A Hard Truth
The Wait for a baby is such an adoption roller coaster. It can rapidly alternate between the highs of hope and the lows of despair. Statistics range from at least 40 and as many as 100 families waiting for every newborn placed for adoption. And don’t expect the recent US Supreme Court decision to change the availability of infants dramatically.*
Clearly, the odds are not in everyone’s favor. At least some of the people hoping to adopt a newborn will just not be able to. That’s a hard truth. What happens if and when you stop waiting to adopt? How do you get off the adoption roller coaster?
* According to researcher and sociologist Gretchen Sisson, only 9% of women denied a legal abortion will choose adoption for their baby; the rest will choose to parent. Therefore, the bulk of the increase of children available for adoption will likely be through the foster care system, for cases in which parenting a child they knew they weren’t prepared to parent becomes overwhelming or undoable.
Jess and Greg: Two Who Got Off the Adoption Roller Coaster & Lived to Tell
Meet two people who built their own exit ramps for their unique reasons and in their own ways. Both Jess Tennant and Greg 0 found there was not a lot of support or guidance available on how to get off the adoption roller coaster like there is in getting onto it.
As another Childfree Not By Choice (CNBC)* person told me, “the adoption process can seem like Hotel California. You can check out but you can never leave. People need to know you do have choice and there are ways to have a meaningful life, even when you don’t become a parent.”
Both Jess and Greg are thriving today, a few years past their decisions to stop the madness that adoption waiting turned out to be. They have both accepted – even embraced – a childless/childfree lifestyle.
In case you have wondered about this uncharted exit ramp, in case you wonder if people can be happy walking away from their hopes and dreams to adopt, in case you feel like you are swimming in our culture’s pronatalism and that non-child families are not valued, you’ll want to hear what Jess and Greg have to say.
* not a universally accepted term among those who live a childfree or childless life.
Grief is a funny thing because it’s not linear and there is no such thing as ever being over something.
But you can get through something.
Jess Tennant in Ep 306 of Adoption: The Long View
Besides the monumental task of grieving the loss of a dream, those who get off the adoption roller coaster also face a sense of pronatalism that pervades our culture, the unspoken yet fundamental belief that “you’re supposed to be parents.” That parenting is what makes life worth living and makes you a valued contributor to society.
In addition to coming to terms with their childless reality, Jess and Greg speak to their journeys toward incorporating an unexpected identity, that of a non-parent in a culture that so highly prizes parents and parenting.
“You only have value if you become a parent,” and “You don’t know love until you become a parent,” and “You’re not a contributing member to society of you don’t have kids.”
I really struggled because I’d internalized a lot of these ideas.
Ep 306: Two Who Found Their Way Toward Accepting & Embracing a Childfree Life
Jess Tennant is a 46 year old special education teacher who’s been blogging about her infertility and adoption experiences since 2010, first under My Path to Mommyhood, and then transitioning to her Childless Not By Choice experience at Finding A Different Path. She was featured in an article for MSNC’s Know Your Value Health & Mindset and was a panelist for World Childless Week 2021. She loves spreading the message that her losses are real but her life is not sad, it’s possible to survive and thrive when things don’t work out as planned.
To be able to share my story and unapologetically put my experience out there gives me hope that somebody else will know, “Okay, I don’t have to drive myself into the ground. There is an off ramp.”
Jess Tennant in Ep 306 of Adoption: The Long View
Greg 0 is a married man from NJ. In the winter, early 2013, it was discovered he was born with a genetic condition leaving him unable to produce sperm. Now in his 40’s he’s learned through trial and error how to make the best of an unfortunate situation handed to his wife and himself.
It is true that you can find happiness. You can find joy in life. Yes, it’s not going to be the same. But you can find joy and happiness in life that does not include having children.
Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better!).
Listen in to hear:
- What brought Jess and Greg to the quest to adopt a newborn, and what it took to create an exit ramp.
- The reaction of others to the news that they were stopping the madness.
- What the grief was like. And how healing came.
- The effect of pronatalism on their journeys — what pronatalism is, what effect it had on Jess and Greg, and what it’s like to choose a Childfree Not By Choice (CNBC) life in spite of it.
- A glimpse into the fulfilling lives Greg and Jess now have.
- The most important things you need to know about finding the off ramp of adopting a newborn.
Show Notes for Episode 306 with Jess Tennant and Greg
- Jess’ first blog: My Path to Mommyhood
- Jess’ current blog: Finding A Different Path
- Jess on MSNBC Health: How I Learned to Embrace My Child-Free Life After Wanting to Be a Mom
- Jess’ (childless) Mothers Day #6 post
- Jess’ journey from infertility to adoption
- Greg’s infertility/childfree blog (not regularly updated)
How to Tune In Regularly
You can find us on Adopting.com, and on these and other platforms.
- Apple Podcasts
- Amazon Podcasts
- Search for “Adoption Long View” on your preferred podcast platform.
A new episode comes out the first Friday of the month. Thank you for sharing, subscribing, and rating this episode!
Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
Her first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Her second book, Standing Room Only: How to Be THAT Yoga Teacher is now available in paperback, and her third book, Adoption Unfiltered, is now available through your favorite bookseller!
Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.