Monday, May 18, 2020

If We Couldn't Adopt

I have a love/hate relationship with People Magazine. I love it for the fluff and the recommendations for what to read and watch, for the red carpet specials and the famous people's homes stuff, but I also hate anything having to do with the Bachelor (and will not even read those articles), with the Kardashians, and the obsession with celebrity babies and miracle pregnancies.

Seriously, there is never a story about infertility that does not end with a miracle child somehow, either a surprise pregnancy, an improbable pregnancy at 50, or a magic adoption that happened quickly or because the husband was an EMT or the wife was a labor/delivery nurse.

But the last issue I read featured an article about the couple from HGTV's Home Town, and that one took a different turn:

"We knew that if children weren't in the plan biologically, we would adopt. If we couldn't adopt for some reason, having each other would be enough." 

Whoa. It made me go find Bryce and read it out loud to him. Because it is ALMOST NEVER that anyone shares the actual reality that you can enter into the adoption process, you can spend years trying to adopt, and you can leave without those stars aligning. That it's possible to WANT to adopt, but to have it not work out.

Of course, they had a miracle pregnancy that she discovered on MOTHER'S DAY, so a little barf in my mouth there (but good for them), but still -- just that little nugget to place in people's brains that it is actually possible to go into adoption and leave without a baby, and that you can have a relationship that is absolutely enough if the quest for a baby doesn't work out.

This is the piece of our story that is most frequently misunderstood and even bewildering to people -- how can you GO INTO adoption and not COME OUT a parent? There's a thought that it's a heck of a lot easier than it is in reality. There's a thought that you must be somehow deficient or not patient enough. There's this very strange adoption folklore that people who have never known anyone to go through it have that imagines you going to a hospital and picking out your baby like so many perfect almost-ripe avocados at the store.

The concept of running out of the emotional capacity to withstand the process is incredibly foreign. The idea that if one kind of adoption didn't work for you, that you could just jump into another kind (domestic infant didn't work? Get your dossier set up for international! Not that most people who think you can sub methods easily know what an adoption dossier is). The complete obliviousness to the fact that waiting in the adoption process is a full time job, and your stores run out a lot faster if you are also trying to be a fully functioning human in all spheres at the same time. (Of course you can't admit that you are not quite a functioning human, because then it could jeopardize your home study.)

Long story short, THANK YOU to the Home Town couple for sharing that it's possible to not succeed at adoption and it's okay to evaluate your life and know that you have the kind of relationship that could withstand that loss and building a new life, and then take that exit off the family building heartbreak highway towards that new existence.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!


  1. As usual Jess, this is an excellent post. But isn't it incredibly sad that society knows and recognises our stories so rarely that we might be pleased that two phrases recognising your reality are worthy of note? I mean, I too am glad that this couple understood that and included it in their story. But it makes me sad and a little angry to think that it is all so misunderstood!

    Oops - I think I got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning! Sorry for being grumpy. (Though not at you, of course!)

    1. Thank you! You're not grumpy at all, I totally get it. It's a tiny shard of a bone that we're thrown, but it's still a bone. :) I do wish stories like ours were recognized more regularly as a possible outcome, and not a sad sap one, either.

  2. I agree with you that most people are clueless that the other end of adoption could be anything than coming home with a baby. I think that's part of the reason people are insanely flippant about the process (and also consider it a back-up). It is refreshing to see an acknowledgement that one could come out the other side any other way.

    That said, I also agree with Mali that recognition for families like your's and Mali's is extremely rare. Which is why I'm so profoundly glad you both are writing so candidly about this.

    1. So true, people are very insanely flippant! It's just thrown out there like an easy switch, with no regard to the difficulty of the process or the possibility it might not work out. Thanks, I agree that more candid stories about families that don't include children, yet wanted them so badly. Thanks so much!

  3. People think adoption is automatic. They assume it's an involved process and some people know there's a long wait, but hardly anyone seems to know that not everyone who wants to parent gets to parent. Off the top of my head, I know of four couples who tried to adopt unsuccessfully. When I'm asked about adoption and I have the energy for it, I educate people. Other times, I don't.

    Great post! I'm glad the two lines quoted by the tv couple made it into the magazine article. It's a very important message.

    1. Here, here: "hardly anyone seems to know that not everyone who wants to parent gets to parent" -- put perfectly. It's so true that it depends on the situation whether you go into advocacy mode or just keep it simple and unexplained, it's just so exhausting to have to be the bringer of reality and the popper of misconceptions. I'm glad that those two lines were in there, I just wish that there could be more of it. Thank you!

  4. I haven't read People in eons. I used to pick it up once in a while if a headline caught my eye, but it's gotten way too tabloid-y in the last few years for my liking. :( Anyway, BIL is always watching HGTV when we go over there (of course, we haven't been there since COVID, but I digress...!), so I know the show & the couple.

    I will say that it's one thing to SAY that "having each other will be enough" and quite another to have to live it... I said pretty much the same thing myself, going into infertility treatment -- and yes, it's been true for us -- but accepting that reality was NOT been simple or easy, especially early on, you know?

    But you're right -- acknowledging CNBC as an option is so, SO rare. I agree with Mali that it seems sad we're getting excited about two little sentences in one story among thousands (millions?)... but still, to have that acknowledged, to plant that seed in the minds of others... it does mean a lot!

  5. Yesss... This: " will say that it's one thing to SAY that "having each other will be enough" and quite another to have to live it... I said pretty much the same thing myself, going into infertility treatment -- and yes, it's been true for us -- but accepting that reality was NOT been simple or easy, especially early on, you know?"

    I said the same thing. I remember exactly the conversation when Bryce brought up his known male factor infertility, and I said "If it doesn't work out, just us will be okay" and I meant it. But you're right, holy crap is it different to have to live it and come to grips with that loss, even if what you gain is a beautiful, if different, life.

    I agree that the seed is important, to get more of this possibility might stop the crazy train of people pushing adoption on people like a consolation prize or an easy fix ("Just scoop up one of those kids who needs a home!" -- ACTUAL THING SAID TO ME ONCE). And PEOPLE is what I read when I brush my teeth! :) Love it and hate it. But can't get rid of it. :)

  6. It feels like this should be more acknowledged - that leaving treatments or adoption waits without a child is something that definitely happens. The recognition is rare, though, which is really unfair.

    YES to the way you point out emotional capacity as a finite resource - that is such an underrated and ignored part of infertility. It is one of the hardest points to get across to people when discussing treatments/adoption/etc. I'm glad that the couple in the People were able to even briefly reference it (and hope that this becomes more common, in depth, and accepted).

  7. I am so grateful that you two made your decision to move on. And how amazing that you found an article that came close to describing the painful outcome of trying to adopt. You both have come through the fire. Like the Phoenix, you rise...