There are as many reasons for choosing to adopt as there are adoptive parents, and each family makes their decisions about how and when to adopt based on their unique needs. For my family, as with many other families, we came to adoption after dealing with infertility and multiple pregnancy losses. We didn’t toil in infertility land that long compared to some. After about six months of no success on our own and one early loss, we moved to IVF, because I was 34 years old at the time and felt like the year my obstetrics and gynecologist wanted me to wait before pursuing outside “help” was an absurdly long amount of time. My first tip to anyone pursuing fertility treatments or adoption is to trust your gut. If your doctor tells you to wait a year because that’s the amount of time she tells everyone to wait, but you feel like that will be too long, then find another doctor.
So, we changed and moved on to IVF. About 5 minutes (just joking a little) after starting that process we said “this is awful, if this doesn’t work out we’re not doing another round” and I started researching adoption. My husband and I are college sweethearts, and we had always discussed adoption as a way we’d be happy to build our family, we just assumed it would be after having a biological child. I am an educator by trade, so I knew I could really love deeply a child that wasn’t biologically mine.
About a week before the transfer of our last remaining embryo I even said, “what if we just bailed on this and went straight to adoption?” I was never particularly emotionally invested in being pregnant, and we didn’t feel like we had an obligation or an urge to carry on our remarkably unremarkable genetics. Simply, I didn’t care much about giving birth, and I didn’t care much about experiencing pregnancy. I just wanted to be a parent.
We did the transfer because it seemed like financially it would be foolish not to, and it ended in an early miscarriage like any other previous pregnancy I had. There was no apparent reason for it to our doctors, and they could not explain with any of the numerous tests we both did. After our last transfer failed, we had a meeting with our reproductive endocrinologist where he prepared to tell us what the plan for the next round would be. We said, “no next round for us, it’s been swelling, but we’re outta here.”
We were very confident in our decision for reasons I can’t fully explain: it just felt right. With adoption there were no more “ifs” or “I don’t know why this isn’t working, just keep rolling the dice and hope you’ll get lucky.” With adoption we knew: if we were willing to wait, for however long it took, and willing to work through the somewhat daunting process, we would be parents.
We decided to adopt through an agency and pursue domestic infant adoption. We knew we wanted the experience of seeing those first milestones, so waiting for a newborn felt right to us. From the second we made that decision until our daughter was in our arms, there were definitely moments of stress: paperwork, home study, along with all the usual stressors of adoption, but I didn’t have the nagging feeling of doom and dread that had been following me around while we were trying to conceive and pursuing fertility treatments.
The second I peeled off the parking lot tag of the fertility clinic, I felt at peace and like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I am a planner by nature and not inclined to make capricious decisions. Yes, there may have been a color-coded spreadsheet about from which agency to choose. Yes, I was neurotic about editing our profile materials. However, when it came to the decision to adopt, it was really just a gut feeling that made both me and my husband feel that it was what we were supposed to be doing, that adoption was how we were going to build our family.
We had an atypical adoption experience in terms of timeline. Because of my type A personality, we got all the paperwork and profile info done in three months. We were also fortunate to have the financial ducks in a row and not have to wait long to become active with our agency. On April 26th, 2016 our profile “went live” with our agency which meant we were ready for expectant mothers to view our profile and potentially choose us.
The average wait time for our agency was about nine months to a year from activation to placement. So, you can understand my shock when a mere 13 days later we got the call informing us of a match. Oh, and not only were we matched, but our daughter was already born. The question was, could we get there tomorrow? About 36 hours after the call, of frantically dropping off our dogs at the kennel, calling a friend to feed our cats, and feeling like I was having an out of body experience, we walked out of the hospital with our daughter. The termination of parental rights was signed, and it is irrevocable in Florida. We were parents, just like that.
While our story shouldn’t be a guide of what the adoption process looks like, I think it is a good example of when you listen to your gut, and do your research, if choosing to adopt is the decision that comes out of that. Things will fall into place for you. Probably not as fast as they did for us, and probably not on a timeline you have any control over, but they will.
Julianna Mendelsohn lives in sunny South Florida where, odds are, it is hot enough right now that she’s sweating just a little, no matter what she’s doing. She is the brains, brawn, blood, sweat, and tears behind The Adoption Mentor and is thrilled to be able to help others build their families through adoption. She is a former elementary school teacher, current MS in school counseling student, Sephora junkie, and the momma via domestic adoption to one lovely daughter.