Saturday, October 20, 2012

Having to Choose - IVF versus Adoption

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To summarize for those just joining us, Atala and I had been married three years, trying to get pregnant for over two years, and had about a year of fertility tests and assisted reproductive therapy (ART). The doctor's diagnosis was unexplained infertility. My laid back personality allowed me to take each day as it came but there was some anxiety and disappointment as the results for each stage came - positive if it was a medical test, and negative if it was a pregnancy test. Yes, most things were OK with my body, but I just was not getting pregnant. You can read more on the infertility page.

One thing that was not so OK was my age. I was 31 when I got married and last October, I turned 34,  that magic age where a woman's body, according to medical evidence, becomes not as fertile as it should be for optimal natural conception. We had tried Clomid, artificial insemination, and so it wasn't a big surprise when the doctor wanted us to be more aggressive and to move to the next step, which is in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF should give us good odds, he said, and from all indications, the success rate was much better than anything we had tried before.

Now, I understand the need for IVF, but I am also one big supporter of adoption. Yes, I understood that infertility, or difficulty in conceiving naturally, is a medical problem and those who are affected should seek treatment. We had spent between two to three thousand over the two years we had been trying to conceive both naturally and through ART, and that was OK. It was worth it if the tests and visits would help determine what the problem was and help the doctors recommend pills or supplements to increase our chances of conceiving.

But it rubbed me the wrong way to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a non-life-threatening issue when we could adopt a child and put the same amount towards their future, or even donate it to an orphanage. So for me, IVF was not a comfortable choice. It was something that demanded a lot of soul searching from me. Just thinking about it, I could already feel twinges of guilt at being selfish and spending so much in having my "own" child instead of adopting a child in need. I know that's not completely true and not for everyone, but it was what I was thinking.

At the same time, I had to acknowledge that there was a part of me that would really like a child that had Atala's sexy eyes, or my funny retrousse nose or our combined intelligence. Yeah, yeah... :)

Also, there was Atala. There had been lots of discussion with Atala over the past 2 years and so I could already guess his stand even before he said anything. I knew he would want to try. He had been supportive and kept up every step of the way. He did his own tests and made several lifestyle changes that boosted his health overall. He was there for me for when I needed him both physically and emotionally, including taking time off work to drive me around or keep me company at the doctor's.

I also read somewhere that maybe IVF would give the doctors more insight than they had from the tests we had done so far and that helped me make a decision to go ahead with the procedure. Atala and I equally agreed not to get fixated on IVF - to try just once or twice - and to explore adoption.

On the financial side, there was something to assuage my conflicted feelings. We took insurance. I felt like if insurance was paying, I wouldn't feel so guilty about spending so much money. Again, all in my head. Anyway, Atala works at Microsoft and we had health insurance from them. There were several options and before now, we used the smaller one that meant just a few of the infertility tests were covered and we paid out of pocket for our visits with the fertility doctor. If we wanted more coverage for infertility including IVF, we would have to change to the most comprehensive insurance.

So at the end of the year, to keep our options open, we switched. It was that insurance that paid for the cancelled IVF. We have also been looking into adoption, but the pre-meetings we attended all seemed to agree that it is better to go one route at a time. At this stage, with all I know I'm thinking we will still adopt, if not now, then later.

I know infertility is not a thought most people want to dwell on, but has anyone considered these issues, or been in a position to make the choice? What did you do or what do you think you would do?


  1. this is one issue i am really passionate about especially concerning our part of the world and the societal taboo attached...lets be honest what are the chances that one's biological offspring will look exactly like you or pick up your behaviour or a particular skill? we nigerians just use it to console ourselves..

    if not for the american embassy,many fathers were under the mistaken belief that little junior really had his nose or her granddad's fore head..we have seen biological children who killed their parents in cold blood yet adopted children like ballotelli who have not only been loyal to their adopted parents but made them proud even at the expense of his biological parents

    a father or a mother are just that,sperm and egg donors,a conduit for the child to come into this world nothing else...the hard bit is taking care of the child,positively influencing the child through his or her formative and adult life being a father and a mother is the real deal

    my belief is that either you have your own biological child or you adopt a child the most important thing is to take a child you can impact your positive life experience,influence into becoming an adult worthy of society

    if you really want to adopt please go for it,while trying your ivf my sister couldn't conceive and when she reached her 40s she and her husband went back to nigeria and adopted 2 kids they are the very first set of family i have ever known personally adopt the children are in their early teens now and they are the loveliest kids i have ever seen funny thing is that most of the family even happen to like them more than the biological kids

  2. I went through something similar about 17 years ago. I had trouble conceiving and went through IUI. The first round was unsuccessful. We did a second round and was lucky enough to conceive. If we hadn't on the second round, we were going to try IVF. All of the procedure, including the meds, shots, needles, etc. was funded by our insurance. Out of pocket, we spent $0 trying to conceive. I wish you much luck and will be thinking and praying for you.

