Why People Can't Just Adopt a Baby

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I’m writing this post today from a place of sadness. I’ve made it no secret that I’ve wanted another baby over the past couple years but it’s just not seeming possible. I actually really want to adopt, but apparently (despite everything I’ve heard) people can’t just adopt a baby. I had no idea.

We turned to adoption a couple months ago exploring if it was even the right choice. Being unable to conceive without IVF means the cost of admission is pretty high, but public adoption is free.

That, coupled with some health issues that I had in my other pregnancies, made adoption seem like not only a good choice, but the best one.

You can’t just adopt a baby

Everywhere you see it: well meaning people telling infertile couples that they should “just adopt”. Taking the emotional reasons why people want a biological child out of the equation, that statement is incredibly insensitive because it’s not that simple.

No, I’m not talking about the homestudies and interviews. I’m not talking about the work that goes into adoption. That’s doable. Unless there’s something really flawed in your past it would be hard to be denied.

There aren’t any babies to adopt

In this case a “baby” actually means a child under the age of 5.

Where we live, public adoption is handled through the province. Everyone has access to the same database, which isn’t made available to the public. We went into the situation totally blind as to what’s out there.

There’s also big rumors here about Métis children being kept from white families, and waiting times for cultural adoptions being lower.

Being Métis myself, I called both our regional agency and the Métis one. Both said the same thing:

“I haven’t seen an infant adoption (kid under 5) happen in a long time.”

Why are there no babies to adopt?

The real reason is largely a positive one, but it still sucks for people who’d love to care for another child. They’re focusing more on placing these kids back with their families.

That means siblings, grandparents, and so on are able to raise those removed children within the culture and family unit they would have grown up with.

On top of that, we have safe and free access to abortion services and birth control is easy to obtain. There’s a lot less unwanted babies now than there have been in the past.

Finally, a lot of young kids go into foster care first before becoming adoptable. The primary goal when a child is removed is to help them get home.

What about private adoption?

We looked into this too. The fees aren’t too bad, and they’re on a sliding scale anyway. But both public adoption agencies I spoke to told me that the private adoption clinic doesn’t pair a lot of children with parents either.

In fact, most people are waiting years to find the right match.

The thing about private adoption is that the pregnant women have a huge role in choosing the adoptive family. This is great, from a humanitarian perspective: she gets to feel better about where her baby goes.

But in practice it can mean that certain families get overlooked. Because we already have 5 children (from my previous marriage), I worry that we’ll be passed off for families who are older, more financially established, and who have no children at all.

Side note: One of the adoption workers I spoke to said that she knew of a case where the birth mother passed over a family because they like sports too much.

For the record, I had my oldest at 17 and I assume there’s a disproportionate amount of birth mothers who are teenagers. I can understand where they’re coming from with their decisions.

International adoption?

With COVID, this is all closed off right now. But it’s more expensive than IVF, so not really the best option for us.

Why not adopt an older kid?

We’re still thinking about it.

Adoption isn’t always possible

I’m basically writing this post as a vent, I know. It frustrates me to see people complain about “all the unwanted children” infertile couples are leaving behind when they do treatments.

The reality is that’s not the case, at least now where I live. There isn’t this barrage of children waiting for forever homes. There aren’t orphanages where you can go pick out and kid and take them home. At least not anymore.

If they removed some of the barriers to adoption, especially international adoption, then it might be something more people do. Until then all we can do it be sad and, if you file, wait.

And hope.