After facing infertility, couples often end up making a choice between two options: Should we adopt or pursue In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? Although each is a different path to building a family, there are many similarities that you can prepare for, regardless of your ultimate decision. Here are a few things to consider on the road to your child.


Both require a lot of preparation financially. Whether you are saving the money on your own or accepting the generosity of others, you will need to have a nice sum set aside. There are programs available for assistance with prescription coverage and some clinical trials that may be used to cut the cost of treatment, but there is no denying the expense of IVF. Likewise, although there are ways to adopt that don’t require as much out of pocket, odds are good you will need some financial backing if you pursue the adoption option.


There is no doubt that there is a lot of misinformation out there on adoption. The media sensationalizes stories and rumors fly. Parents who adopt will have to help navigate through some misconceptions about adoption. They’ll need to learn how to use positive adoption language in order to foster a positive environment for their child.

I have found that IVF is not without its challenges, too. A lot of people have varying levels of comfort with IVF. Children can get caught in the middle, referred to as “test tube babies” or as created “unnaturally.” Even more people expect you to have a real chance of getting pregnant with octuplets, having embryos switched in the clinic, or having “something wrong” with your baby. As far as I know, there aren’t any classes out there to train people on how to handle misconceptions of IVF. You will need to prepare yourself on how to handle misinformation and rudeness. Although I have found people are generally very supportive, I have had to clarify a number of misconceptions about IVF.

Failed Attempts

It is unfortunately commonplace to have a failed IVF treatment. Although medical advances have made it more possible to get pregnant, statistically it will still take more than one round to accomplish. It is so commonplace that IVF will not work on the first attempt that most clinics offer a program for several IVF cycles at a reduced price. It can be a very difficult decision to pay more money upfront for additional cycles you may not need. Talk with your doctor about their recommendations, since it may save you money in the long run. Adoption is not without ups and downs. Many people experience situations that fall through. Nothing is guaranteed. There are a lot of factors outside of your control that determine success in either adoption or IVF.


We are all familiar with the typical travel scenario for adoption. There will likely be hotel stays, fast food, and many miles between your home and your child. This is also pretty typical with IVF. You may be one of the lucky ones who lives close by a clinic, but for many people, travel is necessary. Because timing is so important with conception, you will likely need to be close to the clinic for several steps of your journey. Be prepared to stay in a hotel, eat out, and spend a good amount of time away from home. I live a mere 45 minutes from the clinic we used, but any changes in weather or traffic could have cost us an entire cycle of IVF. So even if you live within a simple driving distance, you may still need to pack your bags for a while.

It Takes a Village

You may have made the decision about adoption or IVF, but neither one is really in your hands. With adoption, you will need the help of attorneys, social workers, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and (of course) birth parents. IVF is similar. You will depend completely on the help of doctors, nurses, financial planners and more. Coworkers will need to help you get the time off needed for treatment, friends and family can help financially or bring meals while you are resting. You may even need the assistance of egg, sperm, or embryo donors during your treatment. It will take the help of others to help you build your family.

I was blessed to have both: a successful adoption followed by a successful IVF treatment. I was surprised at how similar my experience was with each of those miracles. Although my children came to our family in different ways, they each have an amazing story. As I have learned more about each process, I realize how fortunate I have been to be a part of it. Facing infertility was one of the most difficult challenges of my life, but looking back, the journey for my children was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.

What other similarities or differences between adoption and IVF did you notice?