Just adopt. I would venture to say that every childless person has heard this not so helpful advice at least once during his/her journey. It seems so simple to those outside the childless not by choice tribe. If we wanted a child so badly, then why wouldn’t we just adopt?
During the inaugural World Childless Week, the “innocent words” of “just adopt” were discussed at length. In fact, I wrote a blog entitled “Not So Helpful: Things you shouldn’t say to those struggling with infertility,” exploring why this seemingly simple solution is anything but. (You can read that blog here.)
Two months later, I wrote another blog about adoption, “So, why didn’t we just adopt?” In this one, I explained why adoption was not the right path for my husband and me. (You can read that blog here.)
Six months after that, I wrote another article about adoption for The Childless Not By Choice Magazine’s July 2018 issue.
And two months after that, I am yet again exploring the “Just Adopt” advice during this “Not So Helpful: Things You Shouldn’t Say to the Childless” Series.
Less than one year of blogging and four different pieces on this simple solution, just adopt…
Because it’s not simple at all.
In my article for The Childless Not By Choice Magazine, I posed this question, “When giving this advice, [just adopt], is one referring to domestic adoption, international adoption, embryo adoption, or adoption through child services?” I would bet the person offering the advice has no idea. And yet, each of the different types of adoption bring their own unique circumstances, challenges, and costs that must be considered…
Because I live in the United States, I am only qualified to speak about domestic adoption here. In my country, however, “open adoption” is the preferred, and often required, form. This means that your child will know from infancy that he/she was adopted. Also, you will have contact with the birth family. This contact ranges from sending letters and photos to having face-to-face meetings. The level of contact is agreed upon between the adoptive and birth families before the child is born. But allowing the birth family to be a part of your child’s life is a must with open adoption.
Even after agreeing to adoption, the birth parents can change their minds. Depending on the state, they may have a few days up to a few months to do this. In other words, you could have your child at home, only to be told that you have to give her back to her birth mom.
And the tens of thousands of dollars that you spent on lawyers and medical bills (as adoptive parents often pay for pre-natal care, as well as labor and delivery) is non-refundable. So now, you have no baby and possibly no more funds to try any other methods to have one…
When considering international adoption, one must first decide which country to adopt from. Not every country allows US citizens to adopt their children. For the ones that do, the cost can be quite prohibitive, often ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.
On top of this, extensive paperwork and background checks are required. Plus, potential parents are normally required to travel to the country where they would like to adopt and live there for several weeks. During that time, they are interviewed, appearing before a judge who decides if they will be fit parents.
Because different cultures have different beliefs, potential adoptive parents must be very careful when answering questions. For example, some countries believe that leaving a child at daycare is abuse. Because of this, one parent must stay at home. If the judge discovers that both of you are going to work and therefore leave the child with someone else, your adoption will be denied.
As with a failed domestic adoption, a denied international adoption does not come with a refund of the tens of thousands of dollars that you have already spent. Thus, you again run the risk of having no baby and no more money to try to have one…
People seem to know little about the intricacies of domestic and international adoption and absolutely nothing about embryo adoption.
Couples who go through in-vitro fertilization sometimes have left-over embryos. Rather than discarding them, some couples decide to allow others struggling through infertility to adopt the embryos. That way, the embryos have a chance at life.
Although the word “adoption” is used, embryos are considered property; therefore, ownership law is utilized rather than adoption law. Because of this, the genetic parents cannot change their minds like birth parents can with a domestic adoption. Also, there is no requirement to have an open adoption.
Embryo adoption comes with its own unique challenges, however. While you don’t have to tell your child that she is not biologically related to you, shouldn’t you? My husband and I discussed this complex question in detail… (You can read that story in the July 2018 issue of The Childless Not By Choice Magazine.)
Adoption through Child Services
Adopting through child services is much less costly than domestic or international adoption. Most likely, you will not get a baby, however, because it often takes years for the birth parents’ rights to be terminated. Because of this, most children adopted through child services are at least 3 years old.
When adopting through child services, you must also decide if you would be willing to adopt a child with any number of disabilities—physical, mental, and/or emotional. The paperwork is extensive and numerous meetings are required, even after a child has been placed in your home.
Adoption is not so simple…
I did not write this blog to discourage others from adopting. In fact, I am eternally grateful that there are people with hearts for adoption, who willingly spend huge amounts of money and overcome numerous obstacles to provide a loving home for a deserving child. I wrote this blog to show that adoption is far from simple and is not the right choice for every childless person.
If a couple spends tens of thousands of dollars to adopt, they should ensure that they will still be able to financially care for the child now in their home. A couple must agree as to whether to tell the child conceived through embryo adoption that they are not genetically related to their parents. And couples must make sure that they have the ability to fully and properly care for a disabled kid.
These are not small things. They are complicated, requiring a lot of thought. My husband and I thought about these scenarios for years…
Just adopt is truly not so helpful…
So, please do not offer the not so helpful advice, “Just adopt” to the childless. And please do not add the extra sting, “There are so many kids who need loving homes.” Oh, that just breaks my heart. I know there are. And if we hadn’t needed $30,000 or hadn’t had to worry about the birth mom changing her mind or hadn’t stressed about our kid figuring out she wasn’t genetically related to us… Well, we probably would have adopted. But the obstacles seemed too great to us, and so, we decided it wasn’t our path.
The decision to adopt is extremely complex and very personal. It should not be judged. And honestly, the advice, “Just adopt” should simply never be given. Because it’s just not so helpful…
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Part 1, Blog 2 of the “Not So Helpful” Series will be published Wed, 1 Aug.