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girlofscience's avatar

What are the pros and cons of adopting (as opposed to birthing) a child?

Asked by girlofscience (7449 points ) October 18th, 2008

If I decide to have a child, I think I would like to adopt her rather than birth her. Even though this would not be happening for at least another ten years, it’s certainly something I would like to put many years of thought into. For those of you who have children (by birth or by adoption), I am interested in your opinions.

As I see it (as related to my situation and things I care about), these are the pros and cons of which I am aware:

PROS:
– No adverse effects on my body (no stretch marks, no weight gain)
– Less detrimental to my career (I wouldn’t need as much time off, and people wouldn’t even technically need to know I was having a baby, so they wouldn’t be opposed to collaborating with me because they’re afraid I’m too busy with my baby)
– I could ensure my baby would be female (I only want one child, and I want her to be female)

CONS:
– I will never see genetic things of either parent (daddy’s eyes, mommy’s smile)
– My child will not have innate personality characteristics related to either parent
– I will not get the fun attention of being pregnant
– I will miss out on many exciting things associated with becoming a mom the “natural” way (Lamaze class, etc.)

What are your thoughts, both on the pros and cons I’ve listed and on any others?

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26 Answers

cdwccrn's avatar

the blessings of children are immense, whether by birth or adoption.
The awesome sensation of life moving within is profound. So is the discomfort of getting that life out!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I’ve mulled over the same questions GoS. I actually also have always wanted a little girl, and have thought about adopting just for that reason. Of course it’s all very far in the future for me as well.

But honestly, when I see it written out like that, when I’m very honest most of the reasons you listed in favor of adoption seem very superficial. stretch marks? Come on, that is a very small price to pay. I would add to your pro-adoption list:

-The joy of knowing you’re giving a child a gift, giving her a loving home, etc.

-The environmental benefit on the planet of not contributing to the overpopulation of the human race.

-Avoiding the danger of giving birth. About 20 out of every 100,000 women ages 30–39 who give birth die from complications. It’s not a huge risk, but it’s there.

-Flexibility of timeframe/Outsmarting your “biological clock” – It sounds like your career is very important to you, and if you didn’t end up feeling “ready” for a child until you were in your late 30, your 40s or beyond, you could still adopt, while the possibility of having a biological child would become increasingly slim.

girlofscience's avatar

@cdwccrn: So, would you consider not being able to experience the sensation of life moving within a con of adopting a child?

cdwccrn's avatar

it’s just something to consider. For me, it was so precious, and something I would have enjoyed experiencing again if chideen weren’t so dag gone expensive. But, their kisses are priceless:)

girlofscience's avatar

Great ideas, La_chica_gomela, thanks!!

Yes, I agree some of my pros are superficial. (Some cons, too—missing out on Lamaze class is also a small price to pay for an adopted child!) I do, however, like to include even the smallest things on my list when considering a decision.

You raise some other good points. Giving a child up for adoption a loving home, the environmental benefit, and the danger of giving birth.

Especially compelling is your last point. You’re right that my career is very important to me, and I don’t think I would be really ready for a child until around 40. Adoption offers the advantage of making motherhood more possible at that point.

blastfamy's avatar

not to mention one hurts a lot less…

marinelife's avatar

I think there is more to consider in terms of genetic heritage than you have given credence to so far. These days we have more and more information indicating what a significant role genetics plays in interests, personality formation, etc.

When you adopt, it is basically Russian roulette. It can turn out great, but it can also be a huge heartache as I have heard firsthand from many adoptive parents.

You did not put on your list how you would feel if your adoptive child began a search for her (you said girl) birth parents. Would that be painful for you emotionally?

What about another option? You can have eggs frozen and have your own child in vitro and implanted in your womb later in life.

When I held my great niece as an infant, I experienced something I had never felt before holding any baby. A weird physical flash of what felt like cellular-level recognition. I ‘knew’ she was an offspring from my family.

Of course, adopted children can be loved and perhaps just as much as one’s own children, but I suspect that “recognition”—whatever it might be—would be missing.

girlofscience's avatar

@Marina: What did the heartache (as you have heard from adoptive parents) involve?

Of course I cannot say for certain, but on first thought, I do not think it would be painful emotionally if my adopted child began a search for her birth parents. I would understand her position, as I would be interested in doing the same, had I been adopted. I would not think she loved me and my husband any less; I would assume she was simply interested in learning more about her biological identity, and I would encourage such exploration.

