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).