Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Three Little Words

Hi, everyone.

There are a couple things that will change your initial blog-reading thought process.  First, this is Spencer, posting as an (I hope) honored guest.  Second, this is not a gushy post about the phrase “I love you.”

That being said, I’m aware the small band of valiant readers who made it to this paragraph is a tiny minority of the group who started to read this post.  I mean, what three words could a man possibly want to talk about?  “Let’s watch football?”  “I am hungry?”

No, the phrase is much less superficial than that.  And actually, it’s one that this man has never said.  But I have heard it come from others.  Usually they’re women, and usually they are or have been pregnant.

(If you are thinking this is turning into a rant against pregnant women, please continue reading. This post is not meant to be anything of the sort. I would never do that).

Picture it now: a pregnant woman laboriously walking up stairs, or throwing up, or standing on the scale.  Or maybe she’s watching a video of what exactly happens during childbirth.  After an uneasy sigh, she looks at her belly and declares, “If I ever have any more kids after this one, I swear
I’ll just adopt.”

I’ll just adopt?


Have you ever heard anything sillier?  I’m sure people don’t mean it in a rude way, but it’s not very amusing, either.

Obviously, the word that makes all the difference in the phrase is “just.”  Saying you’ll “just” adopt implies at least one of the following 3 things:

1. Adoption is easy.

Clearly, anyone who thinks this has never had much experience with adoption.  They have never made it through the approval process.  They have never even begun the paperwork.  They have never really researched the cost of an adoption.  I dare say these people have never seriously contemplated the adoption process.

If anyone has done all those things and still thinks adoption is easy, they’re probably a multi-millionaire celebrity with their own lawyer and agent ready to do anything for them at the drop of a hat.  And most of these stars are probably too old to be getting pregnant without serious health risks, anyway.

Should the false notion that adoption is easy pop into your mind, consider also that the constant emotional, psychological, and spiritual agony of infertility often accompanies the adoption process.  Not always, but often.  Especially among LDS couples.  And even adoption can’t take that pain away.

2. Adoption is easier than pregnancy.

I will not sit here and say adoption is more difficult than pregnancy,  I could never make that claim, seeing as how I have never been pregnant and never will be pregnant.  My wife joins me in the NBPC (Never-Been-Pregnant Club), and could very well join me in the other category, too (although I hope that won’t be the case).  To argue that adoption is harder than pregnancy or vice versa would be silly of me, if not absurd.

The exact same standard, however, applies to those who have never adopted.  After picturing me sitting on my male butt and saying, “Yeah, I could be pregnant.  No biggie,” can you also see how ridiculous it would be for someone who’s never entered the adoption arena to say, “I’ll just adopt”?!

It certainly isn’t a contest between pregnancy and adoption, and I’m not trying to out-martyr anyone here, but if we want any opinions on which one’s easier, we’d have to check with someone who has both been pregnant and adopted.  Those women alone have the right to form an opinion on that or to refute someone else’s.  (On a related note, I have read the writing of one such woman, who said she’d take pregnancy over adoption any day.  Her thoughts, not mine).

3. Adoption is in some way less fulfilling than pregnancy.

This interpretation would come into play when the word “just” takes on the meaning of “only.”  Examples of such usage are found in sentences like “I can’t afford a new car, so I’ll just buy a used one” or “They’re out of steak, so I’ll just get a salad” or “Redbox didn’t have a copy of Harry Potter, so I’ll just check out Twilight.”

Could one method of bringing a precious child of Heavenly Father into your eternal family possibly be inferior to another?

Even if it were true – if adoption were less fulfilling than getting a baby who has mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes – I’d love to hear someone explain that to their adopted child…

“Sammy, I love you more than you know.  You are the best part of my life.  But let’s be real.  You were just adopted.  Your older sister came out of my womb and has my chromosomes.  As much as I love you, you’ll never beat that.”

“Jessica, I wanted you to come be a part of our family so badly.  I yearned for you for years.  But I couldn’t bear the thought of actually carrying you around for nine months and dealing with morning sickness again, so we just adopted you.”

