Let me begin by saying that my inner planner is usually running about 4 steps ahead of where my current intentions actually are.  Now that you understand that — I’ve been thinking about adoption lately.  Yes, I know that we are still very early in our treatment options.  But I would feel like I was lax in understanding our situation if I hadn’t even considered the possibility that this might not work.

So Miss E got my mind turning again the other morning when I read her post:
“If I were to sit down with the adoption paperwork and answer the very basic question, “Why do you want to adopt a child?”, I’m not sure what I would say. I can’t even answer the questions of “Do I really truly want to be a parent — and why?”

I think that it’s highly unfair, in a cosmic sense of fairness, that infertiles carry the brunt of having to question our intention to bring new life into the world.  Most couples think “Hey, let’s have a baby!”  And then they do.  Most of them never have to think about how much they would give to have a child (in both financial and emotional terms), about how ready they are to actually parent, or about what life really would be like if they chose to live childless.  The expectation that committed couples will reproduce is one of the underpinnings of our entire society.  When you fail to meet that expectation, through choice or circumstance, you become an outsider. 

When I first started realizing that we might have a problem, I offhandedly asked Manly what we would do if we couldn’t have biological children.  His answer: “We’ll adopt.”  At the time, I had no understanding whatsoever of the complexities that lie behind that statement, and I accepted that without question.  But now, from reading everyone else’s stories (especially Manuela’s), I’m not sure if adoption is a path that I want to pursue.  For me, the question is not if I want to be a parent; it is who do I want to parent.  I am addicted to the idea of a child that is half me and half Manly, a child that is biologically related to all of our families, who represents the blending of ourselves at the most basic level. 

My experience of infertility has been a process of letting go.  Letting go of the idea that we would get pregnant quickly.  Letting go of my self-image of being fertile.  Letting go of my resistance to getting treatment.  Letting go of my roadmap for the future.  Sometimes I feel like just sitting down and crying over all of the things I’ve had to give up.  Right now, I feel like adoption would be letting go of my dream of being a parent — a dream that hinges on a biological connection to my future child.  This is sure to offend someone, somewhere, but adoption for me really is a last resort, second-choice option.   Or more accurately, a third choice.  My first choice would have been to get pregnant easily and quickly without intervention.  Since that obviously didn’t work out, I would prefer to get pregnant through ART and maintain the biological connection.  If that doesn’t work, well, the only other way left to become a parent is through adoption.  It’s not what I want. 

In five years, I may feel differently.  In five months, I may feel differently.  We might get to the end of our treatment options and decide that we would prefer the difficulties of an adoptive relationship to the prospect of never having children.  Or we might decide that the risk of IVF isn’t worth the investment, whereas adoption is a more secure alternative.  I’m not trying to predict the future, I’m not trying to say that we will never adopt.  But right here, right now, I feel like I’ve given up enough already.  I don’t want to give up this dream as well.

Updated: there is a lot of good discussion going on in the comments.  Thank you all for your input, and if you’re just dropping by, be sure to read through those as well.


25 thoughts on “Musing

  1. This question of adoption is a bit different for me, because I have known for years that I would have trouble having children. So the adoption question, for me, has literally been a decade-long internal discussion. I’ve been ready for this for a long, long time. That doesn’t make it easier, but I do feel a little better-prepared than most other women dealing with IF.

    To be totally honest, it has sometimes been hard for me to understand the people I knew who were infertile, and chose not to adopt. My closed-minded view was, if you really wanted to be a parent, wouldn’t you do everything possible to make that dream come true?

    But now that I, too, have begun thinking more seriously about the realities of adoption, I realize that I have my own limits. It would be very, very hard for me to adopt a child of another race (except, perhaps, Korean or Chinese). I am not a racist person, but I think about what the child’s life would be like, living in an all-white world (we don’t live in a very diverse area). Some people might call me selfish, but I guess I’m just more realistic. And my caution about trans-racial adoptions helps me understand your, and others’, reservations about adoption at all. It’s just so hard to make these decisions that will affect the rest of your life.

  2. I thought we would have a little trouble getting pregnant (though I was shocked by how much trouble) and always assumed I would adopt if need be. But when it came down to really thinking about that option, at that point in time it’s not what I wanted to do. I don’t feel equipped to handle the many issues with adoption. Like you said, it may all change, but I think it’s vital to really think about all the options.