The option you mention about having my eggs frozen is also a possibility. To be honest, I think the ideal situation would to have a surrogate mother have a child with my eggs and my husband’s sperm. In that situation, however, I would feel guilty because I would feel like I was basically saying, “Hey, my life is so important that I can’t take the time out of it to have a baby, but since yours isn’t, here’s $30,000 to have my baby for me.”

marinelife's avatar

Well, in one case I know of some friends adopted an infant and six months later the woman of the couple wanted to give the baby back. All in her circle of acquaintance were horrified at what sort of message that sent to the child and the potential damage it might cause. her husband did not want to and it caused harm to their marriage.

In another case, a woman I knew adopted a second daughter several years after adopting her first child. The first adoption had gone well. In the second, the girl turned out to be older than the adoption agency had said she was. She appeared to have attachment disorder. The entire family was disrupted. The woman agonized over sending the child back.

A woman who worked for my husband had worked with foster children for many years and had ended up adopting several (three). She suffered a lot of heartache when one turned her back on her and her husband upon reaching adulthood, and another gave them a lot of trouble including criminal trouble (her husband was a career police officer).;

Mind you I am well aware it is not always this way. I know another family that has a biological daughter and two sons one from India and one from Cambodia, and they family is stable and happy.

AstroChuck's avatar

@girlofscience-
This thread might be of interest to you.

SuperMouse's avatar

The physical issues you mention (stretch marks, etc.) do not last – or at least they didn’t in my case and I had my first child at 33 and last at 36. When it comes down to it when you think about the awesome miracle of growing a baby inside of you all of that just falls away. I loved feeling the babies moving inside. Although it hurt of course, I loved having the experience of giving birth. I loved nursing. I love looking at my boys and seeing some of my family and some of their father’s family in each of them.

All of that being said, I would never discourage the idea of adoption. My brother and his wife adopted both of their children. They are both amazing kids, their parents and our entire family love them and treat them exactly the same as all the nieces and nephews. Adoption is a wonderful thing for that baby needing a home and for the parents. I would highly recommend it. I do not think however that you would take less time off work for an adopted baby. Mom’s want to spend as much time as possible home with the baby, No matter how much you love your job, odds are good that once you hold that little girl you will not ever want to leave her.

What it comes down to is your personal preference. As long as you feel ready to be a mom, and you are doing whichever you think is best for you, and for all the right reasons, you won’t go wrong.

surlygirl's avatar

have you thought of a foreign adoption? although, they aren’t necessarily “easier” or cheaper, birth parents often have no legal rights afterwards. some do require that you come to their country to process the adoption which may mean more time off than you’d like.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

surlygirl, in reading your answer, I only see the downsides of a forgeign adoption. What are the benefits supposed to be?

That the birth parents often have no legal rights afterward?

That seems awefully selfish, doesn’t it? Sure, it must be very difficult to bring a child into your home and then have to give him/her up, but I empathize a lot more with a parent who realizes he/she made a mistake and wants their baby back!

surlygirl's avatar

@la_chica: i’m not sure you’d be that sympathetic, if you were actually in that situation. esp if you’d had the child for quite some time. i’m not saying i’m advocating that birth parents never have any contact, but i think it is very traumatic for a child to be switched between households in that kind of dispute. in a foreign adoption, the parents can choose to have contact if they wish but reversal of custody is not the huge deal it is here.

a foreign adoption can be a very good thing. although there are many problems with the system here, the standards of living are markedly lower in many countries. so by adopting out of the country, you may be giving a child a huge chance for a much better life. their different culture and heritage can still be kept and celebrated, thereby enriching your family’s life.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

So you are suggesting that the benefit of “birth parents often have no legal rights afterwards” could outweight downsides of harder, more expensive, and more time off?

The whole idea sounds incredibly selfish to me. That’s just my opinion.

blastfamy's avatar

I thought that most adoptions were permanent….

toyhyena's avatar

While I think adopting children is very honorable (moreso than being involved with charity work in my opinon), I do think you might want to consider that you can increase the chances of having a female child. Try checking out this link for example :D

I’ve also heard of women being able to get pregnant on their own without a partner (but the offspring would always be female, and would always be a clone) through something as simple as dipping their egg in alchohol. It rarely, but does have a chance to stimulate the egg to develop. Can you imagine raising yourself (or at least as much as your own DNA would be yourself), but maybe steering yourself around the things you wish you would’ve been raised around? Wow. Anyway, I guess it makes sense, since females are a crisscrossing of X’s from both of her parents, so if you just go by the mother’s two X’s… you actually have all the genetic info needed, right?