I think you catch my drift.  Other instances where the “just” really bites are similar, but applied to other people.

“They had trouble getting pregnant, so they just adopted.”

Or every infertile couple’s absolute favorite thing to hear: “Why don’t you guys just adopt?”  Hopefully you can see these phrases in a new light.


As a clarification, I am aware that many couples, whose families have already grown through the miracle of pregnancy, also feel guided to adopt another child/children, too.  That is perfectly wonderful.  I praise and respect those couples for listening to and acting on the promptings they receive, even when they may sound strange at first.  The act of adopting after having biological children is not what bothers me.  It’s the flippant manner in which adoption is tossed around by those who aren’t truly considering it.

Now, to all of you women who have given birth or who one day will (and to the husbands who stand faithfully at their sides), you are rock stars.  Truly.  I mean that.

But so is my wife.

And she and I are “just” adopting.


  1. Your phrase "It’s the flippant manner in which adoption is tossed around by those who aren’t truly considering it." is perfect. In September 2009 we, as the Relief Society presidency, went to visit a neighbor of mine who was in the early stages of her first pregnancy. We sat as she described her many complaints and then she said *those* words, and laughed.

    Only days before, Que and I had learned that our adoption was in serious trouble. At that point we were about 6 weeks from Liam's due date. It took everything in me not to cry, and to not interrupt her and tell her there was no such thing as "just adopting." Adoption is HARD, even if everything works out the way you'd like it to in the end.

  2. Amen! Couldn't have said it better!

  3. this is possibly the best post i have ever read on the matter.


    i shall share this with everyone we know.

  4. I'm with Kenna. Awesome post, and I'm sharing.

  5. Can I share this on my blog? I will give you credit.


  6. Okay. I'm chiming in.

    I am an adoptive mother. And I'm a mother through fertility treatments. I have done both the adoption thing and the pregnancy thing.

    I'm going to be very, very honest.

    After my son was born, I took him home and sat down in bed looking at him. We were going to have him named and blessed in a month, then things were going to get back to normal. I didn't have a birth mom to call, I didn't have a caseworker to check in on, I felt like sh*t and quite honestly, I found myself looking at my son wondering, "What? That's it?"

    I was a wreck with my son because it. was. too. easy. My daughter had been such a life and death struggle, I EARNED the title of "Mother" and dammint, I was glowing with such joy and pride and accomplishment, my life was so filled with this amazing love and miracle that I couldn't believe how blessed I was.

    We're ready to add a third child to our family (shhhh) and we are doing the treatments again.


    Because it's so. much. easier.

    I would rather spend five months with my head in a toilet, be on bed rest for ten months, spend five more months with crippling braxton hicks and then go into labor and try to push a seven pound baby out a hole the size of a baseball than find the courage and fortitude to adopt again.

    Quite honestly, I'm not strong enough to do it again. Adoption was a beautiful, amazing experience that I cannot believe I was blessed enough to get to take a part in. I feel badly for people who ONLY experience pregnancy because, wow, it's a gift. They don't get to adopt.

    But really, being in labor, having medical complications, pain, discomfort, vanity issues are a small price to pay for the gift at the end. I went through my disastrous pregnancy with a grin and a tear in my eye because I KNEW how blessed I was. I cried when my labor was coming to an end because I couldn't believe how little I'd had to sacrifice for what was coming.

    I didn't just adopt.

    I earned my wings.

    1. Beautifully said. I should copy this comment for a guest blog post. :)

  7. So well put. Hit the nail on the head.

  8. This was perfect. My husband have been approved and are now in the hoping to adopt phase and couldn't have loved this more. Thanks!

  9. What a great post Spencer! Very insightful and well said!! Sometimes I wish people who say things like that would JUST keep their comments to themselves;)

  10. Great post Spencer, totally agree! Not to get off topic but it reminds me of how much it bugs me when people say, "I'm just a stay at home mom" or "she's just a stay-at-home mom". Hope things are still going well with the adoption of your little boy- keeping both you and Whitney in our prayers!

