Education, Infertility

Crossing the line with, “Why don’t you adopt?”

December 13, 2012

So we all know people that say, “Have you ever thought of adopting?”  Not really helpful, but ok. They usually mean well for the most part.

But then, when that morphs into something more judgmental, more ignorant and more arrogant — it crosses the line.

It goes something like this…

I don’t know why you are bothering with all of these fertility treatments.  There are so many babies out there that need homes anyway, so why don’t you just adopt?

These comments are proliferating across the internet.

I’m thankful that these views are coming from strangers and not my family and friends.  (By the way, my family and friends…well, they’re kind of the best.)

You’ll find this type of opinion in the comments of pretty much every single article, blog post, or video about infertility with a widespread audience.  There’s usually a whole gaggle of people ready to throw their unenlightened remarks at you.

For me, they are not simply asking a question or pointing out a solution, but rather taking aim at my decisions, my journey and my plight.  The comments are completely uneducated.

Well, I’m tired of biting my tongue. I’m tired of feeling bullied. I take offense.  Big time.

You know what, people? It’s really none of your business. However, that being said, I will attempt to break this down even though I shouldn’t have to.

For the “I don’t know why you are bothering with all of these fertility treatments” part

It’s a deeply personal choice. It’s my choice.  This is a disease and I have the right to treat it.

It’s so offensive to hear this. It somehow downplays what we have been through. It says you are too stupid to make decisions about your life and your body.

Sometimes these comments are aimed at anyone experiencing infertility, but sometimes I think they are a cheap shot that are aimed at those like me who have been through the ringer with infertility treatments.  Yes, we did IVF six times, but along the way, we discovered different problems and treated them.  After we couldn’t find anything else wrong and it still didn’t work, the doctors no longer had hope and neither did we.  I’m not an idiot. I know that there is a line between persistence and delusion.

I also have the right to attempt to have a biological child, if that’s what I want. Yes, I want a child that looks like either me or my husband.  Yes, I want a child that has some of our traits.  Most everyone else wants this, too.  Why do I get singled out and talked down to because I want this?

For the “Why don’t you adopt?” part

Some of us just do not want to adopt for a myriad of reasons.  We just don’t have the heart for it or don’t feel it would be right for us.  End of story. It’s not a good situation for anyone involved if adoption is forced upon someone. What birth mother would would want to choose adoptive parents that were unsure or uncomfortable with the idea of adopting?

Some of us want to adopt, but can’t afford it.  Adoption is expensive.  Like buying a Mercedes expensive.  It can be much more expensive than infertility treatments.  Adoption costs anywhere from $20,000 – $60,000 and up.  A basic insemination procedure costs $300.  A round of IVF costs around $10,000.  None of this is cheap, least of all adoption.

So, when these kinds of comments are bantered about, it crushes some people because they desperately do want to adopt.  Yes, they know it’s an option, before you mentioned it.

Now, as for the whole “There are so many children out there that need homes” business

Yes, there are children, but not babies.  There are older children that need homes, it’s true, but it isn’t for everyone.

It’s a really sad situation, but it’s not ours to solve.  It doesn’t fall to the infertile to give homes to orphans.

Contrary to popular belief, there are more adoptive-parents-to-be than there are babies.  There are huge wait times for adoptive families to adopt an infant…years!  And, the cost is outrageous.

Many who do choose to adopt want infants.  It’s a personal choice.

We have already lost the ability to be pregnant.  We have lost the ability to carry a child.  We have lost the ability for our child to share our DNA. Now, we don’t want to miss out on anything else.  We want to know our child from as close to the beginning as possible.  We want to do diapers and the whole nine yards.  We want to see all of the firsts — rolling over, crawling, walking, talking, etc.  We want to hold a sleeping baby on our chest.  We don’t need to apologize for this.

Also, fostering to adopt is a great option for some people.  However, we knew that this option was not viable for us.  We have already experienced so much loss.  There is NO way I would take the chance of falling in love with a baby, only to potentially have them ripped right back away from me.  It would be my undoing.

And, finally, who are these outspoken commenters?

Surely, they have never experienced infertility.  And, I think it’s a safe bet to say that they either: have biological children sitting at home or don’t have kids and don’t want kids.

Well, isn’t it easy for you to say these things? My question to you is, why didn’t you adopt? Or, why don’t you?  You decided at some point that you wanted children.  So, why didn’t you use birth control and adopt instead?

Oh, what, it’s different for you?  Oh, ok…gotcha!

These questions are unfair no matter whom is being asked.

