' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Good news: Intercountry adoption down again

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Good news: Intercountry adoption down again

This just in from the Associated Press:  "The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents plunged to the lowest level since 1992...Figures released Friday by the U. S. State Department for 2013 fiscal year showed 7,094 adoptions from abroad, down from 8,668 in 2012 and down about 69 percent from the high of 22,884 in 2004. The number has dropped every year since then."

What's the cause of this decline? AP lists several: Russia has stopped foreign adoptions. Ethiopian authorities have been trying to place more abandoned children with relatives or foster families. Other reasons come to mind: More South Korean women are keeping their babies, thanks to the efforts of Korean-born adoptee Jane Jeong Trenka and her supporters who have lobbied the
South Korean government to change its adoption laws and help single mothers keep their babies. China has loosed up on its one-child policies. Guatemala, Cambodia, Nepal and other countries have stopped or largely curtailed out of country adoption due to wide-scale corruption.

According to the AP, Chuck Johnson, CEO the National Council for Adoption, blames the decline in part on the State Department for imposing higher ethical standards. "'The U.S. has encouraged and in some cases strong-armed impoverished countries to sign the Hague Convention, and then cites their inability to comply with strict Hague standards as a reason for not doing intercountry adoption with them.'"

Johnson and his allies in Congress--led by adoptive mother Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana--seek to "fix" this emphasis on ethics though legislation (Children in Families First Act of 2013, S. 1530) which would clamp down on these troublesome standards and condition foreign aid on those poorer countries making children available for adoption.  Although 14 naive senators wanting to cast themselves on the side of children have signed on to the bill and 31 representatives have signed on to a companion bill in the House, it has not gained traction.

Changes at home may be playing a part in the decline as well. Megan Twohey's excellent Reuters report last fall on families "re-homing" their troubled foreign kids is likely to have discouraged some from adopting. Joyce Maynard's re-homing of two Ethiopian sisters before that was also well-publicized. In the past, intercountry adoptions offered certainty, for there was likely to be no first mother changing her mind, or a father coming out of nowhere to contest the adoption. But a clamping down on some of the corruption in adoption in poorer nations have made these adoptions far less certain. Stories abound about prospective adoptive parents waiting years to "bring their child home," as they like to say, due to internal politics.

Those seeking to adopt must have become aware of the rampant corruption reported by the media, by Kathryn Joyce in The Child Catcherand by parents who have adopted from abroad including, Dave Smollin and David Kruchkow of Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR). Finally, those who have lived intercountry--the adoptees themselves-- like Jane Jeong Trenka; Kevin Haebeom Vollmers, founder of Land of Gazillion Adoptees; Shelise Gieseke; Peter Dodds, and many others have become outspoken critics of intercountry adoption. Perhaps people are beginning to listen.

It is also possible that the decline in intercountry adoptions is part of a trend of fewer voluntary non-related adoptions generally, a trend we enthusiastically support. At the same time, advances in assisted reproduction is making it possible for people who would not have been able to have children before to do so today, a trend that has as many minuses as pluses. This may be the future, but it has the potential to objectify and take advantage of poor women who become egg suppliers and breeding wombs; and it already has led to the creation of more children who may never know their own biological heritage and ancestry.

In Oregon where I live, voluntary infant adoptions have declined 17.5 percent, from 234 in 2010 to 193 in 2013. I don't know if this is a trend nationally because domestic adoption statistics, other than those from foster care, are collected separately by each state. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last compiled adoption figures 2008. The data is inexact in any event because states don't separate out relative and step-parent adoptions--many which occur after a divorce and remarriage--from the total number of adoptions.

Whatever the cause of the decline in intercountry adoptions, it's good news for poor mothers and children throughout the world.--jane

Foreign Adoptions by Americans Decline Sharply

S 1530, Sens. Blunt, Burr, Gillibrand, Inhofe, Kirk, Klobucher, Shaheen, Warren, Wicker, McCaskill, Schumer, Coons, Markey, Schatz. A companion bill is in the House, H.R. 3323, with 31 sponsors listed here.

