Dear Abby Doesn’t Have a Clue about Adoption or Infertility

Dawn Davenport


Dear Abby Doesn't Have a Clue about Adoption or Infertility

Be careful when giving advice to infertile friends.

I thought I had seen it all.  I thought I was beyond being surprised by ignorance, but then I saw the Dear Abby column last week where she answered a letter from a “friend” who opposed the idea of an adoption fundraiser for a couple who had spent all their money on four failed IVF cycles and now couldn’t afford to adopt.  Dear Abby, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that fostering is the “perfect solution” to infertility and the inability to afford adoption.  Seriously?!? Is that the best she could do?!? Doesn’t she have a fact checker or someone in charge of stupidity control?  Well, as you would imagine, I felt compelled to write an alternative response.

The Letter

DEAR ABBY: My best friend “Zoe” is unable to have children. She tried in vitro four times without success. The doctors told her there’s nothing else they can do.

Zoe and her husband have decided to adopt. However, it is very expensive and all of their savings went toward the IVF treatments. Zoe’s mom wants to have a benefit to raise money for them. I am against the idea because, in my opinion, benefits are given for something you don’t choose (like cancer or a house fire). Adopting a child is a choice.

I live paycheck-to-paycheck as it is, and I don’t feel comfortable donating to this cause. What if they change their minds after the benefit or the adoption doesn’t work out? What will they do with the money then?

Is what they’re planning acceptable? I know I’ll be talked about by Zoe and her mother if I don’t contribute. — Friend in Conflict

Dear Abby’s Response

Dear Friend in Conflict: Whether Zoe and her mother retaliate by gossiping about you is beside the point. I see nothing wrong with a benefit.  If Zoe and her husband can’t afford to adopt a baby, another option they might consider is becoming foster parents. There are thousands of children who need good homes and loving parents and that, to me, would be the perfect solution. Please suggest it to them. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, then you do not have money to donate to this cause or any other right now.

My Response

Dear Friend In Conflict:

Your best friend Zoe is suffering from the disease of infertility.  She most assuredly did not choose to have this disease. And while adoption is not a “cure” for infertility, it is a cure for one of the most devastating aspects of this disease—the loss of being able to parent.  Since you brought up the analogies of cancer and house fires, I’ll try to explain it in those terms.  Let’s say Zoe had cancer of the sinuses and the treatment to save her life left her face functioning, but horribly disfigured.  Would you say that it is wrong to have a benefit to raise money for the reconstructive surgery?  After all, repairing her face is a choice, not a necessity, right? Or let’s say Zoe lost her house in a fire and is living in a tiny efficiency apartment.  Would you be against a benefit to raise money for a new house?  After all, living in a house rather than an efficiency apartment is a choice, right?  Wrong on both counts.

Infertility is a disease that affects so many aspects of life.  Some people have little desire to parent, so this disease is less devastating. But for others, being a parent is central to their life.  They crave the experience, the inclusion in the mommy circle, the Thanksgiving table surrounded by kids and grandkids, the continuity of love and caring from parent to child and child to parent.  For these women, infertility is devastating.  Research has shown that the stress levels of infertile women are equivalent to women with cancer or AIDS.

Fostering vs. Adopting

Please, please, please do not heed Dear Abby’s “advice” to suggest fostering as the “perfect solution” to infertility or the inability to afford adoption.  Her ignorance is frightening.  There are a couple of problems with her suggestion.  First, while she is right, that most communities are in need of good foster parents, she is dead wrong when she implied that it is the same as adopting.  Adoption is becoming a real forever parent to a child who will become your real forever child–a child you will raise and be involved with for life. The child you will worry over developmental milestone, schlepp around to after school activities, buy the first bra or razor for, and survive the teen years. Your involvement will continue for life.  You will host her graduation parties, laugh with him at holiday dinners, and attend the christening of her children. This child will be there will the tide of caring turns.   He will worry about you driving alone at night, your health, and whether you should still live alone. While this sometimes happens with foster parents, it is the exception not the rule. Foster parents step in during times of crisis while social services work to heal the family unit so the child can return home.  Foster care is vital for children and we need good foster parents desperately, but it is not meant to be permanent; in fact, there are strong governmental incentives to prohibit foster placement from becoming permanent.  It is possible to adopt from foster care and that is a terrific and inexpensive way to become a real and permanent parent, but that is not the same as being a foster parent.

Dangers of Giving Advice to the Infertile or Prospective Adopter

You could suggest adopting from the foster care system, but that brings me to the second big problem with Ms. Abby’s off kilter advice.  I suspect Zoe already knows about this option. In fact, I suspect she knows a whole lot more than you and Ms. Abby combined about every aspect of adoption because it is likely all that she thinks about right now.  It is what she spends her time researching and talking about in online adoption groups.  There is nothing more irritating that having someone who knows practically nothing about a subject that is of vital importance to you trying to educate you.

But then, surely as Zoe’s best friend, you know all of this.  You know about the almost unbearable sadness she has experienced through the years of failed infertility treatment.  You know that being a parent is probably the most important thing in her life right now.  You know about her current obsession with all things adoption.  If you don’t know this, you might want to take a moment to consider why not.  Could it be because Zoe is not sure you would be supportive, or that you would judge, or simply not get it?  Infertility is a lonely, sad, scary place.  Those who are stuck there need support and understanding, especially from their best friend.  You might want to check out the Creating a Family resource page to help family and friends understand infertility.

My Suggestion to Friends of the Infertile

So Friend In Conflict, here’s what I suggest.  Fix Zoe a nice inexpensive dinner and profusely apologize for your lack of involvement and understanding about her infertility struggles.  Ask her to tell you how it felt to receive the devastating diagnosis, to experience the emotional rolls of hormone injections, to try not to hope too much before each cycle so that the it won’t hurt quite so much when it fails.  Ask her to educate you about adoption. What options is she considering?  Listen as she weighs the pros and the cons of each type of adoption. If you listen hard enough, she might even share her fear that somehow this dream too will be yanked from her grasp.  Lastly, tell her that you are sorry that you are so strapped for cash that you can’t help her financially, but that you would love to help with the benefit in any way.  In fact, as her best friend, you insist on taking on one of the major tasks that doesn’t involve money, such as cleanup or decorating.

Etiquette of Adoption Benefits

I’m not exactly sure why you would expect the etiquette for an adoption benefit to be any different from any other benefit, or for that matter, from the typical bridal shower–if you change your mind, you return the gifts/money.  So long as the money is spent on the intended purpose (treatment for cancer or adoption of a child), no one should expect their money back if the treatment fails or the adoption “doesn’t work out”.


Image credit:  Ahoova

29/07/2011 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 96 Comments

96 Responses to Dear Abby Doesn’t Have a Clue about Adoption or Infertility

  1. Avatar Julie says:

    Your characterization of foster parents breaks my heart. We may not be “real forever” parents, but we are certainly “real” parents. We worry about milestones. We schlepp kids long distances to more activities and appointments than you can probably imagine. We buy razors. We laugh around the dinner table. We host birthday parties. We worry about them when they go out. And then one day they leave, and we worry about them for the rest of their lives. Except for sometimes, a child doesn’t leave. And it’s a lot of “work” and a lot of emotion to care for so many and adopt just one, but it’s worth it all (even if you never get to adopt). There is no way I’ve found to grow my family that’s easy AND fast AND cheap. I totally understand why someone would want to choose private adoption, and not deal with the emotional toll of fostering. But making that choice comes with a price, and if you’re not willing to work for your adoption, why should I?

