Sunday, January 16, 2011


Recently I have come across a couple different blog posts about choosing IVF over adoption. Normally I would probably just shrug them off and move on with my day. But I continued to have this nagging feeling well after reading them that I just had to say something. Maybe it was because they were being retweeted around twitter and people I love and respect were saying they were great, which made me want to make them understand why they were hurtful. Maybe it was because I knew some friends that have chosen adoption were secretly feeling bad after reading them, but nobody wanted to say anything because they don't want to upset anyone. Nobody wants to start a fight about this because we know there is no reason for a IVF vs adoption fight. (Please see previous post.) The people who wrote the posts seem to be perfectly nice people. I understand where they are coming from. I just wish that people that don't know anything about adoption wouldn't write about it. There are already so many crazy/scary ideas about adoption out there in the world.

One of the posts made a list of all the things that "can happen if you try to adopt." I think the exact way the list was presented is what bothered me the most. The list included all the negatives for each type of adoption. It gave the impression that anyone starting the adoption process could potentially run into all those issues.

It's funny that the most common conclusion to the adoption process was left off of the list. The one where the waiting couple brings home the baby that forever changes their life for the better. That outcome seems to be missing.

All of the things listed about adoption were supposed to be in contrast to the IVF process. I am not going to write about IVF much because I never did IVF. Please refer to my previous post if you would like to know more about how I feel about IVF and all the amazing people I know who have done it, are currently doing it, or will be doing it in the future.

What I am going to try to do is write about my own experiences with adoption and answer some of the concerns brought up. Or at least give my "take" on those concerns.

As you are reading, please keep in mind that every state is different. Every agency is different. And there are so many different ways to go about adoption. Foster-adopt, private adoption, using a facilitator, adoption agencies, adoption lawyers, international adoption, etc. As I made it very clear in my previous post, I am NOT an adoption expert and I am typically very hesitant to write about adoption at all.

 You can spend all your money and go into debt trying to adopt:

I found this one a little funny because many people I have talked to listed money as a reason they did adoption instead of IVF. On one hand with IVF you spend a lot of money for no guarantee of a baby. (Even if the doctors think your particular situation makes you the perfect candidate for IVF, there is still no guarantee.) On the other hand, with adoption, you will have a baby in the end. Especially if you get to the point where you are writing a large check. We didn't go to the bank to get our big cashier's check until the day we got Jayden from the hospital. (The check paid for all the work the agency did, separate lawyers for the agency and Jayden's birth mother, birth mother expenses, future counseling for Jayden's birth mother, and all the post placement visits that our social worker would be doing.)

Yes, we went into debt. We took out a personal loan that we make payments on every month. Sacrifices have to be made sometimes in order to make those payments. Never has taking a loan out been more worth it. (Adam and I will probably be paying off our student loans for the rest of our lives.) And the good news is that there is the adoption tax credit!! The tax season following our adoption finalization, we will be getting a large portion of our money back. We can use that money to pay the loan off or adopt again. Also, Adam's job offers money back after finalization.

If you don't think you can afford IVF or adoption, I would recommend looking into foster-adoption. I am not an expert on the subject, but I know more than one family that has adopted a newborn through foster-adopt. In fact one of my friends was placed with two babies a few months apart and now that they are one year old, she is able to move forward with adopting both of them. (A story that deserves it's own post.)

 Years of bureaucracy and paperwork:

Maybe this is geared more towards international? I know the paperwork is more intense for international than domestic. Maybe there are countries with more complications than others.

The paperwork we did for our homestudy was easy. Maybe sometimes annoying, but really easy. And we did it all within about three weeks. Then we had three visits from a social worker, which were very easy. We had to renew our homestudy every year, but that is only because we live in NY state. I think most states only require you to do it every two years.

Long Wait:

Yep, we waited two years. I know people who waited only a couple months. You never know.

But, you know what? I am completely at peace with how long we waited. If we adopted quickly, we would not have Jayden. In fact, I am at peace with our whole journey to parenthood. Everything that happened led us to Jayden.

If someone told me right now we had to wait another two years to have Jayden, I would wait.

You can end up with a special needs child:

There are grids you fill out that cover every detail of what medical risks you are open to. Both family history information as well as prenatal exposures to different things are included in those grids. It's not like all of a sudden you can end up with a child with serious special needs. People that adopt special needs babies/children are people who were open to that.

When you enter into a match, there is information you get. Either from tests done during pregnancy or apgar scores and tests done if the baby is already born. You can choose not to enter into the match if you are not open to the medical conditions. If  you are pregnant, many things can come up regardless of your family history or your perfect prenatal care. You have no control over that. Many examples are running through my head right now of friends, friends of friends, and extended family that had to deal with major medical issues with their babies that they were not expecting. It's crazy to me to hear people say they couldn't do adoption because they couldn't deal with possible special needs. Anyone who chooses to get pregnant needs to realize there is a risk. It's all part of being a parent.

