For many years, I have been working with people struggling with infertility. During this time, I have seen treatments advance, alternative paths to parenthood arrive and people building or expanding their families in a variety of ways. Adoption, once a natural “next step,” has become a more complicated choice. Some individuals and couples who might have adopted after a year or so of infertility in the past are now spending several years in treatment and/or pursuing third party parenthood.
Infertility, once described as a “roller coaster,” is now seen as a “journey.” If you are in the midst of that journey and wondering where it is headed, you may want to know more about adoption. I have prepared this blog post to share my suggestions for how you may want to begin to approach adoption. I know that some of you may feel you need to “close one door before opening another”, but I believe there are several reasons why a “first peek” at adoption during infertility treatment makes sense. Here are some of my reasons for beginning to consider adoption in the midst of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF):
1. The “light at the end of the tunnel.” I had a very moving experience several years ago in an airport departure area. I checked in with the ticket agent who later approached me in the lounge and introduced herself. She told me that we had met at a fertility center and that she credited me with helping her conceive with IVF. I was perplexed about how this might have happened, but she explained, “You told me I could adopt. I left our interview knowing I would be a mother and that made all the difference.”
2. Making informed decisions. During the course of infertility treatment, you inevitably face a series of decisions. “Should we do IVF?” “Should we try another IVF cycle?” “Go to another clinic?” “If IVF doesn’t work this way, do we want to pursue donor conception?” As you face these decisions, it helps to know what your other options are. Looking into adoption means getting accurate information about how much it costs, how long it takes, what the process involves.
3. Avoiding Regret. In my personal and professional life, I hear many “good news, bad news” stories. The good news is that people happily become parents through adoption. They love their children and are “over the moon” happy that they are finally parents. The “bad news” is that some live with regret. “We should have adopted sooner.” “I’m self-conscious about being the oldest mom at kindergarten registration.” “We spent so much money when there was so little chance for success—we wish we had it back.”
4. Adoption takes time and does not happen all at once. I can easily remember a time when adoptions were happening quickly—usually in well under a year from start to finish. Things have changed and adoption is now taking more time and it’s become a more complicated process. It’s a process you can start and then push “pause” any step along the way. You may want to begin sooner rather than later to avoid unnecessary delays if and when you are truly ready to adopt.
5. Age matters. Whether I am meeting with adoptive mothers or moms through egg donation, the concern is often the same: “I’m self-conscious about my age. I never thought I’d be this old when I became a mom. I’m worried about whether this is fair to my child.” In the midst of IVF, it’s hard to ask the question, “How will I feel being 70 when my 25 year old wants me to take a bicycle trip through Italy with her?” Avoiding unnecessary delays in your path to parenthood helps ensure you more of the pleasures that come when you have adult children. And from a practical standpoint, birthparents are more likely to choose adoptive parents in their 30’s than ones in their late 40’s.
I know that adoption is not for everyone and that there are people who truly need to firmly close one door before beginning to open another. However, if you are among those who can imagine adoption being the “light at the end of your tunnel,” I invite you to…….open another.
Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW is a family building counselor in private practice in Newton. Ellen has special interests in donor conception and adoption and is the author or co-author of six books including: The Long Awaited Stork: A Guide to Parents after Infertility, Experiencing Infertility: Stories Stories to Inform and Inspire and Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation (second edition). Ellen offers individual and couples appts. support groups and adoption home studies and post placements.