Dr. Mark P. Leondires is Medical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Illume Fertility and is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
The first thing that I remember about Laura? It was her dedication. She spent a lot of time and had almost endless energy into her quest to become a parent. For instance, when she accepted that her weight was a contributingfactor, she persevered, having regular appointments with the RMA of Connecticut nutritionist. She was a “patient” patient, despitenumerous frustrating test results and disappointing outcomes.
I had no doubt that she would be an amazing parent. Laura’s kindness and sweetness were apparent even through her most discouraged and sad moments. Though she was not a parent already, shewas a teacher, and her sheer will, force,and determination to become a mom was always obvious.
At a certain point, after many IUI and IVF cycles that didn’t work, I talked to her about the need to consider other pathways to parenthood. This is always a difficult discussion. We reviewed that she had two options to consider at that juncture in her family building journey. The options were either donor eggs or adoption. With Laura, I encouraged her towards adoption as she and her husband had brought it up as a consideration in the past and that felt right to them.
Did you miss Part 1 of this adoption story?
In my practice, I discuss other family building pathways frequently, and any time I mention donor eggs or sperm to a patient, I also bring up adoption. On a regular basis, Iencourage patients to meet withLisa Schuman, LCSW (RMA of Connecticut’s Mental Health Director)to talk about adoption and all the options that are on the table for fertility treatment. I personally suggest this to patients as I feel strongly that adoption is aneffective and appropriate way to become a parent… and that’s my goal—to help build families.
Because a patient might not envision their family-building journey culminating in adoption, we offer extra support under the guidance of Lisa Schuman.
“At RMA of CT, we understand there are many paths to parenthood. Our goal is to help you find yours and build the family you desire. If you have any questions or need further information on this or any topic feel free to reach out to your navigator and set up an appointment. I would be glad to help." Lisa Schuman, LCSW, Director of Mental Health at RMA of Connecticut.
Why Should I See an Adoption Specialist?
There are fourcommon paths to adoption,but please remember, I’m fertility doctor and a strongbeliever in seeing the right specialist for whatever path on your journey you choose. Thank you to Lisa Schuman for providing the descriptions anddefinitions of these three options:
1. Private Adoption:
A private or independent adoption refers to an adoption in which the adoptive parents adopts a child through an attorney rather than an agency. They are able to hire professionals to place ads, help them with their website and engage their own social worker, but they do not have an agency with all of these elements in the same place. This option can be more or less costly than an adoption agency and longer or faster than an adoption agency based on the amount of professionals they use for help and the money they spend on advertising. This is an option for people who want to be very hands-on and construct their own adoption process.
With this option, adoptive parents have one fee to pay until they become parents. They also need to rely on their agency to speak with birthmothers on their behalf and advocate for them to birthmothers. Agencies offer birthmothers several options so each prospective adoptive parent can feel they are competing with other parents. Also, adoption agencies will not match a prospective adoptive parent with more than one birth mother at time. Therefore, each parent to be needs to wait to see if the birthmother places before they connect with a new birthmother. In independent or private adoption, parents-to-be can speak with several birthmothers at a time and as a result, if one situation does not work out, they have other birthmothers as options. Therefore, the agency adoption process is often longer.
“International adoption is a kind of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents of a child that is a national of a foreign country. An international adoption is also referred to as “intercountry adoption” or “transnational adoption.” Unfortunately, there are fewer international options available and many who previously desired international adoption are now adopting in the US, making the US adoptions more competitive.
Unfortunately, just like fertility treatment cycles can lead to negative pregnancy tests, adoption plans can also fall through. Working with adoption specialists that you’ve carefully vetted and feel comfortable with can help avoid anunfavorable outcome and give you resources for how to handle one if it occurs.
Is itHard to Switch from Fertility Treatment to Adoption?
I hope that no one ever feels that they are giving up when they optto change pathways and choose adoption! Becoming a parent, through fertility treatment or adoption, often does mean letting go of an original goal or dream. The process ofshifting from fertility treatment to adoptioncan often bring on the following reactions:
Shock - Whether straight or LGBTQ+, in a couple or as a single person, there will be no genetic link. That is often an initially unwelcome realization.
Grief- For women,there is often a feeling of loss about not being able to carry and deliver a child. For all people adopting, there is grieving the loss of a genetic connection to a child they may have been hoping for.
Optimism - Move towards putting the focus on being a parent, rather than pregnancy or a genetic link. Establish a new goal—focus on having and raising a child.
Thankfulness - Acknowledge the work that you’ve put into becoming a biological parent. Give yourselves a big thank you and know that effort you’ve already put inwill help you be a great parent. You are working harder than 99% of parents to be out there.
Do I Hear from Patients Who Move on to Adoption?
I love to hear from my patients that move forward with adoption. First of all, that they are now parents and have stepped out of the shroud of infertility. They reinforce the importance of doing the best I can to educate people on this pathway to parenthood. I continue to receive holiday cards from families.Howeverfamilies are created, through adoption or any other method, building familiesisthe reason I come to work. It is powerful to hear from adoptive parents who thank meand the practicefor caring for them and moving them towards adoption, because without that step, they would not have their children.
I consider these families part of our RMA of Connecticut family.
When a Patient Chooses Adoption Over Continued Fertility Treatment
I always feel disappointed when a patient doesn’t succeed on their primary family building pathway, but when I hear about success with adoption, I am thrilled.It’s my responsibility to educate people who are determined to becoming parents about all the pathways to parenthood, and I would hope that any board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist who is practicing would do the same thing.
While so many patients are successful in fertility treatment, some are not, and they deserve to fulfill their dreams inbecoming parents. Our patients need to know about adoption.
Families are about love, however they come about! Knowing that Laura became a mom is a story that I will always cherish.