Choosing Adoption after Infertility
5 Steps to Prepare for Adoption after Infertility
“Why don’t infertile couples just adopt?”
It’s a loaded — and all too common — question. Infertility is one of the greatest struggles hopeful parents can encounter on their road to building their family. It’s not easy — nor is making the decision to pursue adoption after infertility.
There is so much that goes into making this choice. Couples must first take the time to work through complicated feelings of grief and loss. They may decide to first try IVF or other fertility treatments before they can fully let go of their dreams of having a biologically related child. They might also consider other options, like surrogacy, before ultimately deciding that adoption is the right choice for them. And, when they do make that decision, they need to be truly excited about the process ahead — it’s not enough to feel like you are “settling” for adoption.
When — and if — a couple does decide to pursue adoption after infertility, they have yet another complex process ahead of them: one full of paperwork, home studies, legal processes and plenty more emotional highs and lows. It’s very important for any couple considering adopting after infertility to understand this process and all its pros and cons before moving forward.
So, whether you’re wondering, “Why don’t infertile couples adopt?” or you’re considering adopting after infertility yourself, know that this might not always be simple or straightforward — but ultimately, it will be worthwhile.
As you consider your options for moving forward from infertility, here’s what you need to know about the adoption process.
The Steps of Adopting After Infertility
Moving to adoption after infertility takes time and effort. It’s not a simple process. If you’re asking, “Why don’t infertile couples just adopt?” understand that this process is extremely complex. Adoption is not right for everyone, and that’s completely okay. If, however, you are interested in choosing adoption after infertility, here’s how that decision might look for you:
Step 1: Fully grieve your infertility.
Even if you ultimately choose to pursue adoption after infertility, you are still experiencing a loss, and it’s one that deserves to be properly grieved. Before making any decisions about how to proceed with your family-building journey — or even if you want to proceed — you should first go through the following phases of grief:
Denial. Something that you’ve wanted for a long time is not going to come to fruition, and this can feel unreal. You may continue to pursue infertility procedures like IVF during the denial phase, because you’re sure that this can be fixed. You are in a state of shock.
Anger. At some point, you may start to get mad. You might feel afraid, jealous, resentful, or even ashamed as you grapple with infertility, and your anger may even manifest toward yourself or your spouse. All of these feelings are completely natural, but it’s important to express your anger in healthy ways.
Bargaining. It’s not uncommon for couples experiencing infertility to think that there is going to be a cure. You may try eating certain foods, changing your lifestyle, and completing repeated IVF cycles hoping that something is going to be the change you need.
Sadness. Sadness can manifest in physical pain as well as emotional. You might lack energy and have physical complaints you don’t’ normally have, but this can actually be your body’s way of helping you process and moving toward acceptance in a healthy way.
Acceptance. When you have finally processed and accepted your infertility, it will no longer completely consume you. You’ll begin to consider other family-building methods and start having those talks about what’s really important to you moving forward. Your infertility struggles will never seem easy, but you’ll be able to accept them and move on. Only once you have reached this acceptance stage should you pursue adoption after infertility.
Keep in mind that everyone grieves differently, and the grief process isn’t necessarily linear. You might not go through all of these grief stages, and you may not go through them in this order. That’s okay, as long as you ultimately work through your feelings and reach a place of acceptance.
If you find yourself struggling with this grief process, remember that you are not alone. You might consider reaching out to a support group or infertility counselor to help you process these emotions.
Step 2: Decide you’re more interested in experiencing parenthood than pregnancy.
After you’ve fully grieved your infertility, you’ll start thinking about what was really important to you about conceiving in the first place. Was it to experience a pregnancy, or is it more important to you to be able to experience parenthood? If you are still concerned about your child not sharing your genetics, you may not be quite ready to consider adoption as an option yet. However, if you know that all you want is to have a child to love and guide, you may be ready to start adopting after infertility.
Step 3: Get on the same page with your partner about adoption.
When it comes to infertility and adoption, it’s important that you are your partner are completely on the same page. Not everyone grieves at the same pace or in the same ways. It’s not fair to push your partner to consider other family-building methods before he or she is ready, nor is it fair to refrain from voicing your concern if you aren’t sure you’re fully committed. The two of you are a team, and both of you will need to be in the same headspace to complete your family.
Step 4: Determine which kind of adoption you want to pursue.
After you’ve determined that you and your partner are both fully committed to pursuing adoption, there will be many questions you have to discuss and answer together. Do you want to adopt a baby? An older child? A child with special needs? A child from another country? You’ll need to consider which of the following kinds of adoption you wish to pursue:
Domestic Infant Adoption. In a domestic adoption, you and your spouse will adopt a child from a pregnant woman within the United States. She will choose her child’s adoptive parents, and if you both choose, you can maintain an open adoption relationship for the rest of your baby’s life.
International Adoption. In an international adoption, you and your spouse will adopt a child from a foreign country. This process varies greatly depending on which country you choose to adopt from.
Foster Adoption. In a foster care adoption, you and your spouse will adopt a child who has been legally cleared for adoption within the foster care system. These children’s parents have had their parental rights taken away, and the children are usually older or have one or more special needs.
Adoption requirements, costs and processes can vary based on the type of adoption you choose, so it’s important to explore your options and decide which path makes the most sense for your family before moving forward.
Step 5: Connect with an adoption professional.
After you have determined which type of adoption you’re ready to pursue, you can begin researching the appropriate adoption professionals to help you grow your family. Keep in mind that your adoption professional is going to be your guide throughout this process, so it’s important to choose someone that you’re comfortable with. Ensure that they can counsel you through the process, not excluding discussing your infertility struggles and helping to ensure that you are indeed ready for the huge step that is adoption.
To learn more about adopting after infertility — or to begin pursuing your own adoption after infertility — please don’t hesitate to contact American Adoptions.
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