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Posted By YouMeMine on 11/11/2020

Next Steps Towards Baby Steps – Choosing Between Adoption and Third Party Reproduction

Next Steps Towards Baby Steps – Choosing Between Adoption and Third Party Reproduction

Egg donation, sperm donation, surrogacy and adoption are among the many, wonderful ways people build their families. Some hopeful parents pursue multiple options simultaneously. Others choose the one path they feel pulled to, or that they think is most likely to work. 

Choosing a path to parenthood is not always easy, and we wanted to help provide clarity and support to those considering their own next steps. We turned to Lisa Schuman, LCSW for her input. Lisa is the Director of Mental Health Services for RMA CT. She is also the Founding Director of The Center for Family Building


YMM: Many people look at third party reproduction and adoption as family building options, after other forms of ART (assisted reproductive technology) have not worked. What questions should people be asking themselves as they decide how to move forward?

LS - “This is a difficult decision that should be made carefully.  

Adoption is the bigger leap of faith. Over the past decade, a lot has changed in the adoption world. It’s more difficult to find a healthy newborn than it used to be. Other than adopting through foster care, adoption also costs about the same as egg donation. That said, many people do like the idea of adoption. It’s important to know that adopting a healthy child is not ‘saving’ anyone.  Many people say, ‘I want to save a child who is already born,’ rather than create a new life.  

The children who need homes are the ones in the foster care system. Those children often have emotional and intellectual challenges, so it’s important to know if you feel comfortable raising a child with special or extra needs. Healthy babies are in high demand, so someone will adopt every one of those children. Therefore, if that is the only reason you want to adopt, then you may want to think again.

With gamete (egg or sperm) donation it is possible to have more control, and possibly have a genetic connection to one intended parent. With surrogacy, you can have a genetic connection to both intended parents. You have control over the donor(s) you choose, the surrogate, the pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. 

Donors also undergo psychological screening. This includes a psychological interview and a psychological test that screens for psychopathology and deception. If the numbers are too high, the mental health professional should not accept that donor as he or she could also be lying about their history or medical records. 

With adoption, birthmothers do not undergo psychological testing.  Last, but not least, the child belongs to the birthmother/ birthparents before they place that child.  As a result, children need to cope with abandonment, and reconcile all of the issues that caused them to be placed for adoption. 

Donor-conceived children also need to understand the history of their conception, and that they were never someone else’s child other than their parents.

YMM:  Is it a good idea to pursue adoption and third party reproduction simultaneously?

LS – “At one time, adoption agencies would not allow people to pursue both avenues at once, but that is no longer usually the case. Doing both at the same time is a personal choice, and is completely up to the couple, or individual.  It takes a lot of time and expense, but I have seen people do it successfully.”

YMM: What is your advice for couples who are not on the same page about next steps? What are the issues that couples typically disagree upon, when making this decision?

LS – “This is not uncommon. When it occurs, Couples Therapy is essential. This difficult time in their life may feel like it's lasting forever, but it won’t.  And when they have reached their family building goals, it is important that their relationship is intact. 

Issues which may come up include that only one parent has a biological link to their child. This is not uncommon, and can usually be worked out in therapy. In other instances, one partner may feel more comfortable than the other with the adoption process, and with procedures such as the home study. This, too, can usually be worked out with a successful outcome.

It’s important to remember that there is no one right way to build a family. For people in a couple, transparency about feelings and fears is essential. It’s also important to listen and hear what your partner has to say.” 

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