Adoption FirstAt 45 I had a hysterectomy. A year later, my husband and I adopted Aster. Over the years I have come to understand how important our decision was to grow our family through adoption. Here are eight important reasons to choose adoption first.
by Dina McQueen
8 reasons why adoption should be a first choice – rather than a last resort – for growing your family
I am a 49-year-old adoptive mother of a young Ethiopian girl. This is who I am today. Though there was a time when I did not know who I was, or what I wanted out of life. Because I spent my 20s and 30s 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.
1. $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, or assisted reproductive technology (ART), or a combination of the above. 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 that, “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.
2. There is less than 50% chance of birthing a healthy baby when paying for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
In 1992, the CDC instilled The Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act (FCSRCA) that mandates clinics who offer ART to disclose their success rates annually. In 2009, it was reported that women who underwent ART aged 43-44 ended up with a live birth only 5% of the time. It rose to 12% for ages 41-42, 22% for ages 38-40, 32% for ages 35-37, and still only 41% for women under 35.
3. There are nearly half a million children in the U.S. foster care system.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau reported that on Sept. 30, 2010, there were 408,425 children in foster care. Nearly 25,000 of these children were under the age of 1, with the average age estimated at about 9 years old.
4. 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 nearly 30,000 teens aged-out of the foster care system that year.
5. There are an estimated 140 million orphaned children worldwide, whose parents have either died or are too poor and/or ill to care for them.
6. Studies have found 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 an 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 from being labeled “infertile.”
7. 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 20 years, if not sooner, we will see a huge rise in breast cancer linked to fertility hormone treatments. It’s pretty obvious: if you shoot yourself up with estrogen, your body is likely to rebel.
8. 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 public spokeswoman for voluntarily extinguishing the human impulse to procreate, there certainly is enough evidence out there for me to promote adoption as a first choice for growing a family. See: 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 have a baby using artificial means, either via drugs or 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.
This can translate to something as simple as that when a person adopts a child as a last resort, the child may grow up feeling unwanted, which can lead to a citizen who does not contribute to the greater good. But how a person makes a choice can also manifest in a larger arena, and by this I mean the sustainability of our planet. When a woman’s body does not become pregnant without medical intervention, I strongly believe that (after a period of mourning, if need be) she should consider becoming a parent via adoption.
I see a win-win situation here: Avoid health/emotional/relationship/financial risk, while giving a parentless child a forever family. It is my intent to share with others the importance of doing what is in front of one’s face, to help them accept what is and choose adoption first.
DINA MCQUEEN (www.findingaster.com) is the 2006 New Mexico Discover Award winner for fiction, and author of Finding Aster: Our Ethiopian Adoption Story.
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