Why do we treat infertility as if it's cancer?

VASTLY. In the mid to late 60s women were still actively discouraged from being single mothers. Birth control for single women was illegal in much of the country and abortion wasn’t legal. So you had an unexpected pregancy, you brought it to term, and you put it up for adoption - that was what you did - because most other doors were not acceptable.

Now, a young woman decides to have sex. She probably uses birth control out of the gate, but if she doesn’t and she finds herself pregnant, she may choose to terminate the pregnancy. If she chooses to carry to term, it is far more socially acceptable for her to try and parent the child. She’ll get child support from the bio dad, even if he isn’t involved in the babies life, even if he, too, was a minor at the time of conception.

For some programs, yes. Most that I have looked at so far tend to get lots more difficult between 35-40, and close altogether after 40. My husband is 48. That said, I am not done vetting all our options and it’s entirely possible that I haven’t found the right one OR that I have misinterpreted the requirements of some. My first pass was to get a sense of the financial scope ($10,000+) and my second is to pick a direction to move in (domestic, foreign, open, closed, newborn, older, etc.). Because the financial aspect was so daunting I stopped there to focus on getting that in order.

I don’t think I am emotionally cut out for a fostering path where there’s the possibility of relenquishing the child back to their bio family.

I think the fact that there are babies born every day to women who are entirely unprepared to raise them contributes to the heartbreak of infertility. How in the world can it be fair that some teenager who hasn’t figured out what she’s doing in six months gets pregnant and a mature woman who has her financial ducks in a row can’t?

And fostering with hopes of adoption is filled with heartbreak.

A couple I know adopted three–I think they’d intended on two, but the bio-mom of the first wanted her second baby to go to the same family that the first had gone to, and they weren’t eager to give up that child they’d already started to love and care for. Mom and Dad are white, but at least two of the kids are bi-racial, and all three kids are somewhere on the ADD/ADHD spectrum (at least to the casual viewer). Now yes, that spectrum is hardly limited to those adopted. The middle child of this family was born addicted to drugs–she was a miserable infant.

The wait time may be shorter for older children, but the process to adopt is still very long and expensive. Regardless of what child you adopt, there is lots of paperwork, classes, fees, interviews, home visits, etc. I have 2 close friends in the process of adopting children right now. Both went through about the same time frame leading up to the approval. It took them about 6 months to a year to get all the prerequisites completed. ($10,000 was the starting point for most agencies they looked into. There are some grants and tax breaks but any way you slice it you have to come up with a big chunk of money up front.)
It is only after all this is done that you get put on the list. Then from there, you can have a child in a week, or 3 years, depending on who and where you are trying to adopt. In some cases you also have to foster the child for months before you can officially adopt, and the adoption sometimes falls through. It is not an ‘easy’ alternative to getting pregnant.

There are fewer people willing to adopt older children, so the wait time after the paperwork is probably going to be shorter. Just like the wait time for non-white and developmentally disabled children will be shorter. But there are other things that are more difficult about adopting older children, many of them have siblings that they are trying to keep together, and it is harder for older children to adjust to new situations. Many have developmental issues or behavioral issues. If you adopt a child not of your own race you have to consider how that will affect the child also. Then there are things like the child’s existing friends, schools, etc. - do you uproot and start over with your own preferences or keep him there for ease of transition, etc. My husband and I have considered adopting and may do it later in life, but I would not want to adopt a non-infant until we are more experienced parents. With infants there is leeway, a learning curve where you practice becoming a parent and shaping a child, the child grows into his personality and you get used to each other slowly. With older kids you need to know what you are doing, IMO. I have a 6 year old now and I cannot imagine getting a 6 year old right off the bat with no previous parenting experience.

The drive for me to have a pregnancy and a child with my husband was very very strong. It would not have been a tragedy in the sense of a death from cancer if we could not have had children, but it would have been a great loss to me. The idea of never sharing genetic ties with my husband and going through a pregnancy would be very hard to deal with. I can only speak for myself, but for me as a woman the drive to be pregnant and have a baby was as strong as anything I have experienced, it is one of the things my body was designed to do, it is part of my identity as a woman. The experience of being pregnant and giving birth is something I would never trade, it was life-changing. It shouldn’t really be hard to understand that the basic drive to reproduce is part of our nature as humans.

I believe you are either projecting or exaggerating. I’ve known a lot of infertile folks, and only one who was so self absorbed as to really truly piss me off about it and expect a lot of sympathy. And even she didn’t expect the sort of sympathy reserved for the terminally ill. It is possible that you perceive this demand, but I’m guessing it would shock the people you perceive it from.

By the way, miscarriage is a little different, early miscarriage different than late miscarriage, different than stillborn, and different yet than a baby that survived only a few hours.

Yeah, I have to agree with this. I’m of a similar mind of the OP, but for me- personally- I also am a little judgey of folks who spend the cost of a few houses or college educations on IVF and such. I realize that’s not fair, so I keep that fact to myself.

So, when I’m with a big group of girls and this topic comes up, everyone will fall all over themselves showering the infertile girl with sympathy, praise, and words of encouragement. If you do anything but over the top fawning, you are likely to get called out for heartless. I’d never in a million years chastise a woman in that position or even say anything critical, but I’ve been yelled at for not being supportive enough.