  3. Thanks for visiting me. And this is a great post. I feel that way sometimes, about adoption. I guess I just have to trust that if we’re supposed to adopt, then that desire will be there. I have a feeling that it could be there, for me. But I too am pissed off that I even have to think in terms of Plan A and B and C when most of the world just has Plan A come sit on their lap. Thanks for the suggestion too, no he never mentioned Femara, he just said do injectibles. I’ll ask.

  4. Thanks for sharing this with me. I go back and forth on this topic myself. But I completely understand the list of things that us infertiles “give up” and quite frankly Im exhausted for always having to add to it.

  5. For me it was the process of adopting, not the adopted child, that was my second (or third as you said) choice. I always knew I could love a child with no bio link. But I also knew I would have trouble dealing with some of the things that go along with adoption: having to explain myself,my family to all the nosy strangers of the world, having to forge a relationship with the bio family for the sake of the child, etc, feeling insecure about sharing the child with another mom, etc. I have worked through those fears and worries to the point that I feel I can deal with them in a positive way. But, it took a while for me to get here.

    I really hate when people advise couples with “why don’t you JUST adopt” Adoption is complex. It is a wonderful way to build a family for many many people but it is not so simple as to be something you “just” do.

    I think some people may judge you for parts of this post (I learned that very quickly about parts of the adoption community.) The phrase second choice gets people all fired up. But I hope you don’t get slammed for voicing your feelings. It’s your blog. It’s your life. In the end you have to do what’s right for you.

    And what’s right for you may or may not change over time.

    But my actual point of this comment is this: don’t let other people’s views make you feel bad about being true to your own heart.

    (sorry this got so long!)

  6. Reading this post made me feel like my own thoughts had been funneled from my brain and put into writing. I too, am addicted to the thought of having a biological child. I can only begin to let my mind wander into the realm of adoption, but not seriously as of yet. I think your feelings are honest, and obviously shared by others as the comments have already proven so. Thank you for putting yourself out there and helping others to realize they are not alone in dealing with such difficult subjects.

  7. Thanks Sharah for telling me why there were no comments on my private blog… (I seem to have lost my brain after taking Lupron – and even with the cancellation, I haven’t yet gotten it back.)

    I know I’m odd, I had so many friends and family that had been adopted and *knew it* I thought it was something that everyone was comfortable with if they wanted a family and found themselves unable to conceive and bear. (Once they had mourned and come to terms with that, of course.) The expense is a real issue – both financially and in privacy concerns. This is true for both domestic and international adoption.

    I was ready to adopt before we even started seeing the RE. It wasn’t until my DH started explaining the current environment for adoption that I started to understand that IVF was a better idea financially and for sanity’s(?) sake. (Of course, he isn’t doing the trekking for it.)

    Ann, I think it is extremely brave to be honest with yourself about what you are able to do and not able to do. Too many people minimize the cross-cultural aspects of adoption. It is a very, very real issue that I’m not sure the general public – even the adoption community – understands. There are also issues within families – some are more open than others.

    I, luckily, live in a very diverse area, but was surprised by DH’s resistance to cross-cultural adoption (at first). He will make a great dad no matter from where our children come.

    Me, I’m just not comfortable with donor technology (maybe donor embryo) for reasons that have to do with bringing a 3rd party into our marriage for reproductive purposes. I always believed that meant move to adoption, for me. I know people who have beautiful families from donor technology and am thrilled for them, it just isn’t something I am comfortable with. (There are also some weird health issues for me.)

    I think adoption and donor technology choices are extremely personal and unique to each couple.



  8. Since I am a planner like you, I have been thinking about adoption for a long time even though we are early to the process. Since it is such a huge decision, I think it is great that you are already thinking about it. But you are right that your feelings might change. If there’s been one constant among all of the comments that I have received from infertiles – in the blog world as well as RT – IF is a journey. It involves letting go but it also might involve taking on a decision that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

  9. honestly, Husband and i haven’t really even mentioned adoption. we’re just not there yet. i’m not sure even what he would think. like MLO mentioned, i THINK i might be more comfortable with adoption than donor technology, but then again i might feel differently if that actually came onto the playing field for us.
    i’m the type of person that has to process all of this as it comes. i like a next step, but can’t handle much beyond that. no roadmap for me, though i would like to know what is around the closest corner… it stands now, our “next step” is IVF with ICSI, and we aren’t even quite there yet.

