When someone is desperate to adopt, they have usually been a long, hard path of infertility treatment and disappointment after disappointment already. Their longing for a child is painfully obvious, like the scent of workout wear that’s gone too long between washings. And these days, with an estimated 50-100 homes awaiting every one baby being placed for adoption, desperation levels are rising as fast as grocery bills are.
Few people expect to be unable to have children biologically. Most couples assume they’ll spend the first few years of marriage building a home together, establishing their careers and traveling– then have children. Time passes before they start to worry about why it’s taking so long to get pregnant. They explore fertility treatment options, none of which are cheap, and they try, try and try again, to no avail. Hearing from a conscientious specialist that it’s time to consider other options can feel like the ultimate defeat.
Folks who have a desperate desire to have a child of their own but cannot, due to infertility, are typically weary veterans of fertility wars that have already taken a hard toll on their bodies, their spirits and their bank accounts. They live in a society that constantly reminds them of the joys of parenthood and the importance of family. They suffer in silence as they watch all their peers having children, seemingly with no problems. (And they cringe at the well-intentioned questions from relatives about when they’re going to start a family?) They need time to grieve their lost fertility dreams, and effective therapy, but all too often, those who are desperate to adopt jump right in to becoming desperate to adopt.
Being desperate to adopt isn’t good.
In the interests of full-disclosure: parenting is often a thankless task. Being eager to find whatever child needs your loving home most is a good thing. But let’s be honest– desperation is never an attractive trait. And desperate people rarely use great judgement. (If you doubt it, just remember that kid in school who was desperate to be liked, whom everyone avoided as a result.) The desperate caller who contacts adoption agencies begging for a baby is far more likely to be referred elsewhere (because healthy adoptive parents have full, productive lives and aren’t going to expect any child they adopt to fulfill their adult needs.) Placing parents tend to be rightfully suspicious of the sort of adoptive parents who promise the moon and everything else, in order to get what they want. Adoption is always borne of loss, and it’s important to remember this, when beginning the process and all the way through. (Especially when your greatest dream may be forever linked to someone else’s biggest sorrow.) This doesn’t mean it’s never okay to celebrate adoption… it just means to “read the room” when you do.
Adoption isn’t a cure for infertility.
It’s all too easy to say of the infertile “well, they should just adopt, then” but adoption cannot cure infertility. (In fact, couples who adopt without working through their grief over infertility often find that adoption can actually inflate their sense of loss, rather than fix it.) Those who are desperate to adopt usually are assuming that a baby (any baby, provided it will “look like us”) will fill all the empty places in their lives, but the opposite is true. It’s not any adoptee’s responsibility to repair a broken marriage, to satisfy an adult longing or to decorate a childless home. Adoption is about finding suitable parents for children– not just finding suitable children for people that desperately desire to have one. Anyone who is so desperate for a child that they cannot bear the sight of pregnant women and cannot stand to see babies in public is probably not ready to be a healthy participant in any adoption process. (Not yet, at least. And not at Abrazo.)
… But we want a baby now!?!
It’s good to have goals in life. And parenting a child is certainly a worthy goal. (Yay, you.) But keep in mind that the very BEST parents don’t just happen, okay? They’re grown over time, just like it takes an average of nine months, give or take, to grow a fetus into a real-live baby. Whether you’ve just found out you’re infertile or you’re finishing up months (or years) or unsuccessful fertility treatments, please take some time to renew your bonds with your partner, because a strong marriage is the foundation of a healthy home. (And infertility does take a toll on anyone’s most intimate relationships.) See a therapist for a few sessions, if necessary. Grieve the loss of the bio-dreambaby that isn’t going to be. Take a romantic vacation. Baby each other for a bit. Then start looking into adoption, rebuilding your savings, taking a babycare class and reading all the adoption and parenting books you can. Join a church and volunteer in the nursery. Attend an adoption support group. Listen to adult adoptee podcasts. None of this will win you an instant baby, of course, but as goes the famous line in Field of Dreams: “if you build it, they will come.”
Don’t focus on feeling desperate to adopt– be proactive and get yourselves truly ready to adopt, instead.