Actually, I think the pressure comes more from others than it does from the infertile people themselves. They talk about “that poor woman” in hushed tones, admonish me about mentioning my own kids, etc.

What I meant was, give me a specific example of someone (a real person who you have met) coming to you and expecting sympathy. I’m sure this has happened, I cannot imagine doing that myself. When I needed support I talked to my mom and sister (and husband, of course)… the end. No one else even knows about it, because it’s not something others have a right to know, nor do I want to talk about it in my social circle.

I strongly disagree that me or anyone else who is infertile expects sympathy “reserved for terminally ill people.” When I have talked about it on this message board, it’s to get ideas on how to sort through the emotional damage, and ideas on what to pursue. I don’t view that as seeking sympathy, but as a tactic to process my thoughts and feelings.

I think tied in with this is (or should be, or maybe not) the age of the couple in question.

In other words, to answer the OP: my sympathy decreases with age. And if I were writing insurance policy, I’d probably allow more medical intervention for a young couple.

My wife and I knew from the beginning that we wanted a family, and so we started trying at 25. Fortunately we didn’t have a problem, but we figured at that age the odds were in our favor. However, that meant we were getting married when most of our peers were hitting the dating scene, and having kids when most of our peers were just getting married. Now it seems like a lot of couples are surprised that it’s hard(er) to get pregnant at 35.

I still feel bad for those people, but I guess I feel like if your life plan involves waiting that long to have kids, then you should also have a backup plan that doesn’t involve medical miracles.

I’m not sure if this is a defensible position, but it is how I feel.

Actually, Children’s Home Society is really opposed to people who are interested in adopting in order to “save” kids. They want people who adopt because they have a child sized hole. This is pretty consistent with current thought in adoption. Parents have got to want do do what they do, they are less successful if the do it from a sense of obligation.

This is it exactly.

I wish you the best of luck on your path to becoming a parent, however it is finally realized for you!!!

(I would also encourage you not to let people like Dio get you down, but if I wrote what I actually felt about him as a person and what I believe his true motives for membership on SDMB are it would only ultimately result in more drama and attention for him, so I will refrain)

Like I mentioned in my post, I feel it’s less directly from the actual infertile person, but more from social groups. Peer pressure or whatever.

Interesting. I haven’t ever run across that.

Infertile women often avoid other people’s babies and baby related events (baby showers invites are often declined), but I’ve never had anyone else warn me about someone else’s infertility.

I’m not going to give you off board names, but like I said, it’s more from people around them than from the people themselves.

I have multiple people in my immediate family who have had problems with both infertility and miscarriages and not been self-absorbed about it, I have also encountered people who think their fertility sagas are endlessly emotionally involving and every update critically important to everybody else. The latter type is the exception, but with both types the people around them are abjectly fawning and expect everybody else to be the same or else they’re callous jerks.

Seconded. Additionally, when infertility comes up in conversation, I find that the tone is usually more, “Oh, that’s too bad. I wonder if they will adopt,” and less “Oh my God, what a tragedy! How are they holding up? Should we send flowers? Do they need anything?” like you would get if you heard that someone had a terminal cancer.


Thank you for making my case for me. This is exactly the kind of bullshit I’m talking about.

If you ask someone “what does your life mean?” when they are on their deathbed, there is a good chance they will say “my children.” When you strip life away of everything else, it’s things like your family that matter most.

Saying “why don’t you just adopt” is like saying “Let them eat cake.” My mom tried for years to adopt, and sunk thousands of dollars and countless hours into it. But as a single 40 year old mid-level professional, she didn’t make the cut. Her income was slightly below the rather high threshold for single women, and they didn’t care that she had a hugely supportive extended family that would back her up as well as any husband could.

It’s a shame, because she would have made a great mom to another kid. She’s done her bit taking in children over the years, but she couldn’t take the heartbreak of foster children. She doesn’t have it in her to know she is taking in a kid who has likely suffered so immeasurably, and she doesn’t want to risk loving a kid only to find it being returned to a home that everyone knows is bad for it. She wanted to raise a kid, not fix one.

Likewise, international adoptions and adoptions of older children come with risks that having your own just doesn’t have. Emotional trauma and neglect at a young age runs a very big risk of making children unable to bond, and the results can be pretty ugly- I have a friend right now who is dealing with her adopted daughter stealing from her. Parents have to be ready to make any sacrifice, but it’s a different thing to know that you are looking at some pretty bad odds.

Adoption is great, but it’s neither possible nor ideal for everyone who wants a child,

OK. I haven’t encountered that myself, but clearly it happens.

Purely speculation, but I wonder if the over-the-top verbal support is in part because there’s not a thing you can do as a friend OTHER than say nice things. An illness or a death have things that friends can do as gestures of support, some ritualized, some intensely personal. With an illness or death, I can cook for you, run errands for you, write thank you cards, hang up guests’ coats, clean the house, take you out to lunch just to listen, etc. With infertility, it’s simply a new reality with nothing that can be done.

In a kind of awkward transition, thanks, MPB in Salt Lake!