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Adoption Blog: Man Up!

The Moment of Our Conception: How We Decided on International Adoption

There we stood in the cold, damp parking garage, staring in disbelief at the flat tire—one more problem threatening to topple the delicate balancing act we were performing with our emotions. Icy November rain was blowing in from the outside, hitting me in the face as I repeatedly attempted to remove the tire from the wheel, but it was stuck in place. To no avail, I tried my best; I needed something to go right, everything else seemed to be going very wrong. We called AAA, forcing us to wait even longer in a place from which we so desperately wanted to get away. We sat in the car for a few moments in complete silence. Reality had reared its ugly head. Up to this point we had convinced ourselves that it been a problem of timing, but we both saw the x-ray screen; it—pregnancy—wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t know what to say. I so desperately wanted to find the right words to console my wife, who was having a hard time accepting the news, but there were no right words to make the situation any less painful. Never so clearly had I seen the writing on the wall; we were at a crossroads, figuratively and literally. What should we do now?

As depressing as it was standing there in the rain, in some ways, discovering our infertility was a relief. We had spent the previous year and a half on a trying-to-conceive treadmill; timing and ovulation monitors conspired to take all of the romance out of our sex life, and pregnancy tests always confirmed the inevitable, painful truth. As the months went by, we became more and more doubtful of our chances to conceive. Eventually, fed up with the depression and near hopelessness that accompanied each failed attempt, we sought professional advice. After a battery of diagnostic tests to determine the reasons for our failed conceptions, the last of which we had just undergone, we now realized that it was nothing we were doing wrong or could easily fix, or just a case of “bad luck” that would eventually turn in our favor; pregnancy simply wasn’t in our plan.

Following the tests that morning, our fertility doctor explained that nothing short of full-on in vitro fertilization (IVF) would help us conceive. He gave us some information and sent us on our way to think it over. Suspecting in our hearts that this would be the outcome, we had begun studying up on our fertility options a few weeks earlier. In just a few hours, a little bit of research revealed what a financial risk these treatments could be; in our area, the cost of one round of IVF, we discovered, falls somewhere in the $12,000 to $15,000 range—less expensive than a typical adoption, but only if it is successful on the first attempt. We rather quickly decided that IVF—a scenario in which we could potentially spend $25,000 to $40,000 and have nothing to show for it—was not the way we wanted to proceed. While we are not infinitely wealthy, in the end, our decision wasn’t about the money, it was about making a family, and adoption, while possibly more expensive, would guarantee that family.

So, within four hours of that fateful November morning, we had an appointment with an adoption agency (and a new set of tires!) Leslie went into the meeting pretty determined to pursue international adoption. She was raised in an domestic adoptive family, and understood how special this decision to adopt was for her family, but also she knew the potential for a domestic adoption failure, one in which the hopeful adoptive family has to give back their baby, or start the process all over after a birth family changes their minds. I figured that, although you do occasionally see heart-wrenching scenes on television of babies being pulled from the hands of their tearful adoptive parents, it was mostly media hype, and I wanted to talk to our counselor to determine how often that really happens. She told us that, in her experience, failed domestic adoptions happen four or five times out of ten. Wait, what? Did I hear that right? Those odds sounded worse than our IVF chances! I simply could not imagine the pain of having to relinquish a child after placement, or having a birth mother change her mind during the adoption process, and I was determined never to put us in that position. International adoption, for all of its extra hassle, guarantees that the children made available for placement are legally declared to be orphans in their home countries, and there will be no birth mother or birth father to change their mind. It was then that we felt comfortable visualizing our family to be. I like to think of it as the moment of our conception; the moment we finally knew we would be parents. 

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