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Saturday, May 11, 2013

why adoption probably isn't for us...


Recently, I received an email from someone I consider a blog friend. After hemming and hawing for a bit, she finally came out out with it...why don't you just adopt? Why put yourself through IVF? And then she kindly wrote that I can tell her to "mind her own dang business" if I want to. But I'm not going to do that because I know that she is not "a completely insensitive jerkface" (her words not mine) . She is simply asking out of genuine curiosity and seeks to understand why we continue subjecting ourselves to the heartbreak of assisted reproductive technology.

I've said my blog is here to help educate people so here's my opportunity. Time to walk the walk. I decided to answer this question on my blog for other non-infertility readers who may be asking themselves the same question. 

Before I begin, I want to say how grateful I am for people who are "called" to adopt like the gal who sent me the email. And for the people who decide, after infertility, to grow their families via adoption. I think it is a huge, big-hearted and wonderful thing to do. Many of my friends (both blog and real-life) have beautiful children thanks to the gift of adoption. Never for a moment do they feel that their life should be any other way.

But adoption is not for everyone and it is not as easy as "oh, you should just adopt." Just like assisted reproductive technology, adoption is a very arduous process and an expensive endeavor that often leads to heartache as well. With adoption, there are extensive background checks. Psychological evaluations. Waiting lists that can go on for years. Birth parents who select you and then change their minds after you've already fallen in love with their child. Babies who come to you with addiction because they weren't properly carried for in the womb. A delicate relationship with the birthmother that you must navigate (should you choose open adoption). None of these scenarios are easy. And some people are better equipped to deal with these types of challenges. 
I don't know that I'm one of those people.

In addition to the reasons stated above, there are some more personal reasons that we don't just adopt. It certainly isn't because we enjoy gambling $30,000 of our hard-earned money. Or because I like sticking myself with needles and feeling hormones rage through my body. It is because I have a deep desire in my heart to have mine and my husband's biological child. I want to feel a life growing inside of my body. I want to bond with my child before I ever see his or her face. I want to see my husband's dimples when my little boy smiles. Or see my big brown eyes staring back at me when I look at my little girl. I want to know my child's health history. I want to see my mother's mannerisms in the way my child speaks. 

I want our baby.

Right now, I feel strongly that adoption isn't the right path for us. Over time, maybe our feelings will change if we do not conceive through IVF. Never say never. But at least until we grieve the idea of having our own biological child and close this chapter in our lives, we aren't even willing to entertain the idea of adoption.

If you are interested in hearing a much more articulate and emotional perspective on IVF versus adoption, check out this article NBCNews.com.

41 comments:

Emily said...

Amen! I can't stand it when people say "why don't you just adopt"? As if it's some easy thing! So many layers of heartache...

Sharlee said...

I appreciate this post. We have been trying to conceive for over two years, I finally saw a positive pregnancy test last summer and then we lost the pregnancy. I'm not sure that we are infertile or if I just have really bad timing. We haven't been aggressively trying--because that's just not me. Right now I don't feel the need to take any further steps, I'm sure at some point I will. I have told people, though, that my preferred route would be adoption rather than fertility treatments. I have my personal reasons for this just like you do yours. It is always something people feel like they have a right to an opinion on. They judge, like I'm somehow less fit to be a mother because I won't exhaust every possible outlet before resorting to adoption. For us, that's what we've discussed. We're not sure if we'll conceive. We're not sure if we'll adopt and we're obviously not certain when, but that's what works for us. I appreciate your heartfelt explanation. I so understand the longing to be pregnant, though. I do know that I could handle MOST of the things you talked about better than I could the IVF treatments you're going through..and I think that's the point. I think we were made to have different approaches to growing families for a reason.

Laura said...

I completely understand, Jessah!

We feel the same way as you do. I don't know what the future holds, and I also say never say never with regards to this subject...But for now we feel the same way.

Always be true to your own hearts, someday you guys will look back on this chapter and know that everything played out just the way it was supposed to! <3

XO

Amanda said...

I understand what you mean. And I don't say that as a person who has 3 kids and I'm pregnant again.. Because I've had those kind tell me that they understand when clearly they've never experienced infertility. I do and have felt called to adopt as does my husband but I'm having a difficult time getting past maybe never having kids of our own. I don't know how to accept that. Although our infertility situation is different I can relate. I'm praying for you & your IVF. God is faithful.

Anonymous said...

The journey of infertility is very personal and ever-changing. What we all say "we'll never do" can often become "what we choose to do" in the midst of ever-changing circumstances. Good luck on your journey.

Lena Amstutz said...

Awesome post! Exactly how my husband and I feel; and even if people are being genuinlly nice and concerned; adoption isn't for everyone and I get more angry every time someone thinks it is the simple solution for infertility.