  2. Avatar naresh says:

    do you think your feelings be different if you were like Zoe and would not be able to afford adoption otherwise?

  3. Avatar Lois says:

    Thankfully we have the resources to adopt so we do not need to fundraise, although it is putting a financial strain on us. I have donated to families hoping to adopt to help make their dreams come true or bought items they are selling to help support their effort. I look at it as making a gift to the family just as I would give them a baby shower gift. Whether they are buying diapers with a gift card or paying for counseling fees for the birthmom, it makes no difference to me and even if they never adopt, they still spent the money so I would never expect it return. This person does not sound like Zoe’s “friend’ and if she doesn’t want to donate just don’t but don’t judge someone else.

    From the adult adoptee, I can see how it may seem odd and I had not really thought about it from that point of view.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Lois, that’s what I love about the Creating a Family community–they force us all to think about points of view that we haven’t thought about before.

  4. Avatar Dawn says:

    I just read this thoughtful post in response to this blog posted on a blog by someone who is not involved with the adoption community. It is interesting to see what someone who is not involved in adoption thinks about fundraising for adoption.

  5. Avatar Dawn says:

    This blog, actually your comments to this blog, spurred an interesting family discussion over whether having a fundraiser would make the adopted person feel icky or less worthy. General consensus here was “no”. One son said he would view it “like they must really really want you to do that for you.”

    My husband and I, on the other hand, both said how hard it would be for the adults to do this. To us it would be sooooo hard to do this for any reason if the money personally benefited you. The hardest part for me would be knowing that you open yourself up for criticism–especially financial criticism. “They should have bought a less expensive house, then they could afford this” or “Does he really need to be buying a Starbucks coffee when he is so desperate to raise money” or “Are those new earrings she is wearing”. I know that most people probably wouldn’t be thinking this, but I would feel self conscious because of the few that would. On the other hand, I should point out that we were able to afford to adopt by using savings and cutting back on expenses, so we weren’t faced with this decision. I know enough to say that unless really faced with this decision, you don’t know what you would do. I also hope that if it was the only way to bring my child home, that I’d do whatever it would take.

  6. Avatar Cathy says:

    @ The Gang’s Momma – I thought what you said was right on! Both my husband and I believe we are not done adopting, unless He leads us differently.

    We truly stepped out in faith on our recent adoption and we were shown exactly what it meant and means to trust and have faith and rely fully on God! It was an amazing experience that has given me an awareness to ALWAYS trust God no matter what and in everything we do!

    @ Dawn – Thank you for the book recommendation. I know there’s also Dave Ramsay that talks about how to adopt without going into debt.

  7. Avatar Kristina Grish says:

    i think “zoe” needs to edit the guest list to her fundraiser!

  8. Avatar Rainbowmom says:

    Copied my reponse to this letter on, thought I might share here too.

    Abbey and this “friend” have no business discussing this situation. Donation is voluntary always. If you can’t you can’t. Would I have fundraised? No but that is me and my values.

    I do HATE That she throws foster/adoption out there like it is easy peasy. NOT, We have done older (4.5 yrs) and younger child(2-3 days old) adoption through DSS and although our younger three are ok, our oldest child has been HELL to raise, don’t get me wrong he is our son and we love him. People need REAL information. That a child does not come into care unless there is a PROBLEM. That an older child, over a year can have serious issues and may have been sexually molested, neglected, abused and they may have irreversable damage. You must decide if you can place yourself in harms way (I have been almost stabbed three times) or your other kids (found out DS was holding next son down on the bed and beating him badly then threatening his life if he told). A parent that chooses Foster/adoption should go in eyes wide open skeptical and suspicious about not getting the whole picture. I found out from a “friend at DSS” that one of our kids is the product of rape, years after placement. Would that have changed our opinion probably not, but we had the right to know.

    Sorry RANT over.

    Forgot to add: If they ARE fundraising I hope people know they might loose the money they just donated in a failed adoption situation.

  9. Avatar Kathi says:

    I am impressed and touched by the passion expressed from all directions concerning this topic. I am a counselor and a coach, involved with the adoption issues for years.

    I have never imagined that people would object to a fundraiser for adoption. Churches create programs to support their members in the adoption process, sometimes providing covenant loans. Many people contributing feel that they are not in a place to adopt themselves, for whatever reason, but at least they can help make a small contribution that would make it possible for a family to adopt. That does not mean they have a “part ownership in the child”, but they can share a little of the joy and satisfaction.

    Adoption does have costs for the legal, emotional, educational, social support, and professional fees. We would all like lower adoption fees, but at what risk, what cost?

    Remember the Orphan Train? Children were taken by anyone who wanted them, often to live a life of near-slavery and abuse. That ended when really brave and concerned people started doing studies on the adopting parents. Before agencies, parents took a risk on the health and appropriateness of the child. Adoptive parents took a risk on the integrety and practices of the agency. Laws and lawyers were needed to protect all involved. Counselors now support and help birth mothers and abandoned children with major life transitions.

    Adoption is not at all like going to Wal-Mart and picking up a child that is the right color, size, language, etc. There are very important responsibilities involved in an adoption, all of which require professionals who deserve a living wage, too. There are costs. Adoptive parents are willing to put their life saving and much of their future financial options on the table to be parents. Many adoptees would languish in orphanages or die if that commitment were not made. Sometimes, it “takes a villiage” to make that happen in a timely fashion. Fund raisers are a realistic way to make it happen and an opportunity for those who contribute to know they made a difference.

  10. Avatar Cathy says:

    Julia, BEAUTIFULLY said! Thank you!

  11. Avatar Cathy says:

    As far as my response to Dear Abby, wow! Really!? Better for a child to be bounced around in the system then to have a permanent loving family? I don’t think so.

    To Andy and those who question about fundraising for an adoption.

    Not only am I adopted. We are one of those families that have raised funds to help bring our children home through adoption.

    Here is why I believe it is more than OKAY to help bring a child home to their Forever Family and for one reason and one reason only! EVERY child deserves a family!

    Just because someone doesn’t have an extra $20-$30,000 sitting around to apply towards adoption fees (not buying or purchasing a child) does NOT mean they are not worthy or cannot afford to raise a child.

    After all, we’re not making a purchase, such as a car or some other material item. We are talking about a child’s life! To bring a child into a family that wants, or
    chooses to do so is far better than leaving them in an orphanage, without someone to LOVE them.

    Also, what is money really in the great big picture of life!? It is something that we as humans put far too much value on.

    When we give, whether it is our money or our time or anything else that we give away, we are blessed!

