Why don’t we just adopt…

I’ve had lots of positive feedback about the Radio Four programme I presented on the National Sperm Bank, but also some inevitable emails from people who don’t agree with sperm donation, or probably any kind of fertility treatment to be honest. These emails tend to follow a familiar theme and at some point will always berate the “selfishness” of couples with fertility problems who could “just adopt”.

I have never been able to understand why it is selfish to have treatment because you have a perfectly natural desire to have a child – it’s not a term we’d ever use to label parents who have conceived naturally, so why does the motivation change if you need help to get pregnant? If you are going to say it’s selfish to have treatment to help you to conceive, then it’s surely no less selfish to conceive any other way…

The “why don’t you just adopt” folk often talk about adoption as if it were as simple as going out and doing your weekly supermarket shop. They seem to assume that all that is involved is sticking any child with any parent and off everyone goes to live happily ever after. In reality, adoption is about finding the right home for a child who may have complex needs. Of course, there are many people who can’t conceive naturally who do go on to adopt happily and successfully, but it’s not a solution for every couple with fertility problems in just the same way that it’s not for every couple without fertility problems.

I suppose it’s good that people want to air their views about these issues, but sometimes I wish the “I don’t agree with sperm donation” emails would be a little less predictable and a little more thoughtful.

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