  10. I used to think “Of course I will adopt” if we didn’t get preg. Now that the time is closer… and my “barrenness’ is more of a reality, I am finding it is not nearly the easy decision for me that I once assumed it would be. Now… I don’t know… I may be living childfree. So thank you for this post. It is nice to know there are others also struggling with this same question.

  11. I do believe that Manuela didn’t find out that she was adopted until she was an adult. I also believe that she had a very complicated relationship with her family. However, those facts would have to be verified. Each adoption experience is different. Each adopted child (as I can speak for considering my dad adopted me, but he is my dad…end of story), has a unique experience and emotions surrounding their adoption. I believe a lot of that is shaped around when they are told, how they are told, their parents’ attitudes, and the openess of the adopted child’s relationships (biological and adoptive.)

    When we started down the adoption path, I did more reading than I thought humanly possible. There are several honest books out there, even ones written by adopted children, on how they wish adoption could be and should be. Those are good places to start. It’s not a path for everybody. (Not that you are ready to head down that path, but it’s interesting and good reading.)

    It became very very important to me to know my biology around the start of the year. I found my biological father, and now he’s family as is his wife and daughter (my sister.) However, my relationship with my dad…that’s more solid than ever. I realized how much I am like him…not having his DNA, isn’t such a big deal. That’s this child’s perspective. However, I’m sure if I asked my dad if he loved me just as much as if he created me, he’d surely say “MORE.”

    There is so much controversy in the land of adoption. I just know that my little Lucky will have many questions. We talk about his adoption already to him. “The day we met you was the best day of our lives. We are so thankful to your first mom for you.”

    Hmmm, this is long…perhaps a relevant post.

  12. And all of this is why I’m conflicted. If someone walked up to me today and said, “Here, have this baby — he’s yours now.” I wouldn’t even hesitate. I would take him and love him and not think twice about it. It’s not that I don’t see adoption as a valid road to becoming a parent, it’s just a road that I’d rather not travel if I don’t have to.

    The other thing that I just couldn’t seem to work into this entry is that at the end of the day, I don’t want to just be a parent. I very specifically want to be the parent of my and Manly’s child. Standard disclaimers about how we all have different opinions and what’s right for me isn’t neccessarily what’s right for you and all, but our goal is a biological child. And if that doesn’t happen, we very well may choose to live child-free.

  13. I don’t think the fact that I was actually applauding you for knowing and understanding yourself came through. It takes a great amount of courage and conviction to know what is right for you and your family. If that’s how you feel, then adoption isn’t right for you. That is 100% ok. I’m happy that you know this. Sorry if things didn’t come across right. I’m not judging your for it not being right for you. We all have our own preferences. You know I love ya’! Meeting you, Jess, and Kel, are the best things infertility brought my way!


  14. I was amazed at how similiar your thoughts are to mine on this subject. I could have written this post myself. I think adoption is an amazingly giving and beautiful act but to work in the best way possible I don’t think there can be doubts. In the meantime, I’m working hard to accept how much my husband and I have had to give up and let go of along the way. You’ve described the emotional challenges beautifully. Thank you for sharing.

  15. A thoughtful post and thoughtful comments. All appreciated and enjoyed.

    Most couples think “Hey, let’s have a baby!” And then they do. Most of them never have to think about how much they would give to have a child (in both financial and emotional terms), about how ready they are to actually parent, or about what life really would be like if they chose to live childless

    So true! Sometimes it is the bitterness that comes from seeing people achieve parenthood so easily that makes me come undone.

    May you be successful with ART and not need to every seriously consider plan C

  16. I have a little poster-like block on my wall with the following quote: “Don’t let weeds grow around your dreams.” Thinking about all your options, analyzing, comparing and communication about it is like weeding, keeping the flowerbed clear of weeds. And whenever you’re ready to decide which flowers or shrubs to plant, and HOW to plant them, that’s when you put down the tool you’ve been weeding with and get on with the planting. Don’t give up on your dreams just because other people might think you’re crazy or whatever. Be true to yourself and dream all you want to dream, and keep on weeding! 🙂

  17. It took Sarge and I a looong time to agree on adoption. I knew I could love a childn not biologically my own but the idea of not being pregnant ever again, not feeling a baby move inside me EVER…that was a hard one to deal with. And then, just as I thought I’d worked through all that, I met my nephew and saw how much he looks like the family and I had to let go of my biological children all over again. It was hard. It left scars that have healed but will never dissappear.

