PETA Says “Just Adopt”

Dawn Davenport


PETA Says "Just Adopt"

PETA Says “Just Adopt”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) issued a non-apology apology on Facebook for their campaign to offer a free vasectomy if you sterilize your pet “in honor of” National Infertility Awareness Week.  They said “We meant no offense to those who are struggling to conceive. Please know that there are many people who wish to be sterilized—it’s those people that we’re aiming to reach.”  They chose not to address the real, and for most of us only, issue—their tying the free vasectomy offer to National Infertility Awareness Week.  However, several people on Twitter have told me that they received a response from PETA saying basically that the infertility community should not be offended because they can always just adopt.  I received several comments to this effect on my blog (PETA Takes Aim and Hits the Infertile)

As an adoptive mom, adoption educator, and adoption proponent, let me take a moment to address why “just adopting” is not a cure for infertility.  Adoption was Plan A for me. I always knew that I wanted to adopt, and it was my plan since childhood.  It was and is the right choice for me.  It is not, however, the right choice for everyone.

The phrase “just adopt” shows a lack of understanding about adoption in the US.  Adoption favors the young, heterosexual, “healthy”, upper middle class couple.  If you don’t fit that description, adoption is often a slow difficult process.  It may still be possible, but the adjective “just”, with its implications of “easy”, certainly doesn’t fit.

It is true that adopting children from foster care is an option for singles, gays (depending on the state) and those of moderate income.  This is a terrific option for many.  However, most of the 130,000 US children that are legally free to adopt through foster care are above the age of 6, have experienced trauma, and many are part of sibling groups.  Parenting these kids is not a good option for many people, and I suspect is not an option many of those who bandy about the phrase “just adopt” would consider for themselves.

Adoption is also not a good option in general for many infertile people.  Parenting means different things to different people. Most people never have to dissect what they want out of parenthood.  They grow up vaguely assuming that someday they will become a parent, and then they give birth.   End of story.  But if you are infertile, you have to go the next step to decide what parenthood means to you.

Some people decide that their ultimate goal is parenting.  They want to go through the process of raising a child: the wiping of droolly chins; the flat footed ballet recitals; the sitting on the bench of endless ball games; the Christmas morning chaos of paper, cookies, and wonder; the sleepovers; the teaching to drive; the senior prom; the coming home from college; the grandkids.  These folks have options if they find themselves infertile– donor eggs, surrogate, or adoption.   I don’t want to minimize their pain at losing a biological connection, or their need to grieve this loss, or the financial costs, but they can and most often do, move forward to become happy and content parents.  For them, these Plan Bs are an alternative path to their real goal of parenting.

For others, their dreams of parenthood are not so simple.  Yes, they want to raise a child, but not just any child.  They want and need the biological connection to this child.  They crave the genealogical continuity.  They are too wounded by infertility to risk adoption.  Most people I talk to who feel this way, wish they didn’t.  They wish they could just accept the Plan B of adoption.

Rather than judge them as a failure or as selfish for not being able to accept the more conventional second option, I respect them for knowing what is right for them and not trying to blindly make adoption fit.  If it is not “right” for them, it is also not right for any child they might have had through adoption.

How anyone can feel anything but compassion for those suffering with the disease of infertility is truly beyond me.  Come on PETA, have the guts to admit you made a mistake.


Image credit: marsmettn tallahassee


07/04/2011 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 27 Comments

27 Responses to PETA Says “Just Adopt”

  1. Pingback: The Infertility Voice | PETA Update #3: Close, But No Cigar

  2. Avatar Monica Fern says:

    Holding your baby in your arms is amazing, however he came.

  3. Avatar Jocelyne Davis Gray says:

    For my husband and I, adoption is our best hope of becoming parents. We are into year 3 of our adoption processes – international and foster-adopt. There have been delays of all sorts with both. I know one couple who has experienced two failed domestic adoptions. One does not “just adopt”.

  4. Avatar Karen says:

    I’m an adoptive mom who moved on from the IF diagnosis to almost ten years of believing I’d never be a parent. Adoption didn’t feel like an option for me, until one day – it did. Adoption isn’t a cure for infertility. It is a choice to be a parent by following a different path.

    If adoption is your “Plan B” – you probably shouldn’t do it. It’s not easy – emotionally, financially. It’s not hard, either – when it’s right. It shouldn’t be a fall back plan or an exercise in charity.

    I like to think of adoption as my “Second Plan A.” It’s not what I envisioned – but now, as I sit here with my amazing, beautiful son – I wouldn’t change a thing. But I also don’t think it’s for everyone.

  5. Avatar Gemma Strong Randazzo says:

    Dawn fantastic way of putting it. THANK YOU

  6. Avatar Julie Mengel Garlington says:


  7. Avatar Kari Wilson says:

    Infertility struggles will always be a sensitive topic to some and yet most of us will never understand the pain involved. This can’t be solved so I say let’s just forgive and move on.

  8. Avatar loribeth says:

    Fabulous post, Dawn, thank you. : )

  9. Avatar flowerchica says:

    Dawn good point… this is more semantics. I really meant to say pregnancy + motherhood experience. In my head they are one in the same. I think of the part after the baby is born… as parenting.. but yes… I was talking about carrying a baby in your womb and then giving birth.

  10. Avatar celia says:

    This is a lovely post, and I was glad to read it.

