Is adoption an option for you? Why not?

We haven’t spoken much about adoption here. Perhaps it’s irrelevant in cases where one partner doesn’t want to have children for whatever reason. A baby is a baby, a child is a child, and they don’t want one. But for couples who don’t have children because of infertility or a health problem, adoption would seem to be an option. I’m betting many of us have been asked: “Why don’t you adopt?”

Fred and I considered it before he decided he didn’t want to do kids with me at all. His older two children from his first marriage were both adopted. Fred and his first wife thought they could not conceive. Then, surprise, when she was 38 and he was 40, she got pregnant, and Michael was born. After which Fred got a vasectomy.

The older two children were adopted as infants from government agencies in the 1960s. Fred and Annette were give only the most basic information: nationality and health, no names or background. An effort was made in those days to match parents to children in terms of looks and ethnicity. Overall, it worked pretty well. When Michael came along in the ‘70s, his siblings were jealous. He looked just like his dad, and they felt that he got all the goodies. Of course by then their parents were older and financially better off.

When we got together, the older kids were in their teens and Michael was turning 7. We looked into adopting the way Fred and Annette had done before. We discovered that Fred, in his late 40s, was too old. Although we had friends who were adopting from other countries or by private agencies, we didn’t pursue it any further.

Fred wasn’t anxious to start over with a new baby. But for me, it was something else. I wanted children who were biologically connected to me and my family through all the generations. I wanted them to share my ethnicity and my physical characteristics combined with Fred’s. I wanted people to look at us and see the connection. I wanted a child who was part of me. If I couldn’t have that, well, never mind. I didn’t want just any babies; I wanted my babies.

Selfish? Perhaps. I know there are children who need parents, and I’m glad there are people willing to take them into their homes. Right now my niece is going through the process to become a foster mother. She’s single, 29, and braver than I will ever be.

Adoption is not easy or inexpensive. Couples who have spent years trying to get pregnant may already be drained of hope and cash. Prospective parents have to jump through a lot of hoops to be approved. Adoptions fall through, sometimes several times before parents get to bring home a child. Adopted children always have that other family out there somewhere, and they come with a big set of unknowns about their physical and mental background that may surface later. They’re yours but not quite.

And yet, it can be wonderful. I have seen beautiful adoptive families in which biology doesn’t make a bit of difference. But it would for me.

What about you? Have you thought about adoption? Would you do it? Why or why not? Does it matter if they’re not biologically yours?

Additional reading:

This post from loribeth, who blogs at The Road Less Traveled, got me thinking about adoption:  March 15, 2015: “The A word: Why we didn’t adopt”

General information about adoption: National Adoption Center (promotes adoption from foster)

Adoption Fact Sheet offers lots of good into. Adopting from China costs $20,000 or more!

Statistics about abortion: https://www.americanadoptions.com/pregnant/adoption_stats

“What Does It Take to Adopt a Child in Britain?” Stories of three adoptive families in the UK

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7 thoughts on “Is adoption an option for you? Why not?

  1. I think I COULD be the sort to adopt. I have neighborhood kids who visit with me and I love it. A few have mothers that seem to not really care. These kids are running around town at 8:00 at night (on a school night). I feed them often. One day one of the girls sat and visited while I was doing dishes and she said, “Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live here.” I cried after she left because I too wondered what it would be like to have her live in my home, tucking her into bed or throwing her a birthday party. Those tugs on my heartstrings make me feel that I could be a good mother.

    However, I have neither the proper home or finances to be entrusted with a child. My husband and I are a happy couple these days but we, especially he, does NOT look good on paper. Still you hear of all these terrible people that are somehow allowed to be foster parents or even adopt and they end up chaining the kids to the kitchen table or locking them in a closet as punishment. I could certainly do better than that.

    I would worry about the unknowns of a brand new baby. An older child would help you to know what you are getting into but then you might have to deal with fixing the bad things that the child has already experienced and I don’t know how seamlessly a half grown child would fit into our extended family. That could be stressful.

