Since I’ve been sharing this journey so openly on our blog and social media over the past couple years (and especially lately, with the daily posts of updates about our IVF cycle, which show how all-consuming this process is) – I’ve been asked the following question enough that I thought I should finally address it here…
“Why don’t you ‘just’ adopt?”
To be honest, there are lots of reasons I want to address (along with some other comments that we hear pretty regularly) – that I’d love to take the time to discuss in this post. Hopefully talking openly about this will help those who know someone battling infertility to be a better support system to their loved ones. Because the truth is – I understand people are curious, they are trying to be helpful, and they are often times uneducated about this process and the feelings surrounding it as a whole. I know they are not trying to be hurtful and not trying to add stress to an already stressful time in couples’ lives who are going through this. So hopefully talking about this here will help to clear the air a bit and help all parties involved.
When anyone starts this journey – they never would have imagined themselves here. I never would have thought we would need to see a fertility doctor. I never would have thought that three IUI’s would not work. I never would have thought we’d have such a confusing diagnosis (i.e. really a non-diagnosis, if I’m being honest… we haven’t ever really been told a specific reason why this is happening to us). I never would have thought I’d be giving myself endless injections, meds, and having egg retrieval surgery in hopes of having a child. I never would have thought any of it. So naturally, as we go through this process and are educated on it more and more, our perceptions change. Our thoughts on what we expected and decisions we thought we had already made for ourselves are put into question.
When we first started this process I told James there was no way I was doing IVF. I always said if it got to that point, we would move on to adoption and say forget it. The majority of that reasoning was because when we first started this process my insurance (which I bought as an individual, since we are self-employed) didn’t cover fertility treatments AT ALL. We had to pay completely out of pocket at the beginning of this, and we knew there was no way we could afford IVF if we were paying out of pocket. (It can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000… depending on the clinic, etc.) I couldn’t imagine spending that much on treatments and not have a guaranty of a baby at the end of it. Then the Affordable Care Act came into play (THANK GOODNESS) and James and I were able to sign up for insurance through the Marketplace (which included maternity coverage and fertility treatments) for the same cost for both James and I, as just I was paying per month before that.
This option actually made IVF treatments more affordable for us than adoption. (Domestic Adoption can range anywhere from $15,000 – $35,000, and International Adoption is usually higher, somewhere around $35,000 – $40,000) Yes, there are grants you can apply for. Yes, there are tax credits for adoptions. Yes, there are loans you can get… but overall, Adoption is by no means cheap, and by no means easy. It is not something you can “just” do as an alternative to fertility treatments. It is not a decision to be made lightly.
Anyone who has been through the adoption process or knows someone close to them who has – knows it is a lengthy and emotional process. I was already aware of many of these things when we attended our first informational meeting at The Cradle… but we learned even more as we sat through two hours of information:
1. This is a decision you and your partner both need to be 110% sure of before moving forward.
2. You need to have mourned the loss of your potential biological child, (if you were attempting to get pregnant on your own).
3. You need to have found happiness outside of your desire to be parents (i.e. this is not a process you should go into thinking that finally having a baby will make you “complete” or “happy.”)
4. You need to understand your family may not look like other families.
5. If you are a woman, you need to have accepted that you may not ever carry a child, give birth, or breast feed.
You need to have gone through all those steps (& more) before deciding to move forward with adoption. This is not a process you can come into half-heartedly. You need to already be in that place before you are ready to bring a child into your home. No child deserves to be adopted into a home where the parents are not completely certain this step was for them. No child should be brought into a home where the parents are still mourning their infertility or the idea of a biological child. That is not fair to anyone involved, and most certainly not fair to that child.
So for people to say, “Why don’t you ‘just’ adopt?” – as if it is somehow an easier, faster, more affordable, or less emotionally taxing decision – is an insult to any adoptive parents who have gone through the process, and to couples battling infertility who have contemplated all these options and I’m sure not made any decisions lightly throughout this entire process.
For us – we know adoption is definitely on the table for us, but not until we feel like we have taken other steps first. IVF is more affordable for us right now, and based on our doctor’s advice – we have high odds of having it work for us. This doesn’t mean we will never adopt, and doesn’t mean we will for sure get pregnant through IVF. This just means we are taking other steps first, and choosing a path that is right for the two of us. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to take this path, and that doesn’t mean we put any judgment on those who chose differently! James and I both have friends, cousins, and our beautiful niece & nephews in our lives thanks to adoption!! Because of so many personal connections and firsthand accounts – we know even more-so not to make that decision lightly.
Again, we are so thankful for the constant support from all of you. We know that nobody asks these questions or makes comments with any intention to hurt or upset someone. We know that the best way to make a difference and change how these topics are addressed is to educate others. So we hope that in the future when someone you know is going through infertility treatments you’ll think twice before asking them this question. Know that they have contemplated every option, oftentimes over sleepless nights. Know that this is a difficult, emotional, time-consuming, and expensive process no matter which route you take. And especially know that they are doing what is best for them and their future child… and that none of these decisions are made lightly.
Thanks for reading, friends. Much love ~ xoxo.
. . .
**While we’re at it – here are a few more things not to say to someone dealing with infertility. (In general, before you say something – think to yourself, “Would I say this to someone battling another medical condition?” If the answer is “no,” then most definitely keep it to yourself.)
1. You just need to take a vacation!
2. You just need to relax, you’re so obsessed with this it’s no wonder you can’t get pregnant.
3. This is God’s plan and while it might not make sense now, someday it will.
4. You should just adopt! I know a friend of a friend who adopted after years of trying and then they got pregnant on accident right after!
Infertility is a medically diagnosed condition that cannot be cured simply by relaxing, vacationing, or adopting a baby. While you may know a friend of a friend who had success after doing one of the following, that was most definitely the exception to the rule, not the rule… and oftentimes means they weren’t actually battling infertility to begin with.
If you’re looking to support loved ones going through this – here are some wonderful things you can say to help!
1. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Please let me know if you need anything.
2. While I don’t fully understand what you’re feeling because I haven’t been through this myself, please know that I am always here to listen if you want to talk.
3. I’m thinking of you guys / Praying for you guys / Sending you good juju / (Or any variation of this!)
4. There’s not much to say sometimes but: This really sucks and I’m sorry you have to go through this! I’m here for you anytime you need me.
Thanks so much for your open minds and open hearts!! I hope this helps all of us live a kinder, more empathetic, and thoughtful existence! 🙂 xoxo