{Infertility and Adoption Etiquette}. what to say to help your waiting friend

infertility etiquetteMy good friend Amber and I are teaming up again to finish our series on Infertility and Adoption Etiquette. We often get asked our opinions on how to care for someone who is struggling with infertility or transitioning to adoption. Last week, we recognized National Infertility Awareness week with the start of this series addressing what not to say (and what not to do) when helping your waiting friend.  Today we are going to share our thoughts on what to say and do during a time of anticipation.

InfertilityWritten by Lori

  1. Ask how you can care for them.  Do they need to talk about it? Do they want to be the ones to initiate it in conversation? Do they want for you to avoid all baby talk conversation? Do they need to tell you what “being sensitive” means to them? Do you need to check in every few months with them (regarding infertility)?  Only the individual struggling with infertility can answer these questions.  Please ask! Your friend won’t bite… I promise. 🙂
  2. Listen.  Listen. Listen. As in, unless your advice is asked for, keep it to yourself.  Pushing treatments or alternatives because you know someone who tried XYZ or adopted and now they are enjoying a blissfully happy family are someone else’s success stories. If you don’t have personal experience, the conversation ends there and your friend has just heard about (yet another) happy family (that isn’t hers).  Instead, if you know she needs to talk with someone who understands what she’s going through, ask her if she’d like to connect with the happy family.
  3. Pray for them (and let them know). I’ve found that even if people aren’t particularly religious, they welcome prayers in times of trial.  Unless they are staunchly Atheist, it’s usually an appreciated gesture to show your love for them.
  4. Send them cards of encouragement.  Cards don’t warrant a response (like emails do).  It’s simple and delivers the message of love.  Just remember, sympathetic cards are to be avoided.  Your friend wants your love, empathy and friendship- not sympathy .
  5. Offer quality time.  Your friend may need an emotional boost.  Go get a mani or pedi (or both!).  Put on ‘the pretty’ and dress up for a dinner out.  Make it fun.
  6. Mother’s Day. Just like your single friends loathe Valentine’s Day, your friends struggling with infertility will loathe the fact that they aren’t celebrating Mother’s Day.  This would be a great time to send them a card.
  7. Share your heart.  Saying that you’re heart breaks for them is a good thing.  It lets them know that you care without the no-no phrases (i.e I can’t imagine what you’re going through; I know I don’t understand but I know it must be hard; I feel awful that you haven’t had any luck yet) click here and here to read the previous posts on what to avoid saying and doing.

Adoption

written by Amber

What to say or do for your friend who is a new adoptive parent:

I only know the domestic infant adoption side of things, so I’ll be sharing a few of those, as well as a few I gathered from friends that have adopted internationally.

1. Throw a baby or adoption shower. We may lack 9 months of pregnancy, but to have our friends be so excited for this life that has come into our life and celebrate with us is important.  Talk to your friend to find out if before or after the baby/child comes home would be best.

2. Meals. Our church does a really great job of providing meals for new parents for several weeks when the baby arrives home. Many times the emotions of the adoption process is so heavy that it does have physical side effects, along with a new baby or child not used to the family’s routine or country!  We had friends bring us meals for at least 6 weeks, which was amazing {thank you, wonderful friends}.  My friend, Melissa, said that when they returned from China, “Something people did was stocked our refrigerator and freezer with meals when we got home from China. It’s was three weeks before Christmas and they even decorated our house and tree to surprise us! It was overwhelming coming home to that…in a good way”

3. Educate yourself – for close family and friends – Whether it be open adoption, international, attachment and bonding. Ask what books they are reading and what you can read along side them.  I wish I would have heard this before we started in this open adoption journey. I think it would have been very helpful to our friends and family to understand the decisions we were making.  My friend, Melissa, says this, “A very special friend basically read everything there is to read about attachment and bonding with a newly adopted child just so she would be able to understand what we were going through. She is always asking how she can better support us and doesn’t think we are crazy for the very intentional way we are parenting Gideon. She thinks it all makes perfect sense” and another friend, Nikki, says this, “My MIL read one of the adoption books and still mentions things that are in the book. My mother did not read any books, but has always paid attention and really seemed to get what we were trying to accomplish with the attachment in the beginning.

4. Ask what you can do to help. Don’t forget to ask the new adoptive mom, just as you would a new mom of bio children, if there is anything you can do to help.  We did not have much notice for Lah-lah, so my needs were helping to care for big brother. He needed a lot of extra attention and love those first few weeks.  Our friends were so great at recognizing this!  Many friends came and helped fold laundry or organized baby clothes.

5. Be a listening ear.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about where things are in the process or how things are going, but don’t be offended if they can’t share that information. Also, be sensitive to little listening ears when you do ask your questions

6.  If your friend is still waiting for their child – the answers are pretty similar to the IF ones above. The waiting is so difficult. Take them out to lunch, window shopping at the mall, drop off their favorite starbucks drink to them, send a card, give them a hug, tell them you are praying. REJOICE with them in any advancement in the process, just don’t ask them constantly for an update.  Trust me, they will tell you!

7.  Acceptance – an adoptive mom friend of an older child through international adoption said that friends with similar aged children immediately began including their child in birthday parties, play dates, and so on. Even if their child isn’t ready for social situations like that, an invitation is so special!

To read more of Amber’s blog click here.

This is a very emotional time and every day will be different.  You friend will feel content and discontent, at various times, in the journey of infertility.  Just knowing you’re willing to meet them where they are will be tremendous.  And remember, if you say something you wish you hadn’t, your friend loves you too!  She knows you’re trying.

We hope this was helpful.

We love our comments and appreciate your feedback.  We also understand that everyone feels differently and only intend to express our thoughts based on our personal experiences.  If you’d like to add more insight feel free to add helpful comments below.

lori and amber

I share a bit of my infertility story each week with the hope of walking alongside those who are currently struggling.  If my story can be of some comfort or help, or I can answer any questions feel free to contact me.  You can read my story from the beginning by clicking the infertility story tab at the top. You can also subscribe to this blog via the sidebar link and receive email updates when new posts are available. You can read about Amber’s Adoption Story by clicking here.

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