Personally, there were many things we were open to. We opened up to more and more as we talked to adoptive parents. (Just because you are open to things doesn't mean every child you are profiled for will have all those things.) We knew Jayden's specific risks and it was our choice to accept them. Anyone who has met Jayden can tell you, he is a perfectly healthy 4 month old. On the small side because he started small, but he is growing at a perfect rate and hitting all milestones either on time or early. He is very strong and quite smart with an adorable little personality. Could we discover, for example, that he has learning disabilities when he is school age? Sure. That can happen with any child, adopted or not. What's funny is that our biological child would have had a much higher chance of that since I have ADD (by the way, this post has taken me 3 days to write) and Adam has a reading learning disability.

If anyone is considering adoption and would like to talk to me about which risks and exposures we were open to, please feel free to contact me. It was because of conversation with adoptive parents that we were able to open our minds (and our grids) to more things. I would love to be able to help any of you with that if you were interested.

You can end up with an older child who has had trauma in their life:

You won't be placed with an older child unless that is something you are open to. It's not something that can just happen to you.

This could be referring to either international or foster-adoption of older children. I don't have enough experience to really talk about either of them. From families I know that have done foster-adoption, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. But, there are challenges. Maybe at some point I can get someone to write a guest post on foster-adoption. If Adam and I ever get a bigger house, I think we would consider adopting an older child or maybe a sibling group. Well, I have always thought about it. It might take some extra convincing with Adam.

One blog that comes to mind is Stare If You Must. I am sure there are many others out there, but that one happens to be a personal favorite of mine.

As your child grows up, you will need to talk to them about their adoption:

Yes you will.  

A good rule to go by is that your child should never remember the day you tell them they were adopted. You should always be talking about it from the beginning. Adoption language will be a regular part of growing up.

We have a wide selection of children's books that are adoption themed. I will be making him his own scrapbook. Our baby book we have for him has two family trees in it and places to put as much information about his birth family in as we have.

We have other adoptive families that we spend time with. Jayden will always have friends growing up that were also adopted. Being part of the adoption community is something I love. We have all these amazing friends that we never would have met otherwise. It's so great to have other people to talk to, share things with, and get advice from.

Every adoption comes from loss. The loss Jayden's birth mother feels as well as Jayden losing his birth family. I hope in the future that we can have a more open adoption with Jayden's birth family, but right now that is out of my control. Every month I send letters and pictures to the agency and Jayden's birth mother can choose to get them at any time.

The bond isn't the same because you didn't grow them inside you, they don't look like you, and you don't have skin to skin contact the minute they are born:

Anyone that has spent any amount of time with Jayden and I knows how strong our bond is. Adam often jokes about how infatuated Jayden is with me. I always say the feeling is mutual.

When I first met Jayden, he was in his little hospital bassinet and was wheeled into the room we were in. He was screaming and I asked if I could pick him up. I did and he nuzzled into my chest and immediately stopped crying. Every nurse watching said "Aww..." in unison. In that perfect moment I fell in love with that tiny person. We've been inseparable ever since.

Maybe I can convince Adam to write a post about his bond with Jayden. For now I will show you a picture of Adam and Jayden at the hospital.

Adam and Jayden watching a baseball game together a month later: `

One thing I would like to end with is that we in no way feel like adopting Jayden was a noble thing to do or that we were saving a child. There is not a day that goes by that we don't think about how lucky we are to have Jayden.


  1. What an awesome post. It definitely answers some of my own questions about adoption too.

  2. What a great post. I want to comment on the "special needs" part of it. I have 2 biological children. My son was born full term with no health issues at all while my daughter was born 9 weeks early with 3 birth defects. I didn't do drugs with either pregnancy, I didn't drink- I didn't do anything "wrong" things just happen. I wouldn't give my daughter up for the world. So, with adoption- you have a choice as to what special needs (if any) you are willing to accept. Just because you are adopting doesn't mean that you are going to get a special needs child. You have written this post beautifully Lisa- Congrats on Jayden as well. He is beautiful and you are lucky to have him and he is lucky to have you.


  3. Also, Lisa could you please email me I would like to ask you a question.


  4. Goodness, every time I read about the first time you held Jayden, I just start bawling. What a sweet and wonderful moment to always cherish. You ARE his mother and you are definitely bonded in an extremely strong and forever way.

    Loved the post. Thanks for writing it.

  5. The comments bolded (which I assume came from other blog posts?)seem like fears to me. Perhaps the writers are trying to work through the things they are afraid of with adoption?