LWLH said...

To each their own I say.
I agree with you, though I might be open to adoption very far down the line, I would want to make sure I exhausted all options of having my own biological child.

Kaity said...

This was such a wonderful post and I feel so blessed by this new insight into your perspective. You did such a terrific job articulating your feelings on the matter, and I truly feel I have a better understanding of your stance on IVF vs. adoption.

I'm glad you didn't think your blog friend was a completely insensitive jerkface :)

Suzanne said...

That must have been a very hard email conversation to have and it certainly sounds like you handled it with grace. The reasons you listed are exactly the same reasons that for now, adoption is not an option for us. My very best friend adopted a little girl after years of miscarriages and IF treatment. They have a perfect family now. They also have gone through 2 failed adoptions that a the support for my friend, watched her go through. I completely respect and understand your feelings. I continue to love your blog and always enjoy your insight.

Sally said...

I really like how you told your point of view here. It makes complete sense. You are so right that adoption should be considered as just of a big of a deal as other ways of adding to a family....it is not just the choice on the back burner that is so simple if other methods don't work out. My husband's brother was adopted, so we can relate to some of what you mentioned here.

Charity said...

Love this post. It's exactly what I have wanted to say to so many people that ask me the very same question. The funny thing is that I have always wanted to adopt I just didn't think about it being my only way to being a mother. My best friend just adopted her first and only child my goddaughter and while I seriously know there is nothing sweeter it was a rough road getting to those sweet moments. She had issues with the birth mom and the interview process brought her to tears a lot. I know it would be worth it but like you said it's just not my path right now. Anyhow thanks for sharing this.

Becky said...

Thank you for posting this! Sometimes I feel guilty because we're not called to adoption. It's just not on our hearts at all right now, and I feel bad about that sometimes. It's pretty rare to find someone who actually understands that! So thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only one...

Emily said...

Thank you for posting this. I know when people say "just adopt" they have no clue how much this stings. Most people who say this also tend to have their own biological children as well, ironically enough. Well, I'm sure they probably can't imagine what their lives had been like if they hadn't had their own children right? It makes no sense for those people to suggest this route, but I do think I could take the suggestion better from someone who had actually adopted themselves.

Loved the blog article you linked to also. This part especially...

Wendy writes, "Parents who are facing infertility may be given a wonderful opportunity to help the planet a bit." But don't we all have that opportunity? Don't fertile people have the same chance to adopt a child in need? That's a shared obligation, and when infertile people are singled out to bear it while others excuse themselves because conception was easy for them – well, it rankles." Well said!

Rhonda said...

Adoption isn't for everyone. We are considering it at this point because we feel it might be right for us. Thanks for sharing this.

waiting and wishing said...

We felt very similarly when faced with IVF, I couldn't even fathom the idea of adoption until I had tried to carry our baby(ies). For me, I knew my heart would likely soften to the prospect eventually, but I knew my heart needed to take the process in steps. And, like you, I wanted desperately for my babies to grow in my belly. Thanks for sharing!

Cristy said...

Thanks for this honest post, Jessah. Like you stated, the decision to adopt, especially after infertility, is not one to be taken lightly. Outside of the fact that there is a grieving process for the loss of biological children (something most people who present adoption as an option to others rarely consider), there's also the reality that such a decision is sorely misunderstood by our society. There's a good article in the Washington Post about this (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-mothers-day-plea-to-stop-equating-adoption-with-abandonment/2013/05/10/088c6362-b692-11e2-b94c-b684dda07add_story.html). But even someone who is resolved to adopt has so many things to face, including facing massive amounts of discrimination and misunderstanding from those who will never venture down this road. Though I'm a great proponent of adoption, I believe we still have a long way to go before society truly understand this option.

At this point, you need to focus on your next step. Whether you will or will not adopt isn't something you need to decide at the moment and even if you have at the moment, it doesn't mean that decision is set in stone. And even if you do end up resolving to live as a family two, it doesn't mean that you will live a life that is childfree. Instead, focus on what's in front of you, as you've got more than enough on your plate. Battling a medical condition like endometriosis is draining enough; adding in IVF and all the decisions that come with it is exhausting. So focus on the next few steps.

Thinking of you as you prepare for the next step in your journey. And hoping with my whole heart.

Aubrey said...

This is such a great post. Thank you for taking the opportunity to publicly share your feelings on the option of adoption. It's a wonderful option for some... but, I agree, it has to be something that you truly feel called to do. xoxo

Alicia said...

There is nothing easy about any of this, is there? It just seems so unfair that we are forced to make these types of decisions, explore these thoughts when others just aren't.

