Knowledge is power. Some of us have a thirst for knowledge. We strive to know more about everything we encounter. I’m the type of person who will see something that sparks my interest on the news and research it for the next two hours online. I’ve always been that person. If I won the lottery, I would probably become a career student. Learning things is interesting to me.
However, there are some people who don’t want to know more — or they only want to know so much. They see what they want to see, and that’s about the extent of it. They have tunnel vision.
I know I said that I didn’t want to write about infertility anymore. This is still true. This is not an infertility blog. Yet, I need to write about this topic because it’s eating me up inside. . . . Instead of encouraging outsiders to “learn more” about infertility, the adoption process, and other family building options, perhaps we should be encouraging ourselves. Before asking others to resolve to know more about who we are and what we deal with on a day-to-day basis, we need to resolve this point about each other.
What am I getting at here?
I’m getting at the fact that we can scream and shout all we want about the importance of educating the masses re: infertility et al. However, until we have educated ourselves about each other’s journeys, our words are lost. We must fully grasp and accept the differences in our stories — and respect these differences — before we ask others to do the same for us.
This means not putting others down when they’ve chosen a path that doesn’t look like ours. This means embracing those individuals or couples who resolve their infertility by choosing to live child free. It means acknowledging that there are members of this community who lead different lifestyles than we do, whether it be based on religion, sexual orientation, or other factors. It means not slamming another family building option to elevate your own. This means truly understanding who and what the ALI community encompasses before speaking on behalf of it.
Often times, when we set off down our own path, determined to resolve our infertility based upon the choice(s) we’ve made, we lose sight of the paths that run parallel to ours. We forget that there are others out there who struggle with the same desire that we struggle with, only they haven’t made the same choices we’ve made. They don’t necessarily have the same values or motivations that we do. Their thought processes are different. Their decisions are maybe ones that we would never consider.
We get tunnel vision. Our eyes and our minds become closed off to anything that deviates from what we view as the “norm.” And this is not okay. We need to broaden our view.
On the last day of “National Infertility Awareness Week,” I would encourage this of all of you who are active members in the ALI community: instead of asking others to resolve to know more about us and our disease, look in the mirror and ask yourself the same question. Ask this of others of the ALI community. Encourage your friends to learn more about each other. Ask them to stand up for one another, even when it’s about an issue to which they have no personal ties: an IVF patient standing up for an adoptive mom about adoption language or parents via surrogacy supporting a couple who has chosen to live child free.
Resolve that you will be a better advocate for not just your choices, but for the choices of others. Resolve to respect those choices. And resolve that although you may never understand what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes, you can certainly help that person on his or her journey to the end of the path — and beyond.