Adopting After Infertility? How to Choose Your Path

by | Feb 28, 2023 | Adoptive Families Blog

A family created by adopting after infertility: father's hand, mother's hand, and baby clutching mother's thumbIf you’re struggling with infertility, you’re not alone. Statistics show that one in eight couples in the U.S. struggle with infertility. There are many reasons couples have trouble conceiving and many different options to treat infertility. Unfortunately, these treatments are not always successful. In addition, the emotional and financial strain can become overwhelming.
 
What can you do when you have been through several treatments and have not realized your dream of getting pregnant and having a baby? How do you know when the time has come to stop fertility treatments and consider other options? The journey from infertility to adoption is a path that many hopeful parents choose. Read on for tips on determining if it’s the right path for you.
 

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Take a Break

Your first step may be to take a break from treatments. Spend some time reevaluating your situation. When you are in the day-to-day routine of treatments and waiting for results, it can be easy to be so involved in the process that you lose sight of the ultimate purpose.
 
A pause in your treatments can give you space to connect with your partner. I recommend trying to take a look at your situation from the outside. This break may lead you to consider other options or reinforce and reinvigorate your commitment to the treatments.
 
As you take your break, try and look at your journey as if you are a stranger listening to your story. Sometimes it can be hard to see things clearly when you are embroiled in the battle. Fertility treatment can cause emotions to run high. The ups and downs, the doctor visits, and sometimes hormone treatments can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
 

Have a Heart-to-Heart

depressed couple looking away from each otherDuring your break from treatments, sit down and have some earnest and honest discussions with your partner. Find out if you are on the same page and, if not, where you both stand on the issue. Infertility can take a toll on a marriage, but honest communication and understanding can reverse the effect. Some points to consider are:

  • Are the treatments causing a financial strain?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • Do you think your enthusiasm is waning?
  • Are you physically exhausted?
  • Are you beginning to feel tension or a disconnect with your partner?

When you’re a couple dealing with infertility, there may be times of frustration, anger, and hopelessness. Couples struggling with infertility go through a whole range of emotions. The stress of whether to go on with fertility treatments, adopt, or simply wait on God for a miracle can be too much to bear, even for a Christian couple.
 
The emotions that weigh in the most can be feelings of abandonment by God and a sense of incompleteness. If you relate to this problem, I want you to know that God has not abandoned you. Being ‘childless’ does not make you any less in the eyes of your Maker.
 

Consider Seeking Help

If you find discussing these issues difficult, have unresolved issues about infertility, or you and your partner are on very different pages, consider talking with a counselor. Infertility is a very emotional subject, and having a third party to help navigate the discussions needed can be very helpful.
 
This break can also be an excellent time to take a good hard look at what your ultimate goal is and what is most important to you. The purpose of fertility treatments is to have a child and become parents. The path to parenthood can take many different routes, and infertility treatments are just one of those routes.
 
It may also help you to talk with adoptive parents. I’m still amazed by the traits and characteristics that parents pass on to their adopted children. Will science ever explain the adopted daughter whose hair and skin color change so she looks just like her mother? Or the son who has the same walk as his adoptive father, the same crinkling of his eyes when he laughs?
 
You may choose to delay adoption and seek medical treatment until you have exhausted all options. If afterward you still decide to pursue adoption, you may find, as many people do, that the adoption process is less stressful than conceiving through medical technology.
 

Pray Together

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
– Matthew 7: 7-8

 
Married couple pause during a hike to pray togetherIf you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on the path to take, it may do you a world of good to surrender your future to God’s perfect will. As we see in Mathew 7: 7-8, continuous prayer leads to receiving, finding, and opening doors of opportunities.
 
The Bible declares that when two or more of God’s children come together in His name, He is in their midst. Spend time every day in prayer as a couple. Welcome God into your marriage, ask Him to strengthen you as a couple during this difficult time, seek His wisdom and will concerning your options, and knock on the doors of Heaven until it opens up its blessings for you and your spouse.
 
As a Christian couple, I urge you to believe that God has a definite plan for your parenthood and that He is in control, even though your life seems to be in turmoil. Let prayer unite you in all the areas where you do not agree with your spouse so that you can make godly decisions for your future.
 

Ending Fertility Treatments

“Should we continue with treatments or consider our other options?” Since every couple is unique, only you and your partner can answer this question.
 
I wish there was a simple answer. For me, it was when I realized that I wanted to be a mother more than I wanted to have a biological child. Adoption could make that happen for me.
 
If you decide that continuing with treatments is not the right choice for you, you must be prepared to face the emotions that that decision creates. There is a grieving process that will take place. You may go through feelings of sadness, anger, and maybe even relief.
 
Ending this journey without meeting the goal you were hoping for is emotional and complex. You and your partner may have similar feelings at the same time, or you may be at different stages. Work hard to be kind and understanding with your partner.
 