Thoughts?

What do you think?  Do you get these kinds of comments from people?  How does it make you feel? If you’re not infertile, what do you think about this?

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30 Comments

  • Reply missohkay December 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Hear hear! Great post. Furthermore, as someone who adopted from Africa, I am offended by the random hateful commenters’ suggestions that kids in the US are somehow more deserving of being adopted than kids who, by geographical fluke, were born somewhere else. Kids who face diseases that are virtually non-existent in the US. Kids who are dying of malnutrition. I want US kids to have homes too, but should we ignore the children of the world until everyone in our country has a home? Adoption is full of tough decisions and people should be free to make the one that feels right to them.

    • Reply Whitney Anderson December 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Thank you so much for adding your thoughts. I completely agree. There’s so much wrong with that particular comment…it’s outrageous.

    • Reply Carolyn Pruett December 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Amen. We adopted from China after losing both bio babies to stillbirth. Our son was 14 YEARS old when we brought him home. Are there orphanages in the US with “dying rooms”? In China there is no Medicaid and you have to pay for tx in advance. Our son was cleft-affected… probably why this beautiful, otherwise healty baby was abandoned…. MONEY. He wasn’t available for adoption for many years due to a paperwork glitch listing him as female. Does one’s orphan status in te US follow them for LIFE like it does in China and be used as a reason to deny education and employment? Are US kids tossed out of the system at 14 to go work (in an area with 25% unemployment) in the factories or prostitute????

      Piss piss moan moan…. Have these ppl ever SEEN a Chinese orphanage? It’s very cold in the winter in Northern China…. babies aren’t bathed in months because they have no running water… They were “split pants” (they look like assless chaps) and where the kid squats is where they go if caregiver can’t regiment their pee/poo schedule. The conditions a child in the US would be removed FROM are the type of environments Chinese orphans are taken TO. There were 500 kids in my son’s orphanage and 3 orphanages in his city of 10 million.

      The US system gives the birth parent(s) too many chances before TPR and the children are collateral damage as they bounce between parent(s) and foster home(s). I know of one family whose kids (about age 8 and 10) have been in FC for three years and have ad regular visits with their BM. Now FINALLY she has been TPR’d and the kids are going apecaca because they have been cut off from her. Really? REALLY? Did it take THREE YEARS to determine BM wouldn’t get her act together????
      FURTHERMORE, adoption is not a “Fix” for infertility. It is a grief process to grieve the loss of fertility and for those who also had loss (so a body that was able to concieve but not bring forth a live child), it’s even more complicated. Having our son has fulfilled our desire to parent. We’re in our 40s and really felt a teen would be better suited to our life based on his needs, skills and abilities. He is a Mandarin speaking Mini me.

  • Reply Jess December 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Great post, Whitney! I could not sum it up better myself! Two things I’d like to say, as one who DID adopt. 1) It took us approximately 4 years- 4 YEARS to save up enough money AND get comfortable with the idea. Inseminations were free for us. 2) I would like nothing more to adopt for a second child, but simply cannot afford it again. (Without winning the lottery.) I am being forced to reconsider treatments for a second child even though I have NO desire to do them. But, I really want my daughter to have a sibling. And I guess, that too, would be considered wrong in these people’s eyes…. Ugh! Stay out of our business and very very personal decisions!

  • Reply Michaela Szidloski December 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

    This: “This is a disease and I have the right to treat it.” I have tried to explain many times!! And the NUMBER 1 reason treatments should be covered by insurance. I’ve told people…a major system in my body is not functioning properly…if it was my stomach no one would say: “Oh well, you can choose not to eat!!”

    Also I am an adoptive parent in waiting…and waiting…and I have a friend that is fostering and she keeps going on and on about how I should foster and there are so many kids and I would be placed right away. I was constantly trying to explain to her why I don’t want to foster. So one day she is talking about adopting her foster kids and says something about including their mother in holidays etc. So I turn to her and say: “See, that’s exactly why I don’t want to foster. I don’t want to include a mother…I want to be the mother”.

    I finally think she got it!!

    Thank you for this post!

    I hope it opens up not only peoples eyes but the hearts and some kind of understanding how devastating this really is….

  • Reply Elisabeth December 14, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Wonderful post Whitney! This seems to come up a lot and I agree with every single thing you said. I want to print it out and hand it to people.