  11. Avatar Lorrayne says:

    I have always been a huge advocate of Peta – in fact when I lived in London before I came to the USA I was a long time volunteer. Peta use the shock tactic to get messages across. If you knew what went on truly behind the scenes in laboratories, slaughter houses, furriers, dairy farms, just to name a few you may feel a little differently. I am an adoptive mother, also suffered infertility. I do get that adoption is not the way for some people (although I cannot think for the life of me why) but it is not true that Peta only care about animals. I could go on and on here about how meat and dairy is linked with cancer, heart disease and world hunger but that is not the topic. I am sorry that some people find them offensive but in a way they win regardless coz here we are talking about them. It is like they say ‘All publicity is good publicity’. I Love Peta, I love shock tactics. I am very comfortable with adoption and did want to adopt since birth too, I had wanted both Bio and adopted but just got one of those wishes and that is totally cool with me. Just like animals there are a zillion homeless kids out there. To me in my little mind it is a no brainer now. Why not adopt -what is the difference? I am sure my comments will upset someone but such is life 😉

  12. Avatar Diane says:

    I agree, I won’t open their webpage or look at their FB page. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of my click. They don’t deserve it, they are spineless skum. I guess we can only hope that this will help to discredit their organization.

  13. Avatar Joanna says:

    Unfortunately, PETA again does something outrageous and totally inappropriate and insensitive and they simply DON’T CARE about who they hurt, unless it’s an animal. I care for animals and do give financially to a few animal organizations, but PETA tries these sensational, offensive techniques to get people talking and really they don’t care about people. Simple as that.

  14. Avatar Amy says:

    Where is their “apology”? I couldn’t find it on their FB page. Their behavior is despicable and I want to go right to the source to post a comment.

  15. Avatar Jennifer says:

    Adoption was my first choice. I HATE the words “just adopt” like it is some sort of consolation prize. ARGHHH!!!

  16. Avatar flowerchica says:

    Ugh… I’m wondering how PETA felt that sterilization and infertility went hand in hand???? Sterilization is the absolute LAST thing anyone going through infertility is thinking about. I’m all about taking care of animals… but I’ve never been a big fan of PETA – I’ve always felt they have been on the outer fringes of normal.

    Dawn – your post is dead on…. adoption is not a cure for infertility. It’s an alternative option when fertility attempts fail, but even it is a difficult and incredibly expensive process. I’ve always hated the “just adopt” attitude. It’s not like you can just pick a kid off the shelf and that takes away all your infertility woes! Also – many of us want to experience the motherhood experience, and adoption won’t replace that. But no more ranting from me 🙂

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Flowerchica, I hear ya. I did want to make one comment. I think you had a typo when you said you wanted “to experience the motherhood experience”. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but I suspect what you meant to say is that you wanted to experience the “pregnancy experience” because indeed one of the many beautiful things about adoption is that you do get to experience the “motherhood experience”.

  17. Avatar Geri Weaver says:

    Okay, Dawn, here’s my response to PETA (and I am a dog lover as well). Adoption was my plan A. So many children needing homes, why try to conceive, bring another child into the world when there were so many that needed me? Enter my husband – a C5 quadriplegic. Little did I know how that would affect the decision I had made in my early 20s. We did try to conceive, and it was my problem – a uterus damaged internally, and flipped totally upside down. No hope there. We found an agency to work with and had two seemingly successful Vietnam adoptions. We wanted three children. Vietnam shut down. Reopened. Tried working with the same agency, which had somehow totally changed during the shut-down. No longer the “ethical” agency we believed them to be. Vietnam shut down again, leaving us out a pile of money and no referral. For the past 4 1/2 years, we have been researching countries, trying to find one that would work with my husband’s disability. Domestic agencies will not work with us, stating in our state, a birth mother will not place her child with us, because of his injury. Foster agencies stop short of laughing at us for trying. No one will place a child with us, because he is disabled. He works fulltime to support our family at a good, stable job. I am a fulltime, stay at home mother to our boys. But agencies don’t see that. So just adopt, PETA? It’s not as easy as that.

  18. Avatar Nett says:

    Fantastically written Dawn. Thank you! PETA will never learn. They are entrenched in their own mission and care nothing for others. THIS is why they champion animals, animals give unconditional love and human, well, we call BS and tell them keep the crazy in the closet. I do hope they lose a lot of supporters over this. They need to.

  19. Avatar Lori says:

    As usual, Thank you Dawn these seem to words right out of my mouth 🙂

  20. Avatar Erin says:

    One of your best pieces, ever, Dawn. Thanks for posting.

  21. Avatar Willow says:

    This is such a great post. Your point about who has an easy time with adoption really struck me because we fit all those criteria and yeah, we were lucky to adopt quickly. But it still wasn’t a “just adopt” situation. Six months of paperwork, three months of waiting, ten months of post-placement drama, and oh yeah, $20,000–all worth it for our son, but certainly not the easy way out. And you’re exactly right–it’s not for everyone, and it’s ridiculous to expect every infertile to choose this route.

    Btw Geri–I have a friend whose husband is quadriplegic and they adopted thru the same agency we did–domestic open adoption. Yep, a birthmother chose them–because they were exactly the right match for her baby! Our agency works with couples nationwide–go to for more info. We didn’t love them during post-placement, but they were fantastic up to that point and they don’t discriminate!

  22. Avatar FET Accompli says:

    An incredible post. Wounded is the perfect word to describe the pain of infertility.

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