Having to Choose - IVF versus Adoption

To summarize for those just joining us, Atala and I had been married three years, trying to get pregnant for over two years, and had about a year of fertility tests and assisted reproductive therapy (ART). The doctor's diagnosis was unexplained infertility. My laid back personality allowed me to take each day as it came but there was some anxiety and disappointment as the results for each stage came - positive if it was a medical test, and negative if it was a pregnancy test. Yes, most things were OK with my body, but I just was not getting pregnant. You can read more on the infertility page.

One thing that was not so OK was my age. I was 31 when I got married and last October, I turned 34,  that magic age where a woman's body, according to medical evidence, becomes not as fertile as it should be for optimal natural conception. We had tried Clomid, artificial insemination, and so it wasn't a big surprise when the doctor wanted us to be more aggressive and to move to the next step, which is in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF should give us good odds, he said, and from all indications, the success rate was much better than anything we had tried before.

Now, I understand the need for IVF, but I am also one big supporter of adoption. Yes, I understood that infertility, or difficulty in conceiving naturally, is a medical problem and those who are affected should seek treatment. We had spent between two to three thousand over the two years we had been trying to conceive both naturally and through ART, and that was OK. It was worth it if the tests and visits would help determine what the problem was and help the doctors recommend pills or supplements to increase our chances of conceiving.

But it rubbed me the wrong way to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a non-life-threatening issue when we could adopt a child and put the same amount towards their future, or even donate it to an orphanage. So for me, IVF was not a comfortable choice. It was something that demanded a lot of soul searching from me. Just thinking about it, I could already feel twinges of guilt at being selfish and spending so much in having my "own" child instead of adopting a child in need. I know that's not completely true and not for everyone, but it was what I was thinking.

At the same time, I had to acknowledge that there was a part of me that would really like a child that had Atala's sexy eyes, or my funny retrousse nose or our combined intelligence. Yeah, yeah... :)

Also, there was Atala. There had been lots of discussion with Atala over the past 2 years and so I could already guess his stand even before he said anything. I knew he would want to try. He had been supportive and kept up every step of the way. He did his own tests and made several lifestyle changes that boosted his health overall. He was there for me for when I needed him both physically and emotionally, including taking time off work to drive me around or keep me company at the doctor's.

I also read somewhere that maybe IVF would give the doctors more insight than they had from the tests we had done so far and that helped me make a decision to go ahead with the procedure. Atala and I equally agreed not to get fixated on IVF - to try just once or twice - and to explore adoption.

On the financial side, there was something to assuage my conflicted feelings. We took insurance. I felt like if insurance was paying, I wouldn't feel so guilty about spending so much money. Again, all in my head. Anyway, Atala works at Microsoft and we had health insurance from them. There were several options and before now, we used the smaller one that meant just a few of the infertility tests were covered and we paid out of pocket for our visits with the fertility doctor. If we wanted more coverage for infertility including IVF, we would have to change to the most comprehensive insurance.

So at the end of the year, to keep our options open, we switched. It was that insurance that paid for the cancelled IVF. We have also been looking into adoption, but the pre-meetings we attended all seemed to agree that it is better to go one route at a time. At this stage, with all I know I'm thinking we will still adopt, if not now, then later.

I know infertility is not a thought most people want to dwell on, but has anyone considered these issues, or been in a position to make the choice? What did you do or what do you think you would do?