a solution.

Often in conversation when someone mentions their struggle with conceiving, the following response is, have you considered adoption?. I’m sure many who are reading this have been asked this question or may have even asked it themselves.

There’s a problem with this mentality.

Adopting a child will not fill that void.

I’ve read countless adoption blogs and listened to numerous stories of couples sharing their journey to grow their family when other ways have failed. They recount their struggle with infertility, coming to the conclusion that the next viable option must be adoption.

This is where I, and many other adoptees, struggle. I am not implying that those who have struggled with infertility should not pursue adoption, it may end up being an option for them. I am saying, however, there is often a lack of acknowledging and processing one’s own sense of loss and grief due to infertility before deciding whether or not to adopt.

There is already a high risk of unspoken expectations placed upon adopted children by adoptive parents; expectations of fitting into a family dynamic that the child has no biological relation to, differing sets of traits that may never mesh well together. This rift may result in a sense of resentment towards the adopted child, placing pressure on the them to mold their behavior to what is considered acceptable within that family dynamic. When there is no gap between processing infertility and going through with an adoption, this risk has the potential to increase greatly.

Don’t think this is true? Just ask an adoptee.

A couple needs to work through the many emotions surrounding infertility first. The pain, grief, and loss can be heavy and debilitating. Finding healing may look different for everyone; support groups, therapy sessions, finding a creative outlet. Nothing will completely take away that loss, but processing the feelings surrounding it are so very important. Adoption is messy and complicated, emotional and heartbreaking. It may be a step to grow a family, but it is not a solution to infertility.

8 Comments

  1. We enjoy your writing and wish you much strength and courage as you step forward. The waters may be murky at times, but keep going. You aren’t alone. Peace. Ralph and Sara Pot

  2. Great post and so well put. Before my husband and I found out that we were infertile we had always wanted to adopt, and so when we started going through IVF at the same time that we were waiting for a match from Ethiopia, people couldn’t understand. It pisses me off how so many people consider adoption not only a cure for infertility, but the *responsibility* for those who cannot have biological kids (i.e., the “why don’t you ‘just’ adopt?” question from those who are super fertile and would never consider adoption themselves because they don’t “need” to). We have watched six attempts at IVF with a donor fail and watched Ethiopia close their program and lose the opportunity to meet our little girl, and know the heartbreak is real on both ends…but I cannot imagine ever considering them interchangeable, nor one more important than the other. PS – I will also add that there are a crap ton of people who want to adopt because they have some religious savior thing going on where they think they are “called” to adopt and rescue orphans…There are terrifying number of blogs out there with that theme, sadly. Anyhow, great piece and thank you !

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing a piece of your story! Adoption is so complex, and everyone has their own unique story to share! And thank you for not falling into the “savior” complex.. it’s truly the worst. 😉

  3. Great piece. I think when it comes to any type of loss we experience we are always looking for something to replace that loss rather than just processing the loss.

    As someone who went through infertility who didn’t end up going down the path of adopting I can say from my experience is there is nothing that can replace the loss. I tried to find it and spent a number of years failing to do so. It wasn’t until I recognized that replacing that loss was a lost cause that I was able to truly begin to heal. While I still struggle at times especially around trigger dates and holidays I’m in a better place than I was years ago. But that’s just me and what worked for me.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story and I can’t imagine the loss you feel, assuming that around this time of year it feels heavier than most. ❤️

  4. I’m a 56 year old adoptee that has done much deep work in an attempt to understand this phenomenon of growing up as a relinquished adopted person. I found my birth parents 30 years ago thinking that this alone would make me finally feel REAL. It was a great start, but actually only scratched the surface of me reclaiming my authentic self. I love that I just found this site of yours and how it’s going to help me (and others) move along farther in this quest of mine to find meaning and to not feel so alone. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, Linda! I am glad you found this site helpful, all of us adoptees got to stick together! 🙂

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