If someone you care about is struggling to get pregnant, it can be difficult to know what to say to them. There are tons of encouraging things we infertile folks love to hear, and other things that are better left unsaid, lest you want us to hate you. But asking someone who is trying to get pregnant why they don’t just adopt is not only hurtful, it’s insulting.
I always wanted to be a parent. But when the time came to try, my husband and I found out we had fertility trouble and the only way we could have a family would be to use science and cross our fingers that it worked, or adopt.
Both options were expensive. Neither were a sure bet- we could roll the dice with science and never get pregnant, or languish on an adoption wait list for years without getting selected.
As an attorney who often represented children, you would think that choosing adoption would have been a no brainer- that my career goals of helping kids would spill over into my personal life. But when the time came, I didn’t chose adoption, because I wanted to experience pregnancy and raise children that were biologically connected to my husband.
People who learned we were going through infertility treatments would ask us why we didn’t just adopt. They’d say there are tons of babies waiting for homes and that we were being selfish and wasteful for not adopting. The realities of pursuing adoption itself is a topic for another day. But their well-intentioned words were hurtful because of the misguided assumption that as an infertile person I somehow didn’t deserve to get pregnant.
People who have no trouble conceiving are just as capable of adopting, and yet, I’ve never heard of someone announcing their pregnancy and being told they should have just adopted instead. Still the judgment remains- that by choosing to pursue a pregnancy over adoption I am committing a crime against mankind, that I should be willing and happy to take a baby, any baby, if I can’t easily have one on my own. But where in the fine print of my genetic code does it say that having a broken baby maker comes with the side effect of wanting to raise someone else’s biological child?
Yes, there are children in the world that are waiting for homes, but the burden is on everyone to help them, not just those of us with fertility issues. If we are going to try and hold infertile couples accountable for not adopting more often, why not all couples who have children? The decision to have biological children or adopted kids should be a conversation every couple has before starting a family, regardless of their fertility- not something we mention to our infertile friends as some sort of consolation prize.
Bottom line- adopting a child is an amazing act that should be taken by those who truly want to do it because it is something they are compelled to do. If the Michelle Duggars of the world don’t get judged for not adopting, well, then, either should I.
by Megan Zander