infertile in a baby-obsessed media culture

This is an interesting essay from Lynn Harris (whom I think I met when we both worked for Oxygen Media)about what it's like to be infertile when the entire media culture seems to have gone COMPLETELY CRAZY OVER CELEBRITY PREGNANCY AND BABIES.


Anonymous said...

I liked this comment in the essay too:
Baby craziness is troubling, too, in that it leaves out—even diminishes—women who don’t want children. “There are pros and cons of each,” says Tiemann, “but when motherhood is put on a pedestal, it is hard to keep the perspective that other life choices can be equally rewarding.”

Hear, hear. As a not-mom by choice, I get just a little tired of everyone's world revolving so completely around their kids. I don't think it's healthy, and I think it's a new phenom. When my sisters had theirs, they LOVED and adored their kids, but they weren't made the center of everyone's existence. I still think there are places and activities that are/should be kid friendly and others that aren't/shouldn't be. They should be reserved for adults. Otherwise, what's the incentive to grow up and get more privileges?

I'm reading "Spoiling Childhood" right now and it's a fascinating read--about confused parents--many of whom alternately hover and then expect their kids to make 'adult' decisions.

This book is helping me understand the worldview of some of the 18-19 years olds I come in contact with.

Catherine said...

I found it interesting from my perspective, too. That of a single woman, still looking for the right man, but hoping to someday be a mom. Its just not a choice I have now (Yes I guess it is, but I'd like to not have to do it alone!)

dedanaan said...

Britney and Paris started what I call the "accessory dog" craze among young women, and I'm waiting for the sad day when shelters are flooded with chihuahuas and toy poodles that are no longer in style. I can see these same celebrity-obsessed women having babies because it's glamorous, a way to get attention, because "Britney did it," etc., without putting much thought into what raising a child involves. They won't take into consideration that Angelina, Britney, et al. have oodles of money and a staff of nannies and sitters. It's much harder to drop a four-year-old child off at a "shelter" than it is a used dog.

I opted long ago not to have children, and all of the smiling celebrity momma photos haven't made me regret my decision for a moment. From watching other people's children, I realized long ago that childrearing is one part Kodak Moments and nine parts hard work and sacrifice. More power to those who are willing to do it!

Smokey said...

I'm certain that the pain and emptiness these women feel is real and that upsets me. But what upsets me even more is how many couples go through these expensive, heart wrenching, procedures to have their "own" child when there are so many children out there who need to be adopted. Can someone please explain to me why so many feel it's more important to create one's own child rather than adopt one that is already here on Earth?

I don't want to come off as insensitive, because I'm sure these couples have their reasons, but I don't know what they are. When I hear of/read about infertile couples, the prospect of adoption is usually portrayed as an insensitive comment someone made when the couple in question miscarried a child or went another month without conception. What is the allure of creating one's own child? Adopted children need love too and it makes me sad that it is often seen as a last resort or the consolation prize couples can go for if they can't create their own family.

I would also like to add that I completely agree with anonymous #1 who pointed out the portion of the article that talks about making other life choices beyond motherhood (i.e. childfree).

Just want to reiterate that I'm not looking to make trouble, but rather I'm very curious to hear some honest responses and fresh perspectives.

Georgia said...

This was a particularly interesting article and brought a lot of good points to the surface.
My Mother, who was never at a loss for opinion, would say "Most women can, but not all women should have children"- There are some days I think that society believes that all women should have children.
It's difficult for people to understand that not everyone was created to create. At a recent reunion, my husband and I were the only ones there who did not have children. After the umteenth question inquiring how many children we had; my husband just said-"Oh, we're still on our honeymoon." Then the question was asked..."So, how long have ya'll been married?" He smilled and replied, "Fourteen years."
Yes, we made the decision that children were not for us. Medical issues confirmed that our decision was a good one. So, even when you get close enough to people to confide that for the well-being of your health you shouldn't have children- they immediately bring up adoption.
Adoption is a great thing. My niece is adopted...Adoption is a wonderful gift for both the parent and the child. However, my health problems are chronic and progressive and I don't think it's fair to a child or to myself to adopt them into a potential care-giver position.
Over the years, we've "lost" many sets of friends who have entered into parenthood. We try to relate but somehow we can't compare to another "family" who also have soccer games or preschool woes. I've come to understand this is just part of a progression of life.

So, it's really refreshing to see something like "other life choices can be equally rewarding" as well as reading posts by other women who also have made the decision not to have children.

I'll need to look into "Spoiling Childhood"-it does sound like a fascinating read.

I'm not an anti-child kind of person. I enjoy most children- but sometimes you have to reassure yourself that your decision not to have children is as equally imortant as someone else's decision to have children.

Naomi said...

