Married couple holding hands at a therapy session to grieve infertility before adoptingNavigating the grief surrounding infertility can be all-consuming. It’s natural to feel sad, disappointed, angry, or a combination of many different emotions. Many couples want to start the process of becoming a parent in another way as soon as they can, in an effort to fill that empty, aching space in their hearts. But before you move on from fertility treatments and turn to adoption, it’s important to grieve your infertility fully. Read on to discover the reasons why it’s important to grieve infertility before adopting.
There are generally five stages of grief that couples facing infertility go through. Facing these emotions is a normal and healthy way of moving from infertility toward adoption. It means you are processing your grief and are on the road to the final stage, which is acceptance. It’s only once you feel acceptance should you start considering adoption.

Why Don’t You Just Adopt?

Chances are, you’ve been asked, “Why don’t you just adopt?” by your friends and family. They ask this with good intention; they love you, and they hate to see you hurt. Adoption seems like the perfect answer. After all, a child needs a family, and you want a child.
However, adoption is not a Band-Aid for grief. It can’t fix it or make it go away. Therefore, before you turn to adoption, it’s important to address this grief. Coming to terms with infertility is very important for you to do before you begin the adoption process.
“How do you know when it’s time to move on from fertility treatments?… 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,” shares Lifetime’s Founder and adoptive mother, Mardie Caldwell.
Adoption is beautiful, and it might be the right next step for your family. But, before you adopt after infertility, here are a few things to consider:

Adoption should be about providing a home to a child.

The reason you want to adopt shouldn’t be to fill a void in your heart or your family. When you come to adoption in this way, you are expecting that a baby will meet your need.
It’s not fair to burden a child with the expectation that they must meet a need in you. As adults, we are responsible for meeting our own needs — not our children. So when infertility grief raises its ugly head, remind yourself that adoption is about providing a family for a child in need. And not to provide you with a baby to fill a void.

Your infertility journey affects more than just you.

If you avoid facing infertility grief, it could cause severe emotional and physical harm to yourself and those around you. You may start to resent your spouse, or your emotions may turn into a deep depression. Due to enduring hopes of “maybe we’ll still get pregnant,” you risk not feeling able to find happiness. All of this stress can take a toll on your physical health.
It may feel intimidating to pick apart those difficult emotions, but we all know how much stress unresolved issues can place on relationships. It can affect your relationship with your partner, with yourself, with your friends who seem to have children easily, and ultimately, with your child. If you move to adoption too quickly and you haven’t fully grieved infertility, it will affect more than just you. It can also have lifelong consequences on your children.

Adoption is not a consolation prize.

Within the “just” adopt question is the underlying thought that the couples who should “just” adopt are the ones who are struggling to have biological children. So if having a child biologically is expected, and adoption is the exception, adoption ends up being treated as “less than” or secondary. But adoption is not a lesser way to achieve a family. It’s just a different way.
Hopeful parents who haven’t fully addressed their infertility grief can’t fully embrace and get excited about the adoption process. They may feel like they are “settling” for their “second-choice” method to build their family, and that’s not fair to them or their future child. Not only do you need to let go of the dream of having a biological child, but you also need to be eager about adoption as its own equally amazing way to build a family.
Of course, no parent ever wants their child to feel like they’re second-best or a consolation prize. But if you still have any lingering infertility grief, your child will notice. Many adult adoptees share how their parents unwittingly made them feel “second-best” since they couldn’t move on from grieving their infertility.
If adoptive parents are still dealing with the lingering grief of infertility, it can be hard for them to talk positively about their adoption story, and it can be hard for them to watch their child with their birth parents.
Adoption requires determination. But at the end of the day, you need to know that you chose adoption — not that adoption chose you by default.

Fully Grieve Infertility Before Adopting

Only you can decide if adopting is right for your family. Even if adoption wasn’t what you always pictured for your family, it could be a beautiful way to answer the question, “what now?”
Whether or not you decide to build your family through adoption, it’s important for your quality of life to work through your feelings. It will take you time, support, and maybe even a little professional help. Do what you need to do to address your grief. If you need help to transition from infertility and get excited about starting your family through adoption, you might seek the help of a grief and loss therapist who specializes in infertility issues.

Lifetime Adoption is here to educate you about domestic adoption and help you address any uncertainty about the adoption process.
Contact us today at 727-493-0933 if you’d like to learn how to get started towards building your family through the joy of adoption!

Linda Rotz

Written by Linda Rotz

Linda Rotz, CWCM-S, CWCM-Trainer, ACC, is the Director of Adoption Services at Lifetime. Linda has worked in the field of adoption for 20 years within the child welfare/foster care system in Florida. She has degrees in Mass Communications and Human Development, and completed graduate studies in social work.

Due to her extensive expertise, Linda was called upon to write adoption procedures and training materials in Florida. She is certified as an Adoption Specialist, Child Welfare Case Manager Supervisor and Child Welfare Trainer in the state of Florida.