SINGAPORE: A Singaporean recently took to social media to raise a compelling question about why married couples who are struggling to conceive don’t consider adoption as a viable means to start a family.

On r/askSingapore, a 33-year-old man shared his observation: “By my understanding, many couples willing to have a child are struggling to conceive. This results in them spending a lot on therapies and remedies to sort out the issue. Why isn’t adopting never an option for them?”

He also stated that whenever he brings up this topic during discussions or directly asks the couples this question, he frequently receives simple responses such as “adopt, do not want.”

He then pointed out that “adopting avoids unnecessary medical expenses and treatment and/or dangerous pregnancies, moreover, a child moves from underprivileged background to a privileged one.”

Singaporean Redditors outline four reasons

In the comments section, Singaporean Redditors highlighted four main reasons why couples often do not consider adoption: cost, genetic concerns, the complexity of the adoption process, and the emotional capacity required to love a non-biological child.

The cost

A few pointed out that, contrary to what many people might think, adopting a child is incredibly expensive.

One person shared an anecdote about their colleague’s experience adopting a baby, claiming he spent roughly S$50,000 during the process.

He added, “Almost a year already, and he still can’t take childcare leave as the child is not a Singaporean, so he and his wife have been burning their annual leave.”

Another individual shared that, compared to adoption, fertility treatments like IVF are much cheaper, especially those offered in public hospitals.

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She shared her experience, saying, “I conceived my second child through IVF and can confidently say that IVF treatment in public hospitals is very affordable (with subsidies and Medisave, you only have to come up with very little cash upfront), and you can also draw on Medisave for treatments in private clinics, which would cost you far less than S$50,000.”

She also claimed that the “success rates of such treatments were high and that while they were taxing on the body, they were nowhere near the type of discomfort and pain that a woman would experience in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery.”

Genetic concerns

Most Singaporean Redditors stated that their main hesitation towards adoption stemmed from genetic concerns. Some mentioned being anxious about the child’s background, fearing they might come from a troubled family.

They worried that the child would inherit negative traits and potentially grow up to engage in criminal or substance abuse behaviours.

Others, meanwhile, are concerned about the child inheriting health issues, which would add to the financial burden of caring for them.

One individual shared, “My cousin (adopted) has a very bad eczema issue that turn out was a genetic problem. (Her biological aunt and sister has it too. We only know this few years after the adoptions) Insurance can’t cover this.

Her medication cost 1-1.5k a month. My aunt and uncle love her as their own. I see first hand how they are stressed emotionally and financially.”

Apart from behavioural and health worries, they also wanted to have a child that had their own genes. One individual elaborated, “The desire to want children and pass on our genes is built into us thanks to evolution.

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Without that desire to have children, humans as a species will cease to exist. Passing on one’s genes is literally the most important thing in evolution.”

Another stated, “Parents generally want their child to share their genes, to have some resemblance to them, to be a mini version of them, be it in their looks, personality, or traits.”

The complexity of the adoption process

Some individuals also expressed concerns about the adoption process’s complexity, extensive paperwork, and the time it takes to finalize the adoption.

These factors made them hesitant and, in some cases, caused them to reconsider or back out of the adoption process.

One person said, “[I] wanted to adopt. The process is off putting! Plus the cost! And then the heartache of uncertainty of whether you’re gonna get a kid or not. So in the end we didn’t.”

Another individual chimed in to say:

“There are so many legal challenges and costs incurred for adoption. Even for older children in Singapore, you can go through the whole legal process, but if the parents change their mind at the last minute, you can’t do anything about it.”

Emotional capacity required to love a non-biological child

Finally, some individuals admitted that they did not have the emotional capacity to love a child who was not biologically their own.

They also stated that while adoption is a wonderful option, not everyone desires to take in someone else’s baby and dedicate their entire lifetime, immense care, love, and financial resources to nurturing them.

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They argued that desiring a biological connection is not a bad thing because, in the first place, that was what they wanted.

One individual commented, “There’s a huge difference when looking at their ‘own child’ and they could kind of see themselves in them vs. looking at a random child.”

An adopted child’s opinion: “Adoption should never be the first resort and must remain heavily regulated”

An adopted child who happened to come across the post also chimed in to give her two cents on the matter.

She talked about her experience, saying she noticed how her mother treated her differently compared to her biological brother.

Consequently, this led her to grow up feeling inadequate and constantly seeking validation and assurance from external sources.

She then explained, “This leaves a lot of unresolved trauma that honestly isn’t healthy to live with now. It’s not just whether they can afford adoption fees but whether they can love a child regardless of its background.

My brother was conceived after my adoption, and the bond my mom has with him is natural, whereas my bond with her only improved after I became a working adult.

That’s why adoption should never be the first resort and must remain heavily regulated.”

Read also: OPINION | S’poreans are not having babies; besides high cost of living, can a child’s future be truly free from stresses beyond reasonable?