I took some notes, back when I was going through a “what’s it mean to be female” phase in my life, and I thought having a baby girl would be an unfortunate thing, but I think I got over it… funnily enough, I started to get over it when I noticed like at the mall, some little girls are so dang cute I would joke afterward about kidnapping them with my boyfriend.That’s a pretty creepy thing to say in hind-sight, but I guess that’s a notch better than feeling sorry for her parents.

So taking me out of the picture, that might be something interesting to keep in mind: as someone leaning a little more towards a girl over a boy; I think you might be a minority. Most of society hopes for a boy :( As to the reason why, that’s a whole different topic.Speaking of which, I apologize for not contributing directly to the actual question :)

Darwin's avatar

We chose to adopt both of our children and we were very open about the whole process so while I didn’t get the pleasure of feeling the baby move, or the unpleasantness of everyone wanting to touch my stomach, everyone was very pleased when baby number one came home with us. They were equally pleased when baby number two came home.

Thanks to life-long problems with my weight I already have stretch marks so that wasn’t a factor either way. However, it is possible that I avoided eclampsia or diabetes by not carrying to term (I had at least one early miscarriage) and by adopting instead of birthing children.

We chose what is called open adoption. While adoption is a permanent transfer of parental rights, there are some questions that can only be answered by the birth family. If you develop a good relationship with them from the start you don’t have to worry about anyone taking your child back, or your child searching out their birth parents or any of that. The saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” fits in well here – both sets of parents have things thay can add to the child’s life that will help them mature into a good and strong adult.

It is true that adoption can lead to surprises in temperament and other things. Our daughter has turned out to be a sports star (I could run forever but I was never, ever very fast) as well as a scholar (my husband was never noted for his good grades because he never earned anything above a C) and a social success (I was a nerd who hung out with guys who took Russian and my husband hung out only with jocks). Our son has turned out to have mental problems but may still be able to fight his way to successful adulthood.

However, in looking at my siblings and ancestors, we are faring no better. One sibling has had problems with drugs and later alcohol and has never been able to earn very much money. He is always robbing Peter to pay Paul and, to make things more complicated, is on wife number three (who is on husband number three). Another sibling has a satisfying life for her but has never married, lives alone with her dog far away from the rest of us. I have two nieces and a nephew, two of whom are making some very poor choices and displaying some most unfortunate personality traits.

And then there were fairly recent ancestors who include a private investigator who was sentenced to prison for fraud and blackmail, an alcoholic who died homeless in a large city far from family, an angry person who refused to speak to her sister for more than 50 years, and so on.

While any child born to you may have wonderful traits you recognize from other family members, they may also have traits you may wish had never, ever been expressed. In addition, because we know their birth parents we can say with delight that my daughter has her birth mother’s hands and her birth father’s eyes, while my son has the front tooth gap of everyone in his birth father’s family.

And actually, we did get to go to Lamaze class. New baby care is included in the class and not offered separately in our town. So we attended the class and had a ball. Unlike the other students, we weren’t required to bring a pillow.

And we did take full maternity leave with each child – my employer allowed it so I took it.

The only big difference I can see from this perspective is that at the time we adopted there was no adoption credit offered by the IRS, and insurance only covered what they considered the actual birth would have cost ($2500) as opposed to the actual cost of adoption (in our case about $10,000 per child). When you consider the full cost of raising a child to adulthood, $10,000 is a miniscule drop in the bucket.

We also considered foreign adoption but quickly realized that there are plenty of adoptable kids right here in River City (ie. at home) so we opted for domestic adoptions. It makes it much easier to develop a relationship with a birth family if they live onl,y a few hundred miles away and speak the same language we do.