  3. Believe Myne, believe. God works and He will cause you and yours to celebrate your children. You are only three years in marriage and i trust that this is not too long a time of being together without the babies.
    I 'm positive about all you've been trying and I'm sure that it will be concluded well.

  4. Thank you for a lovely and very open post. I, myself, have not dealt with infertility but I have many many friends who have had to deal with with it. As a photographer, I photographed many adoptive families and families who had biological children from some form of IVF. Some of them had children that looked like them while others had children that were from different parts of the world. Each family was beautiful and the love within each family was the same.

    Personally, I think I would lean towards adoption (I still hope to add to my family through adoption) but because I have never been in the situation of IVF, I cannot really say which path I would choose.

    I have many friends who have adopted and I am sure any of them would be happy to share their experiences with you.


  5. I am very passionate about your story because it feels like I am reading my life story, am counting six years plus and(I have seen all that and more that my mouth can't talk). Infact, it has been God and marvel when I hear of people who are dealing with this longer than I have.

    I wanted to try adoption oh but those around me that i used "style" to ask are of the opinion that it's like am giving up, even family rejects it "IJN", at one point i was willing to stay out of the country for a while, adopt a newborn (anything to keep the wagging tongues off). However, my hubby is not with me on this. He says he wants to to adopt after he has had his "own children". I am still subtly selling this idea to him and am keeping my fingers crossed that something will give, either "our own children" or we adopt.

    I think it's between you, Atala and God.

    *Fingers crossed, someone will share their story and we will learn from it*

    1. Adoption does not mean giving up on God, it means giving someone a life while waiting on God. My sister, follow your heart, I have seen people who adopted and suddenly it was like all the eggs and sperms started screaming for attention, lol!

  6. Myne, I admire your courage and I know it can be tough. I say I know because I am a living testimony to God's goodness. I had the same issues, unexplained infertility, high prolactin levels, name it all. But when I gave up and decided to see a fertility specialist to see if their crystal ball would help, God decided to show up. We literally found out we were pregnant a day before the scheduled appointment. It had been over 3 years. I am now a proud mother of a terrific princess.

    I don't know what you believe in but God is still on His throne. One of my sisters in marriage has stage 4 endometriosis. I don't think anyone could have had it as bad as she does. Married at 28 years, battled infertility for over 11- 12 years. Held on tight to God, can I say God has done the impossible, a 40 something year old woman is pregnant and will put to bed soon.

    Don't lose hope. Take your focus off of getting pregnant. Focus on loving and living but don't stop praying for what you want. Some thought I was crazy. I had clothes for my little one before I conceived her, we named her and prayed.

    I wish I could encourage you more but I am also going to be respectful knowing this is a sensitive issue. I have known your online moniker for years and was so glad when you married your sweet heart. God will perfect all that concerns you. I will contact you soon with the hopes that you'll welcome my encouragement and support.

    Keep living, loving, and God will finish the work he has started in you and Atala.

  7. HELLO MYNE I COMMEND YOU for the courage in sharing with us your story. I really hope it educates the ignorant ones. I remember m husband and I waiting and people implying that we were infertile and so I must not have been a virgin when I married. I am a medical physician so the part that bothered me the most was what if we are really infertile is this the type of nonsense I would hear? and then we miscarried and the eye brows were raised, my-in-laws didn't think oh well our brother or son is in the military and is gone for 6 months at a time? and plus they live in two seperate states but rather what I heard was the lack of information concerning infertility and no one cared to educate themselves because it isn't their problem. Infertility has always been an interest of mine because of the stigma not only in our country but worldwide. It is a painful process and many women are non to panic even when it didn't happen at the time they want it because they have heard things like it only take one time to get pregnant.And so on. I really hope your blog educates more people because it disgusts me to hear some of the things I've heard about infertility and you cannot help but become irritated

  8. you raised an interesting point there when you said being selfish... spending money to conceive yours rather than adopting and having a child. I have never actually seen it that way.

    I think it is bigger than that... it isn't unreasonable for you to want to have yours.

    1. Myne, IVF or adoption are good options depending on what you, your God and spouse agree upon.

  9. I wanted to wish you well with your decision.

    Oftentimes unexplained infertility is caused by immunological issues.

    There is a book called "Is your body baby friendly" by Dr. Alan E. Beer. Many clinics in the UK, Australia, and the United States treat immunological medical factors that cause infertility and early miscarriage.

    Have faith you will become a parent one way or another.

    God bless you.


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