“How” To Tell Family about Your Embryo Donation / Adoption

Question:  “When and how do we tell our family we are pursuing Embryo Donation/Adoption?” 

The “when” is a very personal decision that we’ll chat about in a later post. Once you have decided that it’s the right time to share, “how” do you best prepare your loved ones to joyfully join in celebrating this step with you?

1. Reflect Upon Your Audience. This is your inner circle so you’ve most likely had some experience sharing life-changing news with them. Perhaps you’ve already shared your infertility story. You also have deep insight into where their excitement or concern may lie.

Consider the following:
-Think back on what worked best in the past. Do they receive news best in public or private locations?
-Do they typically accept or challenge your decisions?
-Is this relationship in a good place to have this conversation or are their other unresolved issues that could affect the outcome? (Might be best to address and resolve those first.)

2. Tailor the Talk. This is not a “one size fits all” conversation. Each conversation should be uniquely tailored for that particular relationship and in consideration of that individual’s preferred method of communication. Be sure to include basic information on what Embryo Adoption/Embryo Donation is, how it works,  what it means to you, and why you are excited about it. Start with the basics, many might not even understand the concept of an embryo in storage.

Consider the following:
-Writing down or practicing what you want to say.
-Does this person prefer time to think through the information before responding? Perhaps an email with a request to talk when they are ready would be appropriate.
-Does this person speak before they think? Perhaps you could ask them to listen carefully and think about it for a few days before responding.
-Would this person be disheartened to receive such exciting news by email or phone? Consider giving them the wonderful news over a special meal.

3. Adjust Your Expectations. I was ready to get hugs and high-fives…but only got blank stares and puzzled expressions. Adoption in general can be hard for some to accept and embryo adoption takes things to a whole new level. My expectations were way off, leading to a sense of disappointment. I had months to ramp up into excitement, while they had only had minutes. It wasn’t fair of me to have such high expectations of them. Love expresses itself as happiness, concern, doubt, and in a multitude of other manners (both good and bad). As potential grandparents, aunts, uncles, god-parents, etc. your family will undoubtedly wonder what this process means for their roles and connection to potential children.

-While you have spent time walking through the grieving cycle involved with infertility – they have not. This may be the first time they are confronted with infertility affecting “their” idea of what your family will look like. They may experience their own mini-cycle of grieving or simply experience emotions that neither one of you expected them to have.
-The acceptance and excitement will build as they grow in knowledge and understanding of what you’re explaining to them.
-Expecting the worst and hoping for the best.

4. Gird Your Loins. Loved ones may not know what to say…and what they do say may come out all wrong. While you’ve had time to think through and research the various aspects of embryo donation / adoption, remember that this is all new to them. They will have questions, misconceptions, fears, and little-to-no idea of which topics are sensitive or off the table to discuss. They will need patience, grace, and you to wear your “thick skin” that day…maybe not-so-much your heart on your sleeve.

-Showing them a video or putting together a one-page informative summary for them to read prior to beginning the conversation.
-Giving them guidelines about how much information you feel comfortable discussing before they begin asking questions.
-Gently communicating that the Decision Train has already left “Open-For-Discussion” Junction , and is full steam headed towards “Celebration” Central.

Additional Resources:
Informative Telestration

***How did you (or how do you plan to) share the big news of Embryo Adoption/Donation with your family and friends? Share below in a comment. We can’t wait to hear your suggestions and stories! (The link to “Comment” is at the top underneath the picture)