|Family (LOMO) by Martin Lladó|
Anyone who's ever gone through any sort of trouble getting/staying pregnant has probably heard this post's title echoed in sentiments from friends and relatives (sometimes multiple times). Here's what I don't believe: that I owe anybody an answer to that question. But, lest that sound defensive, I'm actually very happy to talk to people about the various things Patrick and I have thought through. Conversations surrounding infertility are often very hush-hush, and I'm someone who's blogged for about 12 years, so it's probably obvious that I'm not a hush-hush person. But somehow the many times I've been asked the adoption question, I've fumbled, because there are things inherently frustrating about it.
1. The questions are well-meaning. I know this shouldn't be frustrating, but it kind of is, because this means I don't want to be defensive or irritated about it, even if my brain feels defensive and/or irritated. After all, it's probably a friend asking. They care.
2. It feels like being told to Do Something Good By Just Adopting by someone who probably has not and never will "just" do that same Good Thing. So it feels like being told hiking Mt. Everest is good for your health by someone who hasn't ever done it and never plans to, and who has no idea about all the dead bodies that litter the mountain, frozen where they fell. Morbid example (and maybe the first ever adoption post that links to that internet rabbit hole?), but adoption is HARD, from what I can tell. Really, really hard. There is no such thing as Just Adopting.
3. Speaking of it being Good, we don't want to be saviors and adopting wouldn't make us saints. We don't want to save a kid (I mean, obviously I care; we sponsor a little girl from Pakistan -- but we're not her savior, and we wouldn't be a savior to our future child). We want to parent. Not attain sainthood. It's totally selfish on our part. (I'm not saying giving a child a loving home isn't a thing that would be good. But it's honestly not our top motivation. We want to parent.)
4. Depending on the route, adoption can be very, very expensive, and very, very hard emotionally. It's not the easy road out of infertility, nor does it solve infertility. That doesn't mean we don't want to -- on the contrary, we want to adopt very, very much. But, it's not a band-aid to something. It's a child.
But say any of that casually, and it comes across as.....well it just doesn't work. So when someone says, "Have you considered adoption?" I usually just nod and say, yes, it's always on the table. And it is. It is very, very much on the table. We know we want to parent. If our family looks different from how we envisioned it would, that's okay. Becoming a multiracial family and becoming a part of the adoption community would bring us a lot of joy.
We would like to adopt internationally for a variety of reasons (confirmed theoretically after working through a few basic checklists in a coupla books), and certain countries are options for us, while others block people like us (we've been married just shy of 3 years; I'm 26 and he's 28; China is out, for example). Additionally, and this is where it gets really hard, some countries will end up costing a ton more than other countries. Some children from some countries average a certain age upon adoption, whereas children from other countries might be generally older, and some generally younger. Some will be typically about 18 months. Some will be more often about 2 years old. Some older. After losing so much already, what else are we prepared to lose? Infanthood seems practically a given loss. What about all of babyhood? Just a portion of babyhood? The tiny fat pony onesie I bought back when I thought it would be used soon? Sock?
We have decided we are okay with this, but if you're not sure about the couple you're questioning, be aware that there are losses some people are not okay with losing.
I could invoke C. S. Lewis on that, I know: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Then there's the infertility-medical side of things: We personally don't *want* to go through every possible medical intervention prior to turning to adoption -- for us, that doesn't feel like the way we want to approach it (though there is nothing wrong with those who wholeheartedly feel like a biological child is the best option -- we want that, but everyone's going to give different weight to different things). For us, we're okay moving forward with adoption leaving some stones unturned.
The whole point of this rambly post is simply this: adoption is immensely complicated. It is also immensely personal to those going through the process of even thinking about it.
There is no "just".
And don't get me started on the "I had a friend who was in the process of adopting and then she got pregnant" legend. I'm sure it happens. But at that stage, I can't imagine we would be entirely joyful about it. After all, in the process = a lot of heart-time spent. And some agencies we looked at flat out said if you get pregnant during the process, we end the adoption. So that's a loss, too. Not a huge net win. It's scary.
So for now, I add adoption blogs to my Google Reader and keep on living (so far: Finding Magnolia; Agnostic Adoption; Fosterhood in NYC -- more suggestions would be very welcome!). It's a weird space of grey -- there are multiple roads, but we can't really pick one right now, so we're left standing and just speculating. Time marches on. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
So, have we considered adoption? Hell yes. For years.