During the week of National Infertility Awareness two friends have contacted me to talk about their long struggles with infertility. The agonizing pain they continue to experience is both familiar and palpable. They both have wonderful husbands who have supported them through their treatments and multiple losses. They have gone through this process together each offering the other comfort and understanding. One friend has decided to begin the process of adoption. The other has come close to that point but is not quite there yet. Every woman who has experienced infertility understands that before you can take the next step whatever that might be you have to feel you have tried everything you possibly can to get your body to achieve pregnancy hopefully giving birth to a healthy child.
Most people try to have a child through infertility treatments before they consider adoption as a family building option. Like infertility treatment, adoption takes time, money, and a lot of patience on the part of the perspective parents. You will face challenges along the way finding the right agency, the birthmother or birthparents who select you if you adopt domestically, doing the paperwork, interviews, and preparing the paperwork you need to begin your adoption process. The good news is adoption is a family building alternative that usually ends with a child becoming a member of your family. You will have the opportunity to parent by yourself or with your partner. There is a degree of certainty about having a child in the end that is associated with adoption.
It can be challenging switching your mind and your efforts from doing what you can to have a biological or genetic link with a child to exploring adopting a child. The most important question you need to ask yourself is whether you believe you are capable of adopting a child? Think carefully about if you can truly love, bond with, and accept a child who shares no biologic or genetic link with you? Take time considering why you want to adopt and what the adoption will mean to you.
You may find it useful to take some time to grieve the loss of having a child with these biologic or genetic links before you pursue the path of adoption. Give yourself some time to nurture yourself, emotionally and physically recharge, and process the losses associated with your unsuccessful infertility treatment before your embark on this new path to building your family. Being an adoptive parent is no less challenging or enriching for you and your adopted child. It is something you can choose to do. There are challenges associated with the process of adoption just as there are with infertility treatment. The experiences that challenged you during infertility can offer you valuable insights and perspective that you can use to help you through your adoption process. Parenting transforms us in ways we can’t even imagine. Whether you become a parent through infertility or adoption the rewards can be great.
Iris Waichler is author of Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster