The best thing, of course, would be to have children of your own. You don't want to miss out on that experience, which I hear is incomparable. Besides which, I imagine it would be pretty hard to love kids if you didn't give birth to them.
Second-best, I suppose, would be adopting children who look like you. That way it'll seem like they're your own kids, even though they're not. You'll probably be able to fool a lot of people into thinking your family is real.
If you can't adopt kids who look like you, then try to at least adopt American kids. That would be third-best. They might look different, but at least they'll be from the same culture as you, so they won't be too different inside. If you can't have a real family, you can at least have an all-American family.
If you end up having to go overseas (which is clearly the worst option), make sure you get the kid checked out before you bring him home. I've heard those foreign babies often have lots of stuff wrong with them, and you wouldn't want to get a flawed one.
Of course, if you can't have children of your own, it would probably be better to just go childless. Nothing can really compare to the experience of real parenting, and you wouldn't want to go your whole life knowing that your family is second-best.
...If you haven't picked up the tongue-in-cheek tone of this, I hope you're furious with me by now. You should be furious anyway, because there are lots of people who, if they read the list above, would think nothing of it.
I guess it's not surprising, in a world where we're constantly bombarded with rankings and lists - top colleges, best hospitals, most successful corporations, most beautiful celebrities - that they tend to rank families the same way. When people hear about adoption, their faces show their preconceptions and their pity. You're adopting? How sad for you, that you don't get to build your family the best way (biologically, of course).
Here's the thing: I'm not denying that there is a beautiful bond between a mother and the child she carries, between parents and the child who has their eyes and their toes and their ears. I've seen enough pictures of parents in the hospital holding their new baby to know that they experience a special, life-shaking joy.
But the joy of biological parenthood is not the joy that God has intends for everyone, just as the joy of marriage is not intended for everyone. It would be silly to pretend that you can only live a happy life as a person if you get married, and so it would be equally silly to pretend that you can only live a happy life as a parent if your children are biologically your own.
It's an infamous question in the infertility blogworld: are infertile people just not meant to be parents? I find this question infuriating for many reasons, not the least of which is that fact that conceiving and giving birth to a child is not, as so many people assume, the only way to become a parent.
Are some people intended not to have biological children? Quite possibly. But that doesn't mean they're not intended to have children at all. Maybe God has picked children out for them, children who are not biologically related but will become their own, just as if they had always been of the same flesh.
I've asked many adoptive parents, and I've heard the same thing over and over: the joy in parenting through adoption is fulfilling. It's not missing anything. In an email, one woman put it like this: "As for your fear about not loving an adopted child as much as a biological one - well don't feel bad about thinking it but you really will laugh about it one day!"
But most people will never laugh about it. Most of them will go through their daily lives absolutely convinced it's true. They'll look at adoptive families, maybe at your family, and feel sorry for parents whose children are not "their own."
Read the blogs of women who are adopting, and you'll see them working through inferiority complexes about adoption, inferiority complexes that are fostered by our world's condescension toward adoptive parents and children. I find one blog particularly heartbreaking, as the woman (who is in the process of adopting) writes about how much it hurts her that other mothers don't see her as one of themselves, that when she tells them she's adopting they don't share her joy the way they would if she was pregnant.
It's easy, so easy, to see adoption as second-best. I'm seduced by that viewpoint myself sometimes, seduced into thinking that if we are never successful in conceiving, we'll never have the wonderful family we hope for. But when I'm not being seduced, I can see how wrong that is.
Adoption is not second-best. I want to stop mumbling that; I want to be able to look people in the eyes and tell them. I want them to know that I'll love my adopted children as much as I'd love biological children, that I am not worried about having children who don't look like me, because I know that Michael and I will be their parents because we've taken them as our children, and that will be enough.
Infertility is heartbreaking, but adoption is a glorious solution. All of us, everyone who is thinking of adopting, who has adopted, who has adoptive or adopted loved ones, who has seen the joy of adoptive families, should stand up and shout that to the world. We have to be proud of adoption. We have to stop letting them relegate it to second place on the list of ways to build a family. Because if we don't protest, who will?