You can’t handle the truth!

How Many Children Were 
Adopted in 2007 and 2008?Oregon Adoption Statistics (non-related plus private agency)

Senate Bill Encourages More International Adoptions 
Re-Homing: Dumping Unwanted Adopted Kids 
International Adovcates Fight Back against decline in adoptions
Joyce Maynard's adoption "disruption" 
The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too 

The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce
Adoption has long been enmeshed in the politics of reproductive rights, pitched as a “win-win” compromise in the never-ending abortion debate. But as Kathryn Joyce makes clear, adoption has lately become even more entangled in the conservative Christian agenda.--Amazon

"An important voice for adoption reform and should be read by those who shape adoption policy and those considering adopting from abroad or donating to an international adoption agency or foreign orphanage. It's laden with facts and figures, but is never dull. FMF highly recommends The Child Catchers."--from jane's review:  The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Connor Grennan
“Funny, touching, tragic...A remarkable tale of corruption, child trafficking and civil war in a far away land—and one man’s extraordinary quest to reunite lost Nepalese children with their parents.”—Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts

"...police have rescued 20 children from Mukti Nepal, a Maharajgunj-based orphanage, and arrested its operator after finding the children living in squalor and without enough food. The children range from five to fifteen. Six boys and 14 girls were kept in one room.  It seems clear that the orphanage was the dumping ground of one of the child traffickers in Nepal, and the deplorable conditions are often shown to Westerners as a sham to get money to "take care of the children." --from lorraine's review: Finding the Families of The Lost Children of Nepal


  1. This is a very interesting post and I certainly hope this trend continues. At least this was some encouraging news.

    I personally know of only two such adoptions, neither of which worked out. One neighbor of mine adopted a girl from Columbia, who is now in her 30's and estranged from her a-parents. I do not know the details. A friend of mine adopted a girl from Korea, who was such a problem throughout her entire life that my friend told me many times she wished that she could "send her back." Their whole situation, was just awful. I do not know where the girl from Korea is now, but she has been out of the picture for quite some time.

    Both of these families had bio children after adopting from these countries. I do not know if that added to the problems, but I don't think it helped, to be honest.

    Adoption is just a tangled mess. The whole industry is impossibly corrupt and needs a complete overhaul. But I think a complete change will be very slow indeed, if it ever happens at all.

  2. A Mother who was there firstMarch 23, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    I live among three Chinese adoptions, one from Nepal. Farther removed from my life is one from Romania and two from Guatemala, and one from this country, where the parents got pregnant after they were approved and decided to go ahead with the adoption anyway. This is the curse of living among the educated, middle-class population. I agree with that woman from Princeton who wrote the book suggesting that young women who want families look for their husbands in college--and have their children before fertility is a losing gamble.

    1. "I agree with that woman from Princeton who wrote the book suggesting that young women who want families look for their husbands in college--and have their children before fertility is a losing gamble."

      This is a very ignorant (uniformed not dumb) view of infertility. There are many couples in their early to mid 20's dealing with infertility. The actual number of couples in their late 30's or older dealing with infertility is very small compared to couples under 30 dealing with infertility.

      Recognize as well those couples who do adopt overseas are not always infertile couples. Many who adopt from overseas do so because they actually believe they are "saving children",

  3. it just gives me the creeps how Jane celebrates that more children are growing up in poor orphanages than the horrors of having a family. I have posted here many times about the conditions in Russia (and while I have not posted about them some in China are horrific as well) but you will go out to dinner to celebrate and eat your middle class food in your middle class comfort and go to bed feeling like a satisfied do-gooder while in the real world children are suffering, hungry and abused. No you can't help them all but we can help some.
    I think Jane you should go investigate for yourself instead of repeating the mantra of the anti-adoption industry.

  4. Anonymous, other than a personal attack on Jane, you have nothing to add because it is clear that you have not absorbed how intercountry adoption "creates" adoptees who "need" to be redistributed among the wealthier nations.

  5. I'm thrilled that the number of international adoptions (and thus the number of foreign kids coerced away from their first families) continues to decline.

