Moving from Infertility to Adoption
Finding out that you may not be able to give birth to biological children is an incredibly painful experience for many couples. For many couples, having a baby signifies an important milestone in their lives that simply can’t be overlooked. They would do anything to raise their own child.
You may immediately be overwhelmed by the endless rounds of infertility treatments and their subsequent medical bills. Infertility can be expensive to combat, as well as painful emotionally and physically.
In the wake of this devastating news, some couples begin to consider the possibility of adoption. Raising up a child who isn’t yours biologically can be a difficult prospect, particularly in the direct aftermath of discovering infertility. However, adoption can also be an extremely beautiful and life-giving alternative for a couple who may not be able to have biological children.
How can you move from infertility to adoption? There are a few stages common to most couples who struggle with infertility before an adoption occurs. If this is something that may be on your periphery, these steps could help you to transition from infertility to a successful adoption.
Take time to grieve.
There is no right or wrong way to process through the loss that’s inherent to infertility. Most people take the ability to reproduce easily for granted, so finding out that you can’t can come with a tremendous shock. You may move through all of the common stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Each stage is completely normal and necessary before you can come to terms with your situation.
Don’t try to rush through this process in order to move onto an adoption quicker. Each individual will move through grief at their own pace. You and your partner may not both process through this loss at the same speed or in the same way. Have grace for the differences between the two of you, and keep the lines of communication open regarding your emotional process.
This may be a great time to enlist the help of a professional counselor or therapist. They may be able to offer you a safe place to explore your grief and the inherent loss that accompanies infertility. Look for a therapist that is familiar with similar situations if you’re struggling to come to terms with your infertility.
Talk with your partner.
Adoption requires the support of both partners in order to be successful. Much like having a baby, both partners need to be fully committed and prepared to raise a child who is going to become part of the family. When moving from infertility to an adoption, there’s an additional layer that needs to be dealt with first.
You and your partner will need to be very open regarding your expectations for an adoption or an adoption timeline. If you move forward on an adoption before your spouse is truly finished grieving their loss, you may breed bitterness and resentment in the years ahead. Consider making a few visits to a certified marriage counselor to help keep you and your spouse on the same page with a new adoption following infertility.
Communication will also be key when it comes to making crucial decisions regarding your adoption process. For example, you will both have to decide what level of openness you will have with a birth mother, ages of children you will accept placement of, and what specific special needs you will be able to handle effectively. These are all important decisions that need to be made as a unit.
Educate yourself on adoption.
Adoption is an incredible experience, but it’s also very different from having a biological child. You will be faced with an endless number of choices, each of which can determine what your family will look like in the foreseeable future.
The process of receiving a child through adoption is different, and you will need to identify the right path for your family. You may search for a birth mother on your own or enlist the help of a private adoption attorney. Alternatively, you may sign up to become adoptive parents through your local social services agency or investigate international adoption. There’s no “wrong” way to pursue adoption.
Adoption may also require a unique stance when it comes to parenting, cocooning, and attaching to a new child that didn’t originate from your own body. Prepare yourself for the parenting differences you’re likely to face when you first start down the path to adoption.
Prepare yourself for the wait.
Often the most painful part of an adoption is the wait for a match with a potential adoptive placement. You may talk with multiple birth mothers or receive many phone calls before officially deciding on the right course of action for your family. After being faced with the devastating reality of infertility, the wait may feel unbearable.
Consider the wait as an opportunity to prepare yourself, your family, and your home for the addition of a new child. A pregnant woman often finds herself nesting as the due date comes near. She may wash baby clothes, clean the house incessantly, and begin preparing meals for after the baby arrives. Similarly, adoptive parents can begin to prepare their hearts and homes for the arrival of a new child through adoption.
Make a list of things you can accomplish during the waiting process. These items can range from tangible preparations in the home to reading through various adoption-related books. By prioritizing some of these things, you can actively prepare for a child. This can take the focus off the long wait and prevent you from dwelling on where the adoption came from.
Moving from infertility to adoption is a complicated emotional process that requires more conscious awareness of your inner thoughts and feelings. Don’t be tempted to rush into the adoption process without taking time to grieve your initial loss. You’ll be far better equipped to handle parenting a new child through adoption if you’ve dealt with the emotional repercussions of your infertility first.
In the end, an adoption isn’t going to be an instant fix for a couple struggling with infertility. The pain of that loss will still be present, and you will need to take the appropriate amount of time to deal with it first. Once you make the decision to move forward on an adoption, you can take some of these practical steps to make your adoption dream a reality.