Once you make a decision to stop pursuing medical treatment and resolve the grief of infertility, it is important to evaluate alternatives to genetic parenting. This article takes a look at the psychological and social aspects of adoption, donor gametes, child-free living, and single-child parenting.
Couples who reassess their goals with respect to parenting and find they desire "a" child, not necessarily "our" child, still often grieve the genetic dream child and pregnancy experience. Then they explore adoption. Adoption does provide more of a guarantee that parenting will occur than does treatment, but the emotional journey also has some ups and downs. The move from the familiar world of infertility treatments to the unknown arena of adoption can be overwhelming. It is not uncommon for family and friends to encourage the infertile couple to adopt. Stories of pregnancy after adoption abound and often are shared with the infertile. Certainly this can occur, but only does so in about 2 percent of the cases.
A prevalent social assumption is that if a couple has pursued treatment unsuccessfully, then they will adopt.
The increased presence of private attorneys and agencies has decreased the waiting time for adoption, but costs can sometimes become prohibitive for many couples. On the average, the cost of adoption ranges from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the age and ethnicity of the child, among other factors. Often couples must regroup financially after exploring fertility treatments before they can realistically consider adoption.
Home studies can seem intimidating as couples wonder about their "marketability" to birth mothers and adoption facilitators. The idea of being approved to parent often brings feelings of resentment and frustration. The ability to write "Dear Birth Mother" letters stating all the positive qualities possessed by the couple can be difficult, especially if self-esteem is low following the unsuccessful pursuit of fertility.
Adoptions that fall through after couples have been matched with birth parents sometimes feel like deja-vu with respect to previous miscarriages and unsuccessful cycles. Most adoption facilitators do a good job of preparing couples for possible disappointment, and remind them that with perseverance success is possible.
For those of you who have spent time together evaluating your motivations and desires for parenting, and who utilize reputable agencies, adoption can be a very positive experience. Often the excitement of knowing "we will be parents" is a refreshing change from the uncertainties of the treatment experience.