    I'm appalled that the "well-screened " PAPs are still abiding and callously discarding the kids they promised to love/protect forever!



    (This is my second comment and my connection to adoption is that my 3 sister were adopted from domestic foster care -- fully open adoption, I consider their first parents my aunt and uncle and they celebrate holidays with my parents).

  6. Kaytee, please don't take this the wrong way, but..if your sisters' "first" parents are good enough to celebrate holidays with, and good enough for a fully open adoption, then why were they not good enough to parent their own girls? Have they changed?

    If they have changed, then could they not have been given time and resources to change such that they could have brought their daughters home?

    I am not saying that your parents were wrong to adopt these girls from foster care, I just think this sounds odd. Honestly, I respect your parents for keeping the adoptions open..not so many are willing to work so hard. Kudos to them!

  7. A Mother who was there firstMarch 24, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    The big push in adoption is from couples who have trouble conceiving. Always has been, always will be.
    This site makes plenty of nods to the many causes of adoption hunger. the book that is there is mostly about religious fervor that leads to adoption. BTW, check out a few adoption agency sites and see who is looking to adopt. Not that many couples in their twenties. Sorry if you find reality offensive.

    1. The topic of this piece is on intercountry adoption. The Christian movement has just as much to do driving that demand as do infertile couples. The idea of couples needing to save children from over seas is what they cling to.

      What's offensive is your ignorance on infertility and assumption that all infertile couples are infertile because they waited to have children. Are you aware of medical conditions such as cancers, genetic diseases and other reproductive system abnormalities that cause infertility? If not I suggest that you read up on it rather than making assumptions on a topic that you are uniformed on.

      I am sure that you get offended when people assume that you were some crackhead birth mom when in reality that is probably the furthest thing from the truth. It isn't fair for others to assume who you are and what your situation was just as you shouldn't assume what others situations are.

  8. "I agree with that woman from Princeton who wrote the book suggesting that young women who want families look for their husbands in college--and have their children before fertility is a losing gamble."

    I partially agree... I do not like how it was phrased and put forth- that women should be in college to find a husband and start a family. It was very 1960s to me. As a woman in a professional career with daughters who I hope to inspire to be anything they want to be, that bothered me. Had I married the person I was with in/right after college, I would be a miserable person in an unhealthy relationship. I needed to be older to make a better choice.

    HOWEVER, I do agree with the concept that we cannot continue to embrace the current attitude I see that women can put off having children indefinitely, well into their 30s, so that they can have fun in their 20s, embrace their career, enjoy married life alone without kids for a while, etc. I believe that is a dangerous concept to put forth as we are seeing the repercussions of that is loss in fertility windows and the resulting adoption desires.

    I'm an adoptive mom who adopted by choice, not because of fertility issues, but I still feel that overwhelmingly, infertility plays a role in adoption. I do feel concern over women like my daughter's other mom who have given up their firstborn for whatever reason and then may not have a second child in their 20s/early 30s, then find out they are not able to. How heartbreaking! But we don't talk of this because to do so would be anti-feminism.

    I'm about as feminist as they come, but I suppose that I am the weird kind ;) who also fully embraced motherhood. I didn't like the Princeton article because it posed it as an "either or" situation in regards to career and children, and I just don't believe it has to be that way. Perhaps very high-powered positions where the husband cannot take the supportive role traditionally filled by the mother, but for general careers, I do not agree. It is hard, yes, and requires a great deal of sacrifice, but it doesn't have to require the sacrifice of fertility IF we keep that discussion open and truthful, which I don't believe we are doing.

  9. I wanted to make a second comment regarding the decrease in international adoptions and respond in part to Anonymous at March 23's attack on Jane.

    Many of the children who are adopted were not actual orphans. We have seen this happen in country after country where our well-meaning good intentions to save orphans actually create a real problem where children are coerced away from loving and capable parents. Americans also have a real problem with understanding that "poor" does not equate to "in need of a new home." We have found that instead of solving a problem (finding homes and families for children who have none) we have created one. And the children suffer.

