No such thing as “just adopt”

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 right now 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 at the moment.”

There was a time when I thought we were ready to pursue adoption. 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 may never 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 right now. We aren’t ready to move on to it. One day we may be ready, but not right now.

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 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”.

21 thoughts on “No such thing as “just adopt”

  1. Brenda Menzies says:

    I understand this totally. As we investigated the adoption procedure we came under considerable pressure to consider older children and sibling groups. While we knew there were many children needing loving homes, we recognised, and were encouraged to do so by our wonderful social worker, that our hearts (certainly mine!) cried out for a new baby and to experience every one of those first milestones for ourselves, and we needed to be true to ourselves. So few babies were given up for adoption 35 years ago, probably fewer now, while couples facing fertility problems have, I believe, gone from one in ten, to one in seven or eight. In the year we adopted there were 200 couples and 20 babies, so 180 disappointed couples, only to join the following year’s baby lottery, with ever decreasing chances. We were amazingly lucky to be in that small minority of ‘successful’ couples. Your decision, in these changed times, is right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just.Blythe says:

    I totally get this. The bottom line is that it is a personal decision for everyone. No one should just assume that because a person cannot have biological children they should then adopt. After two failed IVF’s, it is a decision that my husband and I have decided to pursue, but it took me a few years to get here. We are pursuing infant adoption, but I am prepared for a long and emotional process ahead. The term “just adopt” irritates me anyway. People act like you can just walk into an orphanage, pick out a baby, and walk out with a child like nothing. Instead, after spending well over $30,000 on infertility treatments, my husband and I have started an adoption that, if successful, will cost us another 17,000 or so. In the end it is our choice, so I am not complaining….but very few people understand everything that comes with adoption. Not to mention that with adoption, while one family is gaining, anither woman who cannot keep her baby is grieving. It is an extremely big decision for lol parties involved. Thanks for having the courage to share your perspective and story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s absolutely an individual decision and it sounds like you have made the right decision for you after much consideration. It’s not an easy option and there is definitely no ‘just’ about it. It is so complex and emotive. Thank you for sharing your perspective too, it’s so important for it to be talked about openly xx


  3. I love the honesty in this. My husbands aunt & uncle are currently going through the adoption process and they are almost leaving it after 2 years of waiting. They have had no success (they opted for 0-3 years so like you said there are so many people already waiting) and feel it was such an intrusive process that they cant do it again. (They need to go through all the interviews etc again in December to be “renewed”.) Its been an emotionally draining time for them and its absolutely not an easy option. People dont realise what goes in to adoption… i think its fantastic you’ve researched every part of it before you made your decision! This was very brave to speak out about!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your story! I so agree with you that adoption is a very personal and very difficult decision to make. I also get so frustrated when people say ‘just adopt’. They not only don’t realise how difficult it is to decide to adopt but also how difficult the process is. Even though Hubby and I are all cleared to adopt, we have been on the adoption system for nearly four years and still haven’t been chosen. Once you make the decision to adopt, that’s just the start of a whole new waiting period. I wish people would just be supportive instead of providing suggestions of what step to take next.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome post!!!! Thank you so much for deciding that yes – you would write it. People need to hear your story! “Just adopt” is so minimizing of what adoption actually entails. You were smart to think about all the nuances before jumping in. Again – Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Karen says:

    I’m so pleased that you shared this and totally understand your decision.

    I’d be interested to hear your reader’s views on a related question:

    Is it ‘selfish’ to adopt a baby if you are able to have children biologically?

    Me and my partner are considering adoption for our second child. A two-year age gap is required between birth children and adopted children, with the adopted child being the youngest. This would automatically put us in the running for a baby.


  7. When my husband and I initially told our family about our struggles, this was mentioned to us by multiple different people. It made me want to scream. Sometimes, it’s just not an option. It doesn’t make us bad people. And unfortunately that’s how it made me feel. That people thought I was a bad person because I didn’t want to adopt. Infertility is so frustrating in so many different ways – other people weighing in is incorrectly is definitely towards the top of my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can absolutely relate to this, its almost like we should feel guilty because we don’t follow the path that others think they would follow if they were in our shoes. One thing I have learned is that everyone is different and no-one knows what decisions they would make unless they are facing it themselves. You are not a bad person, you just know what is and isn’t right for you xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nat says:

    My husband and I have just discovered we will not be able to conceive a child naturally due to my husband having zero sperm. I am bombarded with ‘have you thought if adoption?’ It becomes increasingly frustrating every time you hear it. Like we can just get over the grief of what’s happened and pick another child, like a flower growing in a field of other flowers.
    I am a teacher and I also have an adopted cousin. I have seen the struggle to adopt. I have also witnessed the adopted child’s struggle. Personally, adoption isn’t for us either. Unless people are in this position, they can never truly understand the emotional battle or how it feels to face a life childless. I think exploring a donor is more likely. We pray IVF works of this is the route we choose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry that you have had this news. It can be hard to process it, let alone to be bombarded with well meaning suggestions about how we might create a family. Thank you for sharing your story. It shows its not straightforward to make a decision.
      I can highly recommend the DC Network for information on donor conception. We attended one of their workshops and it was really helpful for us both.
      I wish you lots of love and luck xx


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