Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What TO Say or DO

When a family member, friend, co-worker, or complete stranger tells you that they've had a miscarriage, a failed IVF attempt, are becoming foster parents, or on a list to adopt, we sometimes forget or don't know what the appropriate thing to say is.  I'm often flabbergasted at what some people will say, but was recently reminded that sometimes people don't know the "protocol" when they see you dealing with this and often find themselves hurting as well.  So, I consulted my guru's on all things dealing with appropriate things to say and do when dealing with such a sensitive issue.

Nicole writes-"I feel like the things that have blessed me are meals, visits to hold me and cry with me and pray with me...while sobbing with me. Checking in with me and my recovery. Telling me there are no words and that you are grieving with us and sorry. This last time I had friends say they were praying "enough already" on our behalf. That meant the world."

Kelli writes-"I talked with my best friend. We are officially on the waiting list for our 2nd adoption and she said to me..."I'm so happy! Your heart is pregnant!". Maybe some people won't like this b/c the word pregnant still hits too close to home, but it struck me and made me smile."

Amy writes-"My advice: grieve, talk, cry, yell. Try to explain to your partner even though they may not get it and will say stupid things to try to comfort you. They need to go through it with you."

Stephanie writes-"The people who helped me the most let me just cry and grieved with me, but it is a lonely grief. After a while no one cares anymore about what you loss and you have to grieve by yourself."

Kassie Writes-"I just need people to listen.  Don't tell me your story until I'm done.  Just listen and hear my heart.  Most of all, let us be apart of your families life.  We're not going to steal your children or pass infertility on to you.  We'll be OK holding babies and playing with little tike's, really we will.  If we're not, we'll remove ourselves as gracefully as possible or you'll never know."

Tiffany Writes-"Sometimes it's just best to encourage people to say nothing. People want to give advice or say that they understand and those things can be infuriating if we know that they have never been through what we are going through. Just saying "I'm so sorry to hear about ----. I'm sorry you are going through this.... It validates their struggle without making them upset."

Monday, February 18, 2013

What NOT To Say

The following is a chance at humor in a difficult situation.  It's also an opportunity to learn a few things and maybe tune into some sensitive areas that may go unnoticed. When your friends and loved ones are trying to get pregnant, adopting, going through IVF, or have recently had a miscarriage, here are a few things NOT to say to them-you never know what their answer back might be!

What NOT to say to those adopting or providing foster care:
  • "How much are you going to pay for him/her?" Answer: Um, I paid to have all my kids, bio AND adopted so, do you want to know how much they cost as well?  In fact, don't bring money up at all, unless your going to help cover the adoption fee's. 
  • "How many of them are your real kids?" Answer: They are all real. I don't have fake kids.
  • " When are you going to tell them they are adopted?" Answer: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!
  • "Can you give them back if things don't work out?" Answer: Your kids are brats, why don't you give them back!  Yea, shove them back there, see how you like the pain, and THAT is what a foster/adopted parents feels like when you ask something that hurtful!
  • "There is no point to foster parenting, they end up just like their birth parents anyway." Answer: Wow, and to think your kids are going to wind up like you! 
  • "Aren't you afraid of taking away resources from your real kids?" Answer: Your an idiot.
  • "Your adopted son/daughter is so lucky to have you!" Answer: Are my other children not?
  •  "Don't you think it is kinda foolish to adopt a special need child when you already have kids?" Answer: Is it not foolish for a pregnant person to have a special needs child just as much as it is for me to adopt one?  We're just gonna send a prayer up for you now.
  • "You know you're going to get pregnant as soon as you adopt." Answer: Thanks, but probably not...grrr. How about just some excitement for our adoption and leave it at that??
Why did you choose international adoption when there are so many kids who need homes here?" Answer:
There are children all over the world who need families. No child is more deserving of a family than another, regardless of where he or she was born!

