You may reach a point when you decide that you are finished with fertility and assisted reproductive technologies and want to pursue adoption. Of course, this is a difficult decision and not one that you come to easily or quickly—it's a personal decision that is best made after careful consideration and usually much conversation with your partner. You may also wish to discuss this with your fertility specialist and a close friend or family member.

On the other hand, some people decide to continue their fertility and ART options and begin the adoption process at the same time. You certainly have the right to pursue both options simultaneously. That way, if either one or both work out, you are delighted and able to enjoy your new and growing family. Do keep in mind that both fertility treatments and adoption are expensive and emotionally draining. That's why most people choose to pursue only one option at a time.

Here are some thoughts and concerns you may want to consider as you decide how best to make your decision:

• What does your fertility specialist have to say about your chances of becoming pregnant?

• How important is it for you to have a genetic link to your child?

• What is your financial situation, and what is the cost of fertility treatments versus the cost of pursuing adoption?

• What is the physical and emotional toll that you are taking on yourself and your partner?

• How does this fit in with your current life situation (your age, health, lifestyle, career, relationships, and so on)?

If you decide to choose adoption as a means of building your family, you will probably find that it is not as easy as it once was. The declining birth rate in our society makes finding a baby to adopt a somewhat difficult task. If you want a healthy, Caucasian baby, the waiting list may be years long. That's why many couples are now open to the possibilities of adopting a baby from another culture or nation or choosing a child with special needs. If you are willing to accept these differences, your waiting time will be considerably shorter.

Most adoptions in the United States occur through social adoption agencies. Other options include private adoptions in which a doctor or lawyer makes the necessary arrangements. You will want to use your fertility specialist, your family doctor, your reproductive lawyer, and any social workers that you have worked with as resources to begin your adoption quest. You may also want to use the Internet as a way of gaining information about the adoption process and also about placement of babies and children in need of families and homes.

You should feel happy about adopting a child and see it as a positive experience. It may be helpful for you to speak with others who have undergone the adoption process. Many people find that joining a support group is a good way to share their experiences with like-minded people. Having the support of friends and family also helps you as you adjust to this new change in your life.

Finally, the decision to move from fertility treatments to adoption does not have to be a permanent one. You might begin the adoption process and then decide that you really want to go back and try some additional fertility procedures. That's OK, too. There is no one correct path. Just do your best to assess your situation at the present time and make the best choice that you can.

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