Once you have come to terms with your decision, your next step will be to plan your path forward. You may decide that you want to change your priorities and consider a future with just the two of you. You can schedule some travel or focus on your careers, whatever goals you feel will bring you happiness. If you still dream of parenthood, then you do have other options.
 

Should We Try Adopting After Infertility?

Adoption is an amazing way to become a parent. But before you try adopting after infertility, you want to make sure you have dealt with any feelings of disappointment from your experience with infertility. Sometimes, people rush into adoption when they discover they are infertile without taking the time to grieve the loss of the biological child they did not have. They risk sabotaging an adoption or, worse, treating an adopted child as second best to the son or daughter they might have had.
 
Adoption should not feel like a last resort. Instead, it needs to be a journey you and your partner are excited about and committed to for the benefit of your future child. Of course, no parent wants their child to feel like they’re a consolation prize or second-best to a biological child. However, your child will notice if you still have grief surrounding infertility. Many adult adoptees have shared how their parents unconsciously made them feel “second-best” since they couldn’t move on from their grief.
 
For me, coming to terms with infertility meant accepting that there was a reason for everything. I don’t know why I could not have babies but were it not for my infertility, I would not have adopted my wonderful son. I would not have opened an adoption agency that has brought thousands of children and parents together, changing their lives. I have known many couples who faced infertility and moved on quite naturally to adoption. Others have edged toward it uneasily because their dream of having a biological child meant so much to them.
 
Before you are ready to adopt after infertility, you have to know the answer to this question: Do you want to be a parent or do you want to have a biological child?
 
Unless you resolve this issue, you risk backing out of the adoption process and breaking the heart of the birth mother. Don’t settle for adoption. Children deserve parents who love and cherish them as the most precious thing on earth.
 
Domestic Adoption
Once you have decided on adoption, you have three choices: domestic adoption, international adoption, or foster care. Lifetime specializes in domestic adoption, which generally involves adopting a newborn or child up to the age of six.
 
Open adoption is the most common type of domestic adoption. With open adoption, the birth parents choose the adoptive parents for their baby. They review profiles, speak with adoptive couples, and then make their selection.
 
After the adoption, there is often some type of contact, from sharing pictures and providing updates on the child to annual visits. What the post-adoption contact looks like is agreed upon by the birth parents and the adoptive parents. To get started with domestic adoption, you can fill out our free application online today.
 
International Adoption
International adoption involves adopting a child from a foreign country. In this case, you will want to work with an international adoption agency specializing in adoptions from the country from which you are interested in adopting. Every country has its own laws and regulations that adoptive families must follow.
 
Adoption from Foster Care
The other option is adopting from foster care, sometimes known as “foster-to-adopt.” However, foster care often involves older children or children with special needs, so this may not be the best method for couples hoping to adopt a baby.
 
Before you can adopt a child from foster care, the state must terminate the parents’ rights, which allows the child to be eligible for adoption.
 
The author, Mardie Caldwell, taking her adopted son for a stroll back in the 80's

My Journey to Adoption

When my husband and I struggled with infertility and multiple miscarriages, we decided it was more important for us to be parents than for me to be pregnant. My biological clock was ticking, and we had to decide what we wanted most in our family.
 
We moved from infertility to adoption, and then after our first adoption of our son, we tried some mild infertility treatments again. We didn’t have a lot of money to do extensive infertility drugs or procedures, so we decided that adoption was right for us. The decision to adopt came surprisingly easy to both of us. We always wanted to adopt someday, regardless of whether or not we had any biological children, so it was a true blessing for us.
 
I recommend being honest with each other and finding a medical professional whom you can trust. The chances of success in adoption are so much greater than with infertility treatments. When comparing the cost of infertility treatments and the cost of adoption, you will discover more help in financing and grants for adoption than infertility.
 
Though the emotional ups and downs are about the same, they vary depending on the adoption route you take. Needless to say, when you look at a child in your arms, and those beautiful eyes are peering back up at you, and you know you are a mom…well, that is priceless.
 

Adopting After Infertility

Infertility sometimes feels as though your body doesn’t work correctly. Perhaps it is just God calling you to another purpose, another part of His perfect plan. He calls you to be more than you are and to love a child born outside your womb, yet inside your heart.
 
Each type of adoption comes with requirements, laws, and costs. Take the time to explore your options so you can choose which type of adoption you feel will be the best way to grow your family.
 
Make sure to do some research before you choose which path is right for you and your spouse. There are some great books, such as Adopting After Infertility, and speaking with a counselor can help you work through your thoughts and feelings.
 
If you have questions about domestic adoption, call Lifetime Adoption at 727-493-0933 and speak with an adoption professional who can answer your questions.
 

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 21, 2021, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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