What NOT to say to those trying to get pregnant:
  • "It will happen"  Answer: No, it will never happen because it's not physically possible.
  • "You're so young" Answer: And your so old.
  • "Why don't you just relax"-Most annoying one in my book!
  • "Your just stressed." Answer: YOU HAVE NO IDEA!
The worst is when people know that you've been trying desperately for a baby and are super insensitive when telling you that they are pregnant. It's like, we don't want to play your cute "we are pregnant" game!!!!  Always try to be extremely sensitive when telling family and friends that you know are struggling. Find a way to tell them first or separately. 

What NOT to say to someone whose miscarried:

  • "How many have you lost?" Answer: It's not like I misplaced them!
  • "Well at least you will get to hold that baby in heaven!" Answer: Really! Who if given the choice would wait an entire life time to hold the baby that was ripped from them before they were fully formed? 
  • "You can always try again, it will happen. Maybe your just to stressed and as soon as you stop stressing about it, you'll be pregnant!"  Answer: *sigh* If only it was that easy, but thanks for adding to my stress level!
  •  "Well at least it was sooner than later." Answer: I would rather take every day I could get with that child.
  • "You didn't want to be pregnant in the summertime anyway." Answer: Oh really you think that I am that selfish of a person! I would be pregnant anytime!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Pastor's Story

I remember this moment so clearly though is has now been three years. As a pastor, I have seen so many different needs and prayer requests that although each are uniquely individual, they all can begin to run together after a while. But this woman and her situation stand out for several reasons. In our church, we occasionally have times when people can come to the altar for prayer on Sunday mornings. It usually lasts for five minutes while worship is quietly playing in the background and allows for our prayer team to believe for God’s promises to take place in that individual’s life in their given situation.

There are times while I am praying that I can discern what this person is experiencing. There are also times when as I pray that I know whether someone is praying from the place of faith, fear, hopelessness etc. It has nothing to do with tears or words, it God’s spirit speaking to my spirit. This is not always the case. There are definitely times when we pray in agreement to God’s word and there is no clear recognition of faith or clear direction of how to pray. We simply take an established truth in God’s word and pray that He would intervene directly in their situation.

I remember a particular woman as she made her way to the altar. It was toward the end of the five-minute window of prayer. Altar workers had begun to make their way back to their seats, while others continued to pray as the worship team sang. She was already crying when I asked her,” What can I pray with you about today?” Her accent revealed that she was from an African nation and there were times that I had some difficulty understanding what she was trying to communicate. After some time, I understood that she wanted prayer so that she may have children. Tears now were steaming down not only her face but mine as well. As we began to pray together, there was this sense of faith that seemed to permeate everything. I remember thinking to myself,” This is just like Hannah from the Bible.” She believed in her heart and truly cried out to God. We asked God that He would forgive any words spoken in frustration or doubt when it came to being able to conceive and asked God to forgive if she had held any unforgiveness toward God or others. We asked that God would open her womb because He was the author of life.  We blessed her and thanked God for hearing our prayers. By now, there was no one left at the altar but us. We hugged believing that something special just happened and God was going to answer her request. Going home that day, I spoke with my wife about the time at the altar and recounted to her everything that happened. In my heart and mind I believed something special had taken place and that this woman would have children.

Months go by and I did not see her. Occasionally I would pray for her as she came to mind. Then one day, I saw her approaching in the lobby outside of the sanctuary. When she saw me, she hurried over and began to say,” Pastor, I have three.” “Three? Three babies?” I asked. She smiled and said yes. Again we hugged and celebrated God’s answered prayer for a woman’s desire to have children. We also prayed and spoke a blessing over her children. I smile as I write this but I also prayed quietly to myself that she would keep her sanity with three two year olds running around in a couple of years. This was a really big blessing!

This is not the end of the story. Since that day, there have been five or six other women who have become pregnant after struggling to do so for some time until receiving prayer at the altar. There is a faith that remains to see God give life to couples desiring to give birth to a family. I attribute much of this to God, of course, but also to a modern day Hannah who cried out to have children and gave a picture of faith to those who wanted children as well. Faith moves God’s heart and hand. I encourage all who read this to look to God and pour your heart out before Him. Trust Him with your situation and the deepest and most sensitive areas of your life. He is trustworthy and faithful and may God meet you in the place of your greatest need.

Jason C.