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Egg Donation or Adoption? When the Path Is Not for Sure


a blog by Ellen Glazer, May 12, 2011

I received a call this week from a woman who has been waiting to adopt for about 11 months. In my experience, 11 months is on the long side of an adoption wait, but by no means unheard of. My guess is that my former client and her husband will get a call in the coming weeks or, perhaps, months, and they will finally be parents. However, the waiting mom said something during our call that bothered me. She said, “But they said I could ‘always adopt’ — that it would be for sure.”

“Adoption is for sure.” This is something I say all the time, So why did it bother me when my former client quoted the “they” that told her this? I think it was the context in which I said it to her and the context in which she repeated it back. The first context was when she was 42 and deciding, after a long seige of infertility, between egg donation and adoption. At the time, I reminded her that while egg donation has a great success rate, adoption is 100 percent. She was getting older, and I thought it made sense for her to consider how she would feel if egg donation did not work and she and her husband wanted to then move on to adoption. Which is precisely what happened…

My client was 45 when she moved on to adoption and now, nearly a year later, she is 46. And this is the context in which she is upset about the time it is taking her and her now 49-year-old husband to adopt. They are older and it is harder for them to adopt. They are older, and it is more difficult for them to wait patiently. They are older and are understandably worried about how old they will be when their child is a teenager or in college or a young adult who wants youthful, vigorous parents.

I meet with people all the time who are deciding between egg donation and adoption. It is a complicated decision with a lot to consider. For younger couples (or individuals), I feel that the decision rests on matters such as the significance of pregnancy or of partial genetic connecitons. For older couples, age needs to be part of their decision-making. All too often it is easier to talk about the financial costs than the cost of time lost. I think this is what bothered me about the phone conversation.

I wondered if I had said enough at the time about the cost of taking a path that was not for sure.

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