The Possibility of Choosing a Childfree Life
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately focusing on the possibility of adoption and all the fears and worries that relate to adoption. And, with the events of last week, and our 5th loss, more and more I do not believe we will end up with biological children. After our 5th loss, I just see that hope fading, and fading quickly for that matter.
So, in addition to the possibility of adoption, I have also been thinking about the possibility of a childfree life, I just haven’t spent much time writing about it. I see two distinct options ahead of us:
- Children – either biological or non-biological
If you asked me any time prior to experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss / miscarriage, what will my future family look like, I would have automatically assumed my family would consist of my husband, myself and 2 or 3 children. Children would be part of the equation. Like most people, I had been taught through the education system that sex = baby. I made the assumption that it was just that simple, and I understand that for most people it is that simple. But for my husband and I, it is just not that simple. And, we had truly never considered a life without children before. And, now it is a real possibility, and we are forced to consider it as an option.
So, now thanks for RPL, we’ve been given time to think, like really think about what our family will look like. What do I want my family to look like? What am I okay with my family looking like?
This can be complicated, as want and okay are two very different perspectives. The want is obvious, but the okay with is slowly becoming our reality. So, here is what I have figured out:
- My husband is the most important person in the world to me. He is my family. He and I are the only one that truly matters in all of this decision making. I will sacrifice almost anything to make us happy.
- The ideal family – husband, wife, 2 or 3 kids – still hasn’t changed. But I am accepting and fully acknowledge that the ideal is unlikely to be attainable for us. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of 2 or 3, and now really only think about the possibility of 1.
- Having one child will not be the end of the world, and in some ways may be a good thing. By having fewer children, we will have more money to give that one child every opportunity possible. For example, our child will be cultured as we will travel more frequently than most families with multiple children.
- Children may not be and do not have to be part of my life. I can accept that as our reality, if I know we tried everything to make a healthy child our reality.
- Biology really doesn’t matter to me, but heath does, which is what makes the the idea of adoption very difficult for me. I want a healthy, non-addicted, non-disabled child. When considering children, this matters more to me than anything else.
- I will not sacrifice my life, my husband’s life, and our happiness simply to be parents to any child regardless of the child’s health. Our quality of life matters, and counts in this decision. We will be happier without children, then we will be with a child who suffers from something like fetal alcohol syndrome. I respect and admire anyone who can do this, but I know we cannot. I fully accept this about us.
- I am not afraid of a childfree life, like I am adoption. I know what that life will look like. I know my husband and I will be together, we will travel, we will enjoy the finer things in life, we will likely have nicer and newer cars than most and we probably won’t not need to worry about finances. But, we will likely harbor some sadness for the family that we never had, and we will have to learn to live with this in the background – sort of like a little grey cloud that will follow us around for the rest of our lives.
So, what does this all mean? There is a very good chance we will end up childfree. Depending on the hour/day/week, I think this will likely be our future, rather than having children through adoption.
I think eventually we will give up this obsession with children, with putting my body through torture, with putting our spirits through hell, and simply chose to focus on our happiness and a healthy lifestyle.
(But, don’t be surprised if I write something that completely contradicts this next week or sometime in the future).
It’s good to always be looking into the opinions you have or could face in the future. Have you considered (I’m sure you have, pardon my “advice”) having a surrogate?
Thanks for the “advice” – I always appreciate advice from people who get it and mean well. 🙂
You just made me realize that surrogacy is actually something I haven’t spent anytime writing about because at this point, its not for us.
We have thought about surrogacy, but for 2 reasons we wont go down that path, at least not right now. First, the specialists have made it clear that a surrogate will not fix our situation, and that I can carry a child. They firmly believe our issue stems from a chromosome issue when things combine at conception. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Second, where we live you cannot pay a surrogate. So, unless you have someone who volunteers, its not possible to do it locally. Most people who do it, end up traveling to foreign countries with lower medical standards where paying a surrogate is legal.
