After our second round of IVF was successful but then ended in miscarriage, I looked at my husband and simply told him, “No more.” I could not bear to stick another needle in my stomach or drive to the clinic in the dark of early morning for ultrasounds. We wanted to be parents, and pregnancy was not something I wanted anymore. A short time later, we separately decided that adoption was the path to parenthood we wanted to pursue. The relief and excitement we felt when we realized we were in agreement renewed our hope. We never even went to our follow-up appointment with our RE. This is our story about adoption after infertility.
So, what do you need to know about adopting after infertility?
You need to know that people will be excited for you! Our families were thrilled about our news to grow our family through adoption. Infertility had weighed heavily on them, too. They also felt the emptiness of our home and knew how much we wanted to be parents. The decision to move to adoption shifted our focus from “if” to “when.” Once we completed the home study and were a waiting family, we knew that for us parenthood was just a matter of a phone call. We knew it could be a long wait, but we felt hopeful that we would be parents soon. Adoption took away everyone’s anxieties about treatments, two-week waits, and financial strains.
You need to know that many adoption agencies do not want prospective adoptive parents to pursue both adoption and fertility treatment. Agencies want families who are fully committed to adoption, and fertility treatments can split that focus. It was an easy decision for us, but you may need to take the space and time to grieve the loss of biological ties to a child before you are ready to begin the adoption process. It can be a long, intense process, so your heart and mind should be invested solely in adoption.
You need to know that adoption is not an infertility cure. Infertility blocked one of our paths to parenthood, but adoption showed us that there are many ways to be grow our family. If your end goal is to be a parent, adoption is an excellent option. We heard many well-meaning people say, “Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll get pregnant” over and over again. It was incredibly hurtful, as if adoption was a way to get pregnant or that pregnancy was our end goal. Resolve, the National Infertility Association, found that there was no difference in pregnancy rates for couples who adopted versus those who did not. Imagine our surprise when we found out our three month old would be a big brother because I was pregnant. I fiercely spouted off the Resolve stats to anyone who would listen during my pregnancy. Although we are one of “those couples,” we know that our story is not typical and advocate this often.
You need to know that infertility wounds can heal, but the scars may remain. Infertility is messy. It can play host to some of the worst emotions we can experience and don’t want to readily admit. I hoped they would melt away when our son was placed in my arms, but they just became less intense. I’m not proud of my reactions to pregnancy announcements while we were in the throes of fertility treatments, but they were honest, raw emotional moments. After adopting our son, I still felt that jealousy rise up within me, but it was subdued. Even after a surprise pregnancy, I feel annoyed when I see a pregnancy announcement. Infertility will always be a part of our story, so it’s important to recognize its bubbling effects even after resolving infertility.
You need to know that your heart can hold more love than you knew possible. Of course, your heart will overflow with love for your child. But your heart will carry love and grace for your child’s birth family forever. I am still amazed at the courage of our son’s birth mom and birth dad, and I am so grateful that they were surrounded with support in their decision. Adoption has humbled me in ways I could not imagine. I hope I am the mother that my son’s birth mom imagined when she selected our profile, and I am deeply grateful that she chose us to raise her son. In the chaos and challenges that parenting has presented, I know my cup runneth over thanks to selfless love of others.