Why don’t you just adopt?
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.