Friday, March 7, 2008

"Why don't you just adopt?"

It's a question that was posed to me many, many times while ttc#1. I have to say it's not asked to me so much anymore, as I usually get the "at least you already have two."

I've been thinking about the aspect of adoption recently because of two things - One, because of me looking into the women who have decided upon living child free and Two, because I met someone who quite possibly has the best adoption success stories ever.

What this post is not about how hard it really can be, and usually is, to adopt. It's also not about how stupid a question that is to ask anyone who is having a hard time ttc. Nor is it about why you would adopt or why you did adopt. My question posed to those who chose ~not~ to adopt. Those who adoption wasn't for them.

I know I'm asking very sensitive questions of a very personal nature. Please feel free to comment anonymously if you would feel more comfortable. But please try to answer if you can, I'm really interested in what anyone has to say.

With our failures ttc#3, I approached my husband about the idea of adoption. Our situation is different because we do have children. If we don't adopt, we aren't looking at living child free, we're just looking at living with two children. Totally different if I was ttc#1. We hadn't yet gotten to this question in our first ttc journey, so I honestly will not be able to give any information of what we would have done if we didn't succeed. It's really because of not knowing the answers to how my own story would have gone, that I ask now.

When I asked my husband, he gave me an emphatic "no". There will be no adoption attempts from his point of view. Since this would be a mutual decision, his "no" pretty much trumps any "yes" from my lips.

I was a little surprised over how quickly he was able to answer me. When asked his reasoning, he responded ~"I don't think I could love an adopted child as much as I love my biological children." Wait - before anyone gets too pissed off over his comment, keep in mind this is from A) a man, B) a man who hasn't had to wonder about adoption and C) a man who hasn't had ~any~ 'experience' with anything adoption related.

His answer shocked me. I just couldn't see how someone could say or even think that. Once you have a child that is yours, I couldn't see anything else but loving that child no differently than something out of my own DNA. But even though I didn't agree, I couldn't fault him for his own feelings. I wasn't going to argue, as adoptions isn't anything I'd really pursue too much. Honestly, it scares me too much. All that work and anticipation with the very real aspect of failure. Sure, TTC has the "same" kind of feelings, but failures would be my own failures. With adoption, I feel that I'd have to put too much ownership on someone else, so when he said "no", I was okay with it. Had he said "yes", I'd of gone into a new direction - delving into how I would really be able to go through the process. I could definitely see myself adopting, it's just the process that really freaks me out.

So, adoption, for us, is out. If this IVF fails, it fails. If we don't succeed and we close up shop at the end of the summer, that's what we'll do. We will still feel blessed to have the family we have, although I'll always know in my heart I have an empty seat at the table. The seat that was slated for child #3.

Onto my question - if you have decided against adoption - why? Was it a mutual decision? Was it like us where one "no" trumped any "yes"? Does anyone else feel like my husband does? Are you not planning on adopting because you have children? Are you not planning on adopting to focus on living child free? Do you want to adopt but can't for any reason? There's a myriad of questions I can ask right now, so you'll have to do the work in answering anything that could be asked.

I want to thank anyone who answers. I wonder what my husband's answer would have been if I asked before we conceived #1. Would he have chosen to live child free? Or would he of had a different feeling due to not having children at home? Would I of no accepted an answer of "no"? I have no way of knowing. But to get an idea, your own stories would help me out. So thank you.


Wordgirl said...

Hi Nancy,

I think about this one quite a bit -- because of my own reluctance to continue with treatments in part -- part of my rationale for going to the new RE and even contemplating IVF is that G. is very lukewarm on adopting.

Nearly a year ago I went to an adoption meeting alone -- got all the paperwork -- started planning according to our particular situation -- certain age, certain number of years married -- G. previously married..etc. It narrows the field for international adoption...I was so ready to file for adoption from Korea as soon as we could -- until I found out we would have to have been married for three years -- and though we've been together for five -- only married now for about a year and a half...ANYWAY.