  11. Holy smokes!!! I loooove this. So much.

    I am a mother to three (one in heaven) biological sons, and one through adoption. I have straight up been told I would die if I ever pursue pregnancy. Ever.

    And just about every single day, I try to talk myself into getting pregnant "just one more time" because the mere thought of "just adopting" one more time, scares the daylight out of me----literally more than death. Truthfully.

    1. I was not done, but blogger kicked me off :)

      Anyway... I would die for my son that came to us through the miracle adoption. I would kill for him! He is a part of my soul in the same way his brothers are. But to think of the hell we walked through, shakes me to my core. Adoption is no walk in the park. Just recently a very close friend mentioned "just adopting" and I think I sobbed for for days when I thought of what she was implying.

      Good luck you guys!! Adoption is so hard. So so so hard, and so freaking incredible.

  12. I humbly give a standing ovation to this post, to Spencer, and to Whitney. *Applause*

  13. Well said, Spencer. Well said. You should post more often. :)

  14. As an adoptive mother of two amazing little boys, I must say this is one of the best blog posts I have ever read.

  15. Just read your post I found on another girls' blog. I enjoyed it a lot and couldn't agree more. We have both adopted and have biological children. I must say they are both very difficult and yet very different experiences - both worth it. Your perceptions were right on. Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. It's posts like this that help enlighten us all and educate us on how we should treat and love others. Good luck in your journey!

  16. I am the mother of 4 (3 through pregnancy of the womb & 1 through pregnancy of the heart). After delivering 3 children we were told we could have no more ourselves. We were devastated & determined to finish our family. I had terribly rough pregnancies. BUT...NOTHING compares to holding, feeding, loving, & experiencing ecstatic joy over the adoption of a new child to them learn that your baby's birth mom has changed her mind & after 52 hours of falling in love with a new son you have to take him back (we understood her feelings too). We experienced the death of a potential child, and this after having already experienced 5 other failed adoptions. Adoption IS NOT EASY!!! By the time we welcomed our youngest son to our family we had waited over 4 years & had suffered the loss of 6 other potential children. I wish people would "just" think before they speak! No one should pass judgement on a situation they TRULY know NOTHING of. Thank you for this post, I wish you & your sweet wife all the best!

  17. As a woman who has both given birth, suffered early infant loss of our first born child, experienced a miserable 3 years of unexplained secondary infertility AND rode the emotional ride of adoption for 2 years before being graced with a surprise pregnancy ... all your words are true.

    Pregnancy is hard. A subsequent pregnancy after infant death is hard beyond words.

    Adoption is hard. Adoption is frustrating and anything but easy.

    All any waiting parent can do is hope that either the trials of pregnancy or adoption will all be worth it in the end when a healthy, crying little baby is placed into their waiting arms.

    Waiting for parenthood, no matter your path, is a journey that makes us all our own rock stars.

  18. It was great to read this post and many of the comments. *Life* is hard. I did one cycle of IVF and lost the babies at nine weeks; it was incredibly hard on my wife and I, yet junior varsity stuff compared to what many of you have been through. Now we're "just" adopting (we're waiting to be selected). We always thought it would be a great experience, but we were as naive as anyone about how hard it would be. Sometimes naivete protects you, though. I'm glad we were silly enough to think it would be easy, because I'm still confident it will be great.

  19. This is amazing! I wish my neighbor, who told me that she hated being pregnant and would "just adopt" next time because "it's easier" had read this. May I please, please share a link to this on my blog? (sdavisfordham at gmail dot com)

  20. I love this post. Thanks for pouring out your feeling and making those of us who are not very tactful (or educated on the subject) see it in a new light.

    (BTW, I am a friend of Lisa's. I met you at the park that day you were visiting her.)

  21. Sally, please feel free to share! Melanie, it was so fun to meet you at the park! And just so you know, we so appreciated the tactful, kind way you asked us about how our adoption was going! We seriously commented later that night how kindly you approached the subject.