When an adoptive parent hears someone say, “Cool.  You did it the easy way,” some want to scream, “THIS WASN’T EASY!” One who hasn’t participated in adoption may not know anything about failed adoptions, the long wait associated with many adoptions, the emotional ups and downs while being considered by a birth mother only to have another chosen, the financial demands, the extra (though happily consented to) burden of caring for a birth mother, or even the incredible struggle associated with contested adoptions—even when the result is a favorable one.

Interestingly, some adoptive parents are equally ignorant to the difficulties associated with creating a family biologically. Beyond pushing through the emotional trauma, month after month, of negative pregnancy tests, many parents truly suffer through miscarriage, still birth, and infant death. Some anticipate the birth of their child for 9 months and then are slapped with a surprising diagnosis at birth, effectively killing the dreams they had for their child. Sure, they go on to love everything about the child, including the abnormalities that stunt the child’s normal progression, but they say good-bye to their original dreams for that child. Many struggle for a long time to pay maternity and child birth expenses, wishing that could be behind them so they could do more for their child or even add to their family again. Some mothers endure postpartum depression, wondering how something so beautiful could be so hard. A good majority of women who create their families biologically deal with physical challenges through pregnancy, many being hospitalized, unable to function normally for a time.

Both bearing children and adopting children are joyful experiences. And both are painful in their own ways. Just like everything in life, not one of us can understand fully what another person is going through. Comparisons and judgements are best left alone. Without passing judgement, one can see another suffering and offer solace. So the next time someone tells you that you did it “the easy way,” whether referring to your adoption or birth, consider putting an arm around her and telling her you’re sorry for her hardships.  She’ll learn another way that all that is good is often also hard.