I came up with this idea and was all excited..because I wanted to adopt a girl, and because the wait for a referral was longer...I had it all planned out -- in October of '08 when we'd been married two full years we'd put in our papers...and by the time the referral came through we'd have hit the year requirements for marriage etc. G. just said, in his own way, no. "Let's just try naturally and play it by ear."

Ultimately, for him, it was the genetic factor and the prenatal care being out of his control. It isn't an argument that I buy, but we're still working through it.

If anything for me I struggle with open domestic adoption because, in part, I parent a child with another mother -- and it's difficult. It scares me, frankly.

The academic in me could go on and on about the other issues -- debates over cross-cultural adoption and the politics of it all...I've heard and intellectually get the arguments -- but in my heart I guess I believe love is love and if there's a child who needs love --and you have love to give... *sigh*

If I really said this is it for me -- that I had to be a parent and if that were the only way I think G. would agree...but who wants someone with nagging doubts? Wouldn't you rather it be a wholehearted 'I'm in'.

I know he goes back and forth, but for now he's out -- which means we're out.

Thanks for the question.


joyous melancholy said...

My husband has the same fears about adoption. His own step-father never loved him as much as he loved "his own" children, and told him so on a regular basis. In fact, he told him that he was having his own children, because his step-children weren't really his kids and he wanted a "real" family.

I find this POV twisted and wrong. How can a man marry a woman with children, and then refuse to be any type of a father figure to them?

Anyway, he started to come around towards the end of our TTC#1 journey, when we were facing the possiblity of IVF. I pointed out to him that he loves our friends' kids utterly. There is nothing he wouldn't do for them. If something happened to our friends, and we were to take their children into our home, those kids would be our kids. We'd preserve the memory of our friends, the legacy they're trying to leave their kids, but those kids would be loved and provided for and raised as if we had physically created them. And it wouldn't take any more effort to do so. In fact, it would be MORE difficult to NOT do so.

Once he realized that he already loved "someone else's" kids, and how easy it really is to love a child, he started to open up more to the idea of adoption. I would still like to adopt some day. He is still reticent. But it's not a closed door anymore.

We ended up conceiving on our last step before IVF, so we haven't discussed adoption since. But I think I would have pushed the issue even harder if our choice was between that and living child free.

I can't help but think of Angelina Jolie, who has said that she doesn't bond with her natural children as well as she does with her adopted kids, because she feels sorry for the pasts of her adopted kids while her biological kids have had it all from the start. This seems backwards to me, too.

Christina said...

I actually wrote a little about adoption on my blog today. In my mind when I was younger I always assumed I would adopt because there are so many kids out there that need parents, why bring another one into the world? I find it very easy for me to get emotionally attached to kids (like friend's kids or kids at our church) and my husband is the same way, neither one of us feels like we'll have a hard time loving an adopted child. My husband is the one that wanted to try for a biological child first. We decided that we'll try for a year and then seriously look at adoption (so we have 4 more months of trying). I would much rather put my savings into adopting a child then try IVF or IUI since my insurance won't pay for it at all and we can't guarantee that we'll get a child out of it in the end.

Portraits in Sepia said...

I get just as excited thinking about an adopted child of my own in my house and imagining mothering that child as I do about a biological child that I would give birth to. However, in researching adoption the one thing that absolutely has become an emotional obstacle for me is this; How dare someone else come into my house (via a homestudy) and make judgments about whether or not my husband and I would make good, suitable loving parents! I KNOW why the home study is important and I get that. I am just angry that others get pregnant with no input or opinions of professional social workers.....many unfit to have and raise children yet I will have to answer questions regarding my own parents and how they raised me, my beliefs, my habits, my routines, my ability to care for and love a child and other more invasive questions. It is driving me nuts thinking about it. Again, I know why it's important but it's just not fair. (not that I ever expected life to be such.)
To answer your question, my husband has always wanted to adopt first....long before we were ever engaged adoption was on his mind. Very unusual for a Mexican Catholic from a large family.