Alissa at Miss Conception gave me wise wise advice about a year ago ... she told me to follow the path of least regrets. You have to go as far as you need to go to do what you want to do. And if this means working towards conceiving and carrying a biological child, this is what you need to do. Move forward with what you know you need to do and don't look back.

"Just adopting" is not for the faint of heart, you're totally right. It's its own unique experience. You can't head into it with baggage, grief or regret. You're right, one day you guys may decide adoption is for you. But until then, walk your path of least regrets.

Melanie Schultz said...

I commend you posting your thoughts about adoption. I think your sincerity is appreciated by many. Adoption wasn't for us either for the exact same reasons. Have you decided to go with CCRM? I was waiting for an update :) Thinking of you and hoping God gives you the answers you need.

Impatiently Waiting said...

Adoption isn't our answer right now either. Not only the cost factor, but I want OUR baby too... I want to see us in our child.

Sarah said...

Well said Jessah. Very well said. I have used that phrase "called" to adoption many times. We have not been called. We might be called at some point but right now, it's not for us. I don't feel guilty wanting "our" baby and wanting to give our genes life. Someday, I might feel differently. Also, adoption is just as expensive and the odds of getting a child are about the same and take about the same amount of time... not at ALL what people who tell me to "just adopt" know or feel. But how would they know? They have never faced this decision. They have never faced infertility or spent a long time talking to people who have adopted children about the true costs and challenges. So they don't know. Your post is amazing. :)

Lyndsey Davis said...

My thoughts exactly. When dealing with infertility there are no "just" anythings. Just adopt, just get a surrogate.....It's not that easy.

Unknown said...

I am exactly in the same 'zone' as you and at the moment, adoption is not an option for us. Perhaps in another 10 years I will have a change of heart however like you, I want to experience having my own biological child. Is this really too much to ask for? :(

Natalie | Mrs. Janney | said...

I can relate to where you are coming from. I wrote a blog post about this about a year ago. We were about to start fertility stuff and found out I had thyroid cancer. So we were in the middle of dealing with that first. Anyway, I wrote a post about my feelings of IVF versus adoption because I saw an article that the first IVF mother had died and people wrote THE WORST, most hurtful comments on the article. Here's a link to what I wrote:

http://mrsjanney.blogspot.com/2012/06/ivf-and-adoption.html

Anyway, I'm glad you wrote about your feelings. I think it is one of those that people don't really think about until they are going through it. Everyone thinks it is just so easy. Oh just adopt. Yeah it is definitely not that easy. And I think the more people talk about it, the more sensitive our culture will be and the less stigmatized infertility can become.

Sorry for the long comment. :)

Amber said...

Jessah, I thought you articulated your feelings very well here, and I could have written this almost word for word. Not to mention the fact that adoption can be just as much, if not more of a cost than IVF. And it is a gamble just like IVF. You could spend all that money, and not ever get a baby to take home. Unless you go through the state, but then you most likely would be starting your family with a child 5 years old or older. That is just not the right path for us. That is not to say that those kids don't need a home. Bless the people that are called to adopt in all different circumstances. I just know that isn't for my husband and me.

Andrea said...

Thank you for sharing this! These are my thoughts exactly and I feel your pain as my husband and I are In the same boat. I enjoy reading your posts. :)

JoJo said...

This post truly hit home. We discussed adoption and agreed that if we cant have our own biological baby we wouldnt go down this road. But never say never. I just dont see myself truly happy without experiencing my baby growing inside my womb.

Kristin said...

We are one of those families that were eventually led to adoption but you are SO right it is not for everyone. And, you absolutely have to grieve the loss of your biological child before you can even begin the adoption process. That was a question I was asked multiple times during our home study process. "Have you grieved your loss? And how?" Infertility is hard enough without people who don't understand the process trying to give you advice. It is generally not meant to hurt but it often does.

lovetallie said...

