What to say

There is a blog discussion going on over at It’s Almost Naptime! 

I have enjoyed reading this blog for a while now, and I know you will all enjoy Missy, as well! She is witty, and wise, and is a mommy to four beautiful kids. The topic she brought up is what to say (or not to say) to an infertile friend.
This can be such a hard thing. It’s hard to know when and what to say, or if you should say anything at all.
So, because I tend to have an opinion about EVERYTHING, and because I actually do have some experience in this area, I thought I would weigh in. 
My husband and I tried for many years to become pregnant, we have done the treatments, and understand (however much one can) what it is to be infertile.
My husband and I are building our family through adoption.  Adoption, for us, was by no means a “last resort” or our “plan B”, as we had desired to include adoption in our plan for children. 
The best thing you can do for your infertile friend is let them know that you care. Let them know you are praying for them, hurting with them, and supporting them. Listen, and then listen some more. Pray for them, and then pray some more. When they get bad news, tell them you are sorry, and let them talk if they want to. Send them a card to let them know you care. Your friend doesn’t need advice or words, just your loving support and friendship.
A few things not to say:  
       “You just need to relax” or “Maybe you should take a vacation”
We all know of someone who had trouble conceiving, and then became pregnant when she “relaxed”. Couples who are able to conceive after relaxing are, in fact, not infertile. Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor. 
       “God has another plan for you” or “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you you’re not    supposed to be a parent”
One of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard was that maybe God didn’t mean for me to be a mother. This is so unnecessarily insensitive. I know this person did not mean it in a mean way, but to me it implied that I would be such a bad mother that God felt I needed to be divinely sterilized. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God. 

Josh and I have been so blessed to have the greatest friends in the world, and we have always felt unbelievably supported and loved.  I have heard of some pretty insensitive things said to infertile women, and I always feel so sad for them. Then I thank God I have the friends I have! If not for you, my God-sent loved ones, I never would have made it through those years!


  1. Missy on August 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    \”God has another plan for you\” – well, obviously. Just like God has another plan for the woman whose child was just killed in a car accident – but gee, saying that right now is truly not helpful!I was adopted, and I used to play a game where I would let someone who \”could just never adopt\” get both feet allllll the way in their mouths before I would clue them in that they were talking about me. ;)We looked at Taiwan but because so many countries have previous child restrictions (because a home with 3+ kids is worse than an ORPHANAGE? Don't get me started) Ethiopia is one of the few countries for which we qualify. Amyway, I am so excited for you. We just got home now from playing with Rosemary, our friends' new daughter from China 🙂

  2. w8tn4 on August 18, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    I understand what you are saying all too well. The one that always gets me is when I'm told that it will happen when I least expect it. I know that these people mean well… but they just don't understand how deep they are actually hurting you. It is just nice to know that others know how it feels… and that it doesn't have to be something to be sad about.Jami 🙂

  3. Jen on August 19, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Joanna, thanks so much for this sensitivity primer! I hope I have never said anything to you or others that have hurt them, but unfortunately I know my big mouth and so I'm sorry if/when I have. I'm so thankful to have your guidelines. And I'm thankful when friends have turned to me for advice when they needed to comfort someone who's been in a similar situation as me (e.g. having had a miscarriage) because I know the things that helped and didn't help after my miscarriage, and I'm thankful God can use my time of suffering to help others. May God use us to help others learn how to comfort those who are hurting!HUGS!!

  4. Anonymous on August 19, 2009 at 9:43 pm
  5. Missy on August 19, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Above would be the reason why I disable anonymous commenters 🙂

  6. Peter and Nancy on August 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Congratulations to you as you wait for your children! We have two bio sons, one daughter adopted from India, and are in process for another daughter from India. It's an incredible journey, and I pray that everything goes smoothly during your adoptions.– Nancy

  7. Anonymous on August 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Good advice. One of the hardest part of being infertile or subfertile is that you don't feel that you can talk to anyone.It's quite a private problem and part from feeling embassared you are worried about people giving you those stupid, but well-meant bits of wisdom you refer to.If a friend confides in you, try to be there for them and take them serious.If it would be as easy as \”Don't worry, just relax\” there wouldn't be all those thousands of women going through examinations and treatment out there.

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