Shall We Adopt, Or Not?


This article was written by Katherine T. Otte, an adoption consultant, educator and teacher.  Kathie has worked in the adoption field for the last 20 years and has helped hundreds of couples through the adoption process.  She lives in Houston and is the proud mother of two adopted children.  Permission to copy this article can be obtained by contacting Kathie at msadopt@aol.com  or at (281) 558-5515.


Many of you are probably struggling right now with the problem of whether to put the infertility treatments on hold and finally start the adoption process, or to continue the treatments for yet another year.  To your friends and relatives, it's simple-just adopt.  But the reality is far from that.  And it's not just coming to the conclusion that you can accept a child into your life who is biologically unrelated to you.  It is an acceptance of the fact that you will have to undergo yet another process that you are not totally in control of.  Want to know what it will be like?  I'll tell you.  And you will see that there are a whole lot of similarities between the infertility process and adoption.


  1. Adoption involves an array of choices.  Just as you were given choices too numerous to mention during the infertility process (Should I have surgery this month or wait 6 months? Should we do IVF again or not?) you will have important choices to make with adoption even before you begin the process.  Do you want to do a domestic adoption or pursue international?  Do you want a private adoption or agency?  Do you want to try to find your own birth mother or not?  How do you feel about openness?  You won't be able to get out of the starting gate until you have answers to these questions.

  2. Adoption takes time.  Just as you can't produce a child biologically in a day, you can't do it with adoption either.  You should count on it taking about one to two years, and that does not include all the months you will spend just calling agencies.  That is from the time you go to an agency orientation to the time you are placed with a baby.  Oh yes, you will hear about people who adopt more quickly than that, and it can happen.  But don't count on it or you will be disappointed.  (Sounds like what your spouse or doctor would say when you thought you might be pregnant,  doesn't it?)

  3. Adoption is expensive.  Just as infertility procedures can cost thousands of dollars each, adoption can be just as expensive.  And costs seem to be going up.  To work with a private agency, it can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $35,000.  The good news, however, is that with adoption, after paying all that money, you will end up with a baby whereas with infertility treatments you might not.  And there are ways that you might be able to save some money.  Some employers offer adoption benefits to their employees.  And don't forget about the adoption tax credit of up to $10,000 if your income is less than $150,000.

  4. Adoption means losing your privacy.  Just as you were subjected to all kinds of inspections of very personal aspects of your life (and body) with infertility, you are under the same kind of scrutiny with adoption.  You are asked to fill out myriads of forms, answer probing questions of your case worker, provide financial data, get reference letters and undergo a criminal background check before you are considered acceptable parents to raise a child.  It's a mind-boggling experience but couples somehow get through it.

  5. Adoption can be another emotional roller coaster ride.  You will experience highs and lows with adoption, just as you did with infertility.  You were on Cloud 9 when you thought you were pregnant; you were lower than a snake's belly when the tests came out negative.  In adoption, you will be on a high when you have been officially approved by the agency or when you get matched to a birth mother.  You will be down in the dumps if the process seems to be taking forever, or if the birth mother changes her mind.

  6. Adoption involves a lot of waiting.  Just as in infertility, when you spent hours waiting to see a doctor or waiting for test results, you will spend a lot of time waiting in adoption.  You may have to wait until the agency has its next orientation; you will have to wait until the social worker finally gets the home study done; and, most agonizing of all, you will wait until you get picked by a birth mother.  Then you will have to wait until the baby is born and the birth mother signs the relinquishment papers 48 hours later.  Whew!  When all is said and done, you will have the patience of Job!

So, you might be saying, if adoption is so similar to infertility, why would I want to put myself through that?  The answer is simple.  Unlike infertility, there is a wonderful ending to the adoption story.  You will get a baby and you will become parents.  You may not have built your family the way most people do, but you will become a family, just like everyone else.  Anyone who has become an adoptive parent will tell you that adoption is just as beautiful an experience as having a baby.  That when that baby is placed in your arms, the same bonding occurs as that of a biological mother and child.  That you love that child so very, very much, as if it were born of you.

And finally you can let all those feelings out that you've held back for so long.  Finally you can kiss and hug that little person that you've been aching to hold for so long.  Finally you can cuddle that baby and feel that soft cheek against yours.  Finally your dream is a reality.  You are parents now, and that's all that matters.