Exactly the same point as I have. I had our first attempt of IVF failure last month and I am ready to take another one. Me and my husband did talk about adopting too but for some reason there's something inside me saying that I can't. I want to have my own baby,I want to feel being pregnant, having morning sickess and the whole nine yards. It's not easy I know but I have faith that we can all do it and soon we all be carrying our own precious ones!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog through a friend's, and enjoyed reading this obviously well-considered discussion of what so many people simplistically view as two sides of the coin. For those of us who can't just rely on wine + getting horizontal - birth control = baby, the paths to building a family are so varied and individual. As a mom through adoption, I heard the "just adopt" BS many times while we were still working through IF treatments, pregnancy losses and grieving the idea of our bio child. I realize there are people who decide to adopt without experiencing IF, but just through my personal experience and the experiences of those around me, I question the prevalent idea that adopting a child should be viewed as some kind of public service or charitable act (at the very least referring to domestic newborn adoption here). If it were, should the child then feel indebted to his/her parents? Should the child feel "less than" his/her peers who were brought into their families for no reason other than to be raised and loved? JMHO, but I think people should adopt because they want to be parents (and they think adoption is the best way to go about it, for whatever reason). You list many reasons why it's not the best option for you right now, and everyone should totally respect that (woe to us infertiles who have to justify this personal decision-making at all). I hope the remainder of your path to your baby is short and sweet! One last thing, I'm not sure where you found the image accompanying this post, but to be totally honest, it makes my heart hurt. I get that adoption can be expensive and that you're probably poking fun at the people who claim it's so easy, but "buying a baby" is an ugly insinuation that adoptive parents fight against every day. My daughter is not a "thing" that I "bought." I paid for legal services, counseling, social workers, medical fees, minimal relevant birthmother expenses and agency overhead for facilitating the adoption. I would agree that the system has its faults and that agencies should not be profitting as they do, but it still hurts to see a baby with a barcode.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you on your quest. I get the desire for your own flesh and blood but if you change your mind you may find that an adopted child can feel like your own with time. Not all adoptions are expensive. The county of Sacramento actually pays families $500/month for adoptions and children born with drug exposure can grow to be perfectly happy, intelligent, loving, functioning people. None of that is meant to make you feel like any one else's opinion matters, it doesn't, just an alternative point of view.

faithtrusticsidust said...

I love that you've shared your thoughts on this topic. It sounds like such an easy alternative to some people and they don't understand why it's not for everyone. Your thoughts about adoption are very similar to mine. In Australia as well, adoption is almost near impossible. Thanks for being so honest on your blog. I always love reading your posts :)

Chelley N said...

People would often ask us this before we were {finally} able to conceive. I would very respectfully and very seriously look at them and ask them the same question. I didn't do it to be rude, but to make people really think. And it did.

Great post.

Em said...

I wonder why the word "just" is so often attached to "adopt." We need to unglue those two words! Thanks for speaking so honestly about something that can sometimes be controversial.

Shelley said...

I feel the same way. I think my husband and I would have different opinions on this, which makes it so hard. I've been thinking about you and your upcoming decisions. I hope the right path is becoming clear to you.

Emmett Katherine said...

I agree, you really explained your reasons well.

I have a family member considering adoption and after seeing/knowing all the things they'll have to do I understand how it's not as simple as people think and it's a really complex decision.


Lisamarie said...

I'm glad you posted this as I have often wondered what your thoughts were on this option. My husband and I talk very realistically about all things, even the posibiltiy of infertility. (We haven't really yet started TTC.) But we know that we would not adopt for various reasons. Its not for everyone and there's nothing wrong with that.

Kristy Johnson said...

I really like how you told your point of view here. It makes complete sense. You are so right that adoption should be considered as just of a big of a deal as other ways of adding to a family.

Anonymous said...

Although it may be totally unfair or "wrong", the majority of people in this world want to try for their own biological child first.

That is reality.

What I wonder is, why so many people have children they cannot support, and then dump them in orphanages. For me, that is a bigger question to be answered than the question of "why don't you just adopt".

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of four wonderful adopted children, but I was exactly where you are at one time. Adoption is NOT easy and is NOT for everyone! I can remember the shots and tests and scheduled sex and all the other terrible aspects of infertility. I always wanted to adopt even if we had our own biological children, but I wasn't willing to just give up my dream of having my own baby so easily. Everyone that has experienced infertility has doubts about adopting. "Can I love someone else's child like my own, how can I afford to adopt, how long will I have to wait?" It's just part of the process! Sadly for us, after eight years of trying and spending over $28,000 in treatments, we were told by our reproductive specialist to "Move on and start exploring other options!" I cried all night, but the next morning I felt a strange sense of relief.......like a heavy weight had been lifted off of me. Within 6 months we started the adoption process, and now we have 4 wonderful kids. It was the right thing for me, but I totally understand your point of view. You have to follow your heart, not the advice of your friends!

hlengiwe ntimba said...

I agree 100% adoption is not for everyone, even before I decided to adopt I made sure I had exhausted every possible infertility treatment and that I had grieved the possiblility that I will never have children. The process of grief is very important. In my book [Graves in my womb, Our Journey to wisdom]; I share my emotional journey towards adoption carefully articulating how that process proved to be the only rare antidote to my previous struggles and losses concerning conception. Adoption of a child outside the family although not common in South Africa saved my life. The process mended my broken heart, restored my faith and prepared me to be a wonderful mother to the twins.
Loss affects people socially, culturally and professionally. We all deal with it in our own ways but one certainty we have is that whenever an individual loses something, there are the afflicted and the affected in the process. In addition, all can benefit from reading our stories of triumph.

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