special person.

      And yes! Sharing our story takes a toll AND the adoption question is so frustrating!! Ug. Maybe I will share my story again some day, but it won't be for a very long time.

  3. It is exhausting, isn't it, to go into detail on everything? I totally get that there are people you're like, "nope, didn't work out, the end" and other people that you want to let in to your personal hell, and it's so frustrating when the (well meaning but annoying) questions just keep coming. I'm glad she understood in the end, and I'm glad you were able to educate her about adoption -- maybe she'll think twice before asking someone else if they'd tried that. It's not a magic fix. That's the thing, I guess -- balancing the need to not end up emotionally drained by the telling with wanting to educate and let people in. I feel this struggle, too. And it's true, there's people who just get it, and there's people who don't, and there's those who can get it through education, and people who just never will. And sometimes it's hard to tell who's who from the outset. May you have a long while before having to tell the story again! Also, I love "Not everyone who wants to be a mother gets to be a mother." Great way of phrasing it.

  4. Dear Phoenix, I am sorry about all these questions and also sorry that they exhausted you. I do understand. It is such a raw, personal and emotional topic. I remember having to explain about adoption every. single. time. People have no idea about the realities of adoption. And yet, I am proud of you for opening up and speaking out. It does take courage and strength! Thanks for educating this one woman who at least seemed to get it at the end...