DEAR ABBY: I was very disappointed in your response to "No Regrets" who thinks infertile couples should realize that "an empty womb is not a tragedy." "No Regrets" would rather mentor the children of friends and family than be a mother. She self-centeredly concludes that infertile people should give up their dream of being parents and instead volunteer at a school. That may be fine for her, but it is outrageous for "No Regrets" to say that because she has chosen not to be a mother, others must abandon their dream of becoming parents.
You praised her for being generous and for exemplifying the adage "Life is what we make it." In doing so, you set back the hard work done by infertility support groups such as Resolve who try to educate the public so that employers, insurance companies, legislators, doctors, families and friends of infertile couples can understand that infertility is a devastating medical crisis, not a minor inconvenience.
We infertile people are fully aware of the need to come to some resolution of our crisis. Some succeed in becoming parents after medical treatments or through adoption. Some foster or volunteer to help children. Others focus on enjoying the advantages of an adult-only life. But the road to resolution is painful. Our pain is deepened when, out of ignorance, people imply that we are making a big deal out of nothing. It is considered perfectly natural for people to be joyful about expecting a baby. Why then is it so hard to understand the flip side -- not being able to be parents causes the same measure of grief?
My husband and I have had to distance ourselves from family and friends who were insensitive when we needed their compassion. When they disregard the feelings of infertile couples, we must, in self-defense, withdraw from sharing our feelings.
Thank God for the friends who understood. Our Resolve support group was a lifeline. They gave us courage to get through the worst days of a seven-year struggle. No one understands like one who walked in our shoes. I'm glad we didn't give up. This year we were finally able to adopt a beautiful boy. Becoming his parents has filled our hearts with joy.
Abby, it is my hope that this letter will sensitize others to the pain of infertility, and bridge the gap, fostering greater understanding. -- HAPPILY RESOLVED IN CHICAGO
DEAR HAPPILY RESOLVED: Congratulations on your beautiful son. I appreciate your letter.
Perhaps "No Regrets" seemed insensitive to your pain, but for those who have tried everything possible to become parents and it hasn't happened, mentoring others' children offers some gratification.
For those of you who still have hope, once again, I urge you to contact Resolve Inc., which offers emotional support, peer counseling, medical referrals and education for people with infertility problems. Send a business-sized (long), self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Resolve Inc., 1310 Broadway, Dept. DA, Somerville, Mass. 02144-1731.
Good luck to all of you who dream of parenthood. May your dream come true.