    Neither one is an easy process and people have lots of different reasons for choosing which path is right for them. Adoption isn't for everyone for all the reasons that some of the blogs you refer to say. Those people probably *shouldn't* adopt yet if they have the feelings they do. I guess to some for every pro on the IVF list there is a con and for every pro on an adoption list there is a con.

    I haven't read any of the blogs you a referring to, so hopefully they aren't generalizing all adoptions, but rather talking through what they find scary. Either way, I think you are right, a little education can go a long way in dispelling fears.

  6. So well said Lisa! I agree with the misconceptions that most people have about adoption. It's sad really, because there are so many children that are missing out on wonderful homes, and if there were more people talking about these "myths" surrounding adoption I really think more people would adopt.

    Our youngest daughter Mea, was adopted through the foster care system, she was 13 months when she came home. In our state, foster care adoptions are completely free. All court costs, etc. are paid for by the state. This isn't why my husband and I chose foster adopt, we just felt pulled to add to our family this way. There are thousands of children out there who need good homes.

    Thanks so much for writing this post, I may link back to you.

  7. Very beautifully written, chica. Loved it.

  8. Great post! I am mom through both IVF and adoption, and they are such different ways to build a family. The decision is just so personal, and I agree it isn't really fair to leave out the pros or cons of either side. I don't think everyone is cut out to adopt, or even parent, really. And honestly, we're going to talk with our son about his IVF too, when the time is right. Thanks for addressing this, it's an important topic.

  9. This is a beautiful post. You know my theory, famlies come together in many ways. No one is better or more worthy than any other. I am sorry if this comes out with anything other than love, but you and adam were made to adopt. You are awesome parents. You are an awesome adoption example. Thank you.

  10. This is such an interesting post. I enjoyed reading all of it but just had to comment how moved I was reading the last part about your bond with Jayden and the pictures of Adam and Jayden are simply adorable. Thanks for sharing. :)

  11. I was going to say the same thing as Heather, that if the bolded statements are coming from the other blog posts that you mentioned, they sound like a whole lot of fear.

    As an adult adoptee I wanted to comment on your comment surrounding telling your child about their adoption, specifically the "your child should never remember the day you tell them" part. I am not sure I agree that this should be the goal. The goal should be to tell the child how they came to be and how they came to be part of the family often and from a young age. However, I think to feel like s/he should not specifically remember begin told is to set him/her and you up. Children, adopted or not, have first childhood memories and they will recall the day THEY feel like they were told even if you started telling them at birth. And, there is nothing wrong with that. I have a vivid memory of standing in the bathroom with my mom when I was about 4 and asking why we didn't have the same skin tone or hair or eyes, something along those lines, and she reminded me of my adoption, how much they wanted me and loved me from the day they laid eyes on me, etc. etc. etc. To me, it is like my own birth to recall that memory as many adoptees feel a disconnection from their own birth experience (when the adoptive parents weren't there to share what happened with them).

    Just my perspective.

  12. I actually giggled a little when I read some of the points that you were responding to. It was very obvious that whoever was making them actually never tried to adopt or even made any attempt to educate themselves about it. Do people really think you would be matched with an older or special needs child if that is not something you were open to? Wow, I'm just flabbergasted. Some folks need to lighten up! LOL ;)

  13. This is perfect. There's no other word to describe it. Thank you for saying everything that the rest of us couldn't. You are an inspiration to me and to others on the path to adoption.

  14. Thanks for this post. =) And your baby is gorgeous!

  15. Beautiful post, Lisa! I got all teary eyed when I saw the pictures of Adam and Jayden!

  16. Great post - thanks for sharing!

  17. I have to laugh at some of the points because really, when considering adoption, I had some of the OPPOSITE thoughts.
    My "long wait" was 1 day, as absurd as that sounds, it was a fluke.
    My "unhealthy child" is smart as a whip, healthy as a horse and has met or exceeded every milestone she's supposed to hit.
    My "debt" load was heavy, true, but so was the amount we spent on IVF treatments.
    My "bond" is strong, just ask my daughter. At the slightest hint of any injustice, I go all mamma bear on whoever may be the potential threat.

    Not everyone is cut out to be an adoptive parent. Not everyone is cut out to pursue ART. We tell ourselves what we need to in order to justify a decision we've made. It sounds to me like those people are in a place where they should not consider adoption anyway because for whatever reason - bio bond, pregnancy experience - it just isn't the right avenue for them. It's just shame that they have to put it out there in such a negative way.

    Good post Lisa!

