My husband and I had been trying to conceive for about a year and a half. Eventually we decided to seek medical advice, which is how we found ourselves sitting across from a reproductive endocrinologist in August of 2011.
We expected to walk out with a plan or maybe a prescription, but we most certainly did not expect to hear, “You have about a 1% chance of conceiving on your own. You need IVF.” A handful of diagnostic tests and $1,600 later, and things were definitely not going according to my plan! The waiting process of infertility is awful enough as it is. But to wait for something that might never happen?
Adoption stories both inspired and terrified me. It sounded great in theory (for other people!) but that’s not how I envisioned our family being built. The thought of stopping actively trying to conceive and pursuing adoption felt like giving up on something. In the end, we chose to grow our family through domestic infant adoption for one big reason: We wanted to be parents, and being parents was more important to us than DNA.
Hear me when I say this: adoption is not the solution for everyone. Our desires had simply changed. Adoption was not giving up, and while it might have been second chronologically – it was not second best!
Here are a few great questions to be asking yourself if you’re found in a similar place:
1. Have I reached (at least somewhat of) a resolution regarding our infertility?
Having a child through adoption does not and will not “fix” infertility. Infertility is a loss, and I believe it’s emotionally healthy to look it in the face and feel it. Do you need help? Find a counselor who can talk through things with you, someone you can be completely honest with. Something that was helpful to me was to make a list of specific things I had lost or missed out on. Things like, “announcing a pregnancy,” or “experiencing labor and delivery” helped me put my thoughts into words. On the other hand, I could write an even longer list of all the things I have gained through experiencing adoption. Relationships with our children’s birth families are one thing that would top the list. No stretch marks are just a bonus!
2. Can I love a child who does not share my biology?
The short answer is an emphatic YES, of course. And you will! I hear people ask this question occasionally, and I would be lying if I said it never crossed my own mind. My answer is this: Do you love your spouse? Is your spouse biologically related to you? I’m assuming not (insert joke here – ha!). If we are more than capable of loving and creating a family unit with our spouse, what makes us think it would be any different with children? It sounds cheesy but it’s true – love makes a family, not DNA.
3. What is right for our family?
This is far beyond what one blog post can cover, but an important question. I said it before and I’ll say it again – adoption is not the solution for everyone. And that’s OK. Sometime before beginning the adoption process for the second time, I visited with a friend. She and her husband have had a great IVF experience, and I wanted to be sure I explored all the options we had so I would never wonder “what if?” She gave me some of the best advice I’d heard. “We knew that we could pay tens of thousands of dollars and at the end of this still not deliver a baby. If you can’t come to terms with that, then don’t do it.” Thankfully, that was not their experience, and today she is mom to five incredible kiddos. Which makes her my hero… Amen? Talking with her helped me realize that IVF was just not the best fit for our family, even though it had been for hers.
As I spent time writing this, my almost-4 year old daughter ran into the bedroom to give me a goodnight hug. I simply can’t imagine life without her and her younger brother. Infertility is hard. Adoption is hard. No matter how your children come to you, parenting is just plain hard. But don’t give up! It’s all worth it. I promise.