You know that parenting is a struggle. You’re taught that everyday in the movies, on television, and in stories from our parents and friends.
What you don’t always realize is that the road to parenting can be equally as challenging. While some hopeful parents get pregnant with ease, others struggle to do so.
Approximately 1 in 6 couples struggle with fertility and, while many of those couples turn to medicine, science doesn’t always have the fix. Plus, medicine isn’t always a viable option for couples given the steep cost of fertility treatments.
Naturally, couples that find themselves in this difficult situation begin to ask, “What’s next?” Here’s the thing though. “What’s next?” isn’t always an easy question to answer.
Think about it.
If you’ve spent months, and in some cases years, trying to get pregnant, “what’s next?” asks you to put those hopes and desires aside in order to consider something different. It’s like admitting defeat – and sometimes couples just aren’t ready to do that just yet.
And that’s entirely okay.
Mainstream media doesn’t always paint a clear or fair picture of the road to parenthood. You imagine growing up and having children the “conventional” way. So, when things don’t work out in quite the way you expected, you find yourself entirely unprepared and disheartened.
The truth is, it’s not easy for everyone – and each person’s journey is a little bit different.
So how do you know when you’re ready to consider “what’s next”? How do you know if you’re ready to consider adoption after infertility?
Start right here by answering these next few questions. Record your answers, and be completely honest with yourself as you assess your adoption readiness.
1. Can you talk about infertility without crying or experiencing intense emotions?
Infertility can be the source of overwhelming emotional baggage that takes time to work through and resolve. Allow yourself to take time to grieve and to heal. You’ll know you’re ready to consider adoption when talking about your infertility doesn’t spark tremendous heartache.
2. Do you feel anger towards your body?
It’s normal for individuals experiencing infertility to feel anger towards their bodies, or to feel as if their bodies have failed them in some way. While those feelings are normal, they’re usually telltale signs that you’re not ready to consider adoption just yet.
3. Do you wish you could skip all the adoption education and just jump straight to the part where a child is in your home?
Adoption is a process. In some cases, adoption can take longer than 9-months of pregnancy. Couples who are prepared to walk the path of adoption need to be deeply committed to the education and process that comes with it. In the same way that couples dedicate themselves to infertility treatments, couples also need to commit themselves to adoption. It’s all part of the process of becoming a parent.
4. Deep down, do you feel you are being forced to adopt? Do you feel as if it is your last resort?
For some people, adoption is their first choice. For others, it’s only the next step. It’s okay if adoption isn’t your first choice, but it’s important to be sure it’s the “right” choice for you right now. If you aren’t one hundred percent sure that adoption is the right route for you, then it’s not meant to be right now. Take some time to breathe and then, when you’re ready, you can revisit the idea later on.
5. Do you long to be pregnant or to see your partner pregnant?
Adoption does not cure infertility. While it may give you a child, adoption certainly won’t resolve any desires you have to become pregnant or to watch your partner experience pregnancy. It’s important to overcome all of those issues before you undertake the adoption process.
6. Does it bother you that future generations of your family will not be related by blood to you and your ancestors?
Will it bother you to know that your child won’t share the same medical history or physically resemble you? For some people, blood-ties are important. If that’s you, adoption isn’t the right option, at least not right now.
How do you feel after answering those questions? Did you learn that you’re ready to consider adoption? Or did you learn that you still have some unresolved feelings about your fertility struggles that you need to work through before pursuing adoption or another route to parenthood.
Either way, your road to parenthood is deeply personal and you have control. While this journey may not have been what you expected, your next step is entirely in your control and only you can say what is best for you. Whether your next step is to continue fertility treatments, to remain childfree, to choose surrogacy or to pursue adoption, the choice is entirely yours to make.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michele Fried is the founder and CEO of Adoption STAR, an accredited nonprofit adoption agency licensed in New York, Florida, and Ohio that is dedicated to creating forever families. An adoption advocate and supporter, Michele is also a proud mom to 10 children, six of whom are adopted. She frequently writes and speaks about adoption and parenthood.