A facebook friend posted that this week, April 24 – May 1, is National Infertility Awareness Week. It seems somewhat fitting that it would follow so closely behind Earth Day. After all, the infertile, like the childfree, are saving the planet one missed conception at a time.
Awareness campaigns like this remind me that the childfree really do play for the other team. The away team… far, far away from the reality of actual and wannabe parents. My husband and I are ecstatic that we are “infertile,” and went out of our way to achieve our “delicate condition.”
It’s inconceivable to us, pun intended, that a person or couple could be so obsessed with having a child, but apparently this is the case. Although I’ve often wondered if the infertile really want children so desperately, or just want to belong and to be like everyone else.
Out of curiosity, I googled National Infertility Awareness Week and came across Resolve: The National Infertility Association’s website, which mirrors that of a cancer nonprofit. This makes sense, considering Resolve defines infertility as a “disease of the reproductive system.”
According to the site, Resolve helps couples diagnose and come to terms with their infertility, provides links to family building alternatives and options, such as adoption, surrogacy, fertility medicine, and childfree living. They also list infertility events, resources, donation opportunities and support groups.
I find this particularly interesting, because typically support groups are formed to help people that suffer from undesirable addictions or life circumstances, such as alcoholism, domestic violence or divorce. Although well meaning, this type of group actually reinforces negative thinking about unchilded households.
According to the site, 1 in 8 couples are infertile. That’s greater than 10%, and that doesn’t account for those that are voluntarily nonparents. Statistics show childfree adults comprise nearly 20% of the population.
If that many of us are unchilded, wouldn’t it make sense to start looking at parenthood differently? Since children aren’t always attainable, we could view parenthood as a possibility out of numerous life options, not a given.
Fortunately, there’s strength in numbers. And the normalization that comes with increasingly prevalent nonparent households benefits the infertile and childfree alike.
This, coupled with greater community acceptance and support could enable infertile couples to find something equally fascinating and satisfying to do with their lives and to embrace life’s other possibilities, as many childfree couples have done.