    It seems that no one has a problem with giving money to their favorite charity, or helping a family member or maybe even a friend when they sometimes have money troubles. So why do some have a problem with helping a family that is fund raising to bring home a child to love? Well, I for one have no problem giving my money to a family that is adopting. To know that a child is coming home to their family is all the reason I need to give.

    Are we well off? Do we have a lot of money to give? Um, no. But we do give and give without hesitation. I also give my time to advocate for families that are fund raising for their adoptions.

    As far as my money goes, it’s not mine to begin with and once again I, my husband, my children are blessed and learn the importance of giving.

    I pray that money would not be the reason why some do not adopt and others use it as a reason to tell families they should not be adopting.

    Just my .2 cents.

  12. Avatar Dawn says:

    Lynne, I hope that Andy or other adoptees will answer your question. As to your second point, I don’t necessarily agree that adoption is equivalent to buying a child. I do agree that adoptions can and should be less expensive, but there are costs involved that need to be covered. For example, medical cost of the expectant woman, counseling for her, legal fees, adoption education, homestudy fees, etc.

  13. Avatar DameCatoe says:

    “There is nothing more irritating that having someone who knows practically nothing about a subject that is of vital importance to you trying to educate you.”

    Well said!

    If one feels uncomfortable giving financially to an adoption fundrasier, then don’t. Chances are, the couple feels awkward fundraising in the first place. I certainly did. But much like friends and family wanted to throw baby showers for me when I was pregnant, they wanted to help me bring my daughter home when we were adopting.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      DameCatoe, I agree that most people feel quite uncomfortable with being the object of a benefit or fundraiser for any purpose. An even more interesting topic is whether to ask people flat out for money. Some folks are more comfortable with a benefit or fundraiser since at least they are giving something in return for the money. That’s a topic worthy of discussion in its own right.

  14. Avatar Gemma Strong Randazzo says:

    Fantastic response… and I continue to be floored on a daily basis

  15. Avatar April Coburn says:

    People need to be educated – –and you wrote a wonderful response. <3

  16. Avatar Julie says:

    I remember this post to Dear Abby and I also remember being blown away by Abby’s response. I wanted to write to her and tell her how mistaken her answer was! But I would never have been this eloquent or all encompassing with my answer. I hope someone emailed this link to Dear Abby?

    I have not had to fund raise for my adoption – yet. I have however, sold everything I have (including my house) to pay for all the IVF bills and now my pending adoption. Unless someone else is willing to shell out $30,000+ like I have to complete my family, they should have nothing to say about how I come about the funds (legally of course). Because it’s not about the money I’ve spent. It’s about sharing and shaping a life. It’s about laughing and crying with your child. It’s about making happy memories and making them laugh and smile each day. Doesn’t matter if I had to sell all my toys, electronics or pull the equity out of my house. My family matters more.

  17. Avatar Gretta Brill says:

    Many thanks so much! Which is truly great to hear!

  18. Avatar Kimberly says:

    I absolutely adore this piece. I hope that somehow, in some way Friend in Conflict finds her way to it.

  19. Avatar Jamie says:

    I am an adult adoptee. I honestly have no qualms about people raising money for adoption. Its expensive!!! Only the rich can afford it. If only the rich could afford to parent in this society then only a very small percentage would be parents and we’d have no welfare system.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Jamie, thanks for sharing your perspective. I’ve heard the same from other adult adoptees, but then some take great exception. We need to hear all views. Thanks again for sharing yours.

  20. Avatar Denver Laura says:

    We chose not to go through IVF or adoption because although we had the money, we felt it wasn’t right for us. We are about to adopt our daughter through the foster system after having 5 other kids in our home.

    One of the more difficult things about the foster system while dealing with IF is that all of those emotions come back up when dealing with the bio-parent (why her and not me?) and reunification. I do realize that adoptions can fail but the whole goal of foster care is to help the family out for a period of time till they can provide a safe home for their child.

    I would suggest to the friend to help out with perhaps hosting the location for a dinner-fundraiser or talking to her so called friend. Although I would never choose to do a fundraiser for adoption it’s not up to me to condem someone else who did.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Denver Laura, congratulations on your new daughter! You’re right, the goal of foster care is family reunification, and that is how it should be. There will, however, always be families that won’t heal and children who need parents. I’m glad you are one of those parents. You and your daughter have both been blessed.

  21. Dear AdoptedAP – thank you for sharing your unique perspective. An adoptee who has adopted certainly has more “chops” to speak to the issues than many others. I appreciate that you shared it all in an informing and educating manner. I have a lot to think about – every time I come around here at CAF….

  22. Avatar AdoptedAP says:

    Here’s where I am coming from on this. I am an adoptee. We have two children, one biological and one adopted. From a fertility standpoint, I had 6 miscarriages over the years and never tried IVF because adoption was always in my heart and something my husband and I knew we were going to do when we got married. Adoption fundraisers give me the heebie jeebies too (on the same level as the horrible term “Gotcha Day). An adoptee spends their life living with the “need to feel grateful” and figuring out that your sad, orphan face was used on a flyer to peddle stuff to get you there would really hit hard, imo. Even if the AP’s don’t force that idea, it is present everywhere by all sorts of people and insinuation. Random strangers in everyday life say things like “Oh, she is so lucky you adopted her”, “you saved her from poverty/the streets/death/insert tragic situation here”…I could go on and on. Why make friends have that feeling about your child too by asking them for money? I never want to contribute to my daughter’s future and probable feelings of needing to be grateful for us. Lord knows that I am 40 years old and STILL feel it to my core. Yes, there is cost associated with adoption and there are many ways of financing that cost. To me it is a private matter. Parenting is expensive. Life is expensive. I don’t mean to sound harsh but where there is a will there is a way. I waited tables, sold on ebay, took loans and cut expenses. I only say that here because my identity is hidden.
    Dear Abbey really needed that reality check! Talk about being out of touch with the real world!
    Peace 🙂

  23. Avatar Paula says:

    Wow! What a hot topic. I love creating a family for this kind of thing. As adoption being the same buying a baby..double wow it is so FAR from it it’s unbelievable, yet as an adoptive mother I have , of course, been asked how much she cost. However I live in Asia where I know for sure babies are sold and bought for a lot of cash. This money goes directly to the birth parents family. This is a terrible and illegal practise. With adoption the money goes on so many thing like lawyers agents paper work… The birth parents get nothing, I believe, which is how it should be. A child is a gift. However to get a child someone has to pay for all the paperwork. If people didn’t fund raise then maybe more children would spend their lives in orphanages (like I said I live in Asia).
    I was fortunate/ blessed to have my legal fees covered by a charity but not everyone is so fortunate.

  24. Avatar Ellie says:

    I agree with Dawn about the fundraising, but as far as compassion for being infertile it ends when they begin wanting another’s child. At what point do people start to ask, who should provide their own newborn for this cause?

    The newborn adoption industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Follow the money. At what point do people begin to ask, what is the industry doing to procure babies for those willing to pay?

  25. Avatar Andy says:

    I’m not sure what Erin’s comments have to do with the discussion. Feels more like she’s plugging her book.

  26. Avatar Erin Siegal says:

    Ideally, no international adoption fees would ever end up in the hands of those who buy and sell children for profit. But as Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Guatemala, and now Ethiopia have shown us over and over again, money corrupts.

