Q: My husband and I have spent two years going through fertility treatment, so far without success. We keep this mostly private when we're asked — often — if we're planning to have kids, but occasionally if appropriate I'll say we're trying but no luck yet.
Inevitably when this happens, the person immediately suggests adoption as though it's a new thing they just invented.
I know adoption is a valid way to build a family, but for various reasons that I'd rather not share, it's not right for us. But when I say that it cues the "but there are so many children in foster care who need homes" speech. I know these people mean well, but how can I shut down this conversation in a way that doesn't make it seem like I'm heartless?
A: I'm so sorry you've had a tough time of it. And that people can't help making it worse by running their mouths.
Here's the conversation I fantasize about in this situation:
They: "But there are so many children in foster care who need homes!"
You: "You seem knowledgeable — have you adopted children out of foster care yourself?"
Crickets, right? Except when someone actually has adopted children out of foster care — which I doubt will ever happen because in my experience people who have adopted children know how not to put their feet in their mouths when talking about adoption.
And here's the conversation I advise in this situation:
None. Give people nothing.
You say you'll mention "occasionally" that you're trying. I urge you to stop mentioning it entirely.
They: "Are you planning to have kids?"
You: "Ooh, we get asked that a lot."
If your questioner doesn't accept that as an answer and presses for more, then you say: "We get asked that a lot." A little eyebrow-raise says, "Get it?"