There are many ways to create a family. There is the traditional path that looks something like boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl have children. It is a beautiful path to parenthood and one that no one really questions. There may be questions around timing but not questions related to the path of creating your family. Straying from the traditional path can happen for lots of reasons-simple desire to do things differently, sexual orientation, gender identity, health issues, age, or relationship status. When you don’t fit the traditional path, everyone has an opinion, a question, and a belief of what the “right path” should be.
For me, the questions came the minute I decided I wanted to have a child. As a lesbian trying to conceive, I was asked: “Why do you want to carry a baby? Was my wife was also going to carry a child? Why don’t you adopt?” I was told I should use an anonymous donor, a known donor, use my wife’s egg, and also offered frozen embryos of a friend who had embryos frozen yet was done birthing children.
When the path of trying to conceive ended in miscarriage and years of negative pregnancy tests we chose to pursue adoption. The questions began again: “Why did you choose domestic infant adoption when there are so many needy kids in foster care who need a home? Why not go overseas? It is less complex in the long term. Why not try IVF or have your wife conceive?” While all the questions were not meant to harm, the lack of information and frequency of the questions can be tiresome.
IVF was closed or greatly delayed due to us having a known donor. Many countries in international adoption were closed to me due to being a lesbian and is NOT a “less complex path.” I can write an essay on the reasons I chose the path I did but the reason for my choice can be simplified to one sentence, “This is the path that felt right for my wife and me.” This does not make it the “right path” for everyone.
When it comes to adoption there are many ways to create your family and what is “right” depends on the values, personalities, and desires of those who are adopting. One of my favorite things as an adoption caseworker is talking with people around their desire to adopt and the path they are choosing to create their family. It is in these conversations I learn so much about who they are as people, what matters to them, and what speaks to their hearts. While their paths may be different, what remains the same is a deep desire to be a parent and the willingness to open themselves up to parent a child in need of a loving family.
While there is not a right path, there are differences in the paths and thinking about these differences can help discern what path is right for you. Each type of adoption could be its own blog entry, but here is an overview of the different types of adoption:
While there is so much more to each path, I hope you see that all paths are beautiful. I encourage you to listen to your heart to discern the path that is right for you. Whatever path you choose will be amazing.
Written by Tara McAvoy, adoption caseworker for the George J. & Mary S. Mitchell Adoption Unit