I almost feel ridiculous writing a blog post about this, because it seems SO OBVIOUS to me. And YET, from the stories that friends of mine who have struggled with infertility have told me, it is apparently NOT obvious to some people, AT ALL.
First of all, let's discuss adoption. I have no experience with adoption whatsoever. But it is an option that we find interesting, and have done some research into. And just the RESEARCH, just the mildly curious "hey I wonder what it would entail for us to do this someday" Googling, is ALREADY exhausting. ALL forms of adoption are difficult. International and domestic private adoption are incredibly expensive. Even adopting publicly in the U.S., through the foster system, while it is not as prohibitively priced as other types of adoption, is a slow, painful, sometimes emotionally devastating process.
Here are some of the things that can happen when you try to adopt:
- You go into serious debt, and/or spend all of your savings.
- You spend years going through bureaucracy and paperwork.
- You think you're going to get to adopt a certain child, and then it falls through, leading to heartbreak.
- You don't end up with a child until years and years have passed, if ever.
- You end up with a child with special needs that require a very specific parenting skill set, one that you may or may not be equipped to handle.
- A child comes to your home well past infancy, often with emotional or psychological issues related to past trauma or difficult early life experiences.
- As you raise the child, you have to work with them to carefully address questions of where they came from, why they aren't there anymore, and what this means for them in the future.
- So many, many, many other complicated situations that I cannot even begin to envision.
So if people WANT to adopt, that's great. But if they DON'T want to adopt? There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. There are all different ways to form a family, and some of them are right for some people, and others are right for other people, but EVERY FAMILY has to figure out what would work for THEM. And adoption is not right for everyone.
PLUS, and this is the part that I feel should be EVEN MORE OBVIOUS, and yet apparently IS NOT, why should people who have trouble with infertility be the ones who are told to adopt? Why is there this line in the sand? So often, I see or hear people say that they think it's selfish for a couple to pursue fertility treatments when there are already so many children out there who need a home. Which, first of all, I've already discussed why "children who need a home" does not equate to "just adopt!" So it's not as simple as, "Oh, I have a home, and they need a home, let's just put the two together, and we're done!"
But second of all, if it's selfish to pursue pregnancy when there are already kids out there who need parents, why is it only selfish for people who have to work harder for their pregnancies? Why is it not selfish for me to have gotten pregnant? Just because we happened to be lucky enough to have it occur quickly and without assistance? That has nothing to do with us, or with our ability to parent. It doesn't change the fact that we decided to create a person instead of bringing an already-existing person who needs a home into our family.
The point is, whether or not it's selfish to create people instead of adopting people is COMPLETELY UNRELATED to how much work it takes any given person to create another person. There is not some magic threshold, like, "Oh, she got pregnant right away, so that's OK then," whereas, "Oh, he had a medical issue that made it impossible for them to get pregnant without assistance, so they sought medical treatment that allowed them to become pregnant, HOW DARE THEY DO THAT INSTEAD OF ADOPT." There is NO DIFFERENCE. In both cases, the couple decided they wanted to be pregnant, and took the necessary steps to achieve that goal. And it is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT that there were MORE steps involved for one couple than the other.
And that is before we even consider that there is NOTHING WRONG with wanting to be pregnant. It is utterly indescribable to me how cool it is to be pregnant. To GROW a person. To create a person who will share my genes and Torsten's. To KNOW everything that has happened to this little person in the entire course of his existence, to know what his prenatal experience was like. To get to anticipate giving birth to him and raising him from the minute he comes into the world. To get to bond with him and have skin-to-skin contact with him from the day he is born. To not have to worry that someone else will exercise their last-minute right to take him away from me. To know that I MADE this person, that he is the product of the love that my husband and I share, that we get to experience him together. That he is part of both of us and also his own self, all at once.
So PLEASE. Let us all recognize that everyone has the right to seek the family they wish to have, in whatever form that may take, using whatever steps are necessary to get there. Adoption is a wonderful thing. So are pregnancy and childbirth. Neither one is for everyone. Everybody needs to make their own decision about what is right for their family. And "how hard it is to get pregnant" is not an acceptable factor for anyone to use when judging how others put their families together.