    I’ve just finished reporting and writing a nonfiction book, “Finding Fernanda,” in which I trace the stories of two women, an adoptive American mother and a Guatemalan birth mother, whose lives intersect in search of the same missing child (who they both consider theirs!). The American adoptive mom and her family had fundraised to be able to support their adoption, receiving a grant as well as donations from church friends. The money they raised was turned over to an adoption agency to cover “fees,” and a large chunk of it was given to “contacts” in Guatemala to help facilitate an adoption.

    That’s where the problem lies.

    In many sending countries, no one tracks where these sizable sums of money ultimately end up. In Guatemala, various adoption networks sprang up, dedicated to finding children. They operated in a wide variety of ways, and it was commonly accepted that children were being bought, traded, and sold. In my research, I’ve found that some adoption agencies simply looked the other way. When adoptive parents complained to American state licensing agencies, the state agencies couldn’t do much: what happens on foreign soil is well beyond their jurisdiction.

    There’s nothing wrong with fundraising for adoption fees. The question, to me, is this: where, exactly, does that money go after it’s travelled through the palms of an unknown quantity of middlemen?

    Erin Siegal

  27. Avatar Janet says:

    I do not think that there is anything wrong with fundraising to help get the money together for adoption. To me this shows that the parents are not only willing to be parents but are ready to stand up and say I am ready to do this. My husband and his 3 siblings were all adopted together by a family several years ago. We also are in the process of adopting a baby that has complex medical problems. We look at adopting from a little different point of view than some of you do. We struggled with infertility for years and then miraculously had a baby girl that was born 8 weeks early and we were fortunate enough to get to bring home from the NICU. After this as she was our third pregnancy, we decided no more. We got pregnant one more time on our own which was a surprise and that baby went to heaven as well. After this we decided that we were adopting and decided that we would adopt and/or foster children who were medically complex. These children are who we feel we are called by God to watch over and help any way we can. Because of this, this has cut our costs for adopting to a minimum but we also know that not everyone is able to take these special children. If we were to decide to adopt a child that was not developmentally delayed or had medical issues we also would be fundraising as we do not have the ability to come up with 20 – 30,000 to adopt a child. My heart goes out to this mom as if this is her “best” friend, then she needs much more support than what she is getting.

  28. Avatar Cheryl says:

    I do not understand why “fundraising” makes adoption a “purchase”. That is a leap to me. No matter how you come by the funds, via fundraising, savings, taking a loan, receiving gifts, no matter what the method is, has nothing to do with the fact that the money is not being used to “purchase” a child. Adoption is expensive. There are homestudy fees, lawyer fees, counselor’s fees, birth parent living expenses, medical costs, travel expenses. What difference does it make whether you fundraise to come up with the money or you have it in the bank. How you come by the money does not change the nature of the cost of the adoption. You are not “buying” a child, you are paying trained and experienced professionals to navigate a very complex legal process to make a family because infertility has robbed you of the ability to simply get pregnant like the rest of the population.

    And great response, Dawn!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Cheryl, I suppose one way to say it is that paying for the professional services to adopt a child is no more buying a child than is paying for medical services to deliver a child by birth. The only difference is that these medical services are almost always paid for by a third party (insurance) so we don’t have to acknowledge their payment or, for that matter, even know how much they cost.

  29. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Dawn, Thank you for your words…

  30. Avatar Cynthia says:

    If someone doesn’t want to donate to a fundraiser why can they just ignore the whole thing. People surely do not want donations from anyone who is giving grudgingly for goodness sake. Just don’t do it! I personally do not give for the sake of the parents wanting to be parents but instead toward a specific child that is needing a home ASAP and then a that family has stepped up to meet the need. I give toward the need of the child.

  31. Avatar anon wp says:

    @different Dawn, seriously? someone said that to you? Every time I think I’ve heard the the full range of daft comments people make…

    I figure people are welcome to criticize as long as they are willing to hear the target of that criticism tell them to get lost. I also really like the WISE up model, not just for kids responding to awkward or hurtful comments, but also for adults facing playground-caliber judgmental statements of their own.

    @kelly, I agree to some extent. If you take a public action – like holding a benefit – then you make yourself available for public scrutiny and discussion. And, of course, no one is required to add funds to their pot. I don’t think we would ever hold a benefit to support our adoption process, but in part that’s because the world would feel it then had a right to comment on our reproductive choices. Gives me the willies.

    I don’t, however, agree with your “low success rate” comment for the infertility treatment. Our local clinic posts 60% success rates for non-complex cases. 60% ain’t bad at all, but you might not find out you’re not in that 60% until you’ve gone through 3-4 treatments (if you run the stats through an excel sheet you’ll see how the probability of success changes as you go). Who knows what data “Zoe” and her husband had in hand before making that decision.

  32. Avatar kelly says:

    Anyone who is hosting a fundraiser specifically to raise money for their adoption is opening themselves up to criticism of their choices.

    I think fundraisers for adoption are rude and inappropriate. If infertility is a disease, then I suppose that hosting a fundraiser to raise money for treatment is ok – the first time. But she did the infertility treatment 4 times. At any point in her treatment process, she needed to determine whether or not she could afford to keep trying such expensive treatment options with such a low success rate. The adoption is a choice. She is choosing an expensive adoption option AFTER choosing a risky and expensive treatment option for her infertility. That choice, which she is making very public, is not one that others need to support financially.

    BTW – There are 100,000 children available for adoption through the US foster care system, and adopting them is nearly free. And since she asked for a donation, she should be able to accept my ‘two cents’ on the issue.

  33. Avatar (A different) Dawn says:

    (Oops, typo in my comment above — should say “couples who adopt after going to great lengths…” That extra “go to” should have been deleted!)

  34. Avatar (A different) Dawn says:

    I look forward to more discussion and perspectives on the “Plan B” issue. I’m glad that (at least so far) people haven’t taken offense at my question. I am really just asking about HOW people deal with this issue/perception as opposed to being critical of infertile couples who go to adopt after going to great lengths to try to have a bio child first. Besides the concern that the kids may feel as though they are “second choice,” this also seems to be a very pervasive view in our society (which of course also impacts our kids). This was made very clear to me when I was coming off the plane while bringing my daughter home from Guatemala, and a woman said to me (in a “sympathetic” voice), “God Bless you. You did the best you could do.” I was so full of joy at bringing my daughter home, I just smiled brightly and said, “YES, we did! She is the most wonderful baby in the world and we couldn’t be happier!”

  35. Avatar anon wp says:

    @different dawn, I’m hoping you can put away the flame retardant suit because this is one of those questions that many adoptive parents ask themselves. At least, it certainly seems like it from the classes, discussion boards, and conferences I’ve attended. And it’s something my husband and I have talked about. So, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you how we think about it (though we’re just in the “waiting” phase of adoption, so there’s no doubt we are missing things). For information’s sake, we’re in a domestic newborn program, so understand that I write with that jargon and perspective in mind.

