Infertility Post 7: Considering Adoption

In the second year of our marriage, my husband and I took a foster care training class together. First we planned to take foster children in need of temporary homes. Later, after our biological children were older, we hoped everything would fall into place to adopt a child.

We didn’t go into this plan entirely uninformed. My husband is the oldest of five siblings. When he was a teen, his parents began taking foster children into their home. By the time he graduated from college, his parents had adopted six children, with a seventh to follow a few years later. We’ve watched plenty of highs and lows for everyone involved.

Within that second year of marriage, it became clear that infertility would be an issue for us.

Some people, when they learn they cannot have children, close the door on biological parenthood and jump straight into the adoption process. We didn’t have this “luxury.” We didn’t know how long the infertility would last. We didn’t know what was causing it. No doctor could find anything wrong. As far as we knew, I could become pregnant the very next month.

As time dragged on, though, adoption occasionally became an obsessive passion.

As far as I could see, these were our options:

Foster adoption. We crossed foster adoption off the list as an option for our first baby. Foster care children are usually old enough to have experienced quite a bit of trauma. We hoped to adopt through the foster care system only when the adopted child would be the youngest member of our family. With our childbearing timeline off course, this plan was put on hold.

International adoption. The expense of international adoption was prohibitive. Also, at that time my husband’s heart was for children closer to home.

Domestic adoption. This seemed to be the best option for us. There was relief available for the expense of domestic adoption, and it lined up with where my husband’s heart was at the time.

I started contacting all sorts of domestic adoption agencies. They were all very kind and encouraging. Enthusiastic, I began asking them to mail application packets. As the packets began to arrive, I tore them open and started filling them out.

The devil is in the details.

My husband’s residency training was getting increasingly hectic and consuming. We had little time together. We weren’t able to attend church together regularly. Our dearly-held dreams of having children had faded over the years, and we were drifting apart.

The adoption paperwork asked us to describe our lovely, warm, happy family. I worked pretty hard at this, at the same time trying to figure out when and how my husband would fill in his section describing our lovely, warm, happy family.

When I had worked out most of the hitches with that section, I moved on to the references.

Who should be our references?

My husband and I separately had many long-time family friends who would vouch for us… separately. We had very, very few people who knew us as a couple well enough to fill out such an in-depth reference. We hadn’t grown up in the same community, and we had moved three times by the time we started looking at adoption paperwork.

On paper, it appeared we were in no position to adopt. While our friends in residency were struggling to raise their children, we were wondering whether we’d ever have the happy, settled times together that would make us “ready” to adopt.

I continued to communicate with the adoption agencies about our struggles. As it turned out, from their perspective, it wasn’t these issues that were holding us up. It was that we still had infertility treatments ahead of us. They were concerned that we hadn’t pursued this to the end, and they felt we needed closure before considering adoption.

So gradually, I set the dream of adoption aside.

A few years later, I started a new job and found a kindred spirit there. We became fast friends, and she sized up our marriage and our situation well.

A year into this friendship, an out of state friend of her family, a teen, became pregnant and was looking for an adoptive family.

My husband and I prayed quite a bit about this, especially in light of advanced infertility treatments planned in the next year or two. We felt we should pursue both options. Excited, I called an adoption lawyer and took the steps he recommended. What a high time! With a very possible adoption, plus the next level of treatments both in the near future, the burden was lifting! We began dreaming together about this little baby, ready to take him or her into our home and kiss little hands and feet.

Then one day, a few months later, my friend came to work and told me that the mother had decided to marry her boyfriend and keep their child. This was a good thing for their family. I’m glad they made this decision.

For me, it was devastating – so much that I took our first break, an entire year free of adoption attempts or infertility treatments.

Adoption is not easy. Even though we only dipped our toes into the process compared to some, it was deeply emotionally draining. Since then, we have watched friends go through huge expenses and long delays for specific children, with adoptions sometimes falling through entirely.

I still want to adopt. I still hope it will happen someday. But adopting can be a much bigger hurdle than pursuing medical treatment. Neither one is the “easy” road.

This post is part of a series on our journey through unexplained infertility. To read the rest of the story so far, please click here to see the index of posts.

6 Responses to “Infertility Post 7: Considering Adoption”
  1. Mom says:

    Even just reading your post, I was riding waves and troughs, and feeling deflated at the end. The real thing must have been SO hard.
    BUT, Debbie……… on another subject, you DID have me riding waves and troughs. Your ability to write might be something you should be looking pretty hard at, no?

  2. Jemima says:

    Happy new year, can’t wait to read the rest!

  3. Pat says:

    Debbie, I love reading your posts…all of them, from the sweet to the funny to the struggles. Sometimes I read them in a big hurry and don’t take the time to respond but I read every single one and savor all of them.

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