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.