By on April 10, 2016

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Why don’t you just adopt?

Contributed by PVED mom, Diana C.

Anyone who’s ever read the comments section of any given op ed piece on ART has seen the sanctimonious lambast the infertile for their “selfishness” in going to great lengths to have a genetic (or in our case, biological) child, admonishing them for wasting money that could be better spent on a litany of other causes or applications. “Why don’t you just adopt?” they sneer. “There are so many unwanted children in the world…why not take one of them?”

Thirty years ago, Robin Williams had a scathing bit about issuing crack babies to right-to-lifers, and I’ve always held that up as the gold standard for appropriate responses to unsolicited moral opining. But aside from the obvious arrogance of advising anyone to do something so life-changing , why are we willing to go to such great lengths to create our families?

Adoption is not as easy as you might think. With the plethora of pregnancy prevention tools available in the modern age and the extinction of the stigma of unmarried parenthood, there are simply fewer babies available for adoption (http://baby shortage) . And with countries like China, Russia, and Guatemala drastically restricting international adoptions, global alternatives are quickly evaporating. The result is that the lack of available infants, coupled with the heartbreak of failed matches and sometimes years of waiting has led many of us to try to make a child of our own. I wouldn’t begin to know what the national figures were, but anecdotally, there are several PVED moms who chose this path because it was the only way to start a family with a reasonable timeline and chance of success.

And to those critics who would say “why not take an older child, or one with disabilities?” I would respond, “why don’t you join the Peace Corp? Doesn’t Jimmy Carter need you building affordable housing? How IS your work down at the soup kitchen going?” Doing the highest good for the universe is something we all want someone else to be doing. Adopting a child rather than a baby is a dramatically different experience, and comes with a different set of challenges. It’s not a casual decision. Those who are not up to the task aren’t bad people; it’s just not for everyone.

So, that leaves those of us who can’t have children through traditional methods with a dilemma: live childfree or consider donor eggs or embryos. I reject entirely the idea that it’s “not supposed to be,” or any “God’s will” nonsense; if I get cancer or diabetes, I’m not going to resign myself that it’s “meant to be” and instead I’m going to fight like hell for a different outcome and employ any medical means available, without apology. I don’t believe that God gives anyone infertility for a reason any more than I believe that he gives them cancer; I think some things just happen, the luck of the draw, and I’m going to change my life for the better with every opportunity.

And circling back to the adoption question, the short answer is that we don’t adopt because we can’t, or we don’t want to. We don’t have it in us to wait any more to start a family, that the passage of time is crushing our spirits. Or, we’re willing to get past the loss of our genetics, but we still want to feel a baby stir under our ribcage, and experience birth, and nursing, and the whole ride like everyone else. Sometimes it’s because if we can’t have a baby that looks like our family, we want one who at least looks like our partner. Or, with so much of the list heartbreakingly beyond our control, we want to exercise what little control we do have over the genetics and [gestation] of the child we’re going to raise.

We’re not bad people; we just want the same things that most people have. And if you don’t like it, you can complain about it the next time you’re volunteering at homeless shelter.

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4 Comments
  1. Reply

    Carole

    April 11, 2016

    One of my preferred responses to “Why don’t you just adopt?”

    Why don’t you?

  2. Reply

    Dave B.

    April 12, 2016

    Diana, Thank you for posting. My wife and I went through a multi-year and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to adopt and eventually turned to surrogacy. We were open to interracial adoption, US adoption, some special needs situations, international adoption, etc. We were not prepared to take on older or troubled children because we already have a now 13 year old daughter and didn’t want to rock her world too much or put her in danger.

    On paper (and perhaps in the minds of the kinds of sanctimonious advice-givers you refer to above) we should have had “no problem” adopting: we are educated, upper middle class, have good, stable jobs and live in a community with great schools. But it’s not that simple because we also have some challenges: we were “too old” (mid 40’s at the time), already had a daughter and us not being religious may have been a barrier for some birth mothers.

    In two years of trying we never even had the option to choose a child. The birth mothers we did see all chose other families. The situations we saw were not good and it was hard for us to imagine a child emerging from those situations in a position to live up to their potential. These were kids with real issues.

    All of the international options were closed to us either due to short-term political issues specific to that country, because we didn’t meet religious requirements, or because we were too old to qualify. I still find it infuriating that children are dying from all kinds of preventable issues and for the most part their countries will not allow people like us to adopt them because of the political or religious biases of their leaders.

    So we turned to surrogacy and now have 2 year old twins. We are so very happy with where we are right now. The genetics seem like a non-issue to us now although we worried about it before the twins were born.

    What we are thinking about now is this: we are just getting to the point where we are going to have to start telling them where they came from and would love the support of people in a similar situation. Frankly this is just one of those things where it is hard for people who haven’t been through what we’ve been through to “get it.”

    If you’re open to it, we would love to connect with you and other people in similar situations via some kind of private channel: a private FB group or whatever.

    We don’t know anyone else who has had children through surrogacy. We know a lot of lesbian couples, a few gay couples who adopted, and several single moms who used sperm donors. We love having those perspectives in our lives, but that’s not really our situation. It’s not that we are heterosexual, it’s that going through surrogacy is a different experience than going through IVF or adoption. I value hearing what you have to say above because it touches the reality that we have experienced that it seems few people share.

    Dave

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      Reply

      Lauren

      April 12, 2016

      Hi Dave,

      If you don’t have luck connecting on PVED with other couples who needed a gestational carrier, feel free to reach out to me. I can put you in touch with two [hetero] sets of parents (well, the wives) who used a surrogate.

      Best,

      Lauren

  3. Reply

    Jasminblumen

    July 24, 2016

    I need experience on the feelings of mother via ED also having her genetic own child/children

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