The Road to Adoption Can Be a Lonely Road

We are well into our adoption journey at this point, and yet, we are just at the very beginning of it all. But, one thing has really struck me about adoption – it is very lonely being a potential adoptive parent.

Adoption is not a common thing, and international adoption is even rarer. In fact, a whopping total of 1946 children were adopted internationally in Canada in 2010, and of that 148 came from the USA (Source: Adoption Council of Canada). For the sake of argument, I am going to make the assumption that the numbers have remained relatively the same in the last few years. This means, at most, for any given year, across the entire country we have 148 couples (assuming all those adopting are couples, which I realize is very unlikely) that understand what we are going through. And, that number is bound to be substantially smaller if we look just at those doing international adoptions from within my province. Amazingly, I have met one couple, but that’s it.

To further illustrate my point about the isolation of being a potential adoptive parent, let’s take a quick look at the domestic adoptions occurring in my province. About 50 children are placed each year locally.

I acknowledge I’m not using the best data to compare, but what the data is illustrating to me, is we have a really small pool of people to network with in real life!

And it means that very few people in our real lives have actually been touched by adoption directly – we are the first. While everyone is constantly excited for us, or at least most people are, no-one knows what to say. Adoption in and of itself means that the standard expecting announcement questions like how far along are you, aren’t appropriate. So, beyond stating that they are excited for us, almost everyone seems to be at a loss for what to say. And that’s when the slightly awkward questioning starts. We face a slew of questions, some more ridiculous then others:

Will your child be disabled?

How much will your child cost you?

How long do you have to wait to get a child?

What does open mean? Do you really want your child to know their birth parents?

Will your child be another race?

So-and-so’s third cousin was adopted and they have bad temper tantrums, is this because they were adopted?

We have rather quickly realized that the questioning isn’t an attempt to be rude or ignorant, rather it comes from a place of lack of awareness, some curiosity and a genuine interest and desire to understand. We are polite with our answers, and are taking it upon ourselves to educate and share the truth about adoption.

But, what this all means is that we are constantly feeling rather alone. Somehow it seems a bit funny to me that recurrent pregnancy loss resulted in us feeling very isolated, and now adoption is doing the exact same thing, just in a slightly different way. I don’t have the statistics to prove my point, but what I can deduce using my infertility / RPL data is that if infertility affects 1 in 8, that means that a couple million Canadians experienced infertility of some sort every year. And, of those experiencing infertility 1% face recurrent pregnancy loss specifically which therefore means that at least a couple thousand women a year experiencing RPL.

So, it seems to be that infertility is more common than RPL, and RPL is more common than international adoption from the USA. So, we find ourselves moving from one very rare circumstance to another one. Which means we find ourselves moving from one potentially isolating situation to another.

But this time, we are a bit more “lucky.” We’ve learned through the last few years about just how horrible it is to be socially isolated. RPL has taught us that living in an isolated world is not much fun. So, we are taking that lesson to heart and we are taking a much different approach from the onset – we are telling people and we are actively seeking out those who are walking a similar adoption path. I am slowly (too slowly in my opinion) connecting with a few wonderful adoptive parents who are blogging about their experiences. And we are seeking out real life adoptive parents and/or waiting adoptive parents to learn from and hopefully build friendship with.

We are actively looking for connections within the adoption circle so that we can be surrounded by like-minded people, who understand the unique journey we are on as we look to adopt.

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38 Comments on “The Road to Adoption Can Be a Lonely Road

    • I suspect adoption is much more common in different countries, but I really don’t know. Anyways, I am hoping to connect more and more with the online adoption community!

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  1. As someone who lives in the US, I know of a handful of adoptive parents, mostly from church. Some are national and some are international adoptions. I hope that you can find some support, rather through blog, or in person. Love to you.

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  2. I hope you are able to find support…it is so important. In our small group through church, one couple had adopted all 3 of their children from the agency we are/were going to use, one couple is waiting to be picked by a birth Mom and we are/were waiting to see if we get to start the process. Can you tell we’re still in a holding pattern on this decision, lol?

