How do I try embryo adoption as a single woman?
August 2, 2009 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm single and interested in embryo adoption as an alternative to domestic adoption. Family history plays a possible, small part but I mostly would like a baby soon. How do I approach clinics at my age and in my situation in order to use a service typically reserved for couples with actual fertility problems? I'm afraid I'll be seen as in a hurry and selfish. How do I stop feeling guilty for wanting to try in the first place? If it does happen, how do I prepare myself and my family emotionally, psychologically, financially and however else for this situation?

I have been told that PCOS/endometriosis runs deep in the family to the point where hysterectomies and surgeries are mentioned/have even been performed in a few instances. I'm nervous about it but have not personally had anything fully confirmed. If anything my symptoms are closer to those of endometriosis. I'm planning to have Dr visits and tests done again soon.

I would like to try for a baby later next year whether I have a problem there or not. I'm still planning to start the domestic adoption process if this doesn't go through. I feel like I'll be ready for a baby then. I'm completely young I know (23) but I will be settled in my own home before starting the embryo process and will own my car. I have a stable job and the ability to save monthly. I do not see myself getting married any time soon but can see myself as a stable mother. I will not be going into debt for this procedure. I know things could change before then but with the waiting periods for a single mom, I would like to have my mind made up fairly early on.

I would like to know how to approach clinics and doctors with the hopes of becoming a single mom through a treatment generally reserved for infertile couples if there is no real issue with my body? I'm afraid that I'm coming off as selfish. Also, is there a message board for single women who have done this either through necessity or not? Lastly, how do I prepare for the toll this could take on us and also the subsequent pregnancy if all goes well?
Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There is an organization called Single Mothers by Choice which has various message boards that you might find helpful. However, be prepared for a little consternation when/if you say you are only 23.
posted by amro at 11:48 AM on August 2, 2009

Okay, take a deep, deep breath. You haven't had anything confirmed, right? Neither PCOS nor endometriosis are automatic fertility blockers, though both can cause it.

Honestly, as someone who has struggled with PCOS-related fertility problems, one thing from your question sticks out to me. Why are you in so much of a hurry? Recognizing that reason might help you have a clearer head about why you feel guilty. I had a lot of similar feelings when I found out I have fertility problems, and I finally realized that it was because every woman in my father's family, where I'm almost certain the PCOS comes from, had one child very early (as a teenager) or never had children at all. I felt like, at 28 when I found out about the PCOS, that I had missed the boat. HOWEVER. Fertility medicine has improved greatly from the time those women were in their early child-bearing years, and my chances of having a biological baby are better than ever, even though I'm now almost thirty.

While I can't say for sure, watching some close friends start to go through the adoption process, I think, as a single woman in her early twenties, you are going to have a very hard time going that route. Do you have at least $20,000 in the bank, right now? How long would it take you to save it? Because you're going to need at least that much for adoption when you go through the foster system. Private adoption can be much more expensive.

Best of luck to you. I know fertility problems are terrifying. But you are young and you still have a chance to have a child.
posted by sugarfish at 11:58 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was a bit older than you at 34, but I did almost the same thing. I had some evidence of PCOS but no sure diagnosis. I wanted to have a baby. I looked into adoption but trying to adopt as a single is difficult and has a long wait.

I researched anonymous third party insemination (sperm donation) and went to my local fertility clinic and just told them what I wanted. They did require me (as they do everyone involved in third party reproduction) to see a psychologist who specializes in third party reproduction. I saw her once, I told her of my convictions and my concerns, she was nonjudgmental and gave me some resources (such as single mothers by choice) and invited me back if I ever needed to talk, and that was it.

The fertility clinic did require that I go through some more fertility testing and I ended up having outpatient surgery to remove uterine polyps. After that, I did three cycles of IUI and got pregnant on try number three.

Really, the doctor is there to help you and perform a service. I can't guarantee that all drs. will be nonjudgmental, but most in the fertility world have seen it all and as long as you sound sane and have a working plan and are sure of yourself, there is no reason to fear that they are going to judge you. There is no special way to approach them except to just be honest and tell them what you want. Fertility clinics deal with single women, lesbian couples, etc. a lot. I don't think it will be a big deal for you. It wasn't for me.

