I have been blessed to have three children of my own, but as I've mentioned before, know quite a few people in my area who have adopted. Their stories are nothing short of miraculous and heartbreaking.
My neighbor MJ has had several miscarriages, and her adoption story began one day at the office, where someone knew a poor family who was pregnant with their seventh child. Drug and alcohol problems riddled them, and the parents knew they could not keep this new baby. Word got out that perhaps they would consider giving the child up for adoption, and that MJ and her then-husband were interested.
They set up a meeting with the mother, and followed her pregnancy throughout and were there at the delivery to take their new daughter home. It was nothing short of a miracle how they came together in the first place, just on a chance conversation about the friend of a friend.
Melissa, another woman in the neighborhood, has a biological son who was born nearly three months early. While he survived and is doing well, she and her husband decided adoption was the best answer for their second child, a biracial girl with the most beautiful crazy hair and eyes I've ever seen. Melissa has MS, and felt that another pregnancy might exacerbate her symptoms.
Acquaintances Barb and Pete also adopted three children. Their story began with the oldest, whose mother was a substance abuser. She lost custody of her son and then became pregnant again, and Barb and Pete attempted to adopt her daughter as well, in an effort to keep the two children together. The biological mother ignored a court order and took the child back, housing her at a rehab facility with her, and eventually the couple had to give up their painful fight to adopt the sister. Unfortunately, the journey took its toll on them emotionally and financially, and they ended up embroiled in a messy divorce.
Another couple we know, Gwen and John, are currently in the process of adopting twin boys, to join a 5-year-old son they adopted as a newborn. The process has been nothing short of exhausting and frustrating. When I first knew them, we talked a little about their struggles, and they revealed that they had decided to forgo IVF and adopt instead, because of Gwen's previous gynecological health concerns and what the emotional stress might do to her. In the process to adopt the twins, they waited patiently for months, only to find out the paperwork had been sitting on the case worker's desk the entire time. As the court date finally loomed to determine full custody, John was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening cancerous tumor, and who knows if that will jeopardize their chances once and for all.
I couldn't help but wonder, why not choose IVF? Most people who need help do go through with it, and often are successful. Although surely none of us is Celine Dion, who could afford numerous treatments until they produced not one, but two babies, it is natural to want your own offspring - who look like you and share your traits - that is just human nature. But I found it curious that this couple would not want to even try, considering the technology that is available to them.
Just the other day I heard from an old friend who said the same thing. Samantha and her husband have been trying to conceive for years, and finally decided to start the adoption process. They are attempting to set up an adoption with a teenager, something I find incredibly admirable. Most people want the baby instead - to love, cuddle, feed, all that stuff. Few people, it seems, want to start with someone who is already shaped and molded as a teenaged kid. They too, interestingly, decided not to go the route of IVF.
While admittedly I don't know all the ins and outs of either process, I know they are not easy. They are extremely expensive, and the stress of infertility, repeated IVF attempts and the adoption process can all take their toll on marriages and relationships with others. Knowing so many couples that have struggled through these trials, it drives me absolutely insane to hear people casually say, "Just adopt," as if it happens because you merely snap your fingers and declare it so.
I'm also curious if people like Samantha and Gwen ever regret their decision to not try IVF. Perhaps Gwen, who already has adopted children, is scared how a biological child would change the dynamics in the family - I know I would be. Yet, if it were me, part of me would always wonder - could I have my own child, with a little help? Would I easily get pregnant or would it take forever? I don't know if I could deal with not knowing.
What would you do? Jump at the chance for IVF, pouring your heart and soul (and money) into it, or bravely enter the adoption process?