How did you and your partner come to the decision to adopt?
June 4, 2007 5:55 PM   Subscribe

How did you and your partner reach the decision to adopt (or not to adopt, as the case may be)?

My boyfriend and I are probably getting engaged soon. (w00t!) We both want children, but due to a combination of age (let's just say we're both old enough to be considered "older" parents, but young enough to be kind of shocked that we're in that category) and hereditary health issues (mine), there are strong reasons for us to consider adoption.

Basically, I'm fine with it; I could decide today once and for all not to have a biological child and be at peace with that decision. I knew that I'd reached this point when I started to investigate adoption a little more seriously (particularly international adoption), and almost immediately it felt like a massive weight had been lifted. It just immediately felt right, in a way that contrasted with the certain measure of fear/dread of having a child biologically, given the very real risks having a baby the old-fashioned way would pose for me (and for a child).

My soon-to-be-fiance, of course, certainly doesn't want to put me at risk, but he is much more emotionally tied to the idea/expectation of a biological child that carries not just his name, but his genes. I really do understand this, and am not looking for ways to "make him" change his mind. I'm wondering instead if anyone would care to share similar stories of how, as part of a couple/family, you went through the process of deciding to adopt (or not) when you weren't both necessarily on the same page in terms of whether having a biological child was the "first choice."

Recommendations for books, blogs, etc. also welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Difficult question to answer. I'm very lucky. I have one adopted and one biological child (the second!). There is no difference in the love I have for each.

I was a bit reticent about adopting, and even now, notice that I see myself in my biological child, where I do not in my adopted child. That makes it harder for me to empathize with my adopted child sometimes, I think. This is just my experience, and to be honest, could have happened with both children being biological. This is just a warning that finding peace with the fact of adoption may be a lifelong journey. I very, very rarely think about it though.

On the other hand, I love her with all my heart.

We did not get involved in adoption organizations, but they do exist
posted by idb at 6:42 PM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

My friend's first pregnancy nearly killed her, so she and her husband harvested her eggs & his sperm and got a surrogate mother to carry it. This was several years ago and they would implant multiple embryos to ensure at least one would take, so they ended up with triplets! But they were very happy with the whole process and highly recommended it.
Just something to think about if your boyfriend is truly invested in the idea of his own biological child.
posted by j at 8:06 PM on June 4, 2007

I agree with j; If you prefer not to have a biological child but your husband prefers that route, why not have a surrogate mother?
posted by Justinian at 8:19 PM on June 4, 2007

I had two rotten crappy horrible pregnancies. The babies were terrific; as kids, they're fabulous. As fetuses, they put me through the wringer for 8 long painful nauseated months (um, each, so for a total of 16. Blech).

Nonetheless, we considered having #3 biologically. When we realized we were relieved rather than disappointed when I got my period, we knew that if wanted a third baby--and we do--adoption was the way to go.

Your comment about it feeling like a weight had been lifted when you thought about international adoption is very like the kind of intuitive "a-ha"moments that have punctuated our long process of deciding to have a baby in the first place, of deciding to have the second one, of deciding to adopt the third (we're waiting for a baby now).

My partner has followed me in all these things. He has thrown himself into parenting whole-heartedly but I don't think it would ever have occurred to him on his own. We've had to do some work around being loving and gentle with ourselves and each other. Every now and then, when we've been stuck, we've traded roles for a week ("OK, this week, you be the one who really wants a baby, and I'll be the one who just isn't sure") and that has been really productive in moving us closer together.

FWIW, my partner is not the biological father of our two sons. We used donor sperm. Sometimes he feels sad about it, whereas I regularly forget and fill in his family's info on medical history forms for the kids, and then have to cross it all out and replace it with the donor's medical history. Mostly we just love 'em, as idb said.
posted by not that girl at 9:47 PM on June 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

We've adopted 2 beautiful girls. After the first adoption, the agency we'd used (WACAP, near Seattle) asked us to come back and talk about our experiences for a group of potential adoptive parents.

A couple who saw us speak decided to commit and in fact traveled to China in the same group as us when we adopted our second child. Moreover, their daughter and ours were roommates in the orphanage, and we're able to visit them frequently since we all live in Seattle. They're now some of our best friends.

Ok, so I drifted OT (mostly I'm just so thrilled that it's worked out so beautifully). The point I wanted to make was, the other couple sounded much like you- she was ready to jump, he, not so much. They tell us the tipping point came when they *met our first daughter* at the adoption agency presentation. Steve met Grace and his fears and misgivings melted away.

So... maybe you could contact a local adoption agency and ask if they have similar events? Worked out well for us.
posted by carterk at 10:04 PM on June 4, 2007

Local adoption agencies run workshops, but people who adopt skew heavily towards the "we tried IVF and it didn't work" crowd, so their audience and focus may or may not be for you. Some folks have a lot of (for lack of a better word) "baggage" relating to that experience.

Do a bit of research on the agency as well, our local is really into open domestic adoption, which we, um, don't think was for us.

We were 100% certain from day one that international adoption was for us, China was what we wanted to do, so we were able to ignore the agency's focus and message when appropriate. (The only people we identified with in any of the classes were the gay guys who were going to Guatemala.)

