I read an article the other day titled The Problem With “Just Adopt” and it got my wheels turning. The author was mainly expressing that this phrase, “just adopt” trivializes a grueling process that sometimes ends in heartbreak and loss. Her story, while extreme, is not uncommon. I have many friends who have experienced what we call “failed adoptions.” These are the cases when a birth mother changes her mind, a government shuts their doors to adoption mid-way through your process, a child dies before the process is complete, or (as in the case of the author mentioned above) there is corruption and scam involved that puts an abrupt end to the adoption. There is no “just” in adoption. There is always risk, unknown factors, and unexpected surprises.
But even if you never experience a failed adoption there is still no “just” in adoption. Both of our adoptions brought me to emotional turmoil I had yet to experience. Halfway through our first adoption process the country we were adopting from changed one of their laws which greatly affected our process. This was difficult news to digest and for a bit we really struggled. Even if there had been no surprises along the way, the process of adopting is tough. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and yes… physically… tough. I have yet to meet anyone who adopted in order to take the easy route to parenthood. The very thought of that is laughable.
The adoption process is largely misunderstood by those not in the adoption community. It’s not as simple as putting together a profile, getting picked, and then arriving at the hospital to bring your baby home. And it shouldn’t be that simple because there are a lot of sick and crazy people out there. But this lack of understanding makes adoption a lonely path sometimes. This is why events like Created for Care sell out a couple hours when tickets go on sale. Because women are desperate for even just 2 days with people who get it… with people they don’t have to explain themselves, their families, their parenting styles, their mood swings, their worries and fears, and their victories to. We’ve all been there and are still there. We just get in a room and know. We laugh, we cry, we share… but we don’t have to defend or explain.
So I very much agree with the article mentioned above and completely relate to what she is saying. But there’s another side to why “just adopt” is so insensitive to women who are experiencing infertility. Even if the adoption process itself was as easy as 1,2,3 here’s your baby!! … I would still never tell a woman struggling with infertility to “just adopt.” Why? Because it completely disregards the enormous loss and heartbreak they are suffering. It’s similar to what Diana shares in her article Irreplaceable. You wouldn’t tell a person who lost a spouse that they could always get re-married. That would dismiss the grief they’re currently experiencing… even if they do go on to find another spouse someday they still experienced a huge loss that isn’t erased by their new beginning.
During the Q&A part of a session I taught about infertility, loss, and adoption a woman in the front row raised her hand and asked, “So, when you brought your son home did that longing for pregnancy go away.” I answered her honestly and said, “no.” I saw her face fall just a bit and then, thankfully, she followed up and asked, “Did it get better?” And I was able to emphatically reply, “yes!!”
Bringing my son home and finally having a child in my arms went a long way in healing some of my heart. But it didn’t erase the years of suffering that preceded his homecoming, nor should it! I would never place that expectation or responsibility on my child. It is not my son’s job to heal my heart and the brokenness that comes with infertility. That lies in the hands of God alone. God may use adoption to aid in that process but, for some, He may have other plans.