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Questions and fears


Recently my husband and I did our last round of IVF which unfortunately was unsuccessful.  We decided to move on to adoption because after 3 years of treatments it has become emotionally draining.  Plus, turning 40 this year…we want to start a family as soon as possible,  so we thought adoption is more of a guarantee.  I am struggling with all these thoughts…accepting that we won’t have a biological child is hard. Will I still feel a connection with that child?  Will I have regrets,  resentment?  I know that deep down I will love that child with everything I have.  Are these feelings I’m having normal??

Replies

Once you make a decision to stop IVF, you need to take some time to grieve before moving on to adoption.  I know that you are turning 40, and don’t want to wait too long, but the grief over loss of fertility is real and normal, and has to be acknowledged and accepted, before you can truly accept adoption as the right way to form your family.

There are groups, such as Resolve, that do a wonderful job of helping families work through their grief and move on to adoption, surrogacy, fostering, or child-free living.  I would suggest that you find some support there.  Even if you go for only a couple of months, you will meet other families who are going through the same experience as you are and who will understand your feelings.

I would also suggest that you begin getting to know adoptive families, as well.  Depending on the type of adoption you plan to do, there is likely to be an adoption support organization in your area.  As an example, as its name suggests, Families With Children From China has served many, many families who, like mine, have had the privilege of adopting a Chinese child. 

Getting to know adoptive families will do more than any book or counselor to help you realize that, no matter the race or ethnicity of the child you adopt, you WILL almost always bond with him/her to a point where you may sometimes forget that he/she was not born to you.  When you see the families at play with their beautiful children, you are likely to wish that you’d started the long adoption process sooner.

But one thing you will also learn is that the grief of infertility may not just, one day, stop cold.  You may have moments, even after you adopt a child and realize that you love him/her intensely and unconditionally, when you are struck with an emotional punch to the gut, and remember, sadly, that you never had the experience of carrying a pregnancy to term.  Many families wonder why they have such moments, when they are otherwise so happy, but then realize that they’ve had a loss that’s as real as a death, and that it’s normal to re-experience that loss from time to time, even years later—just as a person may suddenly remember a beloved Grandma who died and miss him/her intensely at certain points in his/her life.

As to your age, being in your early 40s is no barrier to adoption of any sort.  And with international adoption, some families adopt when they are well into their 50s.  I adopted my wonderful 18.5 month old daughter when I was 51.  She’s 20 years old now, and simply amazing.  As I never felt a burning need to be pregnant, I never had to experience the grief of infertility.  But I do, sometimes, feel a huge sense of regret that I didn’t adopt a couple more children.  I really enjoyed parenting.

Sharon.

Posted by sak9645 on Jul 07, 2016 at 5:17pm

We decided to adopt after 4 years TTC and lots of mcs. But we had always wanted to adopt, we just thought getting and staying pregnant would be cheaper and easier to start.

The books that helped me after failed assisted fertility were Sweet Grapes and Raising Adopted Children. Patricia Johnston also has books about adoption after infertility.

I felt like crap after all our failed fertility treatment. I felt broken and bitter. But I wouldn’t trade a second of it if it meant we wouldn’t have our daughter. The adoptio process made us better and more confident parents. We’re extremely happy and our daughter is safe, healthy, and happy.

Sure, I still get a twinge when I learn of someone’s pregnancy, but I know that everything that my husband and I went through and everything my daughter went through and will go through, make us all stronger and smarter than we’d be otherwise.

Good luck and keep us posted. (I’m 39 btw)

Posted by Supdub on Jul 07, 2016 at 6:08pm

I went through years of IF and a pg loss and I can tell you moving forward with adoption took a giant weight off my shoulders.  I know people say you need to “fully grieve” IF before you adopt but frankly that’s unrealistic and unfair.  Life and emotions are far more complicated that that.  We have two beautiful dds now and I can say I cannot imagine wanting “different” children…even my own bio children.  That doesn’t mean I have fully “gotten over” IF.  But I realize now that all of it was a path to having my family now and at the end of the day that brings me immense joy.  Good luck.

