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How to discern fact from fiction about infertility

The new year is the perfect time to set goals and use the change in the calendar as a time of renewal. For many, that means the goal of parenthood, whether having baby number one or adding to one’s existing family. For some, it’s not as easy as it might seem. One in 8 couples in the United States experiences infertility, and that can make achieving family-building goals difficult and frustrating. All the information available these days only makes it more confusing. If you may have trouble growing your family this year, it’s important to separate fact from fiction in order to increase your chances of achieving your goal.

More: 5 Tips to make adoption more affordable

It is inappropriate to ask parents if they used fertility treatments to conceive

Fact: Do you think it would be OK for someone to ask about the details about how or where a couple conceived their child? If your answer is no, then you understand how this question is inappropriate whether you are just curious or whether you are trying to find helpful information for your family-building journey. If they want to share, they will. Otherwise, limit your comments to how beautiful their family is.

Birth parents can change their mind and reclaim a child they’ve previously placed for adoption

Myth: Speaking of private domestic adoption, laws vary by state regarding when birth parents can sign consent forms and when those consents become irrevocable. Once they are irrevocable and parental rights have been terminated, birth parents cannot reclaim the child. Pre-adoptive parents often fear birth parents will “show up on their doorstep” to take the child back, but they would have no legal ability to do so.

Domestic adoption is faster and less expensive than international adoption

Fact: This hasn’t always been the case and may not always be. Given the current state of international adoption, with Russia, Vietnam and Guatemala closed and with China having a several year wait-time, domestic adoption is almost always faster. The overall cost of the adoption is about the same for the two, but when you add in travel expenses for international adoption, that gets much pricier.

More: How to choose between domestic and international adoption

In vitro fertilization almost always works

Myth: By the time an infertility patient gets to the point of doing IVF, they’ve usually been through a lot of emotional, expensive and time-consuming treatments already. They often think, “OK, I’m finally ready to make the investment and do IVF because at least I know that will work.” They’re shocked when it doesn’t. In fact, according to, the national success rate for IVF is less than 50 percent. It’s important to factor this into one’s decision-making and to be prepared for your next step in case IVF doesn’t work for you the first time.

It is helpful to adopt kids from countries that have experienced a recent disaster, such as Syria’s current situation or such as back when Haiti experienced their earthquake

Myth: So many people have the best intentions and figure that these disasters present a great opportunity to help children in need, while also being able to grow their family. But it’s not a good idea to adopt from a country that is in the midst of such turmoil. It’s often difficult to determine which children have actually been orphaned and which might have family members who haven’t yet been identified or located. In fact, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and other similar organizations recommend countries halt their international adoption programs for 18 to 24 months after such events so that everything can get sorted out properly.

It’s impossible for singles, gay people and/or older people to adopt

Myth: For private, domestic adoption, there are technically no requirements about marital status, sexual orientation or age. Some agencies may impose their own restrictions, but that’s not reflective of the law. However, adoptive parents do have to get selected by the birth parents, and it can be more difficult for non-traditional families to get selected. They usually need to be more flexible regarding the babies that they’re willing to adopt. However, in my work as an adoption consultant, I successfully work with many people in each of these categories regularly.

Surrogate mothers do not have legal rights to the baby that they birth

Fact: To clarify, we’re talking about gestational surrogacy here, where the surrogate does not have any genetic tie to the baby. It’s critical that the proper legal contracts are in place prior to the pregnancy. If that’s all done properly, the surrogate does not have any legal hold on the child; she does not have to sign adoption papers or anything like that. She’ll be treated as a surgical patient in the hospital while the intended parents will be treated as biological parents.

More: 4 Adoption scam red flags to watch out for

Nicole Witt is the owner of The Adoption Consultancy, an unbiased resource serving pre-adoptive families by providing them with the education, information and guidance they need to safely adopt a newborn, usually within three to 12 months. She is also the creator of Beyond Infertility, a community support site and online magazine geared towards families who have gone through infertility. You can visit that website at Beyond Infertility.

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