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  3. Here in Northern California, I personally know three people who have adopted. I can so understand the isolation. I hope you find a great community soon. It sure does help. Xo

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    • Thank you so much mamajo! There is clearly an adoption community out there – online and in real life, I just need to get more connected. I’m sure it will come the further we get into the adoption process.

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  4. I’m sorry you’re feeling even more alone than you did before. Does the adoption agency you’re using have any sort of support groups or networking events? There has to be some way for you to find others somewhere near you that you can connect with. I hope you find some new friends in this arena soon, whether locally or through the net.

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    • They do have a group, but for some reason, probably the Christmas season, they have not met since we officially got seriously involved. I’m hoping now that we are officially in the process, we will be invited to the waiting parent groups. And if not, there is always the online community. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s crazy how little adoption occurs up there. I’ll tell you though, it isn’t the rarity that causes those questions. Even here, from people who know others who have adopted, those same questions are asked. To me, honestly, it comes from the media glamorization of adoption being easy or horrible, depending what news story you read, combined with the general populaces overall lack of education as far as what actually happens with adoption.

    Either way, while it might not happen online, we are so lucky to live in this day and age were we can find support groups online. I hope you guys find the support you need to help with the isolation.

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    • Thanks so much Angela. I think you are right, thankfully we live in this day and age where we can get support for our unique journeys online. And, I think with a bit of time we will network better and the adoption road will become less isolating. 🙂

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  6. Forgive me if you’ve explained this before, but is your adoption agency local in your province? Do they have any kind of support group? Someone recommended to me that I join a RESOLVE Exploring Adoption group, that it was very helpful for them, but I was SO disappointed to find that no such group exists within FIVE HOURS of where I live. Our adoption agency (I’ve come to decide to definitively call it OUR agency and own it) is in Buffalo, an hour and change away, but they have support groups…just not sure yet if it is spread out to be more local.

    I can only imagine how isolating it must be for you having experienced a less-common diagnosis of infertility and now feeling like an anomaly in your province for adopting internationally. I agree with the other ladies that hopefully you can find support online while you are waiting, and maybe find other families locally through your agency? I can completely understand your statement that you are far into your adoption process and yet barely in at all…there is SO MUCH paperwork (we are just starting, and just reading the lists let alone compiling everything is kind of overwhelming) and SO MUCH waiting. From what I understand it’s a better kind of waiting than the infertility kind, though, because there’s no maybe, there IS a baby at the end of waiting. Right? I wish you so much luck and I hope you can find a satisfying community to help you through the process and feel less isolated. I hope to part of it, although our experiences are a little different! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for all of these thoughts! Our local agency does have a group, but it focuses on local domestic adoptions. Now that our paperwork is submitted and we are formally in the process, we are welcome to attend. I think we will try to check it out when the meet later this month. And, I will keep connecting with people like you, who while not right here with me, really do understand the adoption journey. Through the blogging world, we can share the good and the bad, and I am so thankful for that. 🙂

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  7. Hi! Someone pointed you my way on twitter yesterday & so I was just checking out your blog. I adopted internationally after RPL so perhaps we can be lonely together!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lonely together makes us a little bit less lonely – it sounds like a wonderful idea!!
      I started following your blog as well, and I so look forward to learning from your experience and following as your journey continues. 🙂

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  8. I’m so sorry that there aren’t more people. A lot of countries have stopped international adoption and less mothers are giving up newborns, so it does become rarer with time. About 10 years ago in my graduating class from a very small boarding school, about 1/3 of my classmates were adopted – with some it was obvious and with others unless they brought it up, you’d never know. I’m sure there must be adoptive parents near you, but it is so hard to find them. Maybe you could start a meetup group or something?

    Or perhaps it is just a more common American/British thing? Since moving here we already met a couple that has adopted – 4 kids from foster to adopt, which is what we had been planning on doing, so we lucked out there. I’ve also got a biological aunt that was given away for adoption and reappeared a few years ago.

