A recent anonymous commenter asked me to consider becoming a foster parent. This is one of many 'course of action' questions/comments I receive often.
A recent article I posted on this blog explained the caution one should take in suggesting advice to an infertile. Most likely, we've heard it many times before. We are aware of the options, and are pursuing the course of action that makes the most sense for us in our lives at this time.
However, I have chosen to expose myself and my life on the Internet. In doing so, I understand that well-meaning people will give their opinion. And, since I seem to get the same suggestions often, I feel an explanation on a few of them from my point of view might be helpful. We'll start with the suggestion given most recently by a commenter.
1. Why don't you become a foster parent?
Even before we had decided to start a family, I had the desire to be a foster parent someday. I think Ryan and I would be great foster parents. We have the ability to love a child instantly, we are both patient and loving people, and I think opening up our home to a child in need would be fantastic.
Unfortunately, I have seen into the world of the foster care system and I know the difficulties that are there. My parents, as well as other relatives of mine, have fostered children before. Typically, the goal for the foster home is temporary placement. The county aims to return the child into the arms of their biological family, if at all possible. I have seen the devastation on the face of a foster parent when the child they have loved is removed from their home. It doesn't matter if you knew that was a possibility all along. It is still really, really hard.
Sometimes, foster parents are able to adopt their child, but this is not usually guaranteed.
Having said that, I also know that great joy can come from being a foster parent, and I wouldn't rule it out completely. But my wanting and yearning to be mother is so great, I am simply not strong enough to sign up for that kind-of situation right now.
I am looking for a forever family. I hope one day that could include foster children as well. But at this point, I would need a strong indication that they could be mine forever before I would pursue that path.
2. Why don't you use a surrogate?
First it should be noted that using a surrogate costs tens of thousands of dollars. So, this suggestion shouldn't be made lightly. You are talking about a major financial burden here, and one that many simply couldn't afford.
That being said, in my case, I believe pursuing a surrogate would be jumping a few steps ahead in my treatment plan. My understanding is that a surrogate works well for women who have chronic miscarriages, who have difficulty carrying a child. I have never been confirmed pregnant, so I have no idea whether I could carry a child.
If I end up able to become pregnant, but unable to carry the child, I would personally adopt rather than pursue a surrogate. I don't feel a strong need to have my own genetic child. I, myself, am adopted so I am very open to that!
Unless things were to change drastically, I don't see myself searching for a surrogate any time soon.
And, no, it is not funny when other women offer to carry your child for you. And it sure isn't funny when men offer their wife for this purpose either.
3. Why don't you just adopt?
I have no idea what causes people to automatically add the word 'just' before the word 'adopt'. Do people not know the massive emotional, spiritual, financial, and mental undertaking that adoption is? If not, I'd suggest reading this article again.
I mentioned in the last question that I am a adopted child. I love adoption. Whether I have biological children or not, I hope to adopt someday.
But unless you plan to give me $10,000 to adopt, please don't nonchalantly suggest it, and wonder why I haven't done it already. It is horribly expensive, and I am bitter enough that money has delayed parenthood for years. I don't need a reminder.
And, just for the record, only 2% of adopted couples go on to have biological children. So, if you are planning to suggest adoption as a way to achieve a miraculous pregnancy, I would re-think that thought. Adoption is beautiful way to create a family, not a means to an end.
4. Would you do IVF?
Not sure. For a long time, I said no. IVF averages $12,000 or more. I always thought I would adopt before pursuing that type of treatment. However, now I'm not willing to say one way of the other. Through prayer, Ryan and I will decide if this is something we want to try at one point.
5. Would you live childless?
I don't see how I could do that. I know women who have: strong, beautiful women. But it is just not something I can see for myself. I understand that, at some point, I might not have a choice. But that thought is devastating to me right now, so I refuse to even acknowledge it.