So, at this point in time, this isn’t something we are interested in both because of the lower medical standards which often result in long term health complications to the mother and the fact that multiple doctors have confirmed that there is no point.
I totally get it. Just curious if you had though of it and if you had what your decision was. Thanks for answering in a nut she’ll. what about do or sperm?
We have thought about donor eggs and sperm. Quick response, at this point not for us. Every single test they have done on us indicate that both the sperm and eggs are healthy. And, the biggest indicator that they are healthy is that we can get pregnant.
So, the doctors are adamant that it is most likely a genetic issue that is occurring with the chromosomes when they first line up. And at this point, they do no recommend we start down either of those routes given that medically it should work for us one of these times.
That said, it may be something we start to turn to eventually. But, if there is no medical reason to, at this point it doesn’t make sense.
That makes perfect sense. Sounds frustrating but also a good thing.
A question about what “health” means to you: What if your potential adoptive child had a physical disability, like cleft palate or a mobility impairment but no developmental disabilities? Do you think that child is unhealthy? Or just not suitable for adoption by you and your husband? I ask this because in my former career I was a disability rights advocate and, for a time, service provider. I started that line of work researching and reporting on access to post-secondary education for students with disabilities. I would have been proud to have parented (or have the opportunity to parent) many of the people I interviewed, observed and got to know through that work, some of whom had physical disabilities and some (like me) who had an acquired or congenital invisible disability (I suffered a brain injury while finishing that job, which prevented me from going to do my PhD – devastating at the time but somehow now I think a divine intervention of sorts).
What if you have a “healthy” child, or one diagnosed as such throughout your pregnancy, who suffers a lack of oxygen at birth and acquires cerebral palsy? That reality happens to young moms (and I consider you young at 31) more often than any of us would ever like to be he case.
I ask these questions because I hear your fears and I sympathize, but I also know from experience that so long as you are still trying to have a family – by whatever means – you will be challenged to reconsider your lines in the sand. Some of those lines get erased or move. Some don’t. Only you will know which ones do and don’t.
I suppose I should own that I bristled a litle reading this as well because, as a daughter of foster parents (they fostered after I left home) who has an invisible disability, two degrees (one a professional degree acquired after the disability), a professional career, eight miscarriages and one healthy, living child (with some immune issues, compliments of me), I see how many vibrant, amazing opportunities you are writing off because they are imperfect in some way. With a heart full of compassion for your fears, I invite you to think about what “healthy” and “disabled” truly means to you and your husband as you continue on this journey. I imagine if you continue on the adoption path through interviews and assessments, you will have an opportunity to consider these things because there are a lot of unknowns in adopting and conceiving, birthing and raising children. There are no guarantees, my friend.
Wishing you peace, love and compassion as you soldier on your journey, wherever it may lead.
Thank you so much for your comment. I knew this post would likely touch a few people, and I was hoping some people, such as yourself, would push back and challenge me on some of our fears and ideas! Really, we need to be pushed to make us really evaluate things from every angle. So, first, thank you for that!
I think you make a very good distinction about the definition of healthy. I think we would accept a physical disability such as a cleft palate or a mobility impairment.
It is the cognitive developmental disabilities that scare the shit out of us! And, while we completely understand that we could have a biological child with developmental disabilities or any person (myself and my husband included) can suffer from a brain injury in our daily lives and that wouldn’t change our love for them or each other. So, yes if we had a biological or non-biological child who suffered from something, we know we would love them, no matter what. It’s not like we’d give up on them and that would be the end of it. Absolutely not. But the fear is, that we know by carrying the child ourselves, we can guarantee that alcohol and drugs will not be in the picture during pregnancy. We know we will give them the best head start. And we also know that statistically, these vices are much more common for adopted children, particularly with international adoptions. This is where our fears with adoption lay.
We know there are no guarantees in life – I think anyone going through RPL or infertility learns this – but, we know what the statistics mean and therefore we know the higher risks associated with unhealthy pregnancy lifestyles.
Anyways, I really do appreciate the thought provoking comment!