Posted by mamallama on Jul 07, 2016 at 10:20pm

Please read Barbara Herel’s Blog post “From Old Eggs to Older Mom” on this site.  She has a wonderful way with words, and her point, similar to mammallama, is that through adoption you will find your family, a family that you could never have had otherwise. 

It is natural to worry because everyone makes such a big deal about biology and bonding before the baby is born.  My husband and I met later in life, so it was either adoption or assisted reproductive therapy if we wanted children; we chose adoption.  In seven years as an adoptive family we have learned that birth families are important, but biology is just biology.  What I mean is that your kids are going to be who they are going to be no matter how they arrive in your family, and you have to love them for who they are.  You could have a biological child who is nothing like you, or an adopted child who is exactly like you… Sometimes I do wonder what our DNA would have created, but it could never have made these three wonderful kids that I rush home to every night. 

Once, on the way to a family member’s baby shower, my son (then 5) told me that he didn’t want to be from his birth mother’s tummy, he wished he had been in mine.  And I told him, truthfully, that sometimes I wish that, too.  But that isn’t what happened, and, more importantly, he wouldn’t be the kid that he is.  Part of him comes from his birth parents, and part of him comes from us, and I love all of him, all of all three of my kids.  That is the miracle of adoption.

The difficulties you have faced creating a family will make you a better parent and will make you more empathetic to your children’s issues, and your children’s birth families.  Good luck on your adoption journey!

Posted by jszmom on Jul 08, 2016 at 1:09am

I can shed some light on the bond you, I was blessed enough to watch my daughter’s birth, and the hospital does this thing called “the golden hour” where right after the baby is born they put the baby under your shirt and you form a skin to skin bond with them. it’s beautiful… I couldn’t have loved this baby more if she came from my womb… I love her with everything that I have and I know that I was her mother because I cared for her, I comforted her when she’d cry, I’d sing her to sleep, I’d feed her, and wake up at three in the morning with her, play with her. For me that’s what makes her your baby, the relationship you form with her or him, not the fact that she doesn’t have my DNA… I don’t know if you’ll be able to have this same experience as adoption babies come in all ages…. but my point is you can form a love and a bond for a baby if your heart is in the right place, and i’m sure it is : )

Posted by Sela227 on Jul 10, 2016 at 2:25am

We did a lot of skin to skin contact with our children, also, and I highly recommend it.  We were not able to be there for the births, but we met each of them when they were hours old. 

It’s good that the hospital where your daughter was born encourages that, but your other point is even more important: bonding is not a process that happens in the “golden hour”.  Bonding occurs over time, as the baby or child realizes that you are the one keeping them fed, dry, warm, and safe.  They learn to trust and depend on you to do that.  The challenge with older child adoption is that, unfortunately, many of those children have never been able to depend on anyone to do those things, so they have to learn that they can be kids, and someone else will take care of them.

I don’t think it is wrong to move forward with adoption while you are still working through your emotions about infertility, just realize that adoption is a rollercoaster, too.  The difference, I think, is that with adoption you will become a parent if you keep at it.

Posted by jszmom on Jul 18, 2016 at 6:04pm

Adoption professionals often use the term “bonding” to refer to the short term connection that develops between a child and a parent—for example, because of skin to skin contact shortly after birth.  They usually use the term “attachment” to refer to the relationship that develops over time, as the child learns to trust that you will always be there for him/her, keeping him/her safe, meeting his/her needs, and so on.

Attachment disorders usually arise because the child comes to feel that adults cannot be trusted to be there for them, meet their needs, and so on.  These problems often arise when a parent is abusive or neglectful, when the child loses a parent and is shunted from caregiver to caregiver, and so on.

It is very hard to tell which adopted children will develop attachment disorders.  Some children experience horrific abuse or a long series of foster homes, yet emerge emotionally unscathed and able to attach.  Others, less resilient, may develop an attachment disorder after being born and placed in the arms of a loving, permanent family almost immediately. 