Shayna said...

The only reason why I ~wouldn't~ adopt is because I don't have the money. I like to provide for my family so having a fundraiser, for me, is like asking people for handouts and I can't do that. That's just how I would feel, I'm not saying that's how it really is. I would love to adopt, but there is SO much work involved and SO much money and nothing is definite. That's scary.

That's pretty much the only reason why I wouldn't adopt. I think DH is pretty open to it though, we haven't really talked about it much.

nancy said...

Thank you all so much for your thoughts so far.... I have responding comments/questions, but don't have the time right at the moment. (you know, with having to take a whole 12 seconds to inject lupron and all! ~wink~)

I'll try to get back to this tonight. I was SO FREAKING EXCITED to see so much effort in your responses. You all RULE.

Denise said...

This obviously has nothing to do with your post, but I wanted to respond to your comment. The mylanta is to create a coating on the skin so that the adhesive doesn't cause a reaction. I guess the medication still gets through somehow. I've talked to others who said it worked for them, so I figure it's worth a shot!

And yeah, I'm sure there's plenty of room "up there." After all, it's built to fit a baby coming through, right? I don't know what it is about the blue. Gives me the eeby-jeebies.

Chas said...

During the three years that we TTC the old fashioned way, even though I started to realize something might be wrong with us (lol, yeah, it took a while for it to sink in), I thought about adoption a few times, but it was a very fleeting thought every time. I was in school, and we couldn't afford adoption financially, so I didn't give it a lot of thought.

Then once we faced reality and realized what was up, I gave it a little thought...I don't recall my husband being totally opposed to it, but we decided to try IVF first. I really wanted to carry a me selfish. IVF #1 worked, and the adoption option wasn't needed for the time being.

Last summer when we tried an FET, and it didn't pan out, I thought about it again. Then we were going to do FET #2 several months ago, and when the remaining embryos didn't make the thaw, I had to make the decision between spending the money on another fresh IVF cycle or attempting adoption. We decided to do IVF yet again. I guess I want to carry another baby...I guess I want a biological sibling for my daughter. It's all selfish, but that's my honest reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nancy,
I love reading your blogs because, like you, I had *some* trouble conceiving my first and no trouble whatsoever conceiving my second girl. Mine are also 15 months apart. Anyway, I've been following your story for quite some time as my husband and I wonder what we'll do down the road....will we try for a third or not? But I wanted to comment on your husband's comment regarding adoption. I have to say that I agree with him. I know I am in the minority, but I do think it would be hard to adopt once you have biological children. I would love to hear from someone who has done that. Maybe you just "do" kind of like you wonder if you'll love your second child as much as your first, and you just do--automatically. I don't know... I just wanted to comment that I agree with your husband, but I would love hear from someone who has adopted AFTER a biological child.

Denise said...

Can you ask Tom a question for me? If the suppository is a rock that gives of progesterone "vibes," can I just hold it in my pocket instead? I mean the vibes should work from there right?

I assume you were kidding about the leaning tower. You are way smarter than that. Way more smart? Wow. Having a brain fart here. How bout way more smarter? Now I sound like George W.

Io said...

Nancy, you're going to have to wait for my comment because this post has really challenged me. I looked at it a few times this evening and read everyone's comments and now I think I need to write an entry about it tomorrow.

Spicy Sister said...

Nancy - this was a great post with great questions. In fact, my family has asked me in the past to post about my own reasons for not considering adoption at this time, so maybe this will inspire me to get around to it.

Honestly, there are a lot of complex issues involved in our decision to not pursue adoption right now. A lot. But probably the biggest barrier is that my husband also has said "No" - at least for now. He has his own reasons for this. Some stemming from his childhood and his own fears about fatherhood, some stemming from his desire to actually experience the process of pregnancy, birth, the whole shabang, with me. And there are other reasons of course.

Ultimately, I think on some level I am grateful he is saying "no" right now. It means I don't have to struggle with my own mixed feelings about taking that road at this point. His veto lets me off the hook a little.