    I have often said that adoption is not the right choice for everyone. It’s a great and beautiful thing. But it’s a broken option and it’s not a good fit for every family any more than having every unwed mother give her child up for adoption. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for not adopting (and I know no one here is doing that; your comments have been lovely.)

  18. I am on the verge of IVF, so I am not quite at the end of my fertility journey. However, I never thought I would be staring down the barrel of this gun, and yet, here I am. I have never been pregnant in all 6 years of trying, and I have to face the reality that IVF may not be the end of the road for me.
    I have always feared that should I adopt, I would not be able to bond with the child, that my “natural mothering instincts” would not kick in, and that I might not love it like my own.
    But when I think about being child-free, that terrifies me more. I don’t think it is a decision that people make easily, but at the end of the day, family is so important to me, and I don’t want to grow old alone. I want a legacy, and children who will love me into my old age. And after seeing my nephews, nieces and godchildren growing up, I think I would be able to love someone elses child very very much.

  19. I totally relate to this post. IF is such a hard journey that changes us and changes our perspectives. Its truly an individual journey. I understand that importance of having biological dhilren. I’m not against adoption but I don’t think its such a clear cut answer for everyone with IF. Each couple and each journey is unique and I believe things change and we change as we go through the journey. Where we end up is completely different from another person. I actually have a lot ot say about tihs as well and will write my own post on this. But thanks for your honesty. Big hugs to you.

  20. Not all adoptive relationships are difficult. I have a great relationship with our daughter’s birthmom/firstmom. And our daughter is the light of our lives, helping us recover from all the pain, heartache and loss we suffered on the road to parenthood. I think that adoption is a great answer for many, especially once we get past the hubris of the perfect genetic offspring that we tend to hope for.

  21. We had about the same experience with infertility. It was hard. My wife and I both experienced the sense of pain and loss, wanting to be parents, seeing friends who are parents but not having our own children.

    And then we adopted. That was hard too. We went through multiple arrangements that ultimately fell through (domestic open adoption). We learned the hard way not to get our heart set on a match prematurely.

    And then one day our daughter was delivered to our home, age 10 days. We never looked back: we no longer had any time to worry about infertility or whether or not there was a biological connection, we were far too sleep deprived.

    Adoption and parenthood have been wonderful experiences so far. And if people wish to say that I’m not “reallY” her father, or that adoption is a “broken experience” — well, all I can say is I really am her father. Both my wife and I have changed far too many diapers, and worked far too many days at home, for her to be NOT our child. Sometimes people need to just butt out of others’ family issues.

  22. Years ago during my infertility stage, I attended a Resolve convention in Miami and decided I would pursue adopting a child. We had done the fertility drugs but I wasn’t going to continue after almost 6 years of trying. I convinced my husband and we set about using a private FL adoption attorney.

    We were successful and joyfully received our newborn daughter — at the hospital — and three years later contacted the same attorney with a request for a son. She matched our desires with another couple who wanted a daughter — and the birthmother gave birth to our son.

    Three years later – and 14 years of marriage behind us – we conceived for the first time and had another daughter. I say ‘another’ because our three children are TOTALLY EQUAL in our minds. If for any reason the subject of adoption comes up from outsiders, I may or may not say: Some of my children are adopted, some aren’t.

    If adoption becomes an option for you, I can say as a mother I feel so fortunate ALL my children are OUR’S with two ‘born in my heart.’ Keep adoption in mind as a loving possibility. Like ‘Bob’ with his diapers comment — I never went into a nursery at 2am to lovingly quiet my ‘adopted’ baby. PS My children are 26, 23 and 19. Those adopted knew from the time they were youngsters and are proud of their family histories. Three biological families are in my house and it’s a happy place to be. Maggie

  23. I just saw this post for the first time (came from a link on coming2terms). My husband and I decided to adopt early on in our infertility journey. The decision was relatively easy for us. But it simply ISN’T an easy decision for most people. Your post is the most clearly written and honest explanation I have ever read of how the choice to adopt or not is a complicated and difficult one. Thanks for sharing it.

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