Guilt and worry, to some extent, are simply a part of parenting, right along with circles under the eyes and
using spit to clean chocolate off of faces. But there is guilt, and then there is GUILT. I’ve been hearing a lot of the heavy-duty guilt lately from adoptive parents who are trying to decide if they should go back into fertility treatment for their second or third child after having adopted their first. To put it mildly, there is a lot to consider before making this decision, but few resources to help.
Many adoptive parents feel as if they are being disloyal to their adopted child—as if somehow he, or the way he joined the family, isn’t good enough. They worry that having a sibling born into the family will put an psychological burden on their child adopted into the family. They also fear judgment from the adoption world because for so long “the rule” was that you must be completely finished with infertility treatment before you adopt. Period. But modern medicine and shifts in adoption have muddied the water for making this decision.
Why Not Adopt Again
There are as many reasons why someone would consider going back to infertility treatment rather than adopt again as there are people considering it. Here are just a few that I’ve heard:
- Medical advances have increased their chances of success with infertility treatment.
- “Treatments”, such as embryo donation (embryo adoption), are now more common and cost less than most adoption, other than foster care adoption.
- The landscape of adoption has changed. International and domestic adoptions are not what they used to be.
- The parents are older now and may be less likely to be chosen by birth families, so infertility treatment feels like a surer bet.
- Egg donation is more common, may be less expensive, and has expanded the age that people can be successful with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- The grief over not being pregnant or having a genetic connection to your child has not gone away.
Fertility Treatment vs. Natural Pregnancy After Adopting
We’ve all heard of couples getting pregnant after adopting. In fact, we hear about it so often that you’d think that adoption should be offered as part of infertility treatment. The reality is that this doesn’t happen nearly as often as people think, we just hear about it every time it does. I’ve not seen any research on how the subsequent natural conception of a sibling affects an adopted child. Anecdotally, some adoptees and families handle it well and some don’t. I wonder, however, if from a child’s standpoint it matters that their parents “accidentally” got pregnant vs. their parents actively seeking out infertility treatment in order to get pregnant. Something to think about when making this decision.
What’s the Right Thing to Do
Obviously, there is no one right answer for everyone; however, parents need to honestly assess how they think their unique child will feel about this situation. Each child’s temperament is different, and each child’s ability to handle this situation differs. You will need to weigh your reasons for wanting to have a child through fertility treatment against how you think your adopted child will feel. No child deserves to feel that they were wanted as a placeholder while their parents try for their “real” child.
If you decide to go for your second child through fertility treatment, consider the following tips.
Tips for Combining Children by Birth and Adoption
1. Fill your child’s bookshelves with books not only about adoption, but also on all the ways families can be formed. The books are as much for the parents to get comfortable with talking about the topic as for the child to understand, so start reading them to your child before she is able to understand the concepts.
- Suggested books for adoption broken out by age and type of adoption.
2. Join in person and online support groups that include families where children joined the family in different ways. Most adoption support groups have families with kids from both birth and adoption. The Creating a Family Facebook Support Group does. Creating a Family has a list of adoption support groups broken out by type of adoption and geography .
3. How each family member joined the family should be a casual and easy topic of conversation in your family. Start when the kids are young so the parents get practice.
4. The family attitude, which comes from the parents, is that differences are not just accepted, they are embraced. Look for children’s books that focus on diversity of talents, looks, tastes, etc.
Have you thought about going back into infertility treatment or are you glad that chapter in your life is closed? Do you worry how this decision will affect your adopted child?
Image credit: Spamily