Dangerous liaison: infertility and adoption
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy wrote a terrific and passionate essay on the relationship between infertility and adoption, and why current mainstream attitudes on this are skewed: Fertility and Getting Pregnant vs Infertility and Fertility and Getting Pregnant vs Infertility and Adoption. I love the grandmother analogy, Claudia, brilliant!
As someone who came to adoption from infertility, I feel like I can write about this subject with a fairly decent chunk of authority. I did, actually, on the old blog, and therefore won’t go into my personal experience with infertility and deciding to adopt here. Instead, and for those adoptive parents who may read Claudia’s post with disdain or dismissal, I’d like to offer a few additional thoughts to encourage you to rethink the “win-win” that often characterizes infertility and adoption.
Infertility is a medical problem: the inability to become pregnant and/or bring a pregnancy to term. Infertility can only be resolved by a successful pregnancy. Pregnancy, however, isn’t an end to itself in the same way correcting other medical problems is (removing a tumor, for example, or putting cancer into remission). It’s no wonder most people view a child as the ultimate cure for infertility, which in turn sends us down a slippery ethical slope.
Take a look at the website of RESOLVE, the well-respected infertility support organization. Click the Family Building Options link, and look at what’s right up at the top of the list. With that simple menu option, RESOLVE sends its constituents and the public a message that, in spite of its tagline (The National Infertility Association), it does not restrict its support to the medical condition of infertility, but instead includes non-medical support for childlessness in its mission.
Look further at the information on the Adoption page. It is a how-to list, focusing on types of adoption and how to pay for it, no more than that. This is not the way anyone should enter the world of adoption.
I say this with regret, as a former member and DC chapter president of RESOLVE back in the late 80s. I, like many others, viewed infertility and childlessness as essentially the same, and adoption as a cure for both. Those of us who moved toward adoption did so with impunity, believing we had the same right to adopt as other fellow infertiles had to a cycle of IVF. It was, and continues to be, a dangerous attitude.
Adoption is not a treatment for infertility. Removing adoption from the infertility vocabulary would do adoption reform and justice a world of good.