I am completely excited about the "idea" of adoption - and even imagine adopting children later in life....but right now, for whatever reasons....I am not totally there. The chance to be pregnant means a lot to me - getting to experience pregnancy and childbirth means a lot to me - getting to see both my husband and myself in our child, well, it means a lot to me. I honestly am just not ready to give up on that dream, you know? long as there's a chance - that's the path I am following for now.

I have been called selfish for this. I have been told that I "have so much to give" to children in need....and I can even agree to some level on both of these points. But a wise woman (who adopted 2 children by the way) once explained to me that becoming a parent, however it happens, is at its core, a "selfish" choice. No matter how much you might feel that you are doing it for noble reasons, ultimately, you want to be a parent. You want children. You want that experience. It is to fulfill this desire in you. I think this is an interesting perspective. And it certainly helped me feel less guilty about our choice for now.

I guess ultimately - I see adoption as a different road, a different battle....a good one, a worthy one - but just not the one we are on right now.

Anonymous said...

I am ashanmed to say, I have some of the same reasoning that your husband does, and I think part of that worry stems from some expectation of failing or flaw on my part. In addition, I never actually wanted children, until I met and married my husband. My desire is to have his child, not a child. So adoption has never had interest for me.

Jenera said...

I want to leave a comment on this but seeing as how I am not currently in your position, I will totally understand if you do not post it.

Right after my miscarriage we found out that a SIL was pregnant with her third child and considering an abortion. I was livid since it was days after losing my baby to hear this news. She is a useless piece of human flesh that doesn't even have custody of her first two kids.

About a month ago, she approached my hubby about wanting us to take her baby and adopt it. I was floored. She said we would be the perfect choice for raising her child.

Let me also add in that there were some issues with the people raising her first two kids and we were fully prepared to step in and take them should they be removed from where they are now. I could not see these kids going back into the system.

However, when my the hubby approached me about adopting the baby I was very hesistant. Not because I felt like I couldn't love this baby as my own. I could. However, it would be MY baby. I would not allow this worthless woman have any part of the child's life because I would go through every step to adopt the child.

All that said, of course when the child was old enough to understand, it would be told about the adoption and what not. But still.

Ultimately, I could not handle the stress and risk of having a link to his SIL because I cannot stand her and I know that she would never truly allow us to raise that child, regardless of what she said.

I think I would be open for adoption but I don't think I'm strong enough of a person. Mainly for the reasons why we won't adopt SIL's baby. I think it is unfair when people give up children for adoption (for whatever reason) but expect to still be in their lives for any reason whatsoever.

Like I said, this situation is different than what you might be looking for but I thought I'd put it there.

KatieM said...

DH and I have talked about adoption...even started looking into our local foster homes and info for Guatemalan adoptions (not sure why there, it just stuck out to us); however I'm not sure I'm ready to really do that yet. Quite frankly, I'm scared of it. Not scared as in "will I love this child as much" but scared of whole process in general. I'm scared DH and I won't be considered good enough, our house may not be roomy enough, our bank account not big enough, would my CF affect an agency's decision on my parenting ability, etc, etc. All of these "enoughs" that someone ELSE gets to decide.

Plus, because I'm young(er) if I did adopt it would have to be a toddler or younger right now....and that wait is long, and the cost is much greater than a round of IVF for us. And, in addition to that with treatments I have some sort of control...protocols, procedures, etc...with adoption that control is taken away, and I am not comfortable with that at this point in time.

Adoption has never been out of the question, and if it came to a point where nothing worked with DH and I (including IVF), we will talk about it again. I don't think it is my desire to actually birth my own child that keeps me going down the treatment route right now, but simply being afraid of the big unknown and scrutiny that is adoption.

Tracers said...