If this is what you want, you are ready and sure of yourself, go for it. If you need more time, take more time. I often wish I wouldn't have waited so long! It took me a long time to go this route. Its all good, but I wish I would have had kids at 25 or 28 or so, they take so much energy and I had more when I was younger. I think societal pressures that I should be married or that kids NEED a father is what held me back for a long time. Then my mom died of cancer at 55, and I just didn't want to wait to do what I always wanted anymore.

One more thing, kids don't need a father per se, but I have found that single momhood is a tough, tough gig to go alone and kids do need other adults that aren't you who love them and are devoted to them. These can be friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles, whatever. But I should have been more upfront with everyone and got people on board from the get-go so that I didn't have to do so much work to make connections for my kids (and give me a break) after they were born. They have great adults in their lives now, but it was hard at first because I was very much alone.

Get people on board to support you before you get started. If your family is not supportive, go to Single Mothers by Choice or go to your friends or to your church community or whatever. Get at least one or two adults to say, yes I will help you and support you and yes I want a relationship with your child.

Good luck.
posted by Bueller at 12:22 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Don't listen to anyone who says you are too young. Most women want the husband and baby package, but you seem to be clearheaded in discerning that what you really want is a child and to be a mother. That's okay, and that's much smarter than getting married just to have a kid.

If you have a job that ensures financial stability and being a mother is what you really want, go ahead and do it. I'm in my early thirties now and I don't have the same energy I had ten years ago, plus a few more complicating health factors that did not exist when I was 23. There's no reason to wait around if you're financially stable.
posted by anniecat at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2009

Have you found out what age your relatives had to have hysterectomies and if they were able to conceive children beforehand? I have a strong family history of a condition that necessitates a hysterectomy, but it doesn't appear to cause problems until the mid-30s. I know that I should try to have kids before then, but I don't need to have them *now.* I can see the urgency for embryo adoption if your family members have reduced fertility/have to have hysterectomies close to your age, but for "regular" adoption, what's the rush?
For domestic adoption, it will be harder for someone your age to adopt a baby. Most agencies won't look at anyone under 25. Don't know about embryo adoption age guidelines, though.
posted by ishotjr at 1:37 PM on August 2, 2009

follow-up from the OP
Thank you for all the responses and the link.
I do want to mention, though it was removed, that I was actually raised without a father. I am not less loved because of it and I doubt my child will be. That is why I'm fine raising a child. I don't care if my being a single mother looks selfish to the general public, I'm sorry but I'm talking in terms of the Dr's finding it selfish that I want to use a procedure mainly for needy couples that in the end may not be immediately needed for me. I would love to be married and work on a baby but I cannot be sure that if I wait around for him that that will be possible.

The women in my family all had issues at different ages. Some started really young, some when they were older after children. I know that in my case it started almost 10 years ago and has recently been feeling worse. I know the pain is not a true indication of how bad my situation is so I have more tests coming up. I am only researching now but I would prefer not to wait past 25 to start either process. I do want to be a mom soon regardless of my situation.

My option for domestic adoption has been a young, special needs child/baby. My age hasn't been much of a limitation and through a certain organization, is not only far cheaper than 20,000 but can be covered with assistance if needed since these children are in need of homes. Embryo adoption is also inexpensive and a preference since I would like to experience pregnancy. These are my options so far though I hadn't thought of sperm donors.

I'm still interested in knowing how to prepare myself and my family for this if I do have fertility problems and/or choose the adoption route.

Thank you.
posted by jessamyn at 5:36 PM on August 2, 2009

Embryo adoption is also inexpensive and a preference since I would like to experience pregnancy. These are my options so far though I hadn't thought of sperm donors.

Insemination is the first line of fertility treatment. It's going to be infinitely cheaper and easier than embryo adoption, and I'm pretty sure that any fertility doc you met with would suggest you start there.

Since you hadn't thought of it, and it's the most popular, most successful, least risky, and least expensive fertility intervention, I'm wondering if you wouldn't benefit from a meeting or two with a fertility counselor before you go ahead with your plan? They would be able to give you more information on the pros/cons/risks/benefits/availability/costs of each procedure before you make a plan.

It's hard to find good information about this, I know, but there are people out there who have the resources to help you. Best of luck to you with whatever path you take.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:47 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

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