Many parents want to jump straight from infertility issues into adoption, and while on the surface this may seem like a way to “deal with the problem,” it is, in fact, the exact opposite. Let’s examine why it is critical to grieve your infertility before bringing a non-biological child into your life.
First and foremost, you’ve got to know in your heart that you will be capable of loving an adopted child as you would your birth child. In order to do this, you must not feel as though you’re “settling” for adoption. Accept the fact that you will probably never conceive, if this is your situation, and see a counselor if necessary. Then ask yourself honestly (and your partner if adopting jointly) if you will be able to love a child not of your own flesh and blood just as much as you would if you’d had a baby yourself. Once you’ve decided adoption can be a pleasure and a privilege, then the potential of feeling like you’re “settling” for adoption should go away.
Grieving infertility means effectively coping with the issues of waiting and disappointment. Adoption usually involves a great deal of waiting and yes, often disappointment, and while it is almost never insurmountable, patience is key. If you haven’t learned that and discovered ways of coping from the let-downs of infertility, you may not handle the same types of issues involved with adoption well.
Carefully and honestly consider your motivation for wanting a child. This is good advice for anyone wishing to become a parent regardless of fertility status. You will probably find that your reason(s) will help you grieve infertility more fully and guide you in your journey to figure out if you’re emotionally in the “right place” to seriously consider adoption. In the process, you may even learn more about yourself and your values and priorities. It is vitally important that you not judge yourself during this phase of self-analysis and grieving. Just be true to who you are, and the answers will come.
You and your partner will have been through all the stresses of infertility together. How it has affected your relationship is crucial to understanding whether or not you have truly grieved and are ready for adoption. Either way—pulled apart or drawn together—it is often very beneficial in the grieving and healing process to seek counseling or, at the very least, a support group.
Lastly, an excellent indicator of whether or not you’ve grieved your infertility to the point that you’re ready to move on to the world of adoption is whether your decision to adopt is coming from a positive outlook on the future or simply a distant second place alternative to not being able to give birth. The latter is indicative of wanting to adopt from a cloud of negative emotions rather than those of joy and hope.
Whatever your decision, make sure you do grieve your infertility so that you can live life to the fullest rather than feeling the strain of what you perceive to be a void that can’t be filled. Remember, always seek help and support if you need it! Don’t isolate yourself. There are a variety of people and resources out there designed to help you.