Smokey, there are a lot of really good reasons why people don't "just adopt."

First, before you can even properly begin the process, you have to complete incredible amounts of paperwork. You have to have a homestudy done -- this is true whether you adopt domestically or internationally, whether you adopt an older child or an infant. While social workers who do homestudies are not typically into white-glove tests, nonetheless you have to invite a professional into your home to interview you, inspect your living space, and judge your fitness for parenthood. This is a legitimate step, but it feels intrusive because it is intrusive.

Second, adoption is expensive, whether you're adopting domestically or internationally. It's cheaper if you're interested in adopting an older child, but not free. Infertility treatment can also be very expensive, but medicated IUI is still going to be a lot cheaper than adoption (if it works).

Third, if you choose to adopt domestically, there are various ways in which it can be disrupted. If you're chosen by a pregnant woman making an adoption plan, she has every right to change her mind once the baby is born. You might even get to take the baby home, and then have her change her mind and take the baby back before the adoption is final. Depending on the state, this could happen months later. (Also, you could stay in the pool for years and never be chosen by a birthmother.)

If you adopt internationally, that pretty much guarantees that the birth mother will not resurface, but there are all sorts of ways in which international adoption can be disrupted, as well. The U.S. (or your home country) can get into a disagreement over something entirely unrelated with the country you're adopting from and the other country can decide to quit approving travel visas. Or it can take an insanely long, uncertain time. Also, if you adopt internationally, your baby will often be a toddler by the time you meet.

Fourth, even if you wish to adopt an older or special-needs child, it's not as easy as most people assume. (By which I mean, It's not as easy to get the kid. Raising a child who's had a difficult early life is also not always easy.) I have a friend who tried to do a county adoption of an older child. She was hoping to get a preschooler. After a year or two her social worker told her that the only way this was going to happen was if she did foster-adopt. That meant she was going to have to become a foster parent, and have a child placed with her whom she might or might not get to keep. That child would live with her and probably bond with her, but if that child's original parents made an effort to straighten out their lives, that child would be returned to them -- even if the original parents had been horribly abusive. And my friend would have to pack up the child's bags and send them back. I know that there is no way I could do that, not even once.

Anyway, obviously there are a lot of people who choose adoption, and I think that's a really good thing. I think adoption is a wonderful way to build a family. But it's not an easy way, and the people who say "just adopt" usually do not understand that.

katie allison granju said...

I think Georgia makes SUCH a good point. I really admire women who know that parenting just isn't for them. I think far too many people decide to become parents just because they think that's what's expected of them culturally.

Parenting is HARD, HARD work. It can be emotionally painful. Kids are expensive. Pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding can really take a toll on some women's health. Parenting isn't for everyone.

Having said that, I love being a parent, but again, I know it's not for everyone. And even I don't love it every single moment of every single day.

As for adoption, Smokey paints a pretty good picture of how difficult and risky adoption can be. In my own case, my family had a very painful and scarring experience with adoption gone horribly awry, so it would be difficult for me to ever go that route. Not saying I would definitely never do it, but atthis point, it isn't something I feel motivated to do.

Anonymous said...

with this whole adoption thing did anyone but me notice that its not about the KID and whats best for the KID....its about adoptee as consumer product. I get so tired of foster parents whimpering about how they have to give the kid back. come on....are you doing it to help the kid or are you doing it to fulfill your own needs?
when you get a foster kid/older kid adoption you are benefitting from the tragedy in this kids life. you get a child because their parents screwed up. this kid has alot of baggage but you benefit because you get a kid. there is nothing wrong with adoption but it just tweaks me that people seem to have lost track of the purpose of it. used to be adoption was about helping someone who needed it. now its about fulfilling the needs of people to have a family.

Sarada said...

sometimes you have to reassure yourself that your decision not to have children is as equally imortant as someone else's decision to have children.

Well, it's equally valid, but I'm not sure how it's equally important. Between the childfree by choice movement, and the unintentional results of delayed childbearing, there are going to be some interesting results a few decades down the line. I mean, the Shakers were great people, and their contributions to society are still used and discussed, but they aren't exactly still around.

In some ways the Anglican schism is a taste of things to come. The conservative Africans now outnumber the liberal European/Americans and they are demanding their voice be heard. Here in American, the red states have having more babies than the blue states. Children aren't guaranteed to follow the views of their parents, but things will definitely change now that so many of the liberal, the successful, and the intellengencia are not reproducing.

Anonymous said...

interesting point. you cant take it TOO far...thats where you have the "full quiver" people who think they should have kids until they go thru menopause. but some of the people who love their brains the most dont reproduce at all. actually what I have read is that the illegal mexicans are the ones breeding up a storm and if the rest of us dont start increasing there will soon be more hispanics than anything else within a generation or two.