  18. you are right. I always thought that you guys are soooooo extremly lucky to have him in your life. he is gorgeous and beautiful.
    As for IVF vs. adoption. When I got to the crossroads to choose betweek those (financial reasons) I picked adoption in a heartbeat for the exact same reasons you listed. I think this post was really smart and well-written. I can't believe some people can be really blind and ignorant to both sides... well, never mind. Your baby is gorgeous,and that's all that matters!!!

  19. What a thoughtful post. You have a lot to say about adoption and eloquently at that. (you are an "expert", you're living it).

  20. This is a great post. As a birthmother I really appreciate your honesty and also consideration of the birthfamily. I also love how you shed light on some adoption misunderstandings as an adoptive parent. Jayden is a cutie pie! I hope his birthfamily are able to connect more with you and are strong enough to build a relationship with him as time goes on.

  21. Thank you so much for this post. As someone adopting from NY as well, you are such a great resource to me. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

  22. I have been following your blog a bit (thanks to LiberalGranola) but not commented because I'm not involved with motherhood or adoption at all. But, I was raised by my step-father since I was a toddler and that experience has made me consider adoption as a way to expand my family whenever the time comes. I love that you are shedding light on the issues (and non-issues) with adoption. I don't think enough positive things are said about it, & I applaud you<3

  23. Can you point me to this infertility blog please? I would like to reply to it. Thanks!

  24. Two thoughts, but first thank you for this post.

    1) Unfortunately, I know two different couples who had a birth mother choose them, place a baby with them, adoption was finalized, and then a birth father armed heavily with the paternal grandmother and claims they were lied to about their offspring shows up and after years of court battles, winds up getting custody of a child who spent the first year or two of his/her life with adoptive family. It is scary and sickening. So while the odds are small, in adoption your baby can actually be taken away sometimes. Birth parent rights are powerful things in some states, and court does not always go the way people would expect.

    2) In the decision to become a parent one takes an enormous risk. We adopted a child who spent six months of his life in an orphanage, who didn't have a mother his first important months. Those months where you are calmed by familiar smells, sounds, voices, he had rotating care takers and competition from 20 other babies. We didn't know what kind of attachment issues and health issues he'd come with. Two days after he came home with us to the US, my water broke three months early and I gave birth to a 28 week preemie, who spent almost five months in a hospital. He has enormous delays and ongoing health problems and is a lot of work. All the training we went through to deal with issues for our adoptive son are mute. He didn't even qualify for early intervention. His malnutrition, his circumstances have yet to rear their head in his development. I am not saying he won't have issues as he grows up. We will all mourn the loss of his birth family together, but as of right now, doctors and therapy and tears have largely been spent on our biological son.

    You just never know what you're gonna get with your kids, and each opportunity to parent is a blessing and challenge. The big difference between adoption and IVF (birth) to me: In adoption you mentally prepare to deal with the unknown. In birth, it shocks you when something scary happens, because by default we assume a child by birth will be totally "normal." I'd say the advantage goes to adooption on that match up. :)

  25. What a fantastic post Lisa!! I Just can not imagine not having adopted. I have NO REGRETS and I'm so glad we did not go down the IVF path for all the reasons you stated. (I have nothing against people choosing IVF at all; it just was not for us) And like you mentioned, unless you get pregnant on the first try, our adoption cost us less. We didn't go into debt. It was our savings going towards the best possible avenue, all the amazing people who work in adoption deserve to get paid

    More importantly, parenting changes you for the better IMO. NO matter how you become a family, you will have struggles and challenges and you will rise to them. It's called life!

  26. As an adoptive mom (and new to your blog), I think one of the major issues is that of control. In adoption, you are pretty much forced to cede almost all control to outside forces. In IVF, you have more control, but the funny thing is that you actually have much less than you realize.

    We adopted from China in 2005 and are currently expecting a second referral from China in the next couple of months. I liked this post. And what's funny to me is that five of the seven fears you listed applied to us... lots of bureaucracy and paperwork, YEARS of waiting (almost five for this second adoption), our first child had unexpected special needs and more trauma than most adopted at her age (12 months at time of adoption).

    And yet... so worth it to us. We were Plan B for our daughter, since she deserved to grow up with her first family (but sadly that was not possible); however, she was our Plan A. We adore her and she adores us. We are so very blessed to parent her.

    Congratulations on your family! Your Jayden is adorable.

  27. What a great post! And what great stories you already have, only to be followed by SO many more.

    I believe you have to be open to what works for you. And I agree with you totally...anything could happen when we do IVF...multiples, learning disabilities, debt, anything. You have to do what works for you and I am so happy you and Jayden found each other. There was a reason for your wait and his name is Jayden. We haven't closed the door on adoption, we're just not to that place yet.

    I cannot express how happy I am for you. Congrats on your beautiful baby boy!