“You Can Always Adopt.”

Scientific advances have opened up a plethora of new family-building possibilities during the past three decades. Prior to that, infertile couples could either choose to adopt/foster or choose to not become parents (of course, there were always people who got creative – hell, there’s even a story about that in the Bible). Those options remain, along with medical interventions such as intra-uterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donated gametes, gestational surrogacy, fertility medication, gamete cryopreservation, and reproductive surgery.

Many people try adoption after having failed at assisted reproduction. But, what a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that the reverse scenario is also common – turning to assisted reproduction after failing at adoption.

I won’t claim to be particularly savvy on the issues of adoption, but from what I’ve gathered, the common conception (ha!) of adoption is that it is cheap, easy, quick, and guaranteed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Adopting a newborn is not in any way cheap – it will generally run you from $10-30K. It is not quick; on average, the process takes over a year. Easy? A home study doesn’t sound so easy to me. And in absolutely no way are you guaranteed to walk away from the adoption process with a baby. You can be disqualified in a home study, birth parents can change their minds, and neither of these scenarios is uncommon. Therefore, a not-insignificant number of people using assisted reproductive technologies say that this is their plan B after they encountered roadblocks to adoption.

I’m not trying to bash adoption, here. I just want to make it clear that it’s not an easy route, but simply a different one. So it’s hard to explain to people why my “backup plan” is to remain childless. We actually have several reasons we are not planning to try adoption if IVF doesn’t work out. Some are just personal “because we feel like it” reasons. We don’t even need to lean on those, though, because they’re rendered moot by practical reasons. For your judgment and consideration:

  1. This is the last batch of donor eggs I can afford. Once I am done with this cycle, and maybe one or two more using frozen embryos from this cycle, I am out of money and won’t have any left to put toward adoption. This is really the only reason I need, but…
  2. Adoption takes a long time, and that’s great if you have time. Me, on my own, I would have time. But I have that wonderful husband – the one with adult kids and a pre-teen, the one who’s got 4+ decades of constant childrearing at stake – and he kind of wants to get this accomplished as quickly as possible. Totally understandable.
  3. It’s my life, I only get one of them, and I want to experience pregnancy during it (so this is why we didn’t go straight to adoption).
  4. I really don’t want to do a home study. I just envision several months of regular scrutiny, judgment, intrusion, questioning, and I just don’t feel like I’d get approved. Possibly all off-base. Still don’t want to do it.
  5. I think it’d be nice if all the kids had a genetic connection, because as much as I don’t care about my own genes, I sort of care about my husband’s genes, and therefore I care about genes in general, I guess? Now I’ve typed that word so many times it doesn’t even seem like a word anymore. Genes. Genes!
  6. This line of reasoning is going to sound a little messed-up, given that I am going through all this trouble. But this is really the last trouble I want to go through. I clearly want a child very badly, but, honestly? Not badly enough to exhaust this avenue and then exhaust myself on another one afterward. I’d like to just relax. Maybe I’d feel differently if I were a single woman, or had a partner who also didn’t have children. I might be willing to exhaust more avenues, get a loan for adoption, whatever it took. But, me being me, in my situation, I would rather stop, catch my breath, and settle into my life as it is. Despite the fact that I want a child, I think there are some very clear positives to not having children. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there are a lot of positives. I can’t even list them, there are so many. So, I think I’ll be ok.

2 thoughts on ““You Can Always Adopt.”

  1. I had a bit of insomnia so I found myself reading your blog. Your writings are such an enjoyable, informative, and witty conversation of both humanity and science; I perked up and now wide awake! Xoxoxo


  2. I was adopted and I totally understand your reasoning. Adoption is not the same as having a baby, and believe me, IVF is gruelling and I completely get why you wouldn’t then want to put yourself through another marathon.


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