  • Reply Julie December 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

    We tried for THREE years to adopt from the US foster care system. After being given one more shot at carrying my own baby with donor embryos, we returned to adoption (in our state you cannot pursue adoption while having infertility treatment – which is also beyond dumb), and we were told we could no longer qualify financially to adopt FROM THE US FOSTER CARE SYSTEM! We need some serious overhauling of the Foster Care System if they would rather keep children in care rather than let them be adopted by a loving family willing to open their hearts and home. You are killing it Whitney! Keep up the good work!!! -Julie

  • Reply Jamie Ervin-Cordisco December 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

    AMEN!!! This post is everything I haven’t been able to say for 5 years. Especially the part about it not being an infertile womans responisibility to rescue the children of the world. If people are so distraught by their situation, then maybe they should adopt. I have the RIGHT to spend my money how I want to, and I want to continue trying IVF until I say I’m done!

  • Reply LIbbi December 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I hate it. It drives me crazy. And we have friends who say it. One was adopted, but he’s our age and doesn’t realize how things have changed since he was a child (that and his adoptive parents are rich). This is also the same person who didn’t warn us that they were trying to get pregnant and then announced their pregnancy insensitively. Not really thinking of them as friends anymore.

    I’ve read about too much pain. I know the cost. I know that even if you do get the chance to adopt a baby, you may not get the baby. People who want to adopt have so few rights in the process yet are made to pay thousands of dollars just for a chance. And you’re right, infertility treatments are less expensive and are more likely to give us the end we really want. What little girl grows up thinking, “I want to adopt someone else’s baby”? I know I grew up pretending to be pregnant, dreaming of being a mommy, have a gaggle of children. Now I’ll be lucky if I can even have one.
    And it breaks my heart.

  • Reply Kristina Kent December 15, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Very beautifully written. You’re right, you don’t have to defend your choices to anyone. But I’m so glad that you wrote this. I’ve shared with my friends and family because you are so much more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. Thank you! :)

  • Reply Karen December 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I’ve really learned to just ignore remarks of this nature because unless you know what I’m feeling and experiencing, I cannot explain it. Before I met my husband, I had no biological desire to have a biological child. But something just changed after I met and fell in love with him. More than anything, I want a child with his beautiful DNA. And I do think there is something biological behind it that I cannot control. We are, after all, meant to reproduce. I love children and would love a house full of them, adopted or otherwise, but I will not apologize to anyone for also wanting a biological child with my husband. My life would be infinitely easier if I wasn’t burdened with this biological drive, but I am, and only a few can understand my heartbreak that the thing I want most isn’t possible. Try living with that before you judge.

  • Reply Jen December 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I’ve had this from an immediate family member, and while I’d love to say to them ‘why don’t you adopt?’ (as she has two children) I know her answer would be – ‘I would have tried if I couldn’t have kids’. They always have an answer, don’t they? Those who are fertile just simply cannot put themselves in our shoes, or they wouldn’t ask such stupid, obvious questions.

    Great post.

  • Reply Lori Lavender Luz December 21, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Even if you DO decide to “just adopt,” you can be criticized for going the domestic route (“there are TRUE orphans in other countries”) and for going the international route (“why go there when there are people in need here?” a la Mr Nixdorf).

    I’m impressed the people who are so good at running their own lives (shout out to Mr Nixdorf!) that they automatically qualify to run others’.

  • Reply Battynurse December 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Here from Mel’s blog round up and all so very well said. I never tend to be quite so eloquent with the saying but I have tried to make these points in the past. While I don’t entirely rule to adoption I do sort of doubt it will happen. The cost, attitudes, processes and everything else have sort of soured me to the whole idea.

  • Reply Amy December 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Comments like these make me want to hurt someone. I think you outlined the reasons why they’re hurtful very well. I would add that not all adoptions succeed, either. I know more than one couple who was devastated to have an adoption fail at the las minute, equating that loss to a death. Our society is so fond of throwing meaningless platitudes about, and comments about adoption – as if that’s the best solution ever and why didn’t WE think of that ourselves?! – are no exception.

    I had expressed at one point on my blog why adoption was not an option my DH and I were considering, and I was tipped a new one by a (former, now) friend who had adopted for treating adopted kids as third class citizens, as less than…when all I was doing was expressin why adoption WAS a last resort option for us. Truly, he whole topic makes me feel sick to my stomach. If ever there were third class citizens in this conversation, it’s those of us who are infertile.

    • Reply Amy December 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Sorry for all the iPhone typos…I was so passionately commenting I didn’t correct the spell checks!

    • Reply Whitney Anderson December 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      I agree. Bottom line is that it is none of anyone’s business. The audacity of some people (your former friend included) amazes me.