I'm coming from a totally different perspective. We DID pursue adoption instead of fertility treatments. However, our experience w/adoption was so bad and we felt so burned that we turned to the ART world. It's sort of weird because I had come to terms w/not having bio children and now w/donor insemination it is only going to be 1/2 bio (assuming I get pregnant of course) so in my mind it's almost a partial adoption. So weird...

Like other commenters I have ranted about the home study situation and the open adoption thing.

Kaci said...

First, I'm so sorry for my visit Saturday! Really, really sorry. I've taken my foot out of my mouth & will comment again.

I think this is a great post. I will admit that I feel the same way your husband does. I think I would struggle to love an adopted child as much as I love Matthew & Scarlett. Of course I also wondered if I could possibly love child #2 as much as child #1, so maybe it wouldn't be an issue. But I wouldn't pursue adoption because of that.

What I don't share with many people is that I had a baby when I was young & single that I put up for adoption. For me it was a question of timing, I was nowhere near ready for parenthood, it was best for the baby and me. When I went through the "waiting couples" book, I immediately eliminated couples who had biological children. My thinking even then was "how could they love an adopted child as much?". I then eliminated couples who had already adopted children, thinking that "at least they had one." Oh how naive! While I'm not yet ttc#3, I get it now. That yearning for #3 is there, and just as strong as that yearning for #1.

I think it is great when people choose to adopt. I just know it's not for me. I couldn't take the chance that I would adopt and NOT love that child just as much as I love Matthew & Scarlett. It wouldn't be fair to the child. If David & I had never gotten pregnant, I can't say what we would have done...

Anonymous said...

To adopt or not to adopt, that is a hard question for me. I struggle with that one on a few different levels.

As an adoptee myself, I feel that I should be gun-ho when it comes to adoption, but I am not. I long to know what it feels like to have a child growing inside of me. I want to experience birth and all the pains that go along with it.

I also have issues with domestic adoption. I think that it is too prohibitive. Not only do you need to have extensive home studies, you will still have 6 months to bond with the child before anything is finalized. This means in 5 months and 29 days, the mother can change her mind and take the child back. This terrifies me. I had a hard time letting go of a dog I knew 6 days, let alone 6 months.

I will not do foster care. The system is broken. Too many children are sent back to abusive and drug addicted parents only to be taken away over and over. This creates a child with emotional scars and issues that just can’t be hugged away.

DH and I will not qualify for a Chinese adoption because I have been on anti-depressants, we do not make $80K and year and we cannot put away $5K a year in a fund for the child’s education. I won’t even go into the BMI requirements.

Guatemala adoptions could cease to exist if the current issues are not fixed. Russia doesn’t want to give up the children a easily as in the past, African adoptions are getting harder and some require a year of residence in the country. Philippine adoptions are near impossible and I am not sure yet on other countries.

All of these adoptions start at $30K and go up from there. Honestly, that is $30K we do not have.

And I hate to say this because I realize how horrible it sounds; I really want a Caucasian baby. I am not saying that I don’t like other ethnic backgrounds; I think it is easier on the child in the long run to be with a family close to their genetic heritage. I know that is was hard enough to fit into a family I looked nothing like, and it was Caucasian across the board. If DH and I were to foster-to-adopt, the chances for a white child are very low. A white infant is even lower. And international adoptions are obviously hit and miss depending on the country.

I may feel differently in a few years but as of now, I need to keep trying for myself. I am not ready to give up the fight.

- Bat Girl

Steph said...

Well, I can tell you what happened before we conceived #1. It took 13.5 months to conceive DS.

I was getting so frustrated. I had NO idea what IVF was, or IUI, or temping, or charting, or RE..nada. I literally had no resources to fall back on for information. I literally knew NOTHING about TTC. I didn't know that a year was somewhat typical for a reproductively-healthy couple TTC.

Well, DH and I had a talk about it and I asked him what he thought about adoption. He said he'd rather NOT have a child than raise someone else's bc he didn't think he could love it like his own.

He never considered that, once you have a baby, once you nurture it, fall in love with it, spend nights walking the floors and consoling that tiny little person, that your heart would belong to that baby. Like you said, Nancy, about your husband, my DH just didn't "get" it.