    It’s probably best to be honest (and age appropriate) with the answer. For our part, this means explaining that we made a decision to be parents first then looked at our options for becoming parents. Funny thing about that is that when we made that decision, we had visions of sleepless nights, cartoon themes being stuck in our heads, juggling activities, the joy of (hopefully) visiting our adult kids in their homes, and all that good stuff. Notice that none of that is child-specific because whether you give birth to a child or adopt a child, it’s all abstract until they arrive. No one knows who their kid is going to be. So choosing to adopt vs. trying to get pregnant is a matter of choosing a process rather than choosing a child.

    We tried to become parents without involving anyone else because it seemed the easiest way to go. We always knew adoption might be the best choice for us for various reasons, but keeping the decision of parenthood between us alone seemed like the easiest starting point. Once it was clear that that particular path was not open to us (not even an option, let alone a choice), we looked at the other possibilities and went with the one that seemed the best fit for us.

    When our child does arrive in our lives, we choose, first and foremost, to be the best parents to them we can be. To love them, support them, be engaged in their lives, and to help them figure out where they fit in the world. That would be true regardless of the way they joined the family. Adoption will always be a part of our lives once he or she arrives, and there is no doubt that the process by which they join our family will be a part of what defines us. We will do our darndest to make sure that they know that having been adopted does not make them “second best” to us or to anyone else. We also sincerely hope that his or her birthfamily will be a part of our lives so that they can help our child understand the difficult, careful decisions that were made before he or she even arrived on the scene. The very first choice that will be made for our child will not be made by us. It will be made by expectant parent or parents who are trying to find the best home and family possible for their child. The second choice will be on our side, when we say “yes, we will be the parents”.

    As for folks who chose a different path than we did and struggled through multiple rounds of IVF, I think it’s very, very easy to see it as a mistake when it doesn’t work, but it’s a choice of process that is rooted in hope. If they’d exhausted their funds but had success in the last round, we might say that the effort was worth the outcome. And think of it this way, if they spent $20k on six rounds of IVF (a quote from one local fertility clinic), then they see it as having six chances to become parents. Adoption might also cost that much, but they might see that as only having one chance. Not an odds analysis that holds up terribly well under scrutiny, but you see my point (maybe). In the end, they are still choosing what they feel is the best method for them to become parents.

    You want another good kicker question? How about how you explain to your child that before you adopted them, you have said “no” to a situation you didn’t feel comfortable with? How do you say, “if you get sick, we’ll be here for you, but we thought the other child might be born sick, so we said no to his or her birthparents.” Between costs, criteria, portfolios, etc. if you’re not careful and honest about why you’re making one decision or another, you can run really run into some situations that become very difficult to explain to a discerning 16-year old.

  36. Got the Julie Gumm book, hubby is reading it now.

    Carrie, you have a beautiful way with words and I appreciate your generous heart and compassion toward those in need around you. I admit, I think it is a rare person that can give, give generously, give anonymously and not feel a sense of ownership about it all. That might be based upon my previous experiences, which I also admit might be lacking in balance. It IS, however, what I aspire to do when my hubby and I are in the position to do so.

    Different Dawn, I really also appreciate your thoughtful and logical approach to the conversation. While I have never struggled with infertility either, I do have many questions tossed at me about why we’re adopting again after 4 bios and 1 adoption. Different questions but same vein of logicking, if you will. Folks question our interest in pursuing adoption as if our bio kids “aren’t enough” or as if we’re adopting girls cuz one bio girl “wasn’t enough” or we needed to “even the gender score card.” Yes, folks have said that. It is hard to answer in a way that makes folks understand that adoption is not our plan B. Or that helps folks understand that it’s not about gender or “trying again” or “starting over” – for pete’s sake, there’s not that many years between our bio kids and our adopted daughter. But folks say strange and crazy things…

    I am anxious to hear how others answer your questions so that I can think through how to relate it in a way that answers questions about our choices…. I’ll be checking back.

  37. Avatar Melissa says:

    Dawn, I loved your response to Dear Abby. I agree whole heartedly with everything you had to say. I myself am not in the unfortunate position where my husband and I need to fundraise for our upcoming adoption, however, I am disappointed at the lack of compassion out there for people who are unable to afford adopting. I wonder if these people would feel more empathy and understanding if they were in a similar boat to Zoe.
    I am grateful to you for providing this forum for people to discuss this topic. I think it is an important tool in increasing education and awareness of the many issues adoption entails.

  38. Avatar (A different) Dawn says:

    Dawn D., you asked whether my feelings would be different if (like Zoe), we hadn’t been able to afford adoption without doing a fundraiser. I’m not quite sure how to answer that, as it’s (always) tough to know how you’d really feel/act in a different reality. We had to scrimp, save, and borrow in order to afford our adoption process, so it’s not like the money was just lying around waiting to be spent, but it’s hard to know how differently I would have felt if our financial situation meant that that there’d be no way to afford adoption without fundraising. Our situation was also different in that (unlike many on this blog), we did not struggle with infertility. So honestly, if we hadn’t been able to afford to adopt, we would have had another option that “Zoe” and others do not.

    Which brings me to another question/concern — and I’m sorry if this sounds insensitive; I fully admit that I haven’t “been there,” so I can’t possibly know what it’s like to deal with infertility. But how do you get around the perception (to your child and others) that adoption was your “second choice” or “last resort”? The fundraising seems to compound the problem — in “Zoe’s” case, they’d wiped out their entire savings on IVF, so THEN they decided to adopt, but needed to fundraise in order to do so. How does that send any message other than “a bio child was so important to us that we were willing to spend every penny we had to try to make that happen, and only when that failed multiple times and we ran out of money and had no other options, we decided to adopt. And our friends and family were all willing to chip in because they knew how heartbroken we were that we couldn’t have bio children and at least we were rescuing a poor orphan.”

    (I’m hesitant to hit “submit,” and am putting on my flame-retardant suit, as I’m sure this isn’t a popular perspective. But I’m certainly not saying that infertile couples shouldn’t adopt, or that they shouldn’t try IVF first — I’m really just asking the question of HOW do you get around this issue when your child is old enough to understand?)

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Different Dawn, I’m going to step back and let those who have experienced it discuss how they handle the “second choice” or “Plan B” issue with thier child. I think you raise a serious and important question and one many infertile parents who then adopt think about. It is also a subject that I speak on at infertility conferences. In fact, the more that I think about it, the more I want to “elevate” this discussion to a blog of its own. This topic is too important to be relegated to the comments. So folks, feel free to discuss it here, but I may turn it into it’s own discussion as well. Thank you Dawn for the thoughtful question.

  39. Avatar Sarah says:

    I saw this earlier this week. Beyond the moronic question and response, something about the exchange bothered me. It is almost as if the woman is looking for a public venue to trash her friend; I mean, is there really a question that you are never required to donate to ANY cause, and that yes, the intended cause of donation might not work out. This is just so passive aggressive, and I’m annoyed that Abbey even published this letter. Period.