  • Reply awomanmyage December 23, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Well I did get those comments when I was trying to conceive. And now that I have adopted, I can say that I probably wouldn’t have given birth to such an amazing child. :) In between all of that, the dream of the child I never had haunted me for years. I grieved for a really long time. Adoption cured my childlessness, but it did not erase the damage of infertility. Adoption is an exceptionally complex thing that has huge implications for everyone involved, more than I ever dreamed. It is definitely not for everyone. The people who say, “Just adopt” this have no idea of what they are talking about. None. It is the fallback remark of the ignorant.

  • Reply Dana Smith December 23, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Whitney, brilliant and well spoken!

    People seem to think that adopting is a matter of going down to the local Catholic church to pick up a baby. Fat chance. If it were THAT easy, I’d be a father right now, as we speak. But no, adopt in the United States and you are probably going to get stuck in an “open adoption,” which, more often than not, you are treated like a glamorized baby sitter for a narcissistic “birth mother” (code word for “the REAL mother”). Even with international adoptions, someone will always manage to get their hooks in you. Adoption is a “seller’s” market. Adopting parents are expected to make all kinds of physical and psychological concessions because, hey, you are being given the miracle of life, right?

    My wife and I have always wanted to adopt after having two children of our own, even before my wife and I realized we had fertility issues. We saw some credibility in the merits of adoption and giving a good and loving life to a person that might not otherwise have one. But that process is by no means some easy substitute for fertility problems.

  • Reply john February 18, 2013 at 5:28 am

    “I also have the right to attempt to have a biological child, if that’s what I want”

    Agree about the right to *attempt* via ethical means, but that is not the same as right to *succeed*. Nobody has a ‘right’ to a child as if one is owed to him/her. A child is a gift from God, to be accepted only when given, not misappropriated. If we misappropriate the authority to make new souls via IVF, what stops us from claiming the authority to do human cloning or anything else that undermines the sanctity of human life?

    “This is a disease and I have the right to treat it.”
    You indeed have the right to maintain and make healthy your body. Heck, can even call it an obligation. However, stewardship over your God-given body & rendering it suitable for pregnancy doesn’t extend to the authority to create new souls.

    Also totally agree that adoption has become unreasonably expensive and favours too much the BM. However, do the (practical) flaws of adoption excuse the (moral) flaws of IVF? Your whole argument can be summed up as “I want to”. Instead of fixating on your want, should give more thought on what you ought & ought not.

    • Reply Whitney Anderson February 18, 2013 at 9:49 am

      John,

      You talk about God a lot. Are you a Christian? Does it make you feel like a good Christian to come here to my online space and say these things to someone who has struggled so much? Since you aren’t interested in adopting, how did you even come across this post? Just out trolling for someone to enlighten with your all-knowing opinion? After perusing my analytics, I do believe you’re the person who searched “judgmental infertility support group” to find my blog. Interesting Google search, I must say.

      I am a Christian. I don’t make life, God does. Just in my case, doctors have to help the process along. Ever heard those stories about the guy being trapped in a flood, but passing up help from a passing boat, helicopter, etc because he was waiting for God? When those were the ways God was trying to save him? Same here. God is working through my doctor. “Misappropriate the authority to make new souls via IVF” — Seriously? Yes, I have the God-given desire to have children and I have the right to try to conceive. Why does anyone else have the right to conceive and make new souls? I do, too. Just with medical help because I have a DISEASE. There’s no difference. I didn’t choose this.

      IVF and human cloning…seriously? Are you really comparing the two?

      I never said that adoption favors the birth mothers. Also, I do NOT see this as a contest. It’s people like you that are judging me because we didn’t adopt.

      You don’t get to be the judge. Not of me and not of my choices. I have ONE judge and he’s sitting on his almighty throne.

  • Reply john February 18, 2013 at 6:04 am

    “And, finally, who are these outspoken commenters?… My question to you is, why didn’t you adopt?”

    I can answer that I’m not in a financial position to fork out over $10K for adoption. Yet, regardless of your dissenters’ situation, none of that justifies your choice, no matter how personal it is.

    This isn’t a contest of who is better, who adopted more kids; though you may perceive it as such. Whether your dissenters adopted 0 or 6 kids have no bearing on the moral standing of IVF.

