16 November, 2011

Just Adopt

A new blogger, Beef Princess at Simply Not Conceivable, has joined our community.  I love the by-line to her blog:

because not everyone can have children, but they can still have a life.

This week she got me thinking, and I wanted to respond.  And if, in doing so, I direct some readers to her blog, all the better.

She raised the question of adoption.  I’ve not addressed this issue yet here, though I plan to at some stage.  I  loved her comment that  Most people won’t have to try so hard to have kids.  They will never have to answer that question.  I think that’s what makes me so angry about this question, this assumption from the fertiles that we can “just” adopt. It  is so easy for them to blithely say, “we would have adopted if we couldn’t have children.”  But such comments are meaningless unless they have been through infertility, perhaps spent all their disposable income on fertility treatments, exhausted themselves emotionally (as Beef Princess points out) through years of disappointment and grief, put their relationship under huge pressure, and perhaps dealt with pregnancy losses or still-births.”  Try saying “just adopt” and mean it after all that.  We know it isn’t that easy. And I wish others did too.


  1. People can say they would all they want, but until they are faced with the actual decision bc their ability to conceive is null and void, it means nothing. There is so much more going into that decision than just the desire to have a child.

  2. As usual, you nailed it, Mali. Most people don't have to give having kids much thought, in fact quite a few people I know had "accidents." (God I really hate that... I mean, not the kids just that it really highlights the unfairness of infertility for me; the "we weren't even trying bit.")I haven't closed the doors to adoption, though at DH's and my age, the doors might be or are close to closing on us. The current state of my finances don't help either.

  3. One day, I promise myself, I am going to answer that "just adopt" advice with "and so why didn't you 'just adopt' instead of conceiving your biological children?"

  4. People are quick to comment and have opinions on IF. I hate it, but I don't entirely blame them.

    The same can be said about terminal illness- people say things like, "If I had a long drawn out terminal illness I would like to be euthanised." Perhaps that is the case, if so I wouldn't blame you, but you can't say for sure unless it happens.

    The reason I don't blame them is I am ashamed to admit that I had opinions on IF before I knew it would affect me. I used to say, and I tell no word of a lie that I really meant it, "If we can't have kids, I will not be that bothered. I don't want to have IVF as it looks complicated and painful (well that part's true) so I would just adopt." I also said that I would never obsessively try for a baby (I was definitely obsessive when TTC for several months).

    I feel terrible that I used to think in this way, but I was not a bad person, just ignorant. You *think* you might know how you would react, but until it happens you don't really know at all.

    I am not sure what the answer is here regarding people's attitudes. I am not comfortable with openly discussing my IF with most people. Those who know about it (a handful of people) do not know the half of it. I know they won't understand so I don't try to make them- I know they will say something upsetting to me and I don't think it's worth it.

    Perhaps I am defeatest, I am also possibly wrong, but that's my tuppence worth.

  5. Vixen, I could have written your exact comment, verbatim.

  6. as you know, since i am only 30 and infertile, I get the "just adopt" comment A TON. it is annoying b/c you are right, the majority of people do not have a hard time becoming a parent. In the past, I have just smiled when this is said and said "oh maybe some day" or something. But, I have decided to respond more to that comment to get people thinking further. I really appreciate when I see other people talking about this as it makes me not feel so alone.

  7. I am hesitant about posting a comment here. I do have kids (4) and I have been reading some of these sites as I have close relatives going through some of these issues. I would not presume to make a comment about infertility (I know how damn lucky I am, and that's all it is - luck), and I would not presume to say I understand what you have gone through. But as someone who has friends who are facing infertility the whole "adopt" issue does come up. And I have to say the view towards adoption seems one sided. There was a recent article on infertility on NYTimes and there were more than 500 comments. What was interesting reading through them was those who had kids would say "adopt" those who didn't would hold up a number of examples why this was not an option. This is what I don't get.

    The whole "adoption is not a viable option" is absolutely understandable from a woman/couple that have gone through years of IVF, who are broke, who are tired of it all at a fundamental level. But, then pregnancy is no bed of roses either. I went through 6 difficult pregancies which added up to over 2 years of hell (this is not flippant comment), plus child is hard work and exhausting on a myriad of levels). But I kept going, as have many millions of other women (incl IVF etc)

    So, this is what I don't get. Some bloggers seem to put adoption in the same catagory as a "calling" ?? - which is to my mind both offensive and so off the mark it beggars belief. A child is a child. To love a child is to love a child. From what I'm reading - the real issue with adoption is that it is not genetically one's own child. Which is a whole other issue. I have worked in aid/dev over the world (with child poverty/labour) for over 10 years, and there is a big world out there, with a lot of scared, needy kids. The real question is will you Only be a parent/Only love a child that is genetically your own.

