How adoption for IVF couples could lead to a happier life
FOR couples who have pinned their hopes on conceiving a child through IVF, failure can be a devastating blow.
But a new study has found that, for those who go on to adopt, the earlier heartbreak can ultimately make for a happier family.
A study in Sweden found that couples who had adopted children after the disappointment of failing to conceive through fertility treatment appeared happier not only than other adoptive parents but even those who had children through natural means.
The researchers said it suggested that childless couples should be urged to consider adoption at a much earlier stage. It is a finding which boost the education secretary Michael Gove's drive to increase adoption rates in the UK.
The researchers, based at Gothenburg University, concluded that simply having children in the family had more impact on a couple's state if mind than whether they were biologically their own offspring.
Co-author Prof Marie Berg, of the university’s Sahlgrenska Academya, said that the "suffering" childless couples endure can itself be an ingredient in their later happiness.
"This [study] shows that quality of life is strongly linked with children, irrespective of whether they're the result of spontaneous pregnancies, adoption or step-children,” she said.
"The results show that it can be important to consider adoption as soon as couples seek medical help for infertility, especially now that we know that adoption enhances quality of life.
"As things stand, the issue of adoption is pursued only once IVF treatment has failed."
She added: “They may feel more happiness when they have gone through a lot of problems.”
Researchers comprising midwives and doctors at the Academy, studied quality of life between four and five and-a-half years after IVF treatment in 979 men and women in Sweden.
They were broken down into four groups, which included couples whose IVF treatment had failed and those whose treatment had resulted in children.
They also looked at those who did not have any fertility problems and those who, following unsuccessful IVF treatment, decided to adopt.
The groups were then asked to complete two questionnaires detailing their “psychological general well being (PGWB)” and one that assessed their “sense of coherence” (SOC).
They were also asked about their demographics, socio-economic situation and personal health.
The study found that quality of life, measured as psychological well-being and a feeling of connection, was highest among couples who had adopted.
They also suggested a better quality of life was recorded amongst couples who adopted after failed IVF treatment than either those, who remained childless or had not experienced fertility problems.
Those whose IVF treatment had failed and who were still childless showed the lowest levels of satisfaction with life.
But those who went on to adopt scored more highly across the board and were even found less likely to need medical care, used fewer medications, smoked less and reported less long term illness than other groups.
Prof Berg added: “Quality of life five years after adoption is high and as good as after having a spontaneously or IVF-conceived child.
“This holds true even when IVF fails, as long as there are other children in the family.
“It may be important to convey this information to couples beginning infertility work-up in order to reduce stress.”
Researchers involved in the study worked in fertility units at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Skaraborg Hospital Skövde and the county hospitals in Borås and Uddevalla.
Their study, titled, "Quality of life after adopting compared with childbirth with or without assisted reproduction", was published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.