Choosing How to Grow Your Family

So you’ve decided to start a family. I’m sure you have glanced through the articles about what to eat, what to buy, possibly where to give birth. It is not very often that you are faced with the question of where your future child should come from. Most people assume that you should first do what comes naturally, and only after it becomes clear that isn’t going to work should you look into other avenues of adding to your family. Adoption is the plan B that people settle for when their bodies don’t cooperate with the creation of plan A. It doesn’t have to be looked at that way. (1) Why not consider both options from the start. You may be surprised to see a path fits your family that you didn’t expect. There are pros and cons to each option.

Great Things About Giving Birth

  1. It  isn’t very many stages in a woman’s life where it could be said she “glows”. It’s not a bad perk to have uber healthy hair and nails for a while, and most husbands wouldn’t turn down access to added cleavage during pregnancy. Some people even find pregnancy can help ease or even cure ailments they have. (2) There is something equally sweet and disconcerting to feel the poke and prod of the tiny organism inside you. Your body will do things that are just profoundly amazing. (3) If you add to that the likelihood that you will actually survive the birthing process and the whole experience can be one of the most empowering aspects of womanhood. (4)
  2. You know your baby’s past. There is something to be said for understanding that your family tends to have high blood pressure, or dyslexia, or excessive freckles. (5) This is only so much comfort, because it won’t protect you if your baby is the first to express a genetic allergy to sugar. There can always be surprises.  


Not Great Things About Giving Birth

Photo by from Pexels
Photo by from Pexels
  1. The other physical things. For example, I was nauseous for 9 months. (6) Physical negatives range from the annoying to the downright dangerous. (7) They can cause minor life adjustments, like taking the long way around your co-worker who insists on eating tuna in the office, to missing work because you are getting IV fluids in the hospital. Pregnancy can be tough, and birth, well, it hurts. I tend to remind my kids of that when they scrape their knee, or break their arm. “You can survive,” I tell them, “This doesn’t hurt as much as giving birth.”
  2. More Humans.  The world isn’t particularly in need of more people, though this isn’t and shouldn’t be a make or break consideration of parenthood (8) Some say the world would do better without any. It’s just something to think about.

Great Things About Adopting

  1. Your body stays your own. Even while my hand was cramping as I filled out reams of paperwork I was grateful every moment I didn’t feel the need to vomit. There is something to be said for not putting your body through the invasion of another being.
  2. You are helping a child. This can’t be your sole motivation for adding to your family by adoption, but it is still true. (9) Something happened in your adoptive child’s life that made you necessary, and you were there when you were needed. That is a huge positive not just to your family and the child, but society, who now has one less child in need of stability. (10)
  3. Your family gains added character and culture. Neither of our adopted kids share our ethnicity. That means that we get to celebrate not only run of the mill commercialized American holidays. We drink mango lassi at Diwali, and we tell stories about our deceased relatives for Dia De Las Muertos. It has even encouraged us to dig a bit deeper into our biological past. I recently invested in dreidels and candles for my menorah so we can acknowledge the Russian Jewish part of our heritage. Differences in society are no big deal when you have access to such diverse cultures and appearances in your own home. (11)


Not So Great Things About Adopting

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels
  1. Sometimes the cost, but always the process. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to adopt, but if you choose to go international or adopt a baby it will. Adopting from foster care isn’t expensive, but the process is always a hurdle. (12) I have learned that pretty much everything about adoption takes longer than it should . You may get your paperwork in on time, but the government will take forever to process it, or the country is backlogged, or the social worker forgot to bring the right form to court. (13) Just settle in and keep the swear words in your head. Speaking of social workers, get used to them. They will be everywhere all up in your life for a while. They will want to pop over when it’s inconvenient or ask you to dig up information you haven’t seen in years. Smile and nod.
  2. Lack of history. In spite of the good intentions of our social worker I have close to no documentation of any kind from the first five years of my daughter’s life, and she was adopted in America. I’m not sure what previous generations of either of my adopted kids’ families died from. There is no telling what we might be in for. (14) Although I have found that there have been relatively few surprises so far in any of my kids, adopted or not. Since I am taking things as they come I am not particularly worried about what disease might pop up. At this point they are all my kids so no matter what they might be prone to we will just deal with it when it hits.
  3. Baggage. My son doesn’t remember anything before being in our family, but different events bring up stories from my daughter’s past. One of the centerpieces of the movie Fantastic Beasts is a family made up of adopted children headed by a stern zealot mother who whipped her children with a belt. While I watched with my daughter, the family reminded her of a house she lived in when she was four. She remember being hit with a belt and not understanding what she had done wrong. You never know when slivers of the past will crop up or what they will mean. (15) One of my daughter’s placements had a house that was bigger than ours and dogs she loved. We can never measure up to them, even though we are the ones that chose to take her forever. For better or worse we share her with the six other families who played a role in her life before ours.

I always knew my family was meant to be a place for all kinds of kids. I have had to learn what that means. It has included warm moments and tears, literal and emotional pain, and intense gratitude and joy. Before you make the leap to expand your love to a child make sure you check to see what kind of family adventure you are open to.



  1. Wasson, Will. “Adoption – Not a Plan B.” The Odyssey Online, 21 Dec. 2016,
  3. Francis, Sarah. “21 amazing facts about your pregnant body.” Made For Mums,
  4. Haaf, Wendy. “The transformative power of birth.” Today’s Parent, 5 Apr. 2010,
  5. “Why is it important to know my family medical history?” National Institutes of Health, 18 Dec. 2018,
  6. Padmore, Nicole. “15 Annoying Side Effects of Pregnancy.” Baby Gaga, 28 June 2016,
  7. “Pregnancy Complications.” CDC, 23 Oct. 2018,
  8. Carrington, Damian. “Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children.” Guardian, 12 July 2017,
  9. Craft, Carrie. “Reason Adoption May Not Be Right for You.” Very Well Family, 10 Dec. 2018,
  10. Rivard, Meghan. “Why Adoption is Important for Everyone.” Adoption, 11 Dec. 2017,
  11. “What are the advantages of Transracial Adoption?” Innovate US,
  12. “Why is the Adoption Process So Difficult?”,
  13. Newman, Susan. “Why More People Don’t Adopt.” Psychology Today, 25 Oct. 2008,
  14. Campbell, olivia. “How Adoptees Are Filling In the Holes in Their Family Medical History.” The Cut, 17 Jan. 2017,
  15. Kim, Jae Ran. “Ambiguous Loss Haunts Foster and Adopted Children.”, 9 Feb. 2009,
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