    I wish that with the decrease, we saw an increase in these countries support for families and orphans. This is what is really lacking and is desperately needed. I would also like to see an increase in charities to support this effort. For example, a dear friend of mine started a charity to serve infants "orphaned" (many have one or both parents alive) at one hospital, including a full time worker whose only role is to hold the babies and offer them comfort and contact.

    Adoption saves one child at a time, to a very small degree, which can be a wonderful thing. But we should be focusing on changing the lives of the children as a whole in these countries.

  10. A Mother who was there firstMarch 24, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    "What's offensive is your ignorance on infertility and assumption that all infertile couples are infertile because they waited to have children."

    What's offensive about your comment is you make a blanket statement criticizing something I did not write. I said, I agree with the woman who suggested that women who want to have families have their children before fertility is a losing battle. No where do I make some blanket statement about all fertility problems, or all who adopt, or anything. I point out that a woman's most fertile years are in her twenties, as did that woman who is being attacked everywhere for saying the same thing. Yet ask your twenty-something friends when they think it would be a good idea to have children. Last one I asked said: Thirty-six! Most twenty-somethings are not even thinking about slowing down to have a baby.

    Okay, how's this: A great many people who adopt face fertility issues--some of them are actually in their twenties and have other problems like stress from their jobs, or cancer, or other problems, that can prevent pregnancy. More, however, are in their 30s or older, many having gone through years of expensive and emotionally draining fertility treatments. (After 35, in general, fertility plummets but as we know that is only an average and some people beat the odds!) Some of who don't turn to foreign countries where they think they can get kids faster and with less red tape than in America, and btw, then don't have to deal with birth mothers. (See several books by adoptive parents, some actually admit to that.) Some of those people also feel that they are doing a good thing--a Christian thing--by taking unwanted children out of orphanages. However, data is beginning to show that some orphanages are kept stocked through kidnapping in order to supply the market that is whipped up by certain religious groups.

    Do we have to say that every time we mention fertility at first mother forum?

  11. Do you want to know how old I was when we started to try to have children? Twenty seven!!!!! But you see I have this thing called endometriosis. Three miscarriages and 5 failed IVF cycles later we're done and looking into Foster Care.

    And BTW, stress doesn't cause infertility. Again I suggest you do a little more research on infertility before you assume that it's all caused by people delaying having children. I also suggest you stick to what you do know about and that's your experience as a birth mother.

  12. I am glad to see a decrease in intercountry adoption. I think it is a good thing for children to stay in their home country. I hope, however, that there will be increased support for families, increased funding for drug/alcohol addiction, and increased tolerance of single mothers. More than there is now. I fear that in Russia at least, not much is truly changing for these children. Then the cycle begins all over again. (Like many who relinquish in Russia, my daughter's mother grew up in a Russian orphanage.)

  13. Stress and Fertility:

    Stress May Affect Fertility



    Poison Pen: A Threat to Male Fertility

    10:57 AM ET SECTION D - PAGE 3

  14. Oh, forgot to add--both of the above stories were in today's (3/25/14) New York Times. I heard the one about women and stress and fertility last night on the CBS Evening News with Diane Sawyer.

    Previously I had heard other reports connecting high-stress jobs and difficulty conceiving. Also we are aware of legions of anecdotal stories of women who thought they could not conceive (after a year or so of trying)and were stressed by that, so they turn to adoption. Once the child or children are in the home, they are able to conceive and may even have multiple children. Nature works in mysterious ways.

    Nowhere on this blog have we ever stated that all infertility is caused by delaying conception, which is the bone of contention of Anonymous,and she keeps repeating that others are saying that. But the market for babies today is driven a great deal by couples who, for one reasons of another, have delayed conception until it is difficult or impossible.

    I also know enough about IVF cycles to know that they are not only expensive (though insurance often covers much or most of the cost) but physically and emotionally draining. I am sorry for any women who has to go through that.

  15. Guess what else has a link to infertility? Early Pap Smears. All those women who were told they needed a PAP as teen because they were sexually active may now be at a higher risk for infertility.