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    • Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think once you start looking for adoption stories, they seem to present themselves. It may just take a bit more time then I would like – patience has never been something I’m good at. 🙂

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  9. I’ve always seen you as a trailblazer. I think that if you started your own online adoption community, you would be able to create steady support. I get how lonely it must be to go from optimistically TTC, to infertile, to RPL, and even narrower now to adoption. Good on you for anticipating people’s adoption questions before they happen. I like your approach- people aren’t generally assholes, there just may not be a tactful way of asking direct questions. You will educate them, I am sure of it.

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    • Wow, thank you so much for this comment. I am flattered by the term trailblazer. It was never my intent to be a trailblazer, but I am happy to share our story and potentially help others along the same path. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have several friends who have adopted (and they have the most beautiful families) if you would like to connect with more people. Email me if you would like more info 🙂
    I’m sorry this is so isolating. My husband and I are expecting our first baby finally via a gestational carrier… I really felt isolated soon after she got pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant but I wasn’t trying to get pregnant anymore either. It was hard. I think it is a little easier for me now and I hope maybe it can get easier for you too. Thinking of you

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    • Thank you so much Jennifer – I may just take you up on that offer one of these days. 🙂
      I think your experience, using a gestational carrier, makes a really good point – anyone whose road to parenthood is anything atypical likely feels isolated. The average person doesn’t understand our decisions and the emotions that go alone with it. Anyways, love to you as you! I’m so excited for you and your husband. 🙂

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  11. This is such an interesting take, this isolation, and how your pool of commonality keeps getting smaller. That can feel SO lonely.

    It is so important to have people support you as you walk this walk, and sometimes you do find yourself in the position of being the educator/ambassador of adoption, sharing your knowledge and addressing misconceptions.

    Good luck on your journey, and I hope you find quite a community along the way 🙂

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    • Thank you so much Lori. I have no doubt the more I write about our path to adoption, the more connected I will be come to the online community. And of course I am always actively seeking out adoption blogs to follow. And, I also think the further we get into the process, the more connected we will become to our local real-life adoption community. Or at least I hope. 🙂

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  12. MPB–let me validate your feelings–It *is* lonely. 😦 And sometimes it can be lonely on the other side too. Some people don’t want to hear about the challenges (or at least we don’t think they want to); they want to hear about how great it is and how wonderful it is when your family has grown. But the down and dirty stuff about the searching, the waiting, the paperwork, the adjustments, possible diagnosis, birth families, etc, etc–we don’t talk about the messy stuff in adoption and it really results in a lonely go of it. Support groups help, they really do. Try to find a few folks from your agency to connect when you’re not in group too. Feel free to email me anytime–I”m open to receiving vent/whine/happy/sad emails. 🙂 Hang in there.

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    • I think you make a really good point that it can be lonely on the other side too – obviously I have no experience with the other side yet, but I can imagine that it would be at times given that we will face different challenges then typical parents.
      And you are right, RPL and adoption have absolutly taught me that people like to hear the fairy tale happy ending stories. People typically don’t want to her all abut the dirty stuff that comes along with adoption – it clearly a bit more complicated then just stopping by the store and picking up a child, but man people do not realize the process that adoption requires. And even more, many people do not realize the long term messy stuff.
      Thanks for the email offer – I may just take you up on it. 🙂

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  13. My husband and I also feel totally alone in our adoption journey since we don’t know anyone personally that has adopted. We’re in Ontario and adopting through CAS and our biggest challenge lately has been how our family and friends act like we’re “fixed” now that we’re adopting. Like our infertility has just disappeared, they all seem super relieved and we find it super annoying! I just found your blog through your comment on ever upwards blog and I’m glad I did! I’m also looking friends to go through this journey with and for support, our families and friends (bless their hearts) have no idea what were going through.

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    • I am so happy you found my blog, as I am thrilled to expand my group of adoption friends!
      I totally understand how everyone expects adoption to just “fix” us. People seem to love the idea of a happy ending, yet all the emotions of loss do not just vanish. It’s just a bit unfair to us and our journey.

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