This doesn't mean you shouldn't go to a workshop, just keep all this in mind.
posted by mrbugsentry at 4:46 AM on June 5, 2007

We had infertility problems and tried a bunch of treatments. Before we started that process, we decided to draw the line at IVF, because we (mostly me) couldn't justify spending that many healthcare dollars for what we (again, me really) saw as a private benefit. (clarification - I am not casting aspersions on those who make different choices, just trying to give some background on how we made the decision)

After many years of trying, we decided to investigate adoption. The spouse found some workshops and information sessions held by local adoption agencies. We went to three or four and collected gobs of handouts and fact sheets. After reading them all, we decided on a domestic adoption because
1) it was cheaper than any of the international options
2) there were lots of stories at that time about internationally adopted children with pretty severe health issues (we both work and didn't feel we could give a disabled/severely ill child the care he/she would need) and
3) all things being equal, I wanted to "help" a child closer to home (again, no criticism of those who made different choices, the question is how did we make the decision)

After that we chose an agency, filled out lots of forms and brought home a beautiful baby boy 9 weeks later. (long story about how it happened so fast. not appropriate for this thread. suffice it to say that our experience is extremely atypical and folks should be prepared to wait 2 years for a domestic adoption)

Things to keep in mind.

Different states have different laws. In PA, for example, the birthmother has, as I recall, six months to change her mind. We could not conceive of raising a child for six months and then having to give him/her back. In NJ, the birthmother cannot sign the papers for 3 days, but once she has, she has no legal claim to the child. Know the laws of your state and others. You can choose to adopt in any state and, as I remember (IANAL), those laws, not the state's you live in, govern the adoption. (FWIW - We chose a NJ agency)

Different agencies have different procedures. The agency we used had prospective parents complete a profile - something like a portfolio describing who you are, what you do, your beliefs on child-rearing, etc. We also filled out a sheet listing the type of child we would and would not accept (this sounds terrible, but the agency is trying to make sure that children are placed in homes where they will be wanted and loved). The agency would then match profiles and preferences with birthmothers who would select the parents she wanted to adopt her child. Different agencies may do this differently.

If you go international, make sure you know all of their fees and requirements before you start. Some countries require multiple visits of at least one week each. Some only require one visit (when you pick up the child). The cheapest option when we were looking into it was, as I recall, Guatemala, which was going to be at least $20,000 (1999 dollars).

If you do this, good fortune. It has been the greatest experience of my life. Making such an intentional choice to have a child (as opposed to letting chance and nature have their way) forced me to think hard about why (and if) I should be a parent and what I owed the child that I foisted myself upon.

postscript - after adopting, we, of course, had a child the old-fashioned way. Seconding idb, there is absolutely no difference in my feelings for them. (also, sorry for going on so long - I don't do pithy before coffee)
posted by qldaddy at 5:58 AM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cartek's experience is not unusual. If there's one spouse with reservations it tends to be the husband, but those reservations disappear once you meet your child.

The company I work for publishes a guide for pre-adopters that you may find helpful. You can view most of the content online, including an article on this very topic:

Good luck!
posted by sonofslim at 6:12 AM on June 5, 2007

My soon-to-be-fiance, of course, certainly doesn't want to put me at risk, but he is much more emotionally tied to the idea/expectation of a biological child that carries not just his name, but his genes.

Why not split the difference: his sperm, combines with a donor/surrogate egg/uterus? My two cousins are both surrogate-born, with my uncle's DNA, and they found a nice surrogate who agreed to do the procedure twice in three years, thus ensuring that my cousins are full siblings to each other. They're now college-age.

Your husband would be happy with this solution, because he gets to pass on his genes -- and please don't discount or ignore his drive to have a biological child of his own, it's an extremely primitive and highly emotional instinct! Why shouldn't he want to pass on his genes? And you'd be happy with this solution, because you wouldn't have to pass on your hereditary problems nor deal with pregnancy's toll on your body. Surrogacy is expensive, but if your surrogate is also your egg donor -- that is, it would just be (to be crude) a turkey baster procedure, not IVF -- it would probably be less expensive than even the cheapest international adoptions.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:54 AM on June 5, 2007

The thread's old, but still open ...

I had a vasectomy well before I met my spouse in person. I don't feel comfortable making the decision to bring someone into the world without their permission (yes, that's impossible to obtain beforehand, thus the snip snip). At that time in life, I gave a 5% chance that I'd ever consider adoption and 95% to be childless.

When ms. nobeagle and I started settling into our relationship as something permanent, one of the things that I made adamant was that I would never attempt to reverse the vasectomy, and then said that I gave a 15-20% chance of thinking of adopting. However, I also let her know that I was more seriously considering raising kids than I previously had been. With her PCOS, she has already been considering herself likely infertile, so the vasectomy wasn't a big transition for her. Plus, it's great having sex be completely divorced of procreation.

After a few years, she was done divorcing her husband, I was done immigrating to her country, I had a stable job, and we'd moved to be closer to said job to a house that we really like. After a few months of that, she brought up adoption, and as we talked, it started seeming more appealing.

At this point we're planning on doing public adoption; a sibling group of 2-3 and aged up to 10. We're in the middle of our homestudy, but at this point our social worker isn't expressing reservations. Ever since we decided to start with the training, as I've thought more and more on adoption, the more even I'm getting antsy to "get our kids" and start raising them.

My advice would be to keep talking with your fiance about kids, and hopefully before the mariage is final, one of the others will have convinced the other. Give serious consideration to bio kids, and ask him to give serious consideration to adoption. Maybe look at local "waiting kids" websites that have pictures and profiles of kids with your fiance.

I'd just like to reiterate, that this is probably something that you two need to agree on befor getting wed.
posted by nobeagle at 4:00 PM on October 25, 2007

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