    Young women (particularly those under the age of 21) have very active immune systems and are able to heal the changes that HPV causes in the cervix making intervention unnecessary.
    Aggressive treatment of HPV, previously thought to be necessary to prevent/treat early cancers, have been shown to be unnecessary in young women because the body can heal these changes and the treatments can actually damage the cervix and cause future fertility issues.

    HPV (the virus that causes cervical cancer) is very slow growing.

  16. Can anyone recommend a reputable organization that helps children in need either in the US or internationally? I am always skeptical about these organizations where you sponsor a child and I got involved in one here in the US that was definitely questionable. However, I would love to sponsor a child or donate to an organization that helps poor families stay together. Any suggestions?

  17. Anonymous, I don't think anyone is saying there are no medical issues that can cause infertility and it is wholly related to age. I certainly haven't seen a single comment, not even a sentence, saying or even implying that. I know women and have several in my family who struggle with endometriosis and ensuing fertility issues. There is no blanket, single cause for MANY medical issues, including infertility. Most are very complex.

    However, what cannot be denied is the current culture in America is for women to put off having children until they are "established" in their life and career. We see women starting to try t get pregnant later and later in life, and there is almost a taboo on discussing the resultant issues this can cause. I hear and read of many women just saying, "Oh, well, I can always adopt" as if it's just that simple and easy. We had to attend a state-mandated class to complete our adoption, and out of a dozen couples, aside from ourselves, every woman was over 30, several by 4-5 years or more, when they started trying to get pregnant and couldn't. This is not unusual.

    Like I also said, what of women who place their children for adoption because they believe they are not ready to parent yet, then they end up not being able to have children later on down the road? No one talks about this, certainly not the agencies that are helping other women in that exact position!

    Waiting until mid- to late-30s to start trying to get pregnant should not be touted as the best path forward without discussing the major concerns around fertility.

  18. Just wanted to share a couple of thoughts...I will start by saying that I agree the adoption process has flaws (whether it is in the US or intercountry)...however, there are some very credible agencies overseas who run homes that do not steal/buy children...and those children do deserve a home if they can have one and a family that loves them. I am not talking about poor children needing to be saved.

    I also think there are many many children in the US that are waiting in foster homes for families and I am sad that the numbers have dropped so much...


  19. Michelle:

    This is not about children per se, but does help them by giving aid to mothers. I have been involved with Women for Women for several years, ever since I interviewed the women who started it. In WFW you sponsor a woman (around $38 a month) who lives in a country that has been ravaged by war for a year, while she attends seminars roughly twice a month on self sufficiency and learns a trade of some sort. You can exchange letters with them. I asked for Afghanistan--for some reason that country resonates with me, undoubtedly because of how women are treated there--but after about five years, WFW said they had a greater need elsewhere, and my current "sister" is in Rwanda. The women usually have children and no husbands. From their website:

    "Women for Women International works with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities. Each woman we serve has her own story–some of loved ones murdered, and others of physical and emotional trauma. Most have endured a struggle for survival.
    Women who enroll in our one-year program learn job skills and receive business training so they can earn a living. They come to understand their rights and how to fight for those rights in their homes, their communities and their nations. They learn how to become leaders."

    I have held potluck brunches and dinners and invited other women and they donate what they would spend going out to dinner, and many also became sponsors also. I found I raised more money by having a brunch and inviting couples. If you do something like this, you are given a 10-minute video to watch that is very moving. Every year the head of the WFW holds a conference call that you can be part of.

    I urge you to look into this organization. It's a proven fact that when you help women in poor countries, the money is more often spent on family needs--than when the money is given to men. This isn't a fact WFW trumpets but something I learned by writing about a program with the World Bank and micro-loans. The website is womenforwomen.org. I think anyone who is involved with this organization will find it gratifying. I have sent pictures and letters and it is quite something to get back a letter from a woman on the other side of the world whose life you are changing for the better.