    If I adopted it would probably have to be a child that was another nationality or background than me. Then I wouldn’t look at them and try to find myself in them. They’d be their own person and I’d just been the person giving them a nice life. It would be wonderful to do that for someone. I daydream about adoption more than birth now that I think about it.

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  2. There you go again Sue. Hitting a sensitive spot. I love it though. It helps me flesh out the thoughts swirling in my brain and if thoughts can swirl in my heart, they have done so. I have recently been asked by 2 people why I never adopted. Funny how people think that is their business, but I digress. My reason is the same as yours. Call me selfish (I can handle it, besides it’s the truth) — I want the full package deal: pregnancy, childbirth and raising my own wee one with my own genes and quirks. Of course with hubby’s genes and quirks too. That doesn’t happen with adoption. Also my cousin adopted a baby and it didn’t turn out so well for her. In the 90’s I sat through 2 adoption spiels through various adoption agencies. A healthy white American baby started at $20K. A possibly healthy Russian baby started at around $4K. Any child with a disability or that was not a baby was significantly cheaper. I know, I know. Buying and selling of babies is illegal. Guess what. Adoption sure does come close to it especially with those price tags.

    The other factor is my faith. I have really strong faith. 1) If the Lord wanted me to have a baby, He would make it happen. 2) If the Lord wanted me to adopt, He would have put a much stronger burden on my heart about adoption. Neither has happened, so I go on with my very active and fulfilling life childfree until He turns that boat around. From a faith angle, why force a situation that God has not called me to…? At least not yet; at my age, likely not ever.

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    • Mary Eileen Pat, etc. Glad I hit a sensitive spot. It’s really something we all get asked, like we never thought about it ourselves. “Why don’t you adopt. There are lots of kids who need loving homes.” Yes, but. I agree. If God wanted us to be moms, he would have worked it out for us. Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. I have been asked that question more times than I could have have dreamed of. So tired of it!! Over the years I have just developed a short snappy response and say “it’s not like I can just run down to the five and dime and pick one up on sale.” But in my heart I would adopt one in a second. I wouldn’t care of the race or color… I would call the little bundle of joy all my own and love them to the ends of the earth.

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  4. It’s not an option for me because I fit into the “married someone who won’t have kids with me” camp, but even if it were infertility, I don’t think I would adopt either. I think to adopt you have to be the kind of person who really just loves children. I never particularly enjoyed being around kids in general but despite that I always wanted my own. I think like you Sue, I wanted to have a child that was an extension of my own family line, a continuation of my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s story. I assumed that even though I wasn’t crazy about kids that I would instantly love and bond with my own, that it would somehow be different. Since I never got to experience it, I can’t say for sure that it would work that way, but that was always how I thought it would be. If I adopted a child, there might be a part of me that would still feel “less than” just the way to do now, that I am missing the full experience of what it means to be a woman and a mother.

    I do sometimes think that maybe, I might find myself in a situation where I would be free to open up my home to an older child who needs help. It certainly isn’t going to happen while my husband is still living with me, but I guess you can never tell where life will take you. But investing the time and money in trying to jump through all the hoops to adopt an infant, I don’t think that was ever the right decision for me in any circumstance.

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  5. I would absolutely love to adopt. My husband has 3 sons, and had flip-flopped with me before we got married about kids. Yes, I want one with you. No, I don’t. Maybe we can adopt. Nope.

    I had done so much research about adoption, especially from the foster care system. And when he gave his final “no,” just like I did when grad school didn’t work out and I threw out all of my notes, I chucked that big binder full of future budgets, vasectomy reversal info, and foster care adoption website print-outs.

    I know that there are so many kids out there that would love a family, but you can’t only have one-half of a couple wanting it, or else it won’t happen. So I get (3 stepsons but) no kids and the kids have one less opportunity for a loving family.

    I think that the grass always looks greener on the other side. Even if we had an adopted child to love, or wound up using a surrogate, or any other non-physical means of having a kid, many of us would still grieve not having had the pregnancy experience.

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