No reason to fear adoption, couples say

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Editor’s note: This story pairs with “Couples seek support, understanding when struggling with infertility”

Couples who have struggled with infertility say there’s no reason to be afraid of looking to adoption as a way to start a family.

According to the U.S. Census, one in 25 families have an adopted child. The 2014 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report stated that 50,644 foster children were adopted, which means that there were still 107,918 foster children waiting for a family.

An infertility diagnosis can means years of expensive treatments to try and conceive biological children, but adoption is another option that many couples overlook. Kellie and Garrett Bull struggled with infertility for nearly six years before adopting their first child through a private adoption.

“If you have a desire to grow your family and have children, and you have love to give, then you will feel an extreme amount of love for any child that comes your way and fills that longing,” Kellie said.

The decision to adopt doesn’t eliminate the extreme emotions that come with infertility, though.

Maribel Zuniga always knew that she was going to be a parent, and doctors had told her that she would be able to get pregnant without any problem. Even though she had gotten married at 34 and was a little older and was worried about a dangerous pregnancy, she didn’t believe there would be any problem getting pregnant.

After a few years of trying to conceive, the couple decided to pursue adoption.

Zuniga was denied by adoption agencies for no clear reason. They pursued a private adoption and paid for the pregnancy costs of a young woman who wanted to give them the child but changed her mind last minute. They hired social workers and had several opportunities that didn’t come through. Finally, eight years after first trying to have children, Zuniga was able to adopt a baby girl, Geraldine Munoz Zuniga.

Despite the emotions and costs involved, there’s no reason to be afraid of adopting a child, Zuniga said. She said people get too caught up in what doesn’t matter and forget what’s most important.

“Never be afraid of the fact that (your) child might not love you enough, or you’ll regret the adoption,” Zuniga said. “Never adopt a child thinking it will fix marriage problems — that will never happen. If you want to adopt a child, don’t expect a perfect child.”

After fully recommending adoption to couples trying to start a family, Zuniga also advised being transparent with adopted children about their origins. She said it’s important to be open and to be supportive if they want to search for their biological parents.

Munoz Zuniga, now in her 20s, has nothing but loving things to say about her parents.

“I’ve never considered my parents to be anything other than my parents,” Munoz said. “I’ve met some people who were adopted and they talk about their parents as if they weren’t really their parents and how they need to find their real family. I’ve never felt that. My parents are my real parents.”

Kellie and Garrett Bull had a successful IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment after adopting their first child, and then had another child naturally. Kellie describes her philosophy toward having children simply: “I just take em’ when I can get ’em.”

Any fears or insecurities about the ability to love an adopted child will be erased as soon as the child is yours, Garrett said.

“Your children are your children, and you love them no matter how you have them.”