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Adoption Blog: Man Up!

Getting Pregnant Might Ruin Everything!



I've found that most people do the best they can to be supportive throughout the adoption process. But if you haven't personally experienced the emotional stress of infertility or the extreme highs and lows of the adoption process itself, it can be hard to relate. Worse, some people do not understand how their well-intentioned, but often ill-phrased, words can have unintended meanings for the people they're trying to support.

Case in point? Anyone who has been involved in the adoption community for any time at all has surely heard the expression, "Now that you're adopting, you'll get pregnant!" from well-meaning friends and family members or even mere acquaintances. When I hear a phrase like that, I usually try to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt and let it roll off my back, assuming they aim to reassure me, as an adoptive parent, that there is still a chance to have a biological child. Often it is quipped humorously, as an icebreaker of sorts, to start up a conversation. Sometimes, though, it can't help but seem that some people are suggesting you've made a bad decision—you've settled for the "second best" parenting option—and as a result, you'll have to suffer Mother Nature's consequences.

I admit that, though in recent years I have become an advocate for adoption and its related causes, it wasn't always how I envisioned my family coming together. Growing up in central Kentucky, watching reruns of Donna Reed and Leave It to Beaver on television, instilled in me an image of what my future family would be filled with—white children, with features that resemble mine. It's in our nature to want to replicate ourselves. Historically, this is how humans have gone along: passing genes, as well as the idea that families should look alike, from generation to generation.

I never had anything against adoption but, to put my own once-ignorant ideas on display, to me international adoption was something that rich people pursued to feel better about themselves. From my own vantage point, their children were mere trophies. Not having known any adoptive families personally (domestic or international), popular media accounts of celebrity adoptions—grandstanding spectacles from people who seemed to prefer publicity over parenthood—shaped my point of view.

But the world, and my point of view in it, has changed in the last 40 years—my son Manu's generation and those after his are likely to see the institution of family much differently than the kind idealized in the 1950s TV show reruns I grew up with. I have a hard time reconciling those old ideas in my current state of mind, but I'm trying to be honest about where I was coming from.

Like some people, my wife and I chose adoption out of necessity. Even though the adoption community goes to great lengths to portray adoption as every bit as viable as natural childbirth (and it is), it isn't natural, instinctual, or really very common in the great scheme of family-making. So it's not surprising to me that it's not often a first choice when starting a new family, and that the casual observer might not understand the impact that their uninformed words can have on the sensitive ears of the prospective adoptive parent.

My wife and I had discussed adoption from the early days of our marriage, but it was always in the context of a second or third child—I still wanted my "own" baby first. Although that's kind of hard to admit now and might sound blasphemous and insensitive to many adoption advocates, I don't think it's wrong to feel that way, nor do I think that those early feelings in any way detract from the love I have for my son today.

Any lingering regrets about our infertility vanished forever the day we learned of a little boy in India named Manu. The moment I saw those first pictures, I knew he was my son. Although I did struggle with some anxiety over the adoption process and (thankfully unrealized) fears about bonding issues, I never doubted that I could love him as much as I could a biological child. Almost instantly my desire for a biological child was extinguished, as I quickly realized that I would indeed have my own baby.

A couple of years have now passed since we brought Manu home from India. In that time our family bond has grown very strong. Although we are a visible adoptive family, I am no longer conscious of the differences between us and tend to forget them entirely. Sometimes I'm taken aback when someone points out our racial differences, but not because I'm offended; rather, when I look at Manu, I only see his boyish smile.

Enough time has passed now that the prospect of expanding our family further is on our minds. An aspect of family-building that we now have to consider—one that wasn't a factor the first time we welcomed a child to our family—is what effect any new addition will have on Manu. Working through that issue has made me more assured than ever that a biological child, through natural means or via IVF, would not fit into our current family vision. I no longer desire a child that looks like me, nor do I want to put Manu into a position where he might feel like he was competing with our "real" child or alienate him by adopting a child that looks more like us than him. The rewards of belonging to a multicultural adoptive family far exceed any expectations I once had for a more traditional family, and it has little to do with race. Being a transracial adoptive family makes us unique, but finding each other half a world away—that makes us special.

I have wondered from time to time how we might react and manage if indeed, like the saying goes, some form of cosmic karma gifted us with a biological child. I can assure you we would be happy and grateful, but to be honest I might feel just a little let down. International adoption has given me a new family and a new perspective. I'm enjoying the journey and can't wait for the next chapter to unfold.

So now when someone says to me, "You're adopting? Now you'll get pregnant!" I look them in the eye and say confidently, "Gosh, I hope not. That might ruin everything!"

 

[Editor's Note: We've heard the phrase "Adopting? Now you'll get pregnant!" so much, we created a tongue-in-cheek group dedicated to it.]


Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle

15 Comments

I don’t know who my children are yet (I am adopting US Public), but I too have come to the conclusion that a pregnancy would “mess things up” for us now. My hubby and I are intending to adopt an older (maybe even pre-teen/teen) sibling group, and I am excited at the idea of parenting them. I don’t think I could be as excited for poopy diapers and baby food stains! lol

By AuberrySwirl on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm.

What a wonderful blog, Jeff.  I think you very accurately and articulately expressed every adoptive parents emotions!  We should all create a “Stop saying ‘Now that you’re adopting, you’ll get pregnant’” group on FB to show the world how annoying that phrase is!  smile

By Tief on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm.

What a great post!  :D

By Kelly-O on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 4:38 am.

Gosh, I hope not. That might ruin everything!

That’s exactly how we feel and have made 99.9% sure that it doesn’t happen.  It would be so unfair to our son.

Thanks for the post and the very tactful response.

By Merelyn on Friday, February 04, 2011 at 10:04 pm.

“Almost instantly my desire for a biological child was extinguished, as I quickly realized that I would indeed have my own baby.”

This sentence describes exactly how I felt and still feel today.  I cried every month for over 3 years and it is amazing the sense of peace that comes over you when you find out you are going to be a mom or dad!  I have a beautiful 4 month old daughter and she is all I need-she is perfect in every way.  Your article was inspiring and brought a new perspective that I shared with many people today.

Thank You!

By Sharon E on Friday, February 04, 2011 at 10:38 pm.
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Meet the Author

Jeff

Jeff

Kentucky

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
India

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