Adoption, Education, Infertility

Telling someone to “Just Adopt” is a bad idea

April 27, 2011

It’s time to bust some myths.

I wrote this post because RESOLVE is sponsoring “Bust a Infertility Myth Blog Challenge” in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24 -30, 2011).  You can also check out RESOLVE’s Infertility 101 or read about other common infertility myths.

There are two myths surrounding trying to conceive and adopting and I will try to tackle both of them.

– “Just adopt.”
– “You should just adopt, then you’ll get pregnant.”


Myth #1: If I know someone who’s having trouble conceiving, maybe I should tell them to just adopt.  Or, ask them if they’ve considered adoption.
Fact: No, you should never give this unwanted advice.

As a woman who has not wanted to adopt in the past and as someone who is considering it now, I can absolutely say hearing the words “just adopt” is unwanted and painful.  Thankfully, I’ve only heard it a couple of times over these last five years.  One of them came from a nurse practicioner at my OB/GYN clinic.  I wish I was kidding.  If anyone should be sensitive, I think it should be women’s health professionals, but alas, that is not always the case.  And, this was four years ago before we even had any diagnostic testing or began any infertility treatments.  She had no right to tell me that, and was medically negligent in my opinion especially when we had lots of options at that point and had no reason to believe that we wouldn’t ever be able to conceive.

Let me explain why suggesting adopting to an infertile is not a good idea:

  • When you are still trying, whether or not you would consider adopting, it’s painful to hear.  My husband and I desperately want a biological child. Period.
  • It comes across as “why don’t you just give up already…this is never going to happen.”
  • This is a deeply personal decision and not something to be bantered about as if you’re talking about the weather.
  • When people say “just adopt,” they think it’s an easy solution.  You want a child.  There are children to adopt.  It’s not that easy.  It takes the right people and a lot of soul-searching.
  • In many cases, it requires grieving the loss of a biological child.  This is difficult for people to understand.  This has been extremely hard and I’m in gray area right now.  I feel like I’ve been grieving, but I haven’t completely given up hope either.
  • The financial aspect of adopting is staggering.  There are many who have failed to conceive and their hearts are open to adoption, but they simply can’t afford it.  General costs to adopt are around $20,000 to $30,000.  Add that to the $20,000 or more than many of us have already spent on fertility treatments and you can see why it’s financially impossible for some couples. And, additionally hurtful when you tell a person to just adopt, and although they want to, they can’t afford it.
  • It’s hurtful to those whose first choice to have a child is to adopt. It was never a back-up plan for them.
  • It’s very insulting when it’s coming from someone who has a beautiful child sitting at home with mommy’s eyes and daddy’s nose.  Easy for them to say.

I think the only exception to this rule would be when someone who has adopted has a heartfelt conversation with you and asks if you have considered it.


Myth#2: “You should adopt, then you’ll get pregnant”
Fact: Adopting has absolutely no bearing on your ability to conceive.

This is last thing I want to hear and it makes me feel like beating my head against the wall.  Yet, everyone has a story that they tell where this happened to a friend of a friend of a friend.

Here’s why:

  • Adopting will absolutely, positively 100% not help me get pregnant and stay that way.  Infertility is a disease that needs to be treated just like any other disease.
  • It’s hurtful because it implies that if we stop stressing about getting pregnant and pursue adoption, then we will conceive.  Not true.  Read my post – Just say no to “Just Relax.”
  • You have to want to adopt.  It’s not for everyone.  It’s not to be taken lightly.  It’s not the means to an end.  It’s an end.
  • It’s not some easy step to check off your list in your quest to conceive.  Get my uterus examined — check. Take ovulation drugs — check.  Check hormone levels — check.  Adopt a child– check.  See how ridiculous this is?

I hope this has helped to explain why these myths can be so painful to women like me.


I’m happy to answer questions.  Just leave a comment below or email me at  Also, feel free to follow along on my journey or for infertility, IVF and multiple loss coping information.  Click here to subscribe using RSS or become a follower on the right-hand side of this page.

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  • Great post! I have always found myself drawn to adoption, even before I had trouble conceiving, but the process is very intimidating and expensive. I agree it’s not for everyone, just like fertility treatments aren’t the right path to parenthood for everyone. Wishing you all the best!