    I am personally squeamish about adoption fundraising for all the reasons mentioned above. But I recognize that we were fortunate that we could save and pay for it without going into debt. I think there may be tasteful ways to fundraise – more along the lines of privately asking a few people for some help. I have seen a few adoption fundraising campaigns that seem to draw more upon quite aq bit of attention to the prospective adoptive families for being godly or righteous rather the adoption itself, and that has rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Sarah, I also thought the letter clearly showed the lack of connection between these so-called “best friends”. If they had a deep abiding friendship, wouldn’t Zoe already know about Conflicted’s financial worries. If so, a true friend wouldn’t not expect her to contribute financially when she didn’t have the money. But then again, wouldn’t Conflicted already know about how deeply scarred Zoe was from the failed infertility treatment and how tentatively excited she was about the glimmer of hope provided by adoption.

  40. Avatar Carrie says:

    Love and Treasure.

    “Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends… to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last… This is my command: Love each other.” Parts of John 15: 13- 17.

    Wow! God had to know that in my very selfish me centered world, I would need multiple daily reminders that His desire is for me to love way beyond myself and to abundantly love others- friends, family and even strangers- where they are at in their life journey.

    The result is my “joy may be complete” (John 15: 11). Thinking back over times of great joy in my life, it usually involved an element of helping someone.

    Love sometimes involves sacrifices on our part. Maybe we think friends and money are like oil and water- they don’t mix. However, I love that we have the opportunity to use money to bless others.

    I am honored (honestly) when a friend shares with me a personal need because I know it is difficult to say- I need help.

    In the adoption journey, where the range of emotions are so vast, it can be a huge expression of love to financially support a friend.

    In our adoption journey, we chose not to raise support. However, one day at church a minister handed me an envelop he said was from a friend wanting to support our adoption. Inside the envelop was a sweet card- unsigned with $500 cash in it. We never asked anyone for money, but I cannot express to you how powerful that was for my husband and I.

    I love that this friend did this anonymously. We felt so loved and supported. This person treasured us and supported our journey. I envision when this person saw our daughter for the first time they felt joy, as God promised, not a sense of ownership.

    “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 20- 21

    I see any child as a precious treasure. When supporting a friend financially in their adoption journey, I am not giving money to help “buy” a child. I am simply helping fund the services required to get this sweet gift home. I see this gift as financial “fruit” that will last.

    Oh how I pray, my treasure may be people- not things or selfish motivations. May I be willing to sing, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give” and mean it.

    Thanks Dawn for so eloquently dispelling yet another myth surrounding the foster, adoption and infertility community. May God continue to bless you!

  41. Avatar Amy says:

    I don’t think an adoption fundraiser is appropriate, why did they try 4 IVF cycles? Why did they not stop earlier and use the money for adoption? We choose not to do IVF because of the chances, it is not a guarantee that you are going to conceive. We choose international adoption because the children were already here. As you can tell I personally don’t support adoption fundraising, doing it or contributing.

  42. Avatar Jamie says:

    i am sitting here in tears because your response is absolutely perfect and i “feel” every word you said. i hope “friend in conflict” does too.

  43. @ Cathy – your post made me cry. Beautifully said and I love the reminder that the money isn’t ours anyway. We just finished Financial Peace University in our church – getting our finances in order that we might give and give and give, however the Lord directs us to give. Thanks!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Gang’s Mom and Cathy, let me also recommend a book–Adopt Without Debt by Julie Gumm. I’ll have to admit that I haven’t read it yet, but I have it and she will be on an upcoming panel on our show on Adopting Without Going Broke. I’ve skimmed the book and it looks great.

  44. Avatar Valerie says:

    Dawn – You are simply awesome. Thanks so much for giving voice to all those feelings that so many know nothing about.

  45. Avatar Michelle @ Bridge Communications says:

    Adoption can be expensive but it is the services and costs that the propestive adoptive parents are paying for, not the child. As an adoption attorney, I tell parents instead of paying the doctor to deliver, you pay the social workers and lawyers to deliver. (Sometimes a doctor too.) Now, some social workers and lawyers overcharge BUT often I do not think people understand the actual costs of the services. ( See Tracy’s comments above. ) of course fees and costs vary by type of adoption and state. But the agencies/ social workers have to do both the pre assessment and paperwork of the adoptive parents as well as post placement. ( That requires social workers to be on staff with salaries, and benefits, and taxes and health care ( one hopes)). In addition, the agency has to work with the birth mother and probably worked with many other birth mothers who choose to parent. In other words, the fee PAP pays to adopt goes not only to cover the cost of their specific birth mother but also time and expense on other birth moms who decided they would parent. It also goes to running a business- renting space, keeping licensed with the state and all of its paperwork, pens, paper, computers, internet service, coffee, paying the accountant, phone lines, paying the corporate lawyer, paying the state its’ business fee, advertisement, etc… In short, a fee an agency charges is not ” per child” although it may seem that way as agencies advertise as such. And thus an adoptee may feel like that is the price paid for them but in reality it is the price that agency at that time at that place thought it needed to charge to provide services ( and in some cases profit.) And for those who say , if you adopt through the child welfare system, it’s free. No it is Not! The tax payers just pick up those costs instead of the PAPs. And when charities are involved- the goodness of strangers offset the costs for PAPs. In short, any adoption requires by law professionals to be involved and the professionals get paid whether by PAPs, taxpayers, or donations. But the cost of “a” adoption does equal the cost ” of a child”.

  46. Avatar Crystal says:

    I just want to say that I enjoy giving to people even when I don’t know them, it makes me feel good! Sometimes when I’m reading blogs, the couples story touches my heart and I will contribute to their fund. I love having children and can’t imagine life without them. I wish adoption cost less but it doesn’t and chances are that mother has already waited long enough to be a mom.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Crystal, I too like to give to people and fairly frequently do so. Most often it is to people I don’t know. It makes me feel good and makes me feel like the world is a little less huge and scary.

  47. Avatar Cindy says:

    Dawn – thank you for the comments back to “Dear Abby” – as you so rightly pointed out, it was obvious she knew nothing of the experiences people go through when dealing with infertility and adoption. What a great way to respond, and to hopefully prevent the friend from making a friendship-ending mistake!

    I’m a single woman looking to create a family of my own and I am also floored by the lack of understanding in the people around me. Since most responsible single moms (or dads!) do not become so without outside aid (tissue banks, REs, adoption agencies, etc.) we are almost always faced with substantial costs in this journey and it is very easy to exhaust your savings on one method – for example, donor insemination – and still find yourself childless when it doesn’t work. So although we aren’t all infertile, I think we face many of the same challenges infertile couples do and it is difficult when people make such thoughtless remarks.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that most people are intensely private about this aspect of our lives and so this remains “unknown”. There is a great article in the WSJ today about a would-be-single mom fighting infertility that talks about the fact that we, as a society, just don’t talk about the infertility journey – not with each, not with our children, not with our doctors, and we set ourselves up for problems before we even being by doing so.

    Thanks again for the great response to the Dear Abby letters – the only way we can gain understanding is to educate people so they don’t act or speak in ignorance.

  48. Avatar Lisa says:


  49. Avatar Jen says:

    Sure hope you sent this directly to Dear Abby!!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Jen, I didn’t. I don’t know how to get it to her. I would remover the snarky phrase “stupidity control”. I felt kind of bad even including it here.

