It can be utterly devastating when IVF treatment does not work, the grief can feel immeasurable and the decision to give up on the dream of having your own biological child is a difficult one
Many people will grieve for a long time, not really knowing what their next step will be, others move on to alternative options, which can be a welcome coping mechanism; giving a sense of hope and fulfilment.
Leading fertility charity, Fertility Network UK (FNUK), is working on helping people bridge that gap between ending IVF treatment and adoption.
The NHS IVF postcode lottery is making more people look at other ways of becoming parents and adoption can be hugely rewarding and fulfilling.
We spoke to FNUK’s Anya Sizer on the subject and how the charity is supporting those who may decide to choose that route.
Anya is the charity’s regional coordinator for the London area and works closely with clinics. One of her main focuses is the right to fair and equitable NHS funding. She has a lot of experience in the adoption field, as she has adopted a child.
Once you have decided to stop treatment, Anya recommends a total break
“I would encourage a little time out of the fertility rollercoaster, a holiday or a break and then doing anything that helps you reconnect with who you are holistically,” she says. “Our helpline is there to support and listen, our support groups provide peer support from people who understand – we provide information and help for any stage of the journey.
“So much of this process is grieving, so it can be helpful to realise that you will deal with the ending of treatment in many ways, with a variety of emotions.”
How long should you wait before looking at other options?
“There is no set time and many people will have started this process anyway. It can be quite a useful coping tool to start to look at other options and to give yourself the time to re-imagine another way forward.”
Anya suggests several organisations that might help, More To Life, the Donor Conception Network and Adoption UK, are a few that can help with initial investigations.
“If looking specifically at adoption most agencies will ask for at least six months to a year after treatment before starting the adoption process. This can seem a long time at first, but you can still use it to be moving forwards and exploring the realities of adoption,” she said.
What are some of the things not to say to anyone who has completed their fertility journey?
“People often develop what I call compassion fatigue where they just run out of things to say or no longer know how best to help. Stopping treatment can really test people with this so for anyone trying to support someone at the end of treatment it’s really important to not be trying to rush them on to the next stage.
“One of my pet hates is the phrase ‘just adopt’ there is no just in such a complex situation and ‘just’ demeans both the parent and the child, so please don’t say that.
“Give people space and time, ask how you can best support them through this next chapter and take the lead from the people in the middle of it all.”
A lot of people may feel they are unsure of what is involved in the adoption process, what is the best way forward for them?
“I would look at First4Adoption and Adoption UK and read one or two books on adoption to help give a realistic view of what to expect. Adoption is an amazing route to parenting, but different from raising your biological child and this needs time to explore. If possible speak to adoptive parents and try to start thinking what type of a child you could imagine in your life , what support structures you have around you and what you might need practically to proceed .
Anya is also keen to point out that adoption is not for everyone, if you complete treatment and don’t feel it is for you, that is okay.
“I think it’s a fantastic route to parenthood but it’s not for everyone and has to be focused on the child and their needs first. I would encourage everyone to look at the realities and be honest with themselves about pros and cons of adoption,” she said.
FNUK has began to do work on the issue of bridging the gap between ending fertility treatments and adoption.
The charity piloted a new workshop at the end of 2017, which was positively received.
“We have started to do some work on this issue as there is still too big a bridge between treatment and adoption. We piloted a new workshop at the end of last year for those looking at adoption and the feedback was very positive. Going forward we are aware as a charity that there has been an increase in people taking this route and are keen to support and equip our patients.”
If you are interested in finding out more about future workshops, the work of Fertility Network UK or would like support and advice on your next steps, visit here