  • Liz

    Visiting from ICLW and had to comment on the Greece photos. I spent a semester living in Athens and love your pictures.

    I think it may be more difficult to adopt than go through fertility treatments. I don’t know if I’d be up for that kind of scrutiny.

  • Wonderful post – so very true!!!

  • C

    Great post! There is so much wrong with the “just adopt!” mindset. Great job summing it all up.

  • Jen

    You so eloquently express your feelings, many of which I share. Thank you.

  • I have a really hard time with the adoption comments and seem to get them often. People make it sound like it’s so easy to do. I’m not at the adoption point yet and not sure it would be right for us (not sure it would be wrong either), but it’s not something you just make a phone call and it happens. And yet I feel like people treat it that way and don’t understand the money and the grieving of a biological child and the logistics and time needed to make an adoption happen.
    But then, I’m preaching to the choir… 🙂

  • Great post! This was so well explained! Nicely done!

  • tori

    i think you head the nail on the head, me and my husband would love to have a child and cant, invitro is to expensive, we want to adopt but its to expensive so we went thru the state and with that its 50/50 chance you will get a heathy baby FREED (being the key word) for adoption, and so u have to foster (basicly watch someone elses kid (with no promise of knowing there yours for good) while the parents get a year to STRAIGHTEN up there lives..or decide wheather they want to cleanup while this babys life hangs in the balance.. and thats the best interest of the child? to be ripped from the only mom they have known (when u get them as infant) to be put back with birth mom who they dont really know, after she had a year of play, with no responsiblity of this child..sorry thats plan wrong..this is just what we are faced with going this route and its so frustrating cause we can give a child a good home but it shouldnt cost us 30,000 for a child that the mom dont want, we are willing to take the child and love it , raise it, with our money we not asking for a monthly check, we will tak care of the child but its to darn expensive to even adoopt, ADOPTION has become BIG BUISSNESS, a MONEY MAKING SCAM if u ask me, its not about putting child in good home anymore now every body want there cut out of i know u have attorney fees, homestudys and stuff to legalize everything but all that other stuff is just crazy.. please anyone knows any easier way let me know

    • I definitely agree that adoption is now a scam for money hungry individuals that could care less about getting these children into good homes.

  • Not sure I agree

    I see this from another vantage point as an adult orphan who was never adopted. I aged out of foster care, which was scary. I was homeless and lonely at 18. I get so discouraged reading about people who only want biological children or people who only want to adopt babies. I didn’t get put into foster care until age 13 which put me in group homes, because no one wants a 13 year old. People don’t even want to foster 13 year olds in the US.

    I understand you want to know what you and your husband would look like if you made a baby. I understand everyone wants to see their child to go on to reproduce and continue their gene pool. Its natural and difficult to find your body not doing something that is so basic to many people.

    The thing is that there are so many foster children out there who are ready to be loved today. I still want a parent and I am emotionally and financially stable and in my late 20s. I’d just like to be able to call my mom when I land great job or when my daughter is sick. I don’t have anyone to call though when things happen. While it is painful for you to hear people encouraging you to adopt. Its painful for me to hear that a loving and stable home is not open to the idea of adoption or fostering. I think if you knew how painful it was to be truely unloved & unwanted, you’d understand that it’s a worse fate…particularly for a child.

    I hope you get that child you dream of and that you love him or her fully in a way I never was. I also hope you’d consider mentoring a foster child with this love you have, that’s temporary and it could make all the difference in the world.

    • Whitney Anderson

      I am so sorry for your experience and I can understand why you feel that way. Also, it’s not that I’m not open to adoption…I am. But, it’s really nobody’s business to be telling me what to do. That’s what I have a problem with. Thank you for your words and best wishes to you.

  • I know this is an old board but I have to say…adoption is expensive. When you think about how much it takes to raise a child…you’re actually having to spend tons of money just to get someone else’s child plus spend tons to raise and or care for that child. I was blessed to have my daughter at age 18 with no regrets. I wasn’t ready but I managed without any health issues. Now that I am ready with the career and being financially stable go figure I can’t seem to stay pregnant. To tell someone to just adopt is ignorant. I am though selfish. I would love to have my own child. The child that I can relate to and find common traits to compare to others in my family.