Sharon

Posted by sak9645 on Jul 18, 2016 at 10:02pm

My experience was fairly similar - 3 years of infertility fun (and 4 lost pregnancies) right up to age 39. The day that I found out the last IVF didn’t take, I paid the initiation fee for the adoption agency I’d already selected. Yes, I was still hurting, but (1) it gave me something to focus on, which I need, and (2) I knew that the adoption process can take a while to get set up, thus I assumed I could concurrently heal and keep my add-to-my-family options moving. Also, I will tell you that it helped my husband move on IMMENSELY. He’d really struggled with how to grieve himself and how to help me - the adoption process gave him something to do that was of value.

Next series of questions: of course all of those feelings are normal! Have them, acknowledge them, and know that you’ll get past them. Typically, adoption isn’t what people see themselves doing from day 1, so it takes some time to see your future differently. I have said the universe must be laughing hysterically - I love to have control, and you have very little control in this process. I absolutely LOST IT when I had to choose exactly how much of each drug I was OK with a birth mother taking while pregnant when I had just spent 3 years eating nothing but organic food, taking 15 supplements a day, etc. That was my angry moment. Then I was good.

We got selected by our birth parents about 8 months after we sent in that first fee, and we watched our daughter’s birth a month after that (January of this year). No resentment, no questions - I’ve stayed up with her, soothed her, given her medicine, laughed with her… That girl is my child, through and through.

I still have moments of grief, but not because I’m disappointed how things worked out - it’s because what we went through was absolutely traumatic. You don’t just get over severe trauma. But you get better each day.

Posted by Sidney's Mom on Jul 29, 2016 at 9:54pm

“But one thing you will also learn is that the grief of infertility may not just, one day, stop cold.  You may have moments, even after you adopt a child and realize that you love him/her intensely and unconditionally, when you are struck with an emotional punch to the gut, and remember, sadly, that you never had the experience of carrying a pregnancy to term.  Many families wonder why they have such moments, when they are otherwise so happy, but then realize that they’ve had a loss that’s as real as a death, and that it’s normal to re-experience that loss from time to time, even years later—just as a person may suddenly remember a beloved Grandma who died and miss him/her intensely at certain points in his/her life.”

I actually think some of the best online amums I know are those who haven’t “totally gotten over their grief but instead have acknowledged that grief and the complexity of feelings and to then realise that it is something that may be shared by their child (and also bfamily members).

A few years ago, I went to a friend’s baby shower and when they all started talking about their experiences in hospital and I felt a bit of a pang, not only for myself but for my amum and my bmom.

Posted by catherinenz on Jul 29, 2016 at 10:33pm

Thank you all for your responses!  It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one with these feelings!!

Posted by misssuey on Aug 01, 2016 at 3:34pm

I thought I was reading my own post there till I read the date. I was literally in your shoes 5 years ago. I was turning 40 when we gave up on having our own child. It is a gut wrenching move and I have to say I hope you have been or will be going to therapy either couple or just for you. I am beyond glad I did because it made me open up to the idea of adopting. You have to be ready to raise a child that did not come from you, will not look like you, will not have mom’s eyes or dad’s nose. Once you can handle that you have to look at what you can afford. We began with American Adoptions and a local agency, After almost 2 years of fruitless “situations” that were beyond our financial capabilities we decided we had to go through foster/adopt. That is another gut wrenching challenge. Our first little one we had at 3 weeks through 21 months went back but after a 1 month wait and more therapy we got our forever child who we adopted in May. She came to us at 5 months and is now almost 22 months. So you see there is no easy way. It is your way. Good luck and I hope you find your forever family.
Diane

Posted by diane0001 on Aug 20, 2016 at 7:20pm

Like everyone in this article, my husband and I went through a failed IVF and a whole lot of emotional turmoil.  We were told that while we didn’t have a 0% chance of getting pregnant, it was pretty close.  We wanted a family so we started the adoption process.  Don’t wait too long.  We adopted our son exactly 9 months after we finished our home study, then our daughter (his sister) 2 years later, and finally our 2nd son (their brother) 2 years after that. 

Oh and since we were having the time of our lives with these 3 amazing kids, whom we could not love any more, and mostly forgot about the struggle of infertility…SURPRISE…I’m pregnant.  7 years later.

Posted by 4Norm on Sep 19, 2016 at 7:23pm

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