With Infertility Awareness Week and Mother’s Day in the rearview mirror, it’s time for an important conversation that is often too difficult when we are in the middle of those reminders of the heartache and pain that comes with infertility.
After walking the difficult and painful road that is infertility, many turn to IVF (in-vitro fertilization), IUI (intra-uterine insemination), or even private adoption. IVF and private adoption are far-and-away the most expensive options, costing upwards of $35,000, and neither guarantees you will get to become a parent. Yet IVF can fail, adoptions can fall through, or it can take years for birth parents to select you to parent their infant. Each of these roads is an extension of the painful day-to-day devastation that comes with infertility.
Couples facing infertility die small deaths every day, and often the biggest minefield of them all is Facebook. The social network that so many use to share their happiest moments is a painful place for those struggling with infertility. Every pregnancy announcement, smiling parent holding his or her infant, first day of school, and post complaining about the difficulties of parenthood are like daggers.
Fertility Treatment Isn’t Your Only Option
As someone who has struggled with infertility in her marriage, I know these feelings all too well. For nearly three years, the world was a hard place to be. Walking past the Target baby section, grocery store parking lots, the nursery at church on Sunday morning, and logging onto Facebook all brought grief daily. We began to look at adoption. As a pro-life woman, I had always wanted to adopt and have been passionate about orphan care.
The cost of private adoption exceeded the cost of IVF, and it all just seemed so daunting. I felt so discouraged because even with infertility being a more freely discussed topic in recent years, the first (and really only) options discussed are IVF or adoption. But I found another option that should be at the top of your list, one where you become a parent almost immediately: foster care. There are nearly half a million children in America’s foster system, and 100,000 of those children are adoptable right now.
For so many, foster care is a last option if it’s an option at all. Let me suggest that it be higher up on the list for all infertile couples. Most would say, “But these children will have so many challenges, it will be so hard and unlike a traditional parenting experience.” Yet there are never any guarantees in parenting. We can’t detect mental illness in prenatal testing, and parenting biological children comes with its own challenges. Why not parent these children in foster care? Depending on your state, after 30 hours of training and a home study you can become a parent almost immediately.
Both Of You Need Love
There are challenges, and yes, you will experience the heartache of saying goodbye more than once. It’s painful, yes, but I am so glad we didn’t put foster care at the end of our list. I got to celebrate my first Mother’s Day this year because of it. I have gotten to see a child speak his first words, experience new things with great joy, and watch children flourish in a healthy and safe environment. I have had the honor of seeing my friends support and love us as we have said hello and goodbye to several children and loved on those in our home.
Infertile couples are desperately wanting and waiting for children. Foster children are children desperately wanting and waiting for parents this very moment. Should the case involving the children in your home end in adoption, in most states the adoption is of little cost to the adoptive parents, unlike private adoption. It is my heart’s desire that these two groups find each other, and that next Mother’s Day I can see more friends who have been so desperately longing to be parents, like we were, experience the joy that comes from orphan care and embracing something that may be a bit messier, but also incredibly rewarding.
Let foster care be your first option, not your last. There are 500,000 children in our country right now who would love to have you think of them and bring them into your home.