Well, I wrote a friendly, newsy email to Ruth that doesn’t at any point mention the pregnancy or babies or anything along those lines—we’ll see whether that gets a response in a more normal timeframe. I was talking with a birthmother from my support group this weekend about the situation, and she said “Did they try infertility treatments before they went for adoption?”
“Well, they did one cycle of IUI. . . .”
When I was choosing a couple to adopt Cricket, I specifically wanted a gay or lesbian couple so that the adoption and adoptive relationships wouldn’t be adversely affected by infertility grief. Now, of course, I know how stupid that was, but at the time I was spooked by some of the infertility-to-adoption blogs and forum posts that I had seen where women talked about wanting to punch pregnant women right in their puffy faces, or adoptive moms complained about how the obviously undeserving birthmothers of their children were able to get pregnant. Nooo thank you, I thought to myself. And now I know adoptive moms who are both unable to have biological children and are gracious and awesome people, who (I firmly believe) do not want to punch me in the face. Recently, I’ve been having to deal with the other way in which I was wrong; my naïve assumption that queer couples don’t have infertility grief.
I know where I got the idea—I read Dan Savage’s book The Kid, the first place I ever heard of open adoption, and he talked about how he had always assumed that he would never be able to have kids—so that adoption was entirely a win for them, not just a first choice but an unexpected gift from the world. Since then, I’ve learned more about the LGBT community and ART. I remember when some point last year Ruth mentioned offhandedly that they had tried to get pregnant briefly before deciding on adoption and I felt a surge of alarm. But somehow I had never put these things together and realized that Ruth and Nora probably have some infertility grief until my counselor told me, exasperatedly, that it doesn’t matter that they are lesbians, they grieve the fact that they can’t have their own babies.
Of course I’m thinking of all of this in terms of my pregnancy, and their reactions, and my feelings about their reactions. My last pregnancy might very well have been hard for them in some ways—I’m sure it was—but it was also ultimately about hope for them, and parenthood for them. This pregnancy, if they feel infertility grief (which I realize is an assumption, but it’s one that I’m making in this post), is only about loss for them; it is about what they can’t have, and it’s also (Ruth has made clear to me) about loss for Cricket in their eyes. That last part I don’t know what exactly to do about—I think they would prefer that I never raise children, but I am unwilling to replace the nursery with a shrine and make that sacrifice, so I don’t think we can ever agree. But more than that, I don’t know what to do about their grief, especially since it’s not the kind of thing we talk about. I think I could be talked to about it. I’m reasonably well-informed about infertility, even if I haven’t experienced it, and I think I have a pretty good sense of stupid things not to say. But with the relationship that we have, I don’t know of any way to improve this situation.