    Life is messy and random and it can be both awful and joyous, this we all know. But to want a child, which is absolutely understandable, and to go through all the hell of rough pregnancies, or post partum, or just trying to have one..and then to end up with 'adoption is not a viable option' and 'no one knows how we feel', and 'if it were that easy we would', and 'we only want our own child' is bizarre. I have read many women say "oh we heard horror stories of friends trying to adopt" "or the birth mother fell through" or "It's just more money"... Well, I don’t recall anyone not going through pregnancy even though it can kill you (I'm pretty sure adoption can't kill you), or because friends/mothers/sisters had terrible, awful, frightening pregnancies, or that the cost of having a child is a lot, or that the cost of required (e.g. not optional, but emergency) csections (esp in places like the US) can be in the $10,000 range. The world is also full of people who have adopted and who now Are parents, loving a child that, no, is not their own genetically, but is their own in every way that matters.

    I'm sure I will get blasted for this comment. But I keep reading the same view about adoption, and as a parent (with friends who have adopted) it's like reading posts from, say, women who have never had sex saying "oh, the first time it's going to be Great" and non-virgins saying "The First time? Ha! I wouldn't count on it". My point? To shut this option off as the outcome has already been decided, as so many seem to, or to sideline being a parent and loving a child into some bizarre category of "adoption is a calling" (like a nun? what??) is insane. Life is finite, and having a child is wonderful. If adoption is an alternative path anyone who discounts it as a "calling" or "not viable as we only want our own child", has, (and I'm sorry, but I stand by this comment), no clue what the real bonds of a parent and child are or should be.

    Sally, UK

  8. Sally, I think your message basically reinforces my point. You clearly do not understand why people saying "just adopt" is so distressing to many women and couples who are infertile. Perhaps you should read my post again, and that of Beef Princess, and really read it. Listen to what was said (including in the comments) and really hear what we are saying. No-one said adoption is a "calling." Some compassion would be nice.

    I am not going to get into a long argument here, but some of your comparisons are insulting, and most miss the point. I could answer each of them individually - but won't (at least, not right now).

    You chose to have your own biological children, and it seems went through a very difficult time to have them. I'm sorry for that. But you don't understand that infertile women have to grieve the loss of that experience. It hurts to hear someone say, somewhat condescendingly, "pregnancy is no bed of roses" if you haven't had that opportunity, if you'd actually love to have had even a difficult pregnancy if it meant delivering your own child.

    And if it was so tough, why did you not "just adopt"? Why was your need to have biological children so strong that you went through six very difficult pregnancies (quote "two years of hell") and had FOUR children when you could have adopted four of those needy children internationally? Do you think infertile women should be held to a different standard than you?

    My last comment is that I am certainly not dismissing adoption as an option - it is a wonderful option if it is right for the parents. It is right for some people, it isn't for others. It should not be assumed that every infertile couple would or could adopt. It should not be assumed that it is simply a case of "just adopt."

  9. Hi Mali, I just found your blog, and am shedding tears of gratitude. Your strength and grace give me hope as I look ahead into an unexpected abyss. Like Vixen above, I can still hear the echo of my old judgmental thoughts...I sure had all of the answers before I knew I would be dealt the questions.

    10 years ago, hands down, I would have thought anyone who had trouble conceiving/carrying a pregnancy should absolutely adopt. What an obvious solution, when you're not bogged down with physical and emotional exhaustion, and the reality of the expense and ethical gray area that exists in the adoption world. After spending the past 20+ years being a very involved aunt to 19(!) nieces and nephews, I am all too aware that you can sacrifice so much, only to be reminded that you are not the 'real' parent in the end. I am terrified that I will give my life over to a child, who will (understandably) go looking for that real family some day, and feel a deeper bond with them than with me. I have seen this happen with my adult adoptee friends, and as happy as I am for them that they are able to fill this missing piece of their lives, I always wonder what the adoptive parents are feeling. I've had pregnancies taken away from me, and I don't know if I'm strong enough to cope with being told I'm not a 'real parent' by my child down the road. Selfish? Probably. But until I work through that, I can't 'just adopt.'