Major Foot in Mouth Incident
In a previous post, I discussed how others’ reactions to our adoption plans were at times
guarded. I knew their intentions were positive, as they were concerned we would end up
heartbroken and therefore wanted to protect us.
I am not judging these reactions. In fact, there are multiple times that I wish I could take back my
negative reaction to another’s unfortunate situation. This type of negativity typically stems from
deeper emotions, such as fear or jealousy. Or sometimes it may just be a bad case of foot-in-the-
For example, I recall an incident in Montreal in which I exhibited all the above. We were nearing
the end of our first adoption proceedings and my nerves were raw. I could not blame my fragile state
on fluctuating hormones, but instead on high and rising stress levels. I thought our situation was the
most difficult on Earth and so did not exhibit as much empathy for mothers around me as I might
have under different circumstances.
Right around this time a woman in our community gave birth to her second child, after which she
suffered five weeks of extreme post-partum depression. Obviously, this is not a state I have ever
experienced, and for that I am truly grateful. In my clear and lucid state today, I have deep sympathy
for anyone touched by this syndrome.
Although I logically understood this at the time, I was consumed with our own family-planning
efforts. We were not only in the throes of adoption stress, but we had no signs of success on the
horizon. The sight of new mothers compounded my frustration as I felt resentful of the blessings
bestowed on them, and then subsequently felt guilty for my envy. It was a vicious cycle and not one
of my prouder moments. I refuse to use this as an excuse for my reaction to this new mother in pain,
as there is no justification for what I was about to say. What I do know is that my lack of support for
her was rooted in my own negative feelings and had nothing to do with her situation.
Basically, I blurted out that since a child was my number-one wish in the world, I could not
understand how anyone would be depressed after giving and receiving the miracle of life. What a
terrible and heartless thing for me to say! But it was too late. The words had escaped my mouth and,
before I knew it, our conversation was interrupted, and I was left soaking in the realization that I was
the most insensitive and selfish human being alive.
Fortunately, I was able to ease my conscience when I saw this wonderful mother a few days later
and was able to profusely apologize for my ignorance. I was lucky as she forgave me on the spot. It
took me a little longer to forgive myself.
What this incident did for me was highlight that my negative reaction came from my own feelings
and this revelation helped me to handle any negative reactions we would experience to our adoption
plans. I understood that they were primarily motivated by others’ fear that we would become
emotionally, if not financially, bankrupt at the end of our journey if we came away empty-handed.
Perhaps some even feared for their own emotions in case they became attached to a child they
would never meet. Once I fully grasped the root causes, it helped me to process the different
responses we encountered to our adoption plans.
Over twenty years later, I would like to think that I have learned to treat others with more grace
and less judgment. The first step is increased self-awareness, followed by giving others the benefit
of the doubt for their own emotional reactions. Like me, perhaps they are a work in progress!