I stole this title from my Dr’s blog. I selected this title because this is exactly what people ask about adoption (very casually!), without bothering to understand what we are going through.
To tell the truth I haven’t faced this question often. But when some people advise me to adopt in the most uncompassionate way possible , I get hurt. On the other hand, I have friends who really care for me. Recently I got a mail from one such person. She wrote to me explaining why I am special and how I have touched her life. She then asked about adoption in the most compassionate way possible. ‘Manju, I know you for a long time. I understand the struggle you are going through. My mind sometime thinks why should Manju not adopt a baby?' She also said ‘Manju, I understand that you know better; might be you want to have a little one as a symbol for the wonderful love you share with your husband’. How thoughtful my friend is! When I read such a compassionate mail, the respect I had for her increased several times more and I am not hurt a bit. Love you dear for what you are!
Why can’t you adopt? I want to ! After undergoing this struggle, I will be happier to adopt than to carry a baby in my womb (I really mean it !). Now-a-days I feel getting pregnant and carrying a baby is a Herculean task. My journey to get pregnant is like this - take fertility drugs, wonder whether my ovaries will respond properly to them, obsess about the number of follicles and the amount of eggs that will be collected, continue to panic about how many will fertilize and divide; and wonder how many will be competent enough on day 3 or day 5 to be transferred to the uterus. After transferring, obsess each and every second about the symptoms and wonder whether the embies will implant or not. When the pregnancy test turns out to be negative I break down to pieces emotionally and the psychological impact that cycle created will take months to heal. If the test becomes positive; again I have to keep wondering whether the baby will cross the 8 week, 12 week mark. If there is no vomiting, I have to panic whether everything is OK. Oh my God! Women who get pregnant without knowing when and how should appreciate how blessed they are!
We are making attempts to adopt a baby. But adoption is not as easy as shown in a movie. In movies they will show a woman who is desperate for a baby. Her in-laws will abuse her. The woman will be crying always. Her loving husband will one day decide to give her the gift of her life. They both will go to an orphanage and find a baby who is very affectionate and attractive. They will talk to the head of the orphanage and take the baby home the following day! How sweet and convenient this process is ! But unfortunately this is not true in real life! Adoption is a very complicated process , which can consume all your time and energy.
It is not the inconvenience of adoption process we panic about. When I tried to register myself in CARA I got a mail saying that the registration process is closed and they asked me to e-mail to German adoption agency (Gemeinsame Zentrale Adoptionsstelle- GZA). When I mailed them , a lady replied by saying that the process will take a long time (she wrote international adoption will take several years!) and we have to know German perfectly to succeed in the process because there will be lots of home study. She also warned me repeatedly about the long waiting list!
So, adoption is not as easy as everyone thinks. Babies available for adoption in India have gone down. This is thanks to awareness about birth control, easily available home pregnancy tests and abortion facilities ! I am happy that unwanted children are no more generated and thrown away like stray cats or dogs! Infertility rates have also gone up because of late marriages and adoption is no longer a social stigma. Hence there is heavy competition for babies which are available for adoption. There is a thriving black market for adoption – but you need to be a VIP to tap into this. When I talk about adopting a baby, people come up with another question. Why don’t you adopt an older child? I am not comfortable doing so for many reasons. When you adopt, the initial bonding which develops between an adopted parent and the baby is very important. Older children, naturally would have started to form opinions about everyone and everything and hence the ability to show and receive unadulterated love which forms the basis of parent-child bonding will be greatly affected. I am worried this may give rise to bitter problems in the future.
Last but not the least - just because a couple is fertile and are able to produce children, it doesn’t mean that they have the special privilege to be judgmental about an infertile couple. Before asking an infertile couple why don’t you adopt a baby; ask yourself ‘Why I didn’t adopt a second baby when I already had one of my own?’ If you have an answer, the same answer applies to infertile couples too. Do not forget we are humans like you with all the fears and uncertainties which you have in your mind. Just because we are infertile it doesn’t mean that we have to be more compassionate and charitable than you are! When you ask an infertile couple 'why don't you just adopt?', it is like asking a terminally ill person 'why don't you just die?'. When a person dies his existence in this world ceases. When a person fails to reproduce, his gene transmission ends there. We stop being part of our future generation. Every living organism exists just to reproduce and transmit its genes. If the basic reason for our survival is in question, then naturally any human will try their level best to fight for it. That is why infertile couples are ready to move heaven and earth to get their much desired baby. Our genes are as selfish as we are! Another argument which has no rationale is ‘if you adopt a baby, you will have your own baby out of that happiness’. Nothing can be as hurting as the above sentence. If I adopt I adopt for the sake of love. I will never adopt thinking that this will help me receive my own genetic child.
Actually, an infertile woman is the best mother in the world. Giving birth doesn’t make anyone a mother. Being a mother is an inborn quality. Woman who are kind, loving, caring, empathizing, understanding and ready to sacrifice their happiness for the people whom they care for are all great mothers. An infertile woman learns all these qualities so quickly because of the troubles she undergoes. Even a mother forgets her child sometime , but an infertile woman’s heart always thinks about her prospective child. She learns to look at every child with love and with lots of adoration. For me, every new life I see-from sprouting buds to dividing embryos is something which I respect and look at with wonder. I understand that creating a life, which is perfect in every little aspect is not easy. A small copying mistake in our genome from ‘A’ to ‘C’ can cause havoc in the life which is being created , which is why anything which is perfect is a great miracle to me. I love every little child as if they are my own and I am sure every infertile woman does so! So next time when you celebrate Mother’s Day never forget to wish me or any other woman who is struggling to have a baby. We deserve that wish as much as every woman who has a child does!
On a lighter note, my mother gave me the above picture and it suits this topic perfectly. If someone is ready to give me Krishna , I don't mind being Yashoda :) I get lots of pampering now-a-days. My mom and my DH buys me whatever I desire. I have so many new things now and Mumbai is great for shopping. I get lost within myself when I walk in Colaba Causeway (great shopping area). One of the few joys of being infertile! :)
This is an excerpt from our forthcoming, book, The Expert Patient's Guide to IVF. This being authored by our expert patient, Manju and me.