I am a 49-year-old adoptive mother of a young Ethiopian girl. This is who I am today. There was a time, though, when I did not know who I was or what I wanted out of life. Because I spent my twenties and thirties figuring out the things I needed to know in order for me to become a conscious parent, by the time I realized I did not want to die without experiencing motherhood, it was too late to give birth.
At 45, I had a hysterectomy. A year later, my husband and I adopted Aster. Though we did not know then what we do now about adoption, over the years I have come to understand how important our decision was to grow our family through adoption. Below, you will find eight important reasons to choose adoption first.
$4 billion a year is spent on fertility treatments. If a woman/couple finds that they are not getting pregnant naturally, they can choose to seek medical help. The doctor will offer tests, drugs, artificial insemination, assisted reproductive technology (ART), or a combination of these. In most cases, infertility is treated with drugs or surgery. Each of these options costs money. An August 2009 report, found at MSPNews.com, states, “The baby business is booming.” Certainly with each IVF cycle costing approximately $12,000 and most people requiring more than one try, it’s easy to see how the numbers can be so astronomical. Even if 2008 saw $4.04 billion handed over to this business—and the recession may have caused the numbers to drop in later years—it is obvious that the cost of trying to become pregnant via medical intervention is high.
There is less than a 50 percent chance of birthing a healthy baby when paying for ART. In 1992, the CDC instilled the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act (FCSRCA) that mandates clinics who offer ART to disclose their annual success rates. In 2009, it was reported that women ages 43-44 who underwent ART ended up with a live birth only 5 percent of the time. It rose to 12 percent for ages 41-42, 22 percent for ages 38-40, 32 percent for ages 35-37, and still only 41 percent for women under 35.
There are nearly half a million children in the US foster care system. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau reported that on September 30, 2010, there were 408,425 children in foster care. Nearly 25,000 of these children were under the age of one, with the average age estimated at about nine years old.
Too many foster kids “age out” every year, and are left without a source of support as they enter the world as adults. An April 2010 NPR report said that nearly 30,000 teens aged out of the foster care system that year.
There are an estimated 143 million orphaned children worldwide whose parents have either died or are too poor and/or ill to care for them.
It is a possibility that adoptive parents who do not use a fertility doctor to help them become parents and instead go straight to adoption, experience more satisfaction as new parents. For my book, Finding Aster—our Ethiopian adoption story, I interviewed many women who underwent some kind of fertility treatment. One couple spent more than $50,000 in attempt to parent a child that came from their DNA. Finally, after incalculable emotional stress, the interviewee shared that her husband said, “Let’s just adopt.” She further went on to disclose, “People who are fertile don’t have any idea how bad it is. I can’t even talk to people in the fertile world because they have no clue. I’ve had two years of therapy, and I could use five more.” By going straight to adoption, rather than spending years and tens of thousands of dollars, she perhaps would not have felt such a strong need to “heal” emotional wounds of being labeled “infertile.”
Growing evidence is proving that fertility drugs can cause breast and other reproductive cancers. One of the women that I interviewed spent five years getting hormone supplements. Though she did finally give birth to a healthy girl, she is sure that the drugs caused her breast cancer. “I’m convinced that in about twenty years, if not sooner, we will see a huge rise in breast cancer linked to fertility hormone treatments,” she told me in a phone interview. “It’s pretty obvious: if you shoot yourself up with estrogen, your body is likely to rebel.”
By 2050, the population on this planet is predicted to be unable to support human life as we know it. Although I do not consider myself a spokeswoman for The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT– http://www.vhemt.org), there is enough evidence out there for me to promote adoption as a first choice for growing a family. (See the BBC series, How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth? at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF15YAvT9G0)http://www.overpopulation.org and http://www.populationinstitute.org.)
Though it is likely true that each person reading this article either knows somebody who has hired a fertility doctor or has done so her/himself, it is probably not true about adoption. Nearly all of the people I know who have adopted children to grow their families first tried to become a parent using artificial means, either via drugs or artificial insemination. Though it is my belief that every woman has a right to control her own body, it is also my belief that as part of the human family, we each have a responsibility to act with kindness and respect to our neighbor, which, for me, means becoming mindful of how what I do affects how you live.
How a person chooses to grow her family does make a difference. As Professor Emeritus at CU Boulder, physicist Al Bartlett says, “Because of our enormous per capita consumption, we can say with confidence, the world’s worst population growth problem is here in the United States. … We are the problem. We have the responsibility, and we have the authority to deal with the problem here as a domestic problem in the United States.”
It is my belief that when a woman’s body does not become pregnant without medical intervention, and she still wishes to experience parenthood, she should consider becoming a parent via adoption. Not only will she likely avoid unnecessary emotional/relationship/financial hardship, but she will know for sure that she has made a positive contribution to healing our planet.