  • Reply Kimberly February 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    What a wonderful post!! I truly hate reading any comments section to an article on infertility because that is the only thing you read. People deciding that the infertiles of the world should be the ones to do all the adopting. I defend my choices in the comments of these articles and many get all high and mighty thinking that I know nothing of adoption. They decide to educate me on what I should do until I tell them that my husband was adopted as a newborn and I’m well aware of the benefits, pros, cons and costs and work that go into an adoption. Everyone’s reason is personal and it needs to be respected.

  • Reply Tricia March 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

    OMGosh!!! This is what I’ve been waiting for to tell people. I’ve had 2 miscarriages, and am not even close to where you are in the infertility treatments and I have already gotten the “why don’t you adopt” thing. I’ve thought about it, and I might do it ONE day…but my heart yearns for MY baby. I’m not a BAD person because of this. Thank you for putting a voice to these feelings.

    • Reply sashamarch August 29, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Why do you want a baby of your own blood? Do you have any pets…would you love them any less if they were rescued from the shelter? I’m not hating, I’m just curious.

  • Reply Katie April 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I am a mother who has infertility issues and recurrent miscarriages. I have had 5 miscarriages. We are Catholic and have not pursed AI or IVF, but have recently started with a Napro-technology physician, who has been able to explain our “unexplained infertility”. I have 3 children, 2 through domestic adoption, 1 biological. We were able to adopt them as babies. One was through an agency and yes, the cost was high. Luckily, we received the tax credit. Our second was a private adoption and it was through word of mouth that we connected with the birthmom. Both adoptions happened within months of us actively seeking adoption. Adoption is challenging, but so rewarding. We couldn’t tell the birthmoms what to eat, how to exercise, not to do this or that…it was all in God’s hands and sometimes that letting go was the hardest part. I just wanted to let you and your readers know that it is possible to adopt, raise a child without your physical characteristics, and to continue to hope and treat infertility. My youngest is 7 months old and we often forget who is adopted and who is not. It doesn’t really matter because we love all of them so much and we are all of their forever Mommy and Daddy. I hope that you are able to parent a child or children as this seems to be your deepest heart’s desire, and what a good and holy desire it is. May God bless you and your family.

  • Reply Josie September 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    My Mother In Law kept at me to just complete the adoption application. She knew a couple that did that and they got pregnant. She is an intelligent woman and she means well. But it feels tremendously hurtful.

  • Reply Kari April 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

    LOVE this post. “It doesn’t fall to the infertile to give homes to orphans.” Perfectly stated. Why can’t those who struggle with infertility have the same reasons for not considering adoption as those who aren’t struggling with infertility? When a couple is expecting a child or trying to conceive again, do people ask them “why don’t you consider adopting?” No. The other side: It’s also rude to ask someone if or when they are going to have more kids… or “You’re pregnant AGAIN?!” or “Are you done having kids yet?” There are rude comments/questions no matter your situation. But I do feel that when it comes to infertility, yes, we should be more sensitive with our comments and questions.

  • Reply sashamarch August 29, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Hmm, crossing the line with “Why don’t you adopt?” LOL really. Suggesting someone make a sensible choice that would positivity effect our environment, economy and most of supplying a child with a healthy home (THE HORROR!). How about ‘crossing the line’ with the question aimed towards child-free-by-choice women “Why don’t you have children? You would be a great mom, etc”. I sympathize with you though if you have felt social pressure to pro-create. Women should not feel any less than a woman if she does not have a baby. That is another issue though…not of this topic.

    “Contrary to popular belief, there are more adoptive-parents-to-be than there are babies. There are huge wait times for adoptive families to adopt an infant…years! And, the cost is outrageous.” – Quite a sweeping opinion of the adoption system. How you ever actually tried to adopt? How did you come to this conclusion? SOURCES PLEASE.

    Babies can be adopted too. Yes not as babies are adopted as full-grown children, but it really seems unfortunate if that is the reason you chose to not adopt. Sad to say, babies are not babies forever. Just like puppies don’t stay puppies forever. Also, it’s as if you paint children that come from adoption centers as somehow inferior. I figure you view animals from the pound as inferior as well? Many people choose to adopt from a pound or rescue shelter because there are a lot of unwanted pets. Rescued pets deserve just as much love; and their owners love them just as much as a pet obtained from a breeder. Why should adopting children be any different?

    However, it is ultimately your decision. No one can make you do what you don’t want to do. But instead of getting mad, embrace that fact that as a female human being you have the right to chose and make educated choices.

    • Reply Whitney Anderson September 1, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Yes, that’s my whole point. I have the right to CHOOSE. It’s my choice. People shouldn’t try to force something upon me. Like your holier-than-thou opinion above.

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