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Glad you’re prepared to consider things along the way. Given where you are, I’d say the chance of a FAS or FAE adoption may be just as high as with international adoptions, possibly higher. I saw so much of that in my former line of work and both attended and did presentations about FAE/S. Such a tragic and completely avoidable disability. I hear your fears about it.
Our fears really stem from the completely avoidable disabilities. Its just so frustrating that these things continue to happen…
This is a very brave and introspective post (and comments too). I sounds like you have always wanted to be a mom. I don’t mean to tell my own stories as everyone’s situation is so different, but if it helps, my partner (who’s now 37) was adopted and is one of the most intelligent and successful people I know. She was orphaned in Korea so it’s not an in-country adoption and the situation made her much less at risk for being born drug-dependent, but that could be an option for you, adopting from a foreign country. Her parents have a bio child and two adopted children and they are a very loving and cohesive family, even as adults. I hope that helps. I support your consideration of not having children or only having one child too; there are many opportunities in these options. Thank you for sharing and being so open about your thoughts; thoughts many of us have had or struggled with at some point.
Thanks for sharing your story! I really do appreciate it. And I absolutely love to hear about successful adoption stories – usually we hear the bad stories, not the good ones! I figure if I hear enough of the good stories, maybe it will help negate or at least reduce some of our fears.
We have thought about international. Our basic research says that some countries are more prone to drug/alcohol addicted infants, and some are less so. And, under the current international adoption agreements (Hague Convention), it is very hard to adopt an infant as countries must try to adopt within their country first. So, internationally, you usually adopt a 2 or 3 year old (which isn’t always a bad thing). And of course, one of the biggest considerations with international adoptions is money – it can cost anywhere up to $60,000.
Anyways, thank you again for adding to the conversation and forcing me/us to think through more alternatives.
These are all important points. My partner was adopted in the seventies through the Catholic Church so I’m sure it was way different in terms of politics and finances. My sister and her husband had multiple miscarriages and considered adoption but within the U.S. many adoptions do involved drugs. I’m sure some don’t. I agree with the other person’s point that anything can happen; you can have a healthy baby and then the kid could contract an illness or get in an accidents. I also think that deciding not to become a parent could be freeing in some ways. I cannot begin to imagine your perspective after what you’ve been through though, I’m just here to support you!
First, thank you. I truly appreciate your support, kind words and thoughtful suggestions and perspective.
In Canada we have the same drug/alcohol situation with many adoptions, and statistically the chances are rather substantial (at least in our opinion). So we are rather fearful of it, because we know that we can 100% prevent an addicted infant if I carry it to term. Its really our biggest issue with adoption that so far we have not been able to overcome. But, I don’t know. We just don’t know.
I’ve had these thoughts many times too hon. Your recent posts have really resonated with me and I have been thinking about all the choices you’re making a lot. I want to tell you to not to give up though I know only you can make that choice and I wouldn’t blame you if you did. There’s only so much loss one can take. But I just wanted to say this…
My hubby and I discounted adoption too because we both couldn’t handle the long wait and possible sadness and disappointment if years and years went by and we still didn’t get a child at the end of it. This happened to friends of ours and the pain they went through was just too much for me to bear considering after all that we have lost already. It took a lot of self convincing and convincing of my husband, but that is when I let it all go and decided to try until I’m 40 and accept the possibility of more losses, and then if we still don’t succeed in having a child, we’d try donor eggs at 40. There aren’t any guarantees with donor eggs, but like you, my problem isn’t carrying a baby, so donor eggs seems like the next best step and at least I would get to carry a baby, deliver a baby, breast feed and the baby would still be part of my husband. But I have 3 years until I’m 40, so we’ll see, and who knows, maybe we finally caught our good egg! I don’t want to suggest that you shouldn’t give up yet, because I know too well how hard each new loss is and the toll each one takes, but because you’re only 31, I can’t help thinking your odds of catching a good egg and sperm are even better than mine are, and eventually you might just get there, and if not, maybe donor eggs wouldn’t be a bad idea for you. This might help alleviate your hubby’s family’s concerns too because the baby would share his dna and egg donors are screened extensively so the concern over health issues isn’t as prevalent as with adoption.
