“Well, You Could Always Adopt…”
Whenever I hear that maddening refrain, I instinctively want to respond with an Elvis-style karate kick. Being a person of a generally non-violent nature, I completely understand that as those words leave someone’s mouth, they are generously slathered with good intention, but there is an inescapable undertone of conciliatory resignation that drives me insane. It’s the same feeling you get when the only thing someone can think of saying to you is, “at least you have your health.” Gee, thanks.
For those of us that know the fertility journey all too well, the subject of adoption often lingers quietly in the background. More often than not, it’s a word uttered only when treatment after treatment fails. Standing quietly, behind the glass pane of our desire for “a baby of our own,” it watches and waits. When we finally break the glass and utter the “A” word, there is a sense we have entered a forum of last resort.
Having earned my stripes on the complicated road to building my family, I completely get the of need to have a “well we could always…,” but that is where the problem lies. Thinking of adoption as either a last resort or the panacea for your pangs to be a parent, is one of the biggest mistakes couples can make.
1) Adoption is a Calling, Not a Consolation Prize
Anyone who has adopted a child will tell you that even though they love their child with every fiber of their being, there is a layer of unique complexity that simply does not exist with biological children. It is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a gloriously beautiful. But, your heart must be open to honoring it. To deny the existence of this reality is to rob adoptees of colorful pieces in the mosaic of their story. There will be roads that you must travel as an adoptive parent that you simply don’t have as a biological parent. Responsible prospective adoptive parents must educate themselves about what it truly means to adopt a child, their individual needs, and how to best build a loving family life that celebrates the journey the family traveled to be together.
Adoption is not an avenue to parenthood that one can just haphazardly stumble onto after exhausting all of their fertility treatment options. It warrants careful consideration and real commitment. It isn’t for everyone. Talk to families that have adopted. Learn the language of adoption. Listen closely to see if you truly hear the call.
2) If You Actually See Adoption As A “Last Resort,” It Probably Isn’t For You
Bold statement, but it’s true. There is an unsettling yuck factor to the “last resort” train of thought. Think about it. If you are really saying to yourself, “Well, I guess we can always adopt,” with a pit in your stomach and a sense of resignation, HUGE RED FLAG. Here is where you need to stop and ask yourself why you have those feelings. Asking “why” isn’t an attempt to reprogram your attitudes about adoption. The point is to better understand if it is truly an option for you, or if it’s just desperation talking. If your heart is set on having a child that you give birth to or that shares your DNA, rock on with your bad self! Have the guts to acknowledge and own those feelings. If you aren’t feeling it, make peace with that and move on.
But, you may also find that rather than being averse to adoption, you just don’t know much about it. Ignorance breeds fear. Cure it with information. By not exploring the subject thoughtfully, you could be creating an unnecessary roadblock between you and the family you have always hoped for.
3) Last In Time Does Not Mean “Last Resort”
It’s no wonder that when we wait to talk about an option until we have exhausted all others, it feels a heck of a lot like a “last resort.” On the fertility journey, we often think of our options in terms of a downward trajectory, with adoption sadly seated at the end of the road, just before we resign ourselves to being childless. Indeed, your decision to adopt may come chronologically after several rounds of fertility treatment, but why think of it as a last resort? What if, instead of waiting to explore adoption until you are heartbroken, cash strapped, and hopeless, the conversation about building your family begins with adoption being an option as desirable as any other?
If your heart is open to adoption, try putting it on equal footing with having a biological child. Instantaneously, adoption will throw off it’s “last resort” jacket and begin to move freely amongst all of the other excellent ways to build your family. If adoption is the gift by which you and your partner will finally have the family you have always dreamed of, that joy is hardly a “last resort.”
4) There Are No Guarantees
When you have been beat up and beat down along the dusty trail of fertility treatments, adoption can seem like a cool and breezy oasis, where your thirst for a family can be quenched. Mmmmm, not so fast! Far too many couples make the mistake of thinking that going down the road to adoption is going to be an easy-peasy guarantee they will leave with a baby in their arms. Don’t be one of them.
Prepare yourself for the fact that the path to parenthood through adoption can be every bit as heart breaking as multiple failed fertility treatments. One of the key differences is that instead of competing against your biological clock, you’ve got a multitude of other childless couples competing for the same “perfect child.”
The roller coaster of emotions can be just as taxing. Instead of the dreaded “two week wait,” adoption hopefuls not only have “the call” to wait for, but live with the anxiety of getting past the finish line without a birth mom changing her mind, or some other catastrophe dashing their dreams. And, just like fertility treatment, the process can be expensive and take YEARS. Sorry, no painless shortcuts here!
This means that if your heart is open to adoption, you must put it on the table NOW. Make it a “first string go-to” not a 4th quarter replacement. You get to decide when (and if) you head down the path, but start talking about it and educating yourself now.
Get Your Mind “Right” About Adoption
As the daughter of an adoptee, who also happens to be married to the son of an adoptee, my ecstatic bias in favor of adoption as an avenue to parenthood is clear. It was always going to be part of my family building story. But, no matter where you land on the subject of adoption, one thing is clear. The key to living extraordinary on your way to being a parent is all about mindset. “Last resort” thinking of any kind is a surefire way to suck the joy out of steps you take to building your family. Why do that to yourself?
Get your mind right. Defining your journey means that you get to decide ahead of time the paths you are willing to take to have the family you dream of. Create a plan for your journey that includes a thorough conversation about adoption.
FMTB Dos: Put adoption on the table NOW. Get educated. Define your journey!
In the comments below, tell me:
Have you considered adoption? Where does it land in your plan?
© From Maybe To Baby 2014