For many, there is a very simple solution to both infertility and childlessness. Just adopt. Honestly, before we went through our infertility struggle, these were my exact thoughts, too.
From the time I was 14-years-old, I told my mom that I wanted to have one of my kids and I wanted to adopt the other one. My mom was a bit worried about this plan, but I was sure that it was right for me. Funny thing is, I never discussed this with Dane before we got married. Not once did I ask him about his feelings on adoption.
As we began to start trying to have a baby, I said that if we couldn’t get pregnant, I’d just adopt. Again, I didn’t discuss this with my husband. And I had no idea what “just adopt” really meant.
As we trudged further along into our infertility battle, those two words—just adopt—began to change meaning for me. You can only use them so flippantly when you haven’t been in the trenches…
During World Childless Week, I wrote about why you should never say, “Just adopt,” to someone struggling with infertility. (You can read that entire post here.) But there is more to it than I shared previously. Even me, who talks openly about our struggle, worries about discussing some of the reasons we didn’t just adopt for fear of judgment, and worse, harsh criticisms.
Some (perhaps most) believe that if you wanted a baby badly enough, you would do anything to have one. If that means you need to adopt a child, you would move Heaven and earth to make that happen. And if you don’t, then you gave up and can’t really say that you truly wanted a child. (I’m not speaking hypothetically here. I’ve read comments such as these on social media when childlessness is being discussed.)
Here’s the problems with such judgments (at least for my husband and me).
Some people do not have a heart for adoption.
This is a scary one to put out there. But it’s true. Adoption is not right for everyone. It takes a very special person to bring a child that they are not biologically related to into their home and love that child unconditionally as their own. A child should never feel that they were a second choice, a back-up option, a plan B because the couple couldn’t have kids of their own. If you adopt a child, you must be absolutely certain that this kid will be yours and that you will fully invest in your parenting roles.
While Dane and I are both more than capable of loving children who we are not biologically related to, my husband’s heart was never fully committed to adoption. To be fair, my heart was never fully committed to IVF. He did not push me to pursue treatments that I was unsure about. And I could not push him to pursue adoption when he simply wasn’t sure….
Adoption is scary.
Because adoption is scary. We attended several adoption meetings and even went so far as to complete the paperwork to be considered as adoptive parents by the Department of Child Services. We researched domestic, international, and embryo adoption. But the more research we did, the more worried we became about the process…
How would we ever have enough money to adopt internationally or nationally? What if the mother had used drugs and the baby had mental and/or physical deficits? And the scariest thought… What if the biological mom changed her mind and they took the baby away?
The last one was the deal-breaker for my hubby. He knew this would devastate me. But what he never shared until years later is that he knew it would break him, too. And he simply wasn’t sure that he could put both of us back together again. He just wasn’t willing to risk our marriage…
It takes two.
And having a baby when you are married… Well, it takes two. It takes two to decide to start trying to get pregnant. It takes two (and a couple nurses and some doctors) to decide to go through infertility treatments. And it takes two (and a lawyer, some caseworkers, and birth parents) to adopt.
Now, you may disagree. Single women can adopt. I know this. In fact, I personally know a single lady who never found Mr. Right and adopted her son. She is incredible, and I am in awe of her strength, love, and generosity.
But I am not single. I am married to a wonderful, kind-hearted, loving, hard-working, smart, funny, handsome man. A man that I love with all my heart. A man that I vowed to love until death do us part. A man that I promised, “What God hath brought together, let no man put asunder.”
And because of that, I knew that it would take two to adopt. I couldn’t do it alone. And I wouldn’t force my hubby to do something that he was so unsure about.
So, why didn’t we just adopt?
So, we didn’t just adopt because it wasn’t the right path for us. Yet, to this day, there are still people who judge us for this decision. People who think I gave up. People who believe that I allowed my husband to force me into abandoning my true desire.
But those people are wrong. Yes, I made a choice. And yes, I chose my husband. But I didn’t give up or get bullied into anything. I chose the path that was right for me… For us.
I’m no longer the 14-year-old girl who doesn’t understand what infertility or adoption really means. I’m not even the 26-year-old young woman who is married and thinks that adoption is simply an easy alternative. No, I am a 40-year-old woman who struggled for ten years to have a baby and finally decided (with some urging from my incredible husband) to simply embrace my life as it is. A childless life that is full of love and joy and adventure. A life that is ours. The life that God gave us…