  20. "Nowhere on this blog have we ever stated that all infertility is caused by delaying conception, which is the bone of contention of Anonymous,and she keeps repeating that others are saying that. But the market for babies today is driven a great deal by couples who, for one reasons of another, have delayed conception until it is difficult or impossible. "


    I never said that you or Jane implied that all infertility is due to delaying having children. But the person who wrote that Princeton article as well as "A Mother who was there first" did.

    I understand that you and Jane don't have much of any empathy for those infertile couples but I understand why. My older sister had a teen pregnancy and placed her son for adoption. While it is a open adoption and she now has two more children and a wonderful husband she still struggles with the adoption. She wasn't the most sensitive or supportive person during our infertility treatments or even now with the hurt we have but in reading this site I have a better understanding why. It's why we can't go through an infant adoption. I wouldn't want to be the reason that a young woman ended up like my sister.


    Our personal case is also not unusual. In our infertility support group of 8 couples only 1 began trying before 32. The rest were 28-29 when they started to try.

  21. Thank you, Tiffany.

    When a late 30something man on my block first got married, I heard a couple of months later that he and his wife were already looking into adoption. She was about his age and knew each other--and dated apparently--years ago but broke up and only got married about two years ago. I knew the woman was in her late 30s. I am so happy to report that they had a child a few minutes before midnight on Dec. 31.

    Unfortunately today they are the norm. I have other friends who have children in their 30s and I am always relieved when I hear that one of them is having a baby. I think, whew! I missed that bullet. I do mean "I," because I have a hard time being around young kids who were adopted. I think of the angst that comes with adoption.

  22. nonymous: None of the comments say what you keep saying they say.

    "...-and have their children before fertility is a losing gamble."

    "The big push in adoption is from couples who have trouble conceiving."

    "A great many people who adopt face fertility issues--some of them are actually in their twenties and have other problems like stress from their jobs, or cancer, or other problems, that can prevent pregnancy. More, however, are in their 30s or older, many having gone through years of expensive and emotionally draining fertility treatments."

    What is it there that you are reading? That is not there? Even A Mother Who didn't say what you say she is.

    I am relieved to hear that you are not going ahead with an infant adoption because you were able to see your sister's pain. I sincerely hope that you are able to find a solution that works for you as well as any child. The adoptive mothers such as Tiffany and Jay who write here do a great deal of good, not only for mothers and adoptees to hear from them, but I hope that other adoptive mothers read and are able to open their minds and hearts more.

    Adoption is so much more complicated than it is portrayed generally.

  23. From Web MD:

    "Like it or not, age remains the biggest determinant of fertility. "No matter how much you take care of yourself, you can't slow down ovarian aging," says Dr. Kutluk Oktay, medical director at the Institute for Fertility Preservation at the Center for Human Reproduction in New York City. Here's why you shouldn't wait until your 40s to hit the baby panic button:

    Your ovaries have a life span. Making a baby requires a healthy egg, but eggs become more scarce as you age. You're born with about a million eggs, but most of them never mature. By the time you reach puberty, you're down to half your original supply, and the number continues to fall each year. And not every egg that survives can make a baby. Even in your prime, about half of all eggs have chromosomal abnormalities, and the proportion of eggs with genetic problems increases as you age, explains Dr. David Adamson, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Eventually, you simply run out of viable eggs. "As of today, we have no way of changing that," he says. "It's the natural course of human life."

    Fertility peaks in your 20s. Most women hit their fertile peak between the ages of 23 and 31, though the rate at which women conceive begins to dip slightly in their late 20s. Around age 31, fertility starts to drop more quickly — by about 3 percent per year — until you hit 35 or so. From there, the decline accelerates. "The average 39-year-old woman has half the fertility she had at 31, and between 39 and 42, the chances of conceiving drop by half again," says Adamson. Approximately one in four women age 35 or older have trouble getting pregnant.

    1. Woooo, did I ever luck out, Lorraine! Of my many suitors, I elected to marry, in my early twenties, the person who made me feel just like my bparents did. (Short summary: Bad. Very very bad.) This was not a good marriage. Though I was supporting my former husband while he got his teaching credential, his entire family put intense, unending pressure on me to get pregnant in order to "fix" the marriage.

