"At least you were able to adopt."
"At least you were able to be there when he was born."
"At least you got a kid who looks like you."
"At least you know where she came from."
"At least you still get to see her."
"At least you know you're not infertile."
"At least you know he's safe."
"At least you don't have to deal with diapers and screaming kids."
"At least she has some medical history."
"At least he has that one copy of his original birth certificate."
"At least he wasn't abandoned on a doorstep or something."
"At least they'll know you wanted them."
These are all things people have said to me, to my kids' first moms, or about my children. Always in response to us opening up about the harder aspects of infertility or adoption. We crack the door to give them a peek at our emotions and they use the opening to kick us.
I'm know they're trying to be comforting, pointing out the cloud's silver lining and all that. (Although sometimes they're lashing out of their own hurt.) I admit that I've done it to others in the past, especially when I was younger and hadn't yet experienced core-shaking grief. Looking back, I'm ashamed at how I tried to mitigate their loss.
There are experiences in life which permanently change us. To have someone minimize those is deeply troubling. I love the mis-matched, not-genetically-related, adoptive family we are. I wouldn't change who my children are for the world. But the parallel losses--not knowing what a biological child of ours would look like, not being my children's sole mother, not knowing them from the womb--are still there. Even though they no longer hold the emotional power they once did, they have shaped the ways I identify myself. When someone minimizes those losses, they are minimizing me. The same goes for my children or their first parents.
There will be a moment when you're confronted with a friend's anger, grief or fear over an injustice or loss. Maybe it will make you uncomfortable. Maybe it will dredge up a hurt of your own. If you find yourself about to point out that it could be worse, please don't.
At least you could honor her experience.