  50. Avatar Janis says:

    I think the response was fantastic. Anything that provides a pat answer isn’t likely on the mark.

    My concern in the discussion is the focus on “buying,” fundraising, and all other things money. Starting and continuing parenting does cost money, and a lot more. It does take a village, including lawyers, clerks, social workers and nurses. You can’t avoid engaging community in good parenting. Hopefully support, and the way we think of parenting, isn’t limited to financial.

    Perhaps a “fund raiser” isn’t the whole solution.

  51. Avatar Future Adoptive Mom says:

    This is a great post, I just have one tiny thing to ask that you consider. When you wrote this:

    “Infertility is a disease that affects so many aspects of life. Some people have little desire to parent, so this disease is less devastating. But for others, being a parent is central to their life. They crave the experience, the inclusion in the mommy circle, the Thanksgiving table surrounded by kids and grandkids, the continuity of love and caring from parent to child and child to parent. For these women, infertility is devastating”

    I agree. I’m an infertile woman, in the process of starting adoption with my husband. I have many of those feelings.

    But so does my husband. For him, our infertility is just as devastating. Lots of men dearly want to parent, and feel the same desires to nurture, care for and love their children. I like to see parenting talks and sensitivities be open to this, and welcoming to fathers who want to parent.

    I realize that this article was about a Mother’s feelings, and so I’m sure that’s why you spoke only about the effect of infertility on female parents. For all I know, you’re sensitive to this issue all the time and the apparent omission here is just the context. But those are my two cents.

  52. But Dawn – does the IVF fundraising have the emotional appeal of help save this orphan from growing up in an orphanage or help me adopt a baby based on the public’s perception of all those babies that need rescued instead of aborted? That is the difference in my opinion.

    I remember your post – it is blog my friend and I created that you linked too.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      The Adopted Ones: I suppose the “appeal” of an IVF fundraiser is to help rescue the infertile person from childlessness. I do see your point and distinction.

  53. Avatar Gen says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with adoption fundraisers, in fact, I’ve contributed to a few of them for a friend of mine. Adoption is expensive, especially if it’s inter-country. That being said, there is also nothing wrong with deciding foster parenting or adopting through the foster care system is better for your family. After going through 3 miscarriages, my husband and I weighed our options and decided that foster care is a good solution for us. I do not agree with Abby that it is the “perfect” solution by any means! Choosing to adopt or foster is such a personal decision, if friends or family members are ignorant or uneducated about it, I guess we need to educate them about our choices.

  54. Avatar Kimberley says:

    Wow–some best friend “Friend in Conflict” is! I don’t in general agree with “adoption fundraisers” either, but it would seem to me that “Zoe” is a slightly different case, having used all of her savings for IVF. It’s not like she didn’t save or plan, or decided to adopt on a whim.
    You don’t have to contribute financially to be supportive. I LOVE how you pointed out that if “Friend” thinks she can educated “Zoe” on fostering/adoption–she is truly out of the loop.
    And as for Dear Abby–what ignorant tripe.

  55. Avatar Julia says:

    Oh! And the fundraiser was very well-done, I felt. They had people donate items for a silent auction, they had a scavenger hunt around town, dinner was provided, and there was a wine bar where wine, etc. could be purchased by the glass.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      It is possible to have a fundraiser where people actually have fun while raising money for something. There are two local fundraisers which are just a plain old good time that I look forward to each year. One by our local Red Cross is a Casino Night where they give you fake money to play all these casino type games. Another is for our local homeless shelter and they have a live band, good food, and dancing. Yes, I pay more than it actually costs them to put on the event, but that’s fine by me. I want to support both organizations. I realize this doesn’t address the issues being raised about how knowing that your parents held a fundraiser to afford your adoption would make you feel as an adopted person.

  56. Avatar Linda R. says:

    Great insights by both you, Dawn, and the commenters. Very thought provoking. Thanks for being so diligent and current with Creating a Family. It is priceless!

  57. The way I see it, this discussion will never be agreed upon by those who camp strongly in the “adoption fundrasing is never right” and those who reside in opposite field of “adopt to save/rescue a poor little orphan.” Too many polarizing worldviews between them, methinks.

    I am so torn, myself, frankly. I strongly resist the “adopt to rescue” mentality for myself and my Gang. Yes, we are born-again believers who will be raising all of our Gang in our belief system that says we all need Jesus. And without Jesus life is meaningless. BUT I don’t believe that proselytizing my faith should be the reason I work my hiney off to bring another sweet little girl into my home. We are gearing up for another adoption BECAUSE WE DON’T FEEL OUR FAMILY IS DONE YET. BECAUSE WE HAVE MORE LITTLE ONES IN OUR HEART TO LOVE AND WE WANT TO SEE THEIR LITTLE FACES IN OUR HOME. Period. In fact, I want it so badly that I am tearing up as I am typing this. In my view, it’s already been too long a wait for my next daughter.

    Having said that, I will be the first to admit that we don’t have the necessary $24+K sitting around to do that. Granted, we have more tightening up to do. We have more debt-snowballing to finish. We have more STUFF to sell and more income to generate. (Anyone need some editing or writing work done?!) But if we wait till all those ducks are in a row to HAVE all that $$, we have several unwanted extenuating circumstances that will occur. Circumstances that are private. That are tender to a momma’s heart. That can be solved if we had the money sooner than later.

    So we wonder. Can/should we fundraise? In my particular circles (church, special needs/adoptive moms), the vast majority say “Yes. Go for it. However we can help.” And I have some kickin’ good ideas (aaaah, that communications/public relations experience and degree are coming in handy now!) floatin’ around my head. Ideas that could turn into a great annual event that would possibly help us help other families build their families. Which is the second thing that I wonder about. When I do feel as if my family is “complete” (I hope sincerely that it is with this next one for whom we are working and waiting!), I wonder if I can parlay my passion to see kids find families into some fundraising and/or awareness support. I WANT to parlay my degree and my experience and my passion into something that creates permanent and loving change for kids and parents.

    Which brings me back to the fundrasing… If it is done rightly, without the “save my child the pitiful orphan” focus; if it is done with integrity and with a sincere effort at helping folks build families, what on earth is so wrong? I know, I am not an adoptee and I don’t fully understand the implications for how it might make them feel. But really? Shame on the folks who would allow that message to settle over their adopted child! That would allow lies and wrong motives to attach themselves to their child’s psyche without swooping in with loving TRUTH of the matter. When I hear a lie, any distortion of truth spoken to or about my child’s life (any of my children!), I correct it.

    I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. And I’ve never laid out my thoughts or heart about fundraising and adoption quite this publicly before. I fully realize that I am likely speaking in great niavete. Sigh. I am just a Momma who loves her kids. Those here in my gang’s headquarters and those not yet home. And frankly, most days, I feel like I will do anything I have to to get my next mei-mei home where she can be loved and doted upon like Li’l E is. Even if I make major faux pas along the way.

