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Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

Let’s Talk About Sex! Redefining Lovemaking for Adoptive Parents

As adoptive parents, we've got it pretty easy: If we don't want to, we never have to talk about taboo topics like the intimate details of our sex lives, we never have to admit to our children that we have had sex, and we can even talk about fertility treatments without ever having to admit to having sex! (After all, thanks to an embryologist who introduced my eggs to my husband’s sperm in a petri dish, after a certain point in our relationship, no physical contact was necessary.) But with all of the issues we face surrounding our intimacy, shouldn't we talk about sex?

My husband, Paul, and I left the constraints of fertility treatments to embrace the sexual freedom that comes with the decision to adopt eight years ago. By now we have embraced a new "normal" for our bedroom intimacy, but it took time and adjustment.

First, there's the matter of fertility treatments...

When I told people we were pursuing fertility treatments, they didn't know what to say. They were afraid to broach a topic that would likely include explicit details about sex, such as the organs necessary, the positions, or the frequency—issues usually kept safely behind bedroom doors, that is until infertility arises, a time when all affected couples must check their modesty at the door of the fertility clinic.

Both partners will soon learn way too much about each other’s reproductive organs, such as the shape of their husband’s sperm or the location and number of cysts throughout the wife’s ovaries. At one point when I was knee-deep in my infertility treatments, Paul could easily identify whether the ovary on the ultrasound screen was my right or left one. We knew way too much about each other's bodies. 

And how deciding to adopt doesn't immediately improve a couple's sex life

Leaving behind the world of infertility to become an adoptive family should improve your sex life instantly, right? There are no more appointments, tests, or exams dictating when to have sexual relations. No more stress that you must have sex today between noon and midnight or your ovulation window will be missed.  Unfortunately, choosing adoption does not mean that couples easily fall back into their routine prior to fertility treatments.

From my personal experience, it’s difficult to get the biological jargon, which floods your life during fertility treatments, out of your head and have a normal sex life once you fill out an adoption application. Add to that the monthly disappointment most potential adoptive mothers face. A period is yet another reminder of infertility. (Further proof they won't magically get pregnant once they fill out their adoption paperwork. How many people have told you that you would get pregnant as soon as you decided to adopt? You’ll start to believe it if you hear it often enough.)

Then, there's the matter of redefining sex as a couple after adopting

Choosing to adopt, if anything, brought to light how much our infertility had affected our sexual relationship. Now that we weren’t attempting to conceive, we almost didn't know what to do with each other.  We had to redefine what should happen in the bedroom.

What helped us during this phase of redefining sex

Is it inappropriate to mention that discovering a new "normal" sex life is a common issue for many prospective and new adoptive parents? I really don’t think so.  Sometimes just knowing that you aren’t alone with your problems can be helpful. Hearing stories from others who have been through this difficult transition can be inspirational. Don't be embarrassed. Cut  yourself some slack, seek out support from others who are going through similar issues, and allow yourself time to reinvent your sexual relationship.

Do I have any specific tips for anyone? Sorry, but some details are again safely behind closed doors.

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle

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Oh my gosh.. you have no idea how happy I am to see an article like this. I was wondering if I was alone in this sexual aftermath.

I am so envious of those that seem to just get on with their sexual lives after all the infertility treatments are over. We have been done with ours for over 8 years now. We became foster parents and then both of our sons came to us (at birth).. we are beyond blessed. I would not change one thing about the road that lead us to them. I know that this is were we are supposed to be and they are the reason we went through everything we did.

So why do I still carry around these issues with being intimate with my husband? I rarely ever think about the “infertility” anymore, but there are those times after being intimate when it will all come flooding back. This wonderful love we share.. this connection that we have been blessed with. We will never create anything by being together. It is like a huge kick in the stomach. I just want these feelings to go away. I feel as if I am betraying my sons by still grieving… and I guess that is what I am still doing.

I know this if off topic, but our infertility did cause a death. The death of the dream of a biological child. I know my father has been gone now 10 years. Yes I still miss him everyday, but the grief is not as strong everyday as it used to be. There as those times though that I still cry as hard as the day he passed. So maybe we never really “get over” our infertility. It is a grieving process just the same… each day gets better, but we will still have those times the strong emotions surface.

I know I pray for the feelings to subside.. it can and does interfere with our intimacy.

By lovingmymiracles on Monday, October 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm.

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Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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