Adoption vs. Pregnancy

Let me being this post by acknowledging that I have never been pregnant. I don't know what it is like to be pregnant, but I have observed three sisters go through pregnancy, and several friends. Just like each pregnancy/child rearing is different, each adoption is also different. Different costs, timelines, reasons for adoption, reason a child is abandoned/relinquished, bonding processes, and needs during rearing the child. This is our first adoption and we will be first-time parents.

Since beginning the adoption process this spring, we have received several comments that compare adoption to pregnancy, and I just want to address this subject. Although both means are beautiful ways to bring a child into a family, and both are ordained by God, they are very different processes. We certainly may try to go the pregnancy route one day, or we may have all adopted babies- and we'd be happy either way!

Timing. This is pretty obvious, as with a pregnancy there is a definite countdown. You know that your baby will come in roughly 40 weeks, give or take, from conception. With adoption, you have no clue. There are families that get on the waitlist and get a referral in the same day/week, and some families that wait months or years for a referral. Each type of adoption- international, domestic, foster-to-adopt has its own timeline, and in most cases, it is completely unpredictable and you can't compare your story to another's story.

Mom-To-Be. This year was my first "Mother's Day" as a mom-to-be. One sweet friend of mine messaged me and said "If you were pregnant I would wish you a mother's day, and you are a mom-to-be, so happy mother's day!" While I am just as much an expectant mother, it is hard for people to grasp that I'll "really" be a mom, or share the same excitement with me because of the whole timing issue. An adoptive mom-to-be may celebrate many Mother's Days without having a baby in her arms. An adoptive mom may not know what age to prepare the home for- a newborn, older infant, toddler, older child? To some extent you get to choose some details, but even if you get a referral for a 3 week old baby, the child may be several months old by the time he/she comes home, and the development may not always be at the average rate.

Milestones. As an adoptive parent, milestones are treated differently. You may miss significant milestones, like the first smile/craw/laugh/walk/birthday. But with adoption, you get to not only celebrate birthdays, but can also celebrate "gotcha days" when a baby finally becomes an official part of the family. With pregnancy, you get to watch the milestones from the beginning, even with the development in the womb during ultrasounds.

Gender Ultrasound/Referral. Some families choose to find out the gender during a pregnancy. Although this is compared to a referral (when you find out the details of your child- age, gender, etc) this is not at all the same thing. (see next point).

Background. In pregnancies, the parents know the child's background. You generally know who the father is, and the details of the birth. With adoption, you don't always know every detail. But one thing you do know is that with every adoptive situation- there is a family somewhere that has loss. The loss of a grandchild, child, birthmother, or the sacrifice of knowing that the best decision for the baby is to let someone else raise the baby. When you get a referral, you have the joy of knowing all the details of your child, but you also know that your new baby comes to you because of someone else's loss.

Gospel Opportunities. With an adoption, you are taking a child, who has experienced loss (even if the child doesn't realize it yet), who needs a home, and giving it a family. There are countless ways to compare adoption to the way that God adopted us into his family if we are his children (believers). But, just like with pregnancy, each believing parent is charged with teaching the gospel and living out the gospel. Each marriage must represent Christ and the church, thus providing countless opportunities to share the gospel. Each parent shall love unconditionally and point children to Jesus. Every family, whether adopting or not, has opportunity to mirror Christ! I recently listened to a Voddie Baucham sermon on adoption, and he made a very great point: Bringing a child into your home through adoption IS NOT about how much love you have to give as the adoptive parent. Having love and not being poor and living on the streets isn't the issue. The issue is the gospel. You are adopting because you now have the opportunity to bring the gospel to more people. You can now teach a child the gospel that may not have heard it otherwise. God's charge to married couples in Genesis 1 to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" is not so that we can have one big, loving, rich family. It is for HIS GLORY to be among the earth. Me being a parent means that my babies will be taught who Jesus is and how to glorify Christ. In the same way, any family that has children should not just have children to fill a void in their life or because they want children- Christian families have children to further the gospel and to bring God glory.

I hope that this post is well-received. As mentioned above, I'm not against pregnancy and we certainly may go down that road in the future. But please, consider how you talk with an adoptive family. Don't compare adoption to pregnancy, because they are very different, but both beautiful ways to have a family and both are means to do exactly what God called us to do: bring glory to Him.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. Having a sister-in-law pregnant at the time we started our adoption did not help us with the comparison issue. Our adoption is constantly compared to her pregnancy.

  2. Thank you for this! I needed to read the part about bringing the gospel to more people! Just last night I was talking about how we need to be going to the lost of this world to share the gospel. Justin pointed out to me gentlely that we have 2 boys right here in our house that need to hear/see the gospel. He brought me back into focus of where God has me and not where I think God wants me. Children are such a blessing! Praise God!

  3. This is a very well written and thought out post. I think you did a great job at comparing and contrasting the two. I love the bring Him glory, for that is what we have ALL been created for. Thank you for sharing your heart on this issue.

  4. Great post. I too have a sister-in-law who is pregnant at the moment, but our adoption isn't compared to her pregnancy... it's barely acknowledged! I don't think it will be real for most people until we get off the plane with our baby!

  5. Bekah, thanks for taking the time to write this out. I love the way you candidly share your heart with much grace. You inspire me to continue to love my friends well that are adopting and share in all of their milestones just like I would if a friend was biologically pregnant. I love you girl and am thankful for your wisdom!

  6. My husband and I are looking into adoption while we are seeking fertility help as well. (we are not old enough to start the process for the country we have chosen).

    The response has been supportive (of those that have said anything) from friends and family. Yet the advice/comments from those that happen to find out have had a great range. The one that I can't seem to let go of being "what if you adopt and then have your 'own' baby". I had no idea how to respond due to my shock at the question.

    I was glad to see this posting. It has given me some reassurance.

  7. Thank you!! it is an excellent post, my husband and I have decided to start the adoption process and is so nice to hear from someone who has such an enthusiasm and realistic view about it.
    I am fertile as you and I don't know yet if we will get pregnant or not, but we do know that we want to be parents and adoption is the first thing to do as a good christian.
    thanks again!!!!!!!

  8. Thanks for the great post, and my wife and I have really been thinking about whether or not we should go with adoption or pregnancy. Because for my wife's work she can't really work that well with being pregnant. So adoption might be a better option for us.


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