    Which, I fully recognize I am likely already doing. Another sigh.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Tracy, I for one am happy that you chose here to express your thoughts so eloquently. I have not actually ever seen a fundraiser with the emphasis on “saving the poor pitiful orphan”, but I have no doubt that some folks do inadvertently (or perhaps intentionally) paint it that way. I would personally have more problems asking people for money to help me pay for an adoption than I would giving something in return for their contributions. I know of churches who are helping their members with covenant loans (as someone mentioned in an earlier comment) or by hosting a church wide fundraiser to help promote their adoption ministry.

  58. Avatar Julia says:

    I have friends who had a fundraiser for adoption for their child. Prior to their fundraiser, my DH and I felt compelled to gift them an ample sum of money to put toward the adoption we knew they were pursuing. At the time we had just had our 4th failed fertility treatment and our desire was to do what we could to help another couple achieve a dream of theirs that was only prevented by their lack of funding.

    As to whether or not adopting a child is “purchasing” a child, my friends who were adopted remark that they were doubly chosen, first by God and second by their parents. In the US you have no choice really but to pay money to adopt, so raising the funds for it to happen sooner just conveys that the parents already love their future child so much they can’t wait years upon years to save money to have them.

    In the case of our friends we gifted money to of our own accord, without being asked, but simply because we could see how much they already loved this child they’d never met and we wanted to see them hold him soon, we were happy to participate in the fundraiser (they asked us not to contribute financially again but to simply be involved). Those they invited were close friends and family who also wanted them to hold their child as their own sooner rather than later.

    Sadly, money cannot be removed from the adoption equation in most cases, so I see no problem with doing everything legally possible to reduce the amount of time it will take to accumulate the necessary funding. It should in no way indicate that the child is less loved/wanted, but rather moreso!

  59. Fundraising for adoption is just plain wrong. Would you fundraise for IVF? A new car? How about the boat you have always wanted? How about chipping in for people who can get pregnant but will have all those extra or all the hospital fees? And then the second thought is if you fundraise and then get the ATC do you repay? Is that money considered income that you need to include on your income tax?

    It just has far too many issues…and those issues can and may impact the one most wanted – are you willing to risk that when there are other sane options?

    The bottom line is being adopted is hard enough – don’t add to the issue by creating more pressure on the gratitude feelings we already get from John Q Public…having had the “chip in” is going to add more pressure.

    Have people never considered the good old fashioned concept of making montly payments into a savings account, reducing their spending to achieve their goals? Selling things you don’t need without mentioning the adoption word at all…

    The want it now mentality is really creating a sense of entitlement instead of fostering the attitude of working towards your goal – in all facets of life.

  60. Avatar Ellen says:

    Whether it’s for a wedding, a new house, or an adoption, people are tired of money-grubbing. From the original letter:

    “I know I’ll be talked about by Zoe and her mother if I don’t contribute.”

    Also, with bridal showers, neither the bride NOR the bride’s family is supposed to solicit or organize them.

    The infertile are no more or no less than any of us, and the rules of our society still apply.

  61. Avatar Lori says:

    I am canadian, and we did a private adoption: and I can assure you the cost was far more than $1000 for just the homestudy, actually almost 18 times that in total. It is expensive, and we did need to choose between adoption and IVF as we were sure we couldn’t afford both, and although I have never thought about it as a purchase, lots of of people around us do consider it a purchase. We got many a comments: wow, you could have gotten a car? or a nice trip? people dont think before they speak, they just are unable to relate.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Lori, in some ways one of the hardest part of the infertility or adoption journey is the general lack of understanding. Honestly, we are trying our best here at Creating a Family to change that, but I’m reminded daily (as when I read that Dear Abby response) that we have a long way to go.

  62. Avatar John says:

    Ok Andy first off wow!!!

    You mean in Canada the only thing that you paid for was your home study?? I have often wondered why is it that adoption is so expensive in this country. I have a niece who was adopted and what my sister had to go through in terms of financial dealings to finally adopt her (she was the little one’s foster mom as well) I thought was outrageous and yes I felt it was akin to purchasing a child. Now my wife and I are looking at adoption and to be honest the finances needed are once again outrageous. We want kids to have happy loving homes and then our system makes it so expensive… It just baffles me as to the reasoning behind it all.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      John, usually adoptions from foster care cost very little, and whatever money is spent is refundable in taxes. There are other frustrations when adopting from foster care, but cost is usually not one of them. I’m sorry that wasn’t your sister’s experience.

  63. Avatar (A different) Dawn says:

    I’m not an adoptee, but I am an adoptive parent, and I have similar feelings to what Andy mentioned regarding the fundraising idea. Even without having had a “benefit” to help cover the costs of our daughter’s adoption, I fairly frequently get ignorant comments or questions implying that we “purchased” her. (“How much did she cost?” “I never want to go through labor again, if we decide to have more kids, I’m going to buy one like you did.” Seriously.) I can only imagine how much worse this would be if we’d had some kind of fundraising event to help finance the process. And would “donors” then feel like they had some sort of “partial ownership”, and/or feel like they have a right to meddle in our parenting decisions because they helped with the financial aspects of the adoption? Eek. It gives me the heeby-jeebies as well!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Different Dawn, do you think your feelings be different if you were like Zoe and would not be able to afford adoption otherwise?

  64. Dawn – do you not read adoptee blogs and all their different perspectives?

    I would assume that how each of your children may feel differently about adoption in the future would be of interest…so many voices out there and each unique.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Adopted One, so true about all the different perspective–each one unique and each one valid. That’s what I love about the Creating a Family community–we can share all these different perspectives and learn from each other! Thanks for being a part of the discussion.

  65. Avatar paula says:

    Fundraisers for adoption are a hot topic on Rumor Queen. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re having a yardsale or something like that, have it but don’t say you’re raising money for the adoption. But having a benefit specifically for the adoption seems to rub alot of people the wrong way, including and especially adult adoptees.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Paula, thanks so much for sharing that. Would you mind posting over on Rumor Queen the link to this blog. I’d love to get some of that information and comments over here for others to see. Such an interesting subject and clearly one that needs more exposure.

  66. Avatar Laura Jean says:

    Wow! I want everyone I know to read this. I have lost friends and had many heated debates over mentioning the research showing that infertility is as stressful as cancer because all people could focus how was how cancer can kill you, my response fell on deaf ears. It’s true infertility doesn’t kill you, you have to live with it. The medical research surprised me but also gave me permission to believe infertility is a real disease. Thank you Dawn for writing this response.

  67. Avatar andy says:

    Great reply. However as an adoptee myself the idea of potential adoptive parents having a fund raiser to raise money for their adoption gives me the heeby-jeebies! It makes me feel like I would have been nothing more then a purchase. I would love to explore this topic further… I wonder if there are any adoptees out there who’s parents used fundraisers, and are now old enough to commment?

    Once again it reinforces for me the Canadian approach to adoption… no money was involved for my son’s adoption, other then to pay to have our homestudy done (about $1000) as we were going through a private adoption and not through Children’s Aid.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Andy, I would also love to get the perspective on other adoptees on how they would feel if their parents had raised money for their adoption through fundraisers or benefits. I had never thought of it that way. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective.

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