Monday, September 15, 2008

A comment on a comment

This was going to get quite long to be a reply to a comment on someone else's post so I decided to make my own new post replying to a comment by Michelle on a post over at Henry Street.

Michelle says "What's interesting is how people try to conceive a child naturally, can't, then choose the adoption route."

I know that this is true for many families, that biological conception the "regular" way is their first choice, then adoption is only considered after at least that one option has been exhausted. Some will never even seek a diagnosis or investigations for infertility before going for adoption, although they will have tried to give birth but will not. Some, however, do choose adoption first - some are single parents, some are same-sex couples, some feel a very strong desire to adopt (and some of these go through foster care adoption, though some feel a really strong desire to adopt from a specific overseas country, or to go through domestic adoption), and some do have one or more biological children and have no infertility issues but feel that adoption is right to complete their family. Since adoption is about the child not the parents then there is a significant minority of parents who feel that bringing a new child into the world, rather than giving a home to a child who needs one, is not right for them.

But even looking at just heterosexual couples who have experienced fertility issues, the main reason I feel why people first try to conceive and then decide to adopt is that adoption is relatively speaking, extremely rare. Adults of my generation will know adopted peers but I know very few families who have adopted - and some of them I only know because we're investigating adoption. Some couples may have a strong bias towards genetic children - some though may even feel they don't want to have genetic children because of an inherited disease or because pregnancy presents a very specific health risk to the female partner. But finding families who have adopted, and adoption being a normal part of life, is just not where we are in the West, so it's not on many people's radar.

And it's also, completely rightly so, very hard to do. Adoption is about finding a family for a child who needs one - perhaps reproduction should be harder for most people, but good luck to anyone who tries to legislate that.

My take is that people go with the easiest option that they know most about (the one involving two adults who love each other very much...) and then if that fails, they move to an option that's acceptable for them and accessible to them. IVF, for example, is not acceptable to everyone, and not accessible to some either - I think more couples in the UK skip IVF as paying for medical care is not possible, or even on the radar, for a lot of people, and not everyone can get it paid for, while foster care adoption is free. People who choose adoption early, or even first, are often those who know about it first hand, from their extended family.

I have even heard about families who've been asked why they didn't consider IVF or some other form of ART if they are adopting - and some odd attitudes from social workers for couples who choose adoption either as their first choice or if they are not infertile (e.g. to add to or complete a family).


Rachel said...

It makes sense to try to have a bio child. That's what most people do. But when it doesn't work for you, you have to decide what it is you really want. For us, it is to have a child. So adoption is right for us. And adoption is right for some birth parents. No, the child does not have a choice, but no one has a choice about being born and who his or her parents are. We just hope that all decisions are made with the child in mind.

So adopt we will.

Anonymous said...

The person your quoting (Michelle) seems sort of uninformed and is making a generalized statement. I know I don't fit into her neat little statement. Um, why do people try to have a bio child first? Simplicity. In the US for private domestic adoption a caucasion baby is about 30,000 whereas a child of AA heritage is half the cost. Hmmm, so if the opton is to just have sex and have a baby or spend a lot of money to have a family which would you choose. We did pursue adoption first and had a very bad atypical experience and only then decided to give DI a try (my husband was born w/a birth defect). However, if it doesn't work we'll give adoption a shot again and hopefully won't be burned a second time.

Trace (don't want to list my blog and have mean commenters)

Bernardeena said...

Now you have inspired me to leave a blog entitled comment on a comment on a comment. I think maybe you are right though about those who choose adoption first are those who have a firsthand experience of it. I know that is true for me, and probably for my parents too, although it is hard to know what my views would be if it hadn't been for those experiences.

Michelle said...

Um, the point of that comment (as it fit into the rest of the post) was not why people choose adoption or when, rather how those who have wanted a bio child and couldn't conceive one, should understand the power of a biological connection. I compared people wanting a bio child to me wanting my bio parents. You have misinterpreted my words. Please read the comment again.

To me it makes perfect sense that if one really wants a baby/child and can't have one that they would consider adoption. It's severing all connections to a child's parents and family, sealing the child's birth certificate (identity) and giving them a new one that I have a problem with. Why someone adopts is of no concern to me.

docgrumbles said...

Let's not forget - adoption is expensive (so is ART, but the "natural" way is much cheaper).

Rachel & Jacob said...

my bro and sister in lawa are choosing adoption (internatioanl) without even trying birth child. Our family had had some sad losses. Maybe this is a way to keep them from experiencing a loss.

momofonefornow said...

over from iclw

Another issue may be that the couple can't agree. I would love to adopt children but my dh is not even willing to consider the possibility. I think he avoids it because of the potential birth parent complications. It is frustrating for me though because I know that there are children out there that need parents and I would love them rather they had my genetic code or not.