Making the Decision to Adopt After Infertility

If you and your partner have been on the infertility roller-coaster for an extended length of time, making the decision to stop trying to get pregnant can be fraught with emotions. Even though you may realistically understand that adopting a child can allow you to have the family you so desperately want, you will first have to deal with the grief, anger, frustration and disappointment you feel because of your inability to conceive. You may have been struggling literally for years and years through infertility treatments as well as possibly enduring one or more miscarriages. Many single women may also have decided to have a child on their own, only to find out that after undergoing infertility treatments, artificial insemination, drugs and miscarriages that it is just not going to happen biologically. Many women feel guilty for postponing having children as if it is somehow their fault now that they are unable to conceive.

Deciding to Adopt

At some point in the infertility process, couples slowly begin to think about what it would be like to raise an adopted child. Usually they will begin taking baby steps as far as investigating adoption, but at this point are still not ready to give up completely on having a biological child. As they work through the information and do the research, the prospective parents may begin to question what is important to them, specifically, as far as having a child. Is it important that the baby look like them? Are they set on having a newborn, or would they be open to an older child? What about a child with health issues or a disability? These are all very important questions which must be carefully considered prior to making the final decision to adopt. It is equally important that as a couple, you and your partner sit down and thoroughly discuss not only how you each feel about these questions, but whether you are up, emotionally and physically, for the adoption journey. The truth is that birth plans fall through, rejections can come from birth parents or adoption agencies, or the birth itself may be far different from what was planned or expected. In its own way, adoption can be every bit as stressful as infertility.

The Adoption Process

The outcome of an adoption, is, of course, a "real" child, which is different from the imagined child you likely dreamed about when you thought of carrying a child in your womb. Of course the adoption journey is a process in the same way dealing with infertility is a process, likely fraught with setbacks and disappointments along the way, and you may be totally unprepared to realize that adoption can be as difficult in its own way as infertility. Social workers and adoption agencies are fairly used to the wide range of emotions experienced by adoptive parents as well as the many questions the prospective parents will have and can help you through the adoption. Many couples will reach out to those who have either been adopted, or who have adopted a child in order to help them understand the process.

Fear of Adoption

Many adoptive parents are secretly worried about whether or not they will feel the same love for an adopted child as they would for a biological child. They also wonder whether the child will love them, and bond with them, and fear rejection. In truth, nearly five percent of American households have adopted children, and of those, only a very small percentage--between 2 and 14%--have been disrupted. These fears are a very normal part of adoption.

Letting Go

As couples start moving through the adoption process, their focus will gradually shift away from the pregnancy they had anticipated for so long. They will let go of the idea of biological perpetration of their line, and revise their ideas of what parenting will be. Many couples will actually find that being able to let go of those original dreams will bring them a sense of relief and allow them to move on with their life. The joy of adoption can actually bring unexpected healing, so if you are at the point in your infertility journey where you feel it may be time to look at adoption, take it slow and allow yourself to fully feel all the emotions.

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