I don’t know, it’s just something I wanted to put out there for you. I’m sure you have already considered donor eggs too, but I know for me, I was quite resistant to it at first, but now I’m more open to the idea. I also realize that it’s easy for me to say all of this, when I’m pregnant again naturally with my own eggs and hopefully a healthy baby this time, but the reality is I just don’t know how this pregnancy will go. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how far you get into pregnancy, something can still go wrong, so I’m still thinking about what my options are in the future.
Sending you strength and support with whatever you decide. I’m sure you and your hubby will make the best choice that makes sense for you the two of you, and that’s what matters most.
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Thank you for sharing!! I very much appreciate your thoughts, your experiences and your care. Regardless of the fact that you are currently pregnant, I know that you get what we are going through, and I appreciate that you are even willing to read my posts and comment on them, which presumably force you to think about your fears. 🙂
Both of us actually have absolutely no issue with donor eggs or sperm. (most of our fears with adoption are about the pregnancy lifestyle and care of the birth mother not the genetics, so donor eggs or sperm would obviously remove those fears because I would carry the baby). We’ve talked about it a lot, and we’ve talked with our doctors about it too. However, since his sperm and my eggs are perfectly healthy, it really doesn’t make any sense for us to go there. Based on all our testing indicating that we are perfectly healthy, and based on the way all our babies have died, they firmly believe it is an issue that is occurring when the chromosomes align at conception. So, donor egg wouldn’t fix this, just a bit of good luck will.
So, there might come a time when one of these options becomes more relevant to us, such as if we continue to try and therefore age. But, just like you, for not it just doesn’t make any sense.
I don’t expect we will make any type of decision anytime soon, but one day, eventually we will and in the meantime we will continually evaluate all the options.
I think that sounds totally reasonable and all you can really do. Sending you extra strength as you continue to figure things!
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You state, “I am not afraid of a childfree life, like I am adoption.” Could you explain more about this fear and/or lead me to one of your posts that addresses this?
My ❤ goes out to you and your perseverance through infertility. I very much enjoy reading your thoughts on infertility and life.
All the best. 🙂
This may sound like a very selfish response to your question, but here goes – we/I have a few big concerns like co-parenting with an extended birth family and having perfect strangers know more about our personal lives then our own parents do. But, we can probably get past those fears – they really aren’t our biggest struggling points.
The one we/I are petrified of is the health risks that go along with adopted children – particularly the mental health risks. For me, if I have to choose between dedicating my life to raising a mentally disabled child versus living child free, I would prefer to live childfree. Yes, I know we could have our own biological child who is mentally disabled, or for that matter one of us could be in an accident tomorrow and our fate forever changed. But, that’s different, because I know our child will be born healthy – there will be no drugs, or alcohol from the time of conception – I can guarantee this because I will be responsible for caring for the child. And, statistically, this isn’t the case with adoption the chances of fetal alcohol are drastically higher (I cannot remember the stat off the top of my head right now). The fact is, if I had a crystal ball, and I knew we would adopt a healthy child, I would absolutely adopt. Our fears have nothing to do with biology, both my husband and I are pretty much over the biological link. Unfortunately, I have no crystal ball, and life doesn’t work that way…
Ultimately, I’m not willing to give up my entire life just so we can parent any child. I don’t want to sacrifice my life and my husband’s life just so we can say we are parents to a child born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Kudos to those who do (I think this is truly an amazing thing to take on), but I know that this wouldn’t be my first choice in life. And, if I have to make the choice, I should be making the choice that is right for myself, my husband and the possible child.
