Grief, infertility, and more [and not adopting]

To all the first mother and adoptee bloggers: Keep speaking, even when others try to silence you. The world needs our words, our stories, our truth. The authority of your lived experience matters.


Depressed people have difficulty with grief and can have large grief reactions. I can say that is the truth for me. Like many middle-class people in advanced Western societies, I have been sheltered from grief much more than others in the world. I don’t believe I even went to a funeral until I was an adult in my early 30s. And that was for a co-worker. My relatives were far-flung and my parents, well, they didn’t really talk about death. (I was born and raised Jewish. Interestingly, the Hebrew mourning prayer doesn’t even mention “grief,” “mourning” or “death.” It is rather about how God is great.)

I believe the biggest grief reaction I had up to that point was due to my secondary infertility. I had a beautiful daughter at the age of 36. My husband and I tried to have another baby, but no dice. Even though you know it will be harder…

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12 thoughts on “Grief, infertility, and more [and not adopting]

  1. That was an amazing article. It is quite the contrast to a posting I saw in an adoption group on Facebook yesterday. A woman had posted that the child they were slated to adopt had died before the child was placed. She says she was grieving the child and wants to know if there were any books about grieving adoption loss. She had never even seen a photo of this child, apparently. I am wondering, how to grieve for someone who isn’t really a part of your life? I think she is confused and is really grieving her infertility and projecting that onto this child she never had. How twisted people’s desires become.

    Thank you for your postings . I greatly appreciated them.

    Pamela (first mother) in Illinois David (1973), 1st phone contact 8/11/2013, 1st F2F 1/10/14 Mark (1974), 1st email 1/2004, 1st F2F5/2012


  2. Thanks for this link. It is wonderful when someone who isn’t a first mother, an adoptee or an adoptive parent is willing to open their heart and mind and really listening to what we’re saying. Sometimes when there is so much bad news about adoption, it can feel like we bloggers and commenters are just preaching to the choir. Thanks for reminding us that that isn’t true and that we are making a difference. Let’s keep on keepin’ on.

  3. It’s funny not one person responding to this woman’s post recognized her depression and loss through secondary infertility. It’s like it’s a non issue to you all that you don’t care that she’s hurting just that she recognized your communities losses. She’s helping you all yet not one of you reached out to her to help her.

    • It’s funny that I spent 23 years dealing with the loss of a child to adoption and this is very literally, the SECOND time I have ever read a blog post by a woman who recognizes the very real loss of first mothers and decided NOT to adopt because she “gets it.” Most adopt children in spite of this knowledge and just kind of. . . you know, pat us first mothers on the back and say they are so sorry for our loss, too bad, so sad.

      And I find it even funnier (and not ha-ha, but ironic) that you feel like you need to come here to my space and berate *me* for not immediately reaching out to *her.*

      Where were you and *your* community when I was suffering with depression and loss for the last 23 years? Where will you be for the next 43 years until I die? Where were you when *I* lost my ability to have any more children, leaving me with secondary infertility (like 40% of all other first mothers)?

      Oh yeah. That’s right. Passing judgement on “girls like me.”

      • Immediately? I doubt you’d ever reach out to her. Instead you’d use her.

        As for being there for you, as someone who is not able to have children that is childless who suffers from depression I’m here for you and would be happy to connect to share experiences. I would love it if we could all could help each other.

      • You are accusing me of using her because I shared her blog post???? Are you serious? (Let me pick my jaw up off the floor before I continue).

        You opened this door and now I will walk you through it. Let me explain to you about being USED in the context of adoption:

        I was used as a walking incubator, a uterus with legs. I was used by adoptive parents to “complete” their family. I was used by religious leaders to prove their point about women who dared have sex outside of marriage. I was used to get the baby to the “right” mommy. I was used by the adoption industry to produce the commodity they market. My youth and inexperience was used to justify some wealthier white woman raising my daughter. I was used in every literal sense of the word – and then I was discarded.

        Do not even get me started about how adoptees are used. That is THEIR story to tell and explain the myriad of ways THEY are used by adopters and the adoption industry.

        I will not apologize for linking to her blog post. What she did and wrote was an act of courage and grace. What you are doing by coming here, to my space, and accusing me of USING her . . . well, that’s pretty much the opposite.

        (And really – you think I would EVER want to connect with you and share my experiences with you? After you just accused me of using someone because I merely linked to their blog post? After you’ve just berated me for not having enough empathy or compassion for her plight? What makes you think you have done anything that would engender my trust? You haven’t earned the right to know my stories and my history so thanks, but no thanks. If your reaction to me sharing a blog post is an indication of what I would find in infertility support groups, I’ll think I will pass.)

      • What I am accusing you and others of is not helping her the way she is helping you. Don’t just use her story the way you were used. She and I are exactly what others in your community want others in our position to be and that is either childless of just have as many kids as they are able to have. You don’t care what becomes of us or the challenges we face.

        I recognize that you were used by society in so many ways. I recognize that even if you had not experienced secondary infertility that no child would have replaced the one you lost. I recognize that nothing can fill that void in your life. I say recognize because I know I could never fully understand your loss and pain.

        To be honest I don’t think the infertility community can help you much. See the thing is people like you, me and the author of that piece are the black sheep. We are seen as the ones who quit and gave up on trying to have kids. We are the ones who everyone assumes is happy because we smile on the outside that no one knows hurts on the inside.

        So no I don’t think the infertility community can help you but I think we can help each other if you like. If you aren’t interested I understand and wish you the best on your journey.

    • Oh dear Lord. Seriously? Someone has their panties in a bunch that someone facing infertility recognized the loss of a child is greater than the loss of an idea of a child. And the original blogger even stated her depression and anxiety was not a direct result of infertility so get off your high horse.

      • Oh Miss “I have empathy for infertiles” turns out to be a lie. Talk about getting your panties in a bunch.

        Actually I think it’s great that she cares for you and recognizes your losses. I recognize you have losses. But the difference is I don’t believe one loss is greater than another. Losses are different.

        What losses do is bring back things like depression and anxiety. Infertility is something that can bring back depression and anxiety or amplify it if its present at the time of loss. This woman is no different than many in the infertility community. And rather then lend her a helping hand the way she has to your community you would rather use her. It doesn’t seem right at all.

  4. Greg, just because I wrote about infertility, please don’t speak for me. I am grateful that Melynda has reblogged my post. My infertility experience led me to empathize with first mothers. Other things also lead me to empathize with first mothers and adoptees. My feelings are my feelings. No need to tread on my feelings or lash out in anger against me or anyone else.

    • So your infertility experience led you to empathize with first mothers and adoptees but not others going through primary or secondary infertility? I’m not saying that’s right or wrong just trying to understand you.

      I’m not trying to speak for you but rather trying to encourage others to reach out to help you the way you are helping others. You are worthy of that. Being someone that also suffers from depression and anxiety I know how important support is and hope that you get it wherever you can.

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