A Childless Future vs Adoption

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Drawing of family, felt-pens and word ADOPTION on wooden background

This isn’t an easy subject to explore, though the question does cross my mind from time to time. I try not to dwell on it for too long because the idea of facing the worst-case-scenario can feel scary. Nonetheless, there are moments when I do wonder – What happens if you reach the end of your fertility journey without your hoped for baby? What would life look like if you had gone through gruelling rounds of fertility treatment and endured the turmoil of infertility for years, but end up childless on the other side of it all. I can’t imagine it. I don’t want to, really. I have always imagined myself as a mother. I feel so strongly in my heart that I am meant to nurture and raise children. Being childfree isn’t an option for me.

When I was younger, I used to picture myself with a family of four or five children. The harsh reality of infertility has altered that vision and now the likelihood is that we will have one or two children if we are lucky. My husband and I have always discussed having both our own birth child and adopting a child as well. Although we are still pursuing fertility treatment in the hopes of becoming pregnant, we’d actually planned to start the adoption process in March 2020. Unfortunately, my husband’s retrenchment along with the outbreak of the global pandemic brought that plan to a swift halt. It is still taking a bit of time for us to work our way back to a more stable place so that we can move forward with the process again, but I do have some peace of mind knowing that we’re both quite comfortable with the idea of adoption as a possibility for us.

That said, adoption is not for everyone. Many couples come to the end of an exhausting infertility journey and accept a childless future. It is a painful conclusion to a life-altering experience that has taken so much out of them. It takes strength to accept the almost unbearable and there is likely a lot of grief to process as well. In an article about starting a childfree life after infertility, Rachael Gurevich says:

“Choosing a childfree life after infertility means not pursuing adoption. For some, this isn’t a choice; it’s a reality. Adoption can be expensive, there is an approval process, and it’s not a viable option for all people. For others, not adopting is a choice. They have the funds and probably could get approval, but they have decided that adoption isn’t for them. There is also a third group. Couples who try to adopt and don’t succeed, or they decide at some point in the process to stop pursuing it.”

Adoption and fostering children is often presented as a solution to infertility. I’ve been asked many times – Why don’t you just adopt? While I feel it would be such a beautiful thing to give a child a forever home and all the love and care that they need, people tend to overlook the fact that it isn’t a straightforward process. As Gurevich points out, it can be a costly, lengthy, complicated process where you can still end up facing the heartbreak of not being selected. In addition, it may just not be for you and that is okay too. You are entitled to the choice that brings you the most peace.

“Instead of being unsuccessful parents-to-be, we were very successful nonparents. Failure was no longer a major theme of our lives.” ~ Jean W. Carter & Michael Carter

Katy, the founder of ChasingCreation.org, a platform that offers resources to help women transition to a childfree life after infertility, describes herself as ‘childless, not by choice’. Through Chasing Creation and the Childless Collective Summit she has created a profoundly healing space for people who are “designing an unexpectedly childfree life” to get the kind of information and support that they need. Addressing topics navigating grief, connecting with childless support circles and learning how to embrace life fully beyond infertility, she offers perspective on what moving forward might look like. When couples reach this place in their lives, they sometimes experience a wave of judgement and may even be shamed for ‘giving up hope’. The tendency to expect affected couples to keep up with blind hope or toxic positivity when they are  deeply depleted and ready to walk in a different direction can be harmful. Platforms such as Chasing Creation are thus an important and necessary reminder that people can still live full lives as well as make many valuable contributions to society without having children. Though I am still actively pursuing my path to parenthood, I’ve felt comforted in discovering a community of people who are able to find joy and fulfillment childfree.

What are your views on adoption? Is being childfree an option for you?


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