All that said, I know if we did choose to adopt and we discovered the child had FAS, we would absolutely do everything imaginable for the child. We absolutely would, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
We are two insanely pragmatic people, so it’s unlike us to struggle to make a decision. And, at the end of the day, we wouldn’t be struggling with this decision if the decision didn’t involve strong emotions. I think if we just looked at statistics, we would probably stop trying and we wouldn’t adopt. Call it done and live childfree. But, of course, emotion is a huge factor, and I just don’t know where we will end up on all of this.
And, I guess, the last thing to add is that Recurrent Pregnancy Loss has forced us to think a lot about possible alternative family dynamics. We’ve contemplated things we never thought possible and we’ve made some of the hardest decisions any parent ever faces (https://myperfectbreakdown.com/2014/06/11/owning-our-darkest-moment/). But, if there is one thing we have learned through all of this, it is that while we cannot control our infertility/RPL struggle, we are responsible for our resulting decisions and our actions, so we better be sure about the decision to try again, to adopt or to live childfree.
(These past post talks a bit about our fears – https://myperfectbreakdown.com/2014/05/07/a-little-bit-more-on-our-adoption-indecision/).
Anyways, thanks for asking and I truly appreciate your support. 🙂
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You don’t have to apologize or explain yourself to me about not wanting a mentally and physically disabled life for your child. You shouldn’t have to explain it for anyone else either! I get it. Been there done that. In good conscious I can’t give my unborn baby a prison sentence of physical, cognitive, social and emotional disabilities.
I had no idea that FAS was such a concerning issue. My husband and I were not for adoption either. We have heard too many bad stories about children from Russia. We couldn’t go through with adoption because of so many unknowns and uncontrolled factors not to mention the waiting time.
It’s amazing how so many people think adoption is so simple … like going to the grocery store a buying a carton of milk. You want a child you just tell the agency you want one, fill out a couple papers checking open or closed adoption, get a house visit and write a check for $60,00 to $100,000. Easy peasy simply. Um no.
Anyway, you’re preaching to the choir sister girl about adoption … those are my very same reasons too. It’s not selfish. You wouldn’t go to the used car lot and pick the most broken car without an engine, you wouldn’t go to the animal shelter asking for the dog with a contagious terminal illness or bring a schizophrenic homeless person into your house giving him your master bedroom quitting your job to wait on him hand or foot. Nope. It’s about realism and pragmatism — as you put it.
And yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard it ad nauseam of course we can always have a child that contracts viral meningitis getting hit by a bus the same day forever dependent upon us and will never regain mental functioning beyond a three-month old again.
I too am glad there are agencies out there that work with special needs children and that there are families wanting and hoping to adopt such disadvantaged children. I’m honest — I don’t want to be that person. Yep, I’d rather be childless than to have a mound of pink colored flesh with a beating heart and glazed over eyes dependent upon me 24-7 for everything who will never, ever know me as a mother. I’m that selfish person who would want some sort of reciprocal responsive relationship.
Hang in there, OK! You’re not alone in what you’re going through and you don’t have an unusual belief system about what you want for you and your husband and a potential future child. It’s OK to want certain things in life and to want certain outcomes.
Hugs to you today and please, please go do something fun and non-baby related! 🙂
Oh, I love this response – I actually laughed when I read your analogy about buying a car or adopting a dog! So spot on to where I am at with the entire adoption thing.
I often find it funny that a year ago I wanted to know everything humanly possible about adoption, to decide if it was right for us. My husband wasn’t there and didn’t even want to consider adoption. Now, he’s the one that is more open to the idea! But, at the end of the day, neither of us are clamoring to climb on to the adoption bandwagon at this point in time.
Anyways, thanks so much for your kind and supportive words! I find people who have actually contemplated adoption understand our perspective much more so then those who have not. I figure if I’m going to be forced to ask hard questions, then I’m also going to be honest in answering them.
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I also love reading this one, knowing this is ultimately not the path you chose! I’m so glad you’ve been sharing your entire journey with us — it’s been such a help to me to read these posts.
I too find it interesting to go back and read posts like this one – your comment made me re-read this post. It’s so interesting to see how our thought processes change and evolve.
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