As far as boys versus girls: we decided that we wouldn’t have much choice if we made them at home so we simply said “Race: Human, Sex: not until 21 and then it should be with protection.” After the social worker stopped laughing she believed us. It took 6 months to be found by baby number one’s birth parents, and 3 months for baby number two’s birth parents.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

as a teenager who is not yet interested in having children period, i would say that a huge pro of adoption would be knowing that there’s one less child with no home or family. if i was to have children, i’d really like to adopt, and hope that my mind still stays set on that when the time comes. your pros of each ring true to me, but i just think a big plus on adoption is definitely that one) you’re helping a child and two) the world is in such a horrible condition at the moment due to overpopulation, and you wouldn’t be contributing to it.

i’m not saying i’m against birthing a child, but i just think that for me personally, i’d much rather adopt for the reasons of helping others, etc.

blue's avatar

also adoption isnt always less time consuming. If you adopt from a place like guatemala, you have to take 1–2 weeks to go down and visit so they can evaluate you as a parent, then if you are approved you have to fly back down to do the paperwork…it can take a month or more sometimes to finalize an adoption.
I don’t know this from experience, but from what I have heard from other families who have adopted.
Also, a risk is getting a child with special needs…that happened to a family in my church. It is russian roulette as someone else said

Darwin's avatar

@blue – actually what you are describing is a really, really fast adoption. Typically, an adoption can take 1 to 2 years, or even longer depending on your requirements, the birth parents’ situations, and governmental regulations (both those of the US and any other country or state that is involved). Then once the child is placed with you for adoption (ie. the paperwork is done) the adoption still isn’t finalized as far as the US is concerned until your local state finalizes it. In our state that takes a minimum of 6 months.

In our experience, our adoptions were both quite rapid. It was 6 months almost exactly between the day we walked into the agency and the day our daughter was placed in my arms, and then 6 months after that her adoption was finalized. With my son it was even quicker – 3 months for placement plus six months until finalization. Adopting isn’t like bringing home a puppy. It can actually take years as opposed to 9 months. Other folks who walked into the agency at the same time finalized their adoption 4 1/2 years later.

As to the special needs situation – giving birth to your own child still leaves you at risk of ending up with a child with special needs. At the same time we were pursuing adoption a friend of ours discovered his wife was pregnant with their long-awaited second child. Everything was great until they learned that the child had Down’s Syndrome. But he was still their child whom they loved. Another friend discovered that his third son, who seemed to be as healthy as his brothers at birth, was having difficulty walking because he had a neurological condition that ended up putting him in a wheelchair for life. Yet another friend had four sons. Two grew up to be wonderful, productive adults. One was killed while driving drunk. And the fourth son developed schizophrenia in his twenties and will never be able to live on his own.

In fact, with adoption you can specifically exclude yourself from special needs adoptions in many cases, as long as the special needs aspect of the child has been diagnosed already.

In actuality, any child, whether born into your family or adopted, represents an unknown collection of traits and abilities, some good, some less than desirable. So whether you give birth to your children or adopt them, it is always a bit like a game of Russian Roulette.

TheFonz_is's avatar

I was adopted, and considered adopting myself.. 2 months later my wife was pregnant and now I have an amazing 4 month old boy that looks just like me.

Adoption is a great way to give underprivelaged (spelling) kids a life they wouldnt haveotherwise known. I believe the bond that you develop with your child can take place without having given birth to he/she.

If you are thinking about adopting then remember that you are not just doing it so you dont have stretch marks or so you dont have any time of work. THink of the child you will be giving a new life to.

Im all for it, go start the process of adopting a child, raise it as yours give it all the love you can give and you will never know the difference

Loried2008's avatar

Children rock either way. I have full-blood sisters and an adopted sister. We love and care for all the same. I say go for what your heart tells you!

Seek's avatar

You know, my husband’s best friend was adopted. The guy down the street had an affair with an underage girl, and there was a child. He walked the baby down to my hubby’s next-door neigbhor and said “Here, he’s yours. Raise him like your own”. And that was it. Amazing how much the world has changed since 1970.

Darwin's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Actually, informal adoption, which is what the process of which you speak is called, does still exist, especially within certain ethnic groups as well as in certain socio-economic groupings. It also often occurs with grandparents and grandchildren.

Perhaps the biggest push towards formal adoption in the US is simply medical insurance. You cannot get your own insurance to cover a child you are raising unless you can show proof that the child was born to you or that the courts have named you as the child’s legal guardian.

creative1's avatar

If you adopt through the foster care system you are giving a child who was born in less then ideal circumstances a chance at a wonderful life. Children who are stuck in foster care never asked to be born with the parents they were given they just were. When you become a foster parent yes there is a chance the child would go home but then there is also the knowing you helped a child at a time in their life when they really needed it. Also you are able to ask for any age child and any sex. I got my oldest when she was just 3½ months old when she could be released from a nursery for drug exposed babies and my youngest when she was just 2½ weeks old straight from the hospital.

Did you know there are at times newborn babies sitting waiting for placement at the hospital because their biological parent isnt fit to take them home?

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