Pregnancy after adoption has been one of the most surreal, emotionally complicated experiences of my life.
For those of you who have arrived at this post without knowing our back story, after five years of trying to get pregnant, my husband and I started the adoption home study process and went on to adopt three kids. The month that we let our home study expire, I got pregnant 100% naturally.
I know that people love the pregnancy after adoption narrative and want to believe that adopting increases your chances of getting pregnant. Creating a Family has a good resource with a few relevant statistics. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other more specific statistics available.
In short, a small percentage of infertile couples do get pregnant naturally, either completely on their own or following fertility treatments that may or may not have resulted in pregnancy. There is nothing specifically about adoption that increases pregnancy rates. Telling couples pursuing adoption things like “once you adopt, you’re sure to get pregnant” implies that adoption is a means to getting pregnant. While this is rarely the intended message, it’s very disrespectful.
The main reason that I decided to write a post about pregnancy after adoption is to give couples who are facing infertility or are not in a good place on their journey of growing their family a few pieces of advice. I also have a few pieces of advice for couples who do find themselves pregnant after adopting a child/children on how to navigate this new territory.
Don’t spend years on fertility treatments that aren’t going well. Move on to adoption or foster care.
Fertility clinics are awful. I’m not sure why reproductive endocrinologists are such insensitive jerks. But they are terrible people to deal with, especially on such a rough journey. And fertility treatments are a trap. Clinics pray on the vulnerability of infertile couples and string them along on false hope, all to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars.
There is no question that adoption and fostering are hard. But nothing was harder for me than fertility treatments.
I’m so grateful that I had three adopted children when I got pregnant. It took off all of the pressure of this pregnancy being our entire future of having a family or the pressure to get pregnant again and give this child siblings.
Stay open to pregnancy through adoption or fostering.
After years of fertility treatments, many couples are ready to be done trying to get pregnant once they move on to adoption or foster care. While it’s not recommended to pursue fertility treatments and adoption or fostering simultaneously, moving on to adoption or foster care doesn’t mean that you have to prevent pregnancy. Obviously, staying open to pregnancy doesn’t guarantee anything. But it keeps the option there.
Don’t get hung up on wishing that you knew how it was all going to turn out.
I spent many years thinking that it would be easier to cope with waiting to have kids if I knew what was going to happen. It turns out that wasn’t true at all. I would not have pursued adoption after Tommy if I’d known that I’d be waiting three and a half years to bring home baby #2 via an out-of-state adoption during a global pandemic. And my late 20-something self would have been completely devastated to learn that I wouldn’t get pregnant until I was almost 40.
I’m not a big fan of the “everything happens for a reason” line. I also don’t appreciate people telling me that everything must make so much more sense now, in hindsight. (It still doesn’t.) But I do believe in trusting in the process and embracing your current stage of life.
If you do find yourself in the position of getting pregnant after adopting children, I have a few additional pieces of advice for navigating this new territory.
In open adoptions, be upfront with your child/children’s birth family/families about your pregnancy.
Every family’s open adoption relationship is different. There is no single right way to announce your pregnancy. But I strongly encourage you to tell birth family directly, even if it’s via text, email, or phone call. Don’t let them find out via social media, blog post, or another indirect method.
Be careful about how you talk about your pregnancy with and around your adopted children.
Depending on the age of your adopted children, they may understand that you weren’t able to have kids previously. As such, they will have a lot to process with the pregnancy. It’s important to broach this topic carefully and to watch what you say about your pregnancy around your adopted kids.
Be prepared to field some weird and even hurtful comments and questions.
Well-meaning people unintentionally ask a lot of weird and offensive questions about adoption. Pregnancy after adoption is no exception. People will refer to your biological child as your “real child.” They also talk about how adoption was a means to having a biological child, as though your adopted children were a secondary part of your ultimate goal.
On a similar note, I’ve fielded a lot of remarks about how getting pregnant after adopting three kids is some sort of fairy tale ending. One, Jake and I will always be beyond grateful that we were able to adopt three kids. We felt that our family was complete after adopting Genevieve. Implying otherwise is offensive to us, our kids, and our kids’ birth families. Two, for many women, pregnancy is a rough ride, even when it’s much desired. Waiting a very long time for it doesn’t change that.
I would love to hear from other couples who have gotten pregnant following adoption about your experience and any additional advice you may have on the topic.
Pin this post for easy access to the pregnancy after adoption resource later!
More adoption resources:
To those who are new here, I encourage you to visit the adoption section to learn more about our story and access lots more adoption resources. You can also visit the family section to read updates about all of our kids.