I have been thinking about this post for a while. It has been swirling around and I’ve gone from definitely write it to definitely don’t write it. I have decided to write about our decision not to pursue adoption in the hope that it shows that every story is different and that there are many reasons why it might not be a route to building a family.
Many times during our IVF treatment we have been asked “why don’t you just adopt” or “have you thought about adoption”. The questions usually come after a treatment hasn’t worked or when we have been at a stage of not having treatment and not knowing what comes next. My response to those questions is now “of course we have thought about it, we have explored it thoroughly and we have made the decision that it isn’t the right thing for us”.
There was a time when I thought it would be an option for us. After FET number 5 didn’t work back in 2014 we spent many months talking about the possibility of adoption being the next step for us. Hubby was really keen and so I started to do some reading about it. The more reading and research that I did, the more I tried to convince myself that it would be the right path for us. In the Autumn of 2014 we went to an adoption information evening with the local authority. We listened to a presentation about the process and the general backgrounds about some of the children in care who were placed for adoption. As I was listening, a sense of panic set in and I just wanted to get out of the room. We left as soon as it was over. Hubby came out saying he was more certain now that he wanted to pursue it, I was an emotional wreck. I wasn’t ready for this. I told hubby that I wasn’t ready and that I still wanted to go with more IVF.
The process for approval is intrusive, it would take time and it was clear that the children placed for adoption had a whole range of histories that would mean they needed something very special from the people that would become their parents. There was of course, no guarantee that a child would be placed. There was no guarantee of a ‘happy ending’. There are very few babies placed for adoption. In fact, at the time the local authority were only accepting applications from people willing to consider sibling groups or children over (I think) age 4. There were already lots of people approved for the younger age groups. After everything we had already been through I just wasn’t ready to put us through another grueling process which, to me at the time, sounded utterly exhausting and terrifying. I was on the floor emotionally after 7 rounds of treatment and hubby and I were struggling to get through some days. We had waited the required 6 months after treatment before we approached the local authority, but I just wasn’t ready. In all honesty, I didn’t think we were strong enough to get through the process. There really is no such thing as ‘just adopt’. Everything about us would be scrutinised and I just couldn’t go through it.
So, we continued on the IVF path with no firm decision on adoption other than it wasn’t for now.
2016 saw IVF cycle 8, transfer number 6, no implantation. I had hit rock bottom and was now in therapy. Hubby simply said no more IVF and that he thought we should consider adoption again, once I had recovered and was ready, of course, there was no hurry.
One counselling session I talked about the fact that hubby wanted to consider adoption but that I just didn’t think I could. She asked me what I knew about adoption. My response was…well quite a lot. I started to talk about the fact that when I was about 8 my parents decided to adopt. We went through the process, we had a child placed with us and unfortunately a year later the placement broke down and the child was placed back into foster care. A year or so later, they became foster carers. We had lots of children pass through the door, from babies through to teenagers, from singletons to sibling groups of three. Some went on to be adopted, some back to birth family, some onto other foster placements that were more suitable and others into specialist placements. All had a different story, a different history but I saw first hand, time and time again, the reality of the impact of what they had been through as young children. I talked and talked and talked some more to the counsellor about my experience of growing up with children who were in the care system. Towards the end of that particular session we talked about whether there was a link between my experience of adoption and fostering as a young person and my now complete inability to think about it without panicking. Of course there was, in that moment it became obvious. I think I always knew it was there but I had never made the link. Perhaps I hadn’t wanted to.
Through the rest of 2016 hubby and I talked about all of our options. I think that’s what annoys me about people saying “have you thought about x, y or z”. I can assure you all that infertility makes you question everything and think about every possible option. I started to try to research the impact of adoption and fostering on the families birth children. I found nothing. I suppose I wanted to try to move forward and to try to understand some of the impact on me. More importantly, I wanted to work through things so that it would be an option for us. I talked about it during my counselling sessions and it became more and more clear to me that it wouldn’t be the right route for us but I was constantly wrestling with it, going round and round between yes and no.
January 2017 we went to another adoption information evening, this time with a local agency. I had talked it through with my counsellor and she encouraged me to go armed with the questions that were important to us both. And that’s what we did. It was a one on one session with 2 social workers. They took us through a presentation about the approval process, the likely timescales, the option of foster to adopt, some of the general backgrounds of the children placed for adoption and the post adoption support. I hit them with what felt like tens of questions. Hubby listened whilst I bombarded them. I felt that they answered honestly. They confirmed everything that I thought I knew about the reality of adoption. That many adopted children require something special in terms of parents and in many cases they required a different style of parenting. We came away from the session, got in the car and hubby said how proud he was of me for being so open to the idea even though he knew for me that was really difficult because of my history, but he agreed…adoption isn’t the route for us to create a family.
The door was closed and I felt a sense of relief. We had made the decision together. This wasn’t me just saying ‘no’ and not really understanding why. It had taken us 3 years of thinking about it, reading and researching to come to the point of knowing it wasn’t the right thing for us. I had never quite understood why I just couldn’t get to the point of being ready to build our family through adoption, now I completely understand. If anyone asks me about it now, I’m happy to talk about our decision, but that’s exactly what it is, our decision and not for anyone else to judge.
Through fostering my parents opened their home to many children and gave them love & stability that they had probably rarely or never experienced before. It also helped shape who I am today. My sense of caring and reaching out to others I’m sure comes from a place of growing up surrounded by children who needed something extra special. Adoption is an amazing thing but it has to be the right thing for each person involved. It is a very personal decision and one that is not taken lightly. It took us a long time to make the decision but I know it is the right one for us.
It has taken me many months to find the courage to write this post. I hope that it helps those that may be struggling with the decision to know that it is a difficult & personal decision. In time you will reach the decision that is right for you and its ok if that takes time. There is no such thing as “just adopt”.