A Nod To Adoption Month

November is (among other things) National Adoption Month.

I have lots of thoughts on adoption, which means I could probably write way more than a whole month’s worth of posts on the subject.  Maybe someday I will.  But for now, I just have a question.  It’s a question I’ve been wanting to ask for a long time, but one that I’m a little scared to ask any particular person, so I’m just going to throw it out there and hope that someone somewhere will be willing to share with me some honest thoughts.

Is it insensitive to ask a couple struggling with infertility what they think about adoption?

I don’t intend it as a judgmental question at all; I’m just curious as to what their thoughts on it are.  But I’m scared to ask, just in case it doesn’t come across right.  Plus, I realize that there are many very offensive things to say to someone who desperately wants to have children and can’t (I definitely know better than to bring some of them up.  I mean, who says ‘Are you sure you’re, you know, doing it right?’ to someone they know is dealing with infertility?  Who says it at all?).  I want to be sensitive to the heartache that struggle can be.

But every single time I hear about someone who either 1) doesn’t have the child (or multiple children) they wanted because of infertility or 2) is shelling out mega money on fertility treatments, I can’t help but thinking about the adoption option (of course, I think it’s an option that people not struggling with infertility should consider, too.  Just saying).  

After all, where would we be if God hadn’t adopted us?

  1. #1 by Angela Starosta on November 17, 2010 - 10:35 am

    As someone who understands all too well and has been asked that question many times, here are my thoughts:

    Adoption is not something to be entered into lightly for anyone, but has extra hurdles for the infertile couple. You really first have to grieve not only for any lost children, but for the loss of your biological line, for the loss of ever having that bulging belly, for a little one with your eyes and your husbands smile. If you don’t take care of that first, you’re going into it with the wrong attitude. You have to deal with all of the feelings of inadequacy and failure that accompany infertility. For most couples, that means exploring all other fertility issues, because in order to mourn the loss of something, you have to first come to the understanding that it is lost. Also, international adoption usually has very strict age limits that a young couple may not meet and almost all infant adoption is extremely pricey. There is no adoption insurance that covers most of the costs, while some fertility treatments are actually covered by insurance (for example if that infertility is caused by a birth defect).

    It is a big decision from all angles. It also doesn’t help anything for the couple to feel anymore pressure than they already do. Honestly, unless you are a regular confidant of the couple, I wouldn’t bring it up.

  2. #2 by Leah on November 17, 2010 - 1:24 pm

    I don’t know if it’s insensitive to ask, but it kind of could be perceived as making light of their desire for pregnancy – like, “what’s the big deal? just adopt.” A lot of women crave the experience of motherhood… we were created for it. So they’re probably just waiting a while to see if it’s possible for them.
    And adoption is hard – I have a friend who shelled out thousands of dollars and waited years only to find that their request was going nowhere. They decided to back out and remain childless for the time being – it was heartbreaking. When she has people ask her “so have you considered adoption?” it just brings up pain for her.
    Adoption is ubiquitous enough that it really doesn’t need to be brought up. Guaranteed that they have thought of it.

  3. #3 by Angela Starosta on November 17, 2010 - 1:55 pm

    another ting to consder is that “have you considered adoption?” is on the very long list of questions/statements that infertiles deal with all too often… Along with “just relax” and “youre still young” and “have you considered ivf?” (as though ivf is the soloution to all infetility problems) and it is exhausting to hear the same thing over and over again, especially when some of them have (intentionally or not) some stupid assumptions or insinuations behind them.

  4. #4 by Gretchen B. on November 17, 2010 - 3:34 pm

    Thanks for this post, and thanks (especially Angela) for the comments.

  5. #5 by Diane on November 17, 2010 - 5:45 pm

    This truly is not a subject for anyone to discuss except for the husband, wife and God. Even with the best intentions it’s really no one’s business and believe me if they aren’t conceiving they have already thought about it…. Just my take on it….. We have one couple in church that are on baby number 2 through IVF and another one that struggles because they can’t afford any option…very sad….

  6. #6 by Sally on November 17, 2010 - 10:26 pm

    My (strong) opinion is not to ask the question. I’m sure they know that’s an “option”, but to me, it would be a whole different ball game than having a biological child. My thoughts are, if the couple is a very close friend, they might mention adoption and what they think about it to you. Otherwise, they might not be ready to share all their thoughts as they go through the infertility process.

  7. #7 by Cristy on November 18, 2010 - 10:13 am

    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone!

  8. #8 by joannamv on November 24, 2010 - 1:17 am

    I didn’t see this post until now o.O And I feel like commenting even though it seems like you got the feedback you wanted :B

    When it comes to any question that might be insensitive, it always depends on the context and your relationship with the person you are asking. Some questions will offend most people whereas others will be innocuous to most people, but there are always exceptions. When it comes to this question in particular, it would probably be something you would only ask if you were already having an in-depth conversation and felt that it would be appropriate.

    Some people are better suited to adoption than others. I especially admire those who adopt older children. Personally, I’m a total loner and so adoption is hard for me to imagine. I think I need pregnancy and birth in order to adjust to the idea that a new person will be living with me…

  9. #9 by felicialauer on November 29, 2010 - 4:22 am

    In general, I agree with “joannamy”; it depends a lot on the person and the context. That said, I would like to add some things because I approach this with a unique perspective. As many of you might remember, Stephen and I got married with I was 19, I got pregnant right away, and I decided to delay finishing college for a few years(note: I did not just give up on learning and school like some people thought!! hehe). We wanted children for many reasons and of course saw nothing but blessing afforded to children in marriage and to the calling of women as mothers. However, one of the reasons we tried to get pregnant right away is that I found out I have extensive endometriosis while we were engaged, and I was told I might never have children. I had a surgery to clean some of it out, as well as remove a ping-pong-ball-sized cyst which was pinching one of my fallopian tubes closed. By God’s grace I was able to get pregnant. While we were praising the Lord and feeling overjoyed that we were going to have at least one child, we were shocked at how much grief we got from people at church. They said we were too young, I shouldn’t have “quit” school, asked if we didn’t know how to use birth control, the works. It was horrible. When I tried to patiently explain to people that I have only a limited amount of time to have children before the endometriosis spreads and kills my ovaries, gets on a vital organ and I have to have a hysterectomy to stop it from killing me, or just causes my reproductive system to be under too much stress and shut down, some people actually said, “You still should have waited, and if it didn’t work, you could have adopted.” As you all might agree, you should never say that to someone. It is rude and insensitive. Now, as I am minus one ovary and having to wait much longer than anticipated to try again because, in God’s providence, I am healing from a back fracture and the subsequent surgery and nerve damage, sometimes people are very kind and understanding, and sometimes not. I get a lot of the “just relax” and “you’re so young you shouldn’t even be worrying about that anyway” business. I don’t mind when people ask if I have considered adoption, as long as it is done kindly. What is not really appropriate is when people say, “It doesn’t matter now- you have one, and you can just adopt from now on.” That does not show understanding for the fact that I cried and mourned the loss of my left ovary, and I’m sure it will be much worse the day I find out I can’t have any more babies. However, God’s providence and purposes are perfect and good, and I know He will console me and show us what He has in store for our family. I am thankful for the opportunity to talk to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is a blessing to have their care and concern, so don’t hesitate to show you care and assure them of your prayers when you are encountering those dealing with these issues.

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