      "But what will we live on if neither of us is working?" I would ask, and then would be upbraided for my "lack of faith." My ex, who had a comfortable upbringing with his parents and then with me (as his needs always came first) had an utterly unrealistic view about the "moral superiority of poverty."

      Hoo boy. Moved away, got divorced (my attorney made it very very clear to my estranged hubby that no judge in California would grant him alimony--he wanted HALF of my gross pre-tax income! Like, forever!), carefully selected a permanent husband. Got pregnant literally on the first attempts four times between the ages of thirty-one and thirty-seven; the first pregnancy miscarried. The next three did not.

      Knowing what adoption had done to one branch of my family tree, I decided in advance that if I could not conceive/carry to term, Mr. B and I would live without kids... as decided, funnily enough, most of the couples we knew who married around the same time we did.

      They've been awfully tolerant, bless their hearts.

      My oldest son's longtime girlfriend just got into grad school. Despite what I know, and what everyone is citing here about how she's currently in her peak years of fertility, I am saying... not one word. It's none of my business.

  24. Honestly, this is a no-brainer. No matter how you try to make it not so..it IS so. Fertility, for women, declines over time, and precipitously, as we pass 35 years. Complaining about it is not rational. My own mother had only two children..one born at 41, the other at 44, but she was an anomaly. (No IVF or other interventions..but she had multiple miscarriages between the age of 32 and 41.)

  25. As an adoptee, one of my motivations for marrying at age 20 and having my first child at age 21was fear. 1. Fear of getting pregnant, being single and pressured into giving my baby up by my religious community. 2.fear of infertility after marriage.

    Things have worked out very well for me.

  26. Thank you Lorraine, I will definitely look into WFW.

  27. Michelle,

    Thanks for asking.

    To add to what Lorraine wrote about organizations which help children in their own countries, check out "Women Hold Up Half the Sky" which lists organizations helping women and children.

    I also encourage you to check out program in your own community -- the Boys and Girls Club, Volunteers to America, food banks, for example. Ask your local welfare office or school about families that need special help. Helping with transportation, tutoring, and the like can be invaluable

  28. I think the best way to help those in need are actually getting benefit from your donation is by either donating a good (food, clothing, school supplies, etc.) or your time by providing a service. You know in those cases that the good/service you are providing is going to be used by the person(s) who need it.

    There are many organizations that collect school supplies to those children who aren't able to afford them. Other organizations collect coats and other clothing items in the winter for those children who can't afford them. Those are my favorite charities that make the biggest difference for those in need.

  29. There are all kinds of ways to help those in need. Donating real goods to local charities and families is a great way--but so is helping a woman in another part of the world who is living in a country where there are nearly no social services, where women have not been trained to think about providing for their children on their own--and because of war or famine or death, suddenly are. Each of us has to find the way the suits us.

    We have a local food pantry here that supplies families in the winter months when there is less work available; I've seen the people come by to pick food up when I drop some off. But that doesn't negate the sense that I want to do something for a woman half way around the world.

    Women for Women was started when a native Iraqi women, living and educated in the U.S., read about the horrible rapes and murders in Bosnia/Serbia, where women were chained to their beds to serve as prostitutes for the soldiers. As a victim of a rape myself, my heart immediately went to them, and perhaps that is why this organization resonates with me. We all need to find our own way to help humanity.

  30. Mrs. Tarqauin:

    I know why you can's say anything or interfere, but what will you do if and when your son's hopes to have children are foiled by infertility...and adoption looms on the horizon?

    I don't mean to sound flip, but the words running round my brain as those from The King and I: It's a puzzlement. It might not be unrealistic to talk to your son and gently point out the statistics. Once. And then whatever will be, will be.

  31. Excellent point, Lorraine. They have been together for four years, and I haven't heard any discussion of marriage... but I think it's time to have a private chat with Son #1 and bring up various personal issues. Thanks for the gentle noodge in that direction.

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