Now, if he had the same question posed to him, he'd be much more likely to at least consider the "idea" of adoption, whereas before, he just automatically shot it down without a moment's hesitation.

But now he knows the love of a child, the love you have for that child..and I think being the person he is now, he would greatly reconsider his first reaction to adoption.

If he had that question posed to him, now, in other words, he'd say he'd rather adopt and have a child than never have one of his own.

Claire said...

My husband's response was the same as yours. He already has two of his own kids from a previous marriage. I would have adopted in a heartbeat. I mean, there are tons of kids in the world who need a good home and it's the enlightened thing to do. Besides, who really WANTS to do IVF? I surely didn't! Plus, I think being a stepmom, you get over the fact that you are mothering kids that aren't your own DNA.

Pamela Jeanne said...

I have a saved link on my blog to a post written by someone I truly admire. It perfectly reflects my thinking on the subject:

shinejil said...

My husband is also not willing to consider adoption, for much the same reasons as yours, Nancy. Though he feels that he would only be able to adopt if he knew he could love the child as HIS child, not as a substitute for something else. I've always dreamed of adopting (the original plan: one bio, one adopted from Russia).

To be honest, with his reluctance, I'd rather be childfree at this point. It would frankly allow me to live a whole other kind of life, and as my calling is in education, I'd feel like I was passing on something of my experience and passion to the younger generation. I've also thought of many other ways I could give love and life to others, be it through volunteering, fostering, or even donating a kidney to a needy young person.

I'm not sure how I'll feel after a few more rounds of treatment. Adoption may be in the cards, if my husband has a change of heart. If not, I'll make my peace and dedicate myself to other important pursuits.

Very good questions and great post!

Alice said...

I was the one who was having reservations about adopting - but mainly because I felt like a failure and that if my husband had been with someone else he would be able to have a bio child. It was absolutely not important to him - he wants a child. I mourned the idea of having a bio child but eventually got over it. Someone made a good point to me: you aren't biologically related to your spouse and you love them, right? And then I realized, HEY WAIT A MINUTE - guaranteed child! And it became an awesome idea. Anyway, I respect your husband's feelings - but sometimes with time, one may look at things differently (but you are right - the process itself is pretty daunting).

loribeth said...

Sharah's post (link in Pamela Jeanne's comment) also speaks to a lot of my own reasons for not adopting. I might add that, when my dh & I decided we were done with treatment, we were 40 & 44 years old. We knew that you don't just decide to adopt & voila! baby!! & that our ages might be a barrier in certain jurisdictions (I also wondered about how likely a teenaged mother would be to pick people as old if not older than her own parents to parent her baby.) We knew adoption would mean stepping off one roller coaster & onto another, & who knew how long the ride would take? We decided that, at our ages, we were done riding rollercoasters -- we wanted off. Had I been 35 instead of 40, I might have felt differently.

JCK said...

I have kind of an unusual story in that we went through years of IF treatments, finally culminating in 3 fresh IVF cycles & 2 frozen, none of which resulted in a pregnancy. We then took a break. My husband was not ready immediately to talk about adoption. We had been through so much emotionally, we had to just take some time. 6 months later we went to an adoption seminar and 6 months after that decided to adopt. We were very lucky. We chose U.S. adoption through an agency and matched with a birthmother after 4 months. We were there for the birth of our son and immediately bonded. The depth of love that we felt truly astounded us, as is true for most parents after the birth of their children..especially after a long journey. Then 2 months later I found out I was pregnant, at 42! Our daughter was born that year and our children are 10 months apart. Our worry was could we love another child as much as our son!

I share all of this only to say that one never knows the depth of one's heart and you will surprise yourself. Let alone what your own personal journey bears. Love is so powerful. And just grows larger.

And the most insensitive thing said to me...while I was pregnant with my daughter and my son was a few months old: "Did you think about giving him back?" And the woman was serious...