Going through IVF is emotionally, physically and mentally challenging and in many cases a huge financial investment too.

Although it’s likely that you will have been made well aware of the statistics for success, you wouldn’t have entered into it if you didn’t believe that you could be one of the lucky ones to conceive through IVF. The first thing to do after a failed IVF is to allow yourself time to process your feelings and to let your body recover. Frustration, sadness, self-doubt, blame, anger, jealousy and even grief are very common emotions that couples and individuals may experience when their IVF treatment fails.

Your consultant or fertility specialist will be able to advise you whether or not a further IVF cycle may be a viable option for you, or, due to financial implications, it may be that you are unable to commit to any further cycles.

Unsuccessful IVF doesn’t have to be the end of plans for a family. Options like adoption, fostering or surrogacy can provide many individuals and couples with the chance to become parents.

What is adoption?

Adoption is an extensive legal process, during which individuals or couples take on the permanent, full-time care of a child or children, who can no longer live with their birth parents. Adoptive parents have the same legal rights and responsibilities as if they had conceived the child or children themselves.

What will the adoption process look like?

If you are an individual or couple wishing to adopt, you will have to go through a rigorous procedure to ascertain whether you will make suitable parents.
You can either go through a council adoption agency or a voluntary adoption agency to start the process.
First, you will need to attend adoption preparation sessions, to make sure you are aware of what will be involved, the effects it may have on you and to ascertain whether adoption is for you.

You will be asked about your reasons for wanting to adopt and the type, age, etc of child/children you would be willing to adopt. You will have to see a social worker and have police and background checks to assess your suitability for adoption. You will also have to undergo a medical assessment. The reports will be put before an adoption panel and assessed. Not everyone who wishes to adopt will be successful.

What happens if we are successful in the adoption process?

A child or children will be found who are considered to be a good match for you and your family.

When will we have full parental responsibility?

You will need to apply for an adoption court order, after the child has lived with you for at least 10 weeks. If the court order is granted, the legal parental rights and responsibilities will revert to you from the birth parents.

How does fostering differ from adoption?

There are many similarities to adoption, including rigorous checks on your suitability to be a parent. Fostering is generally a short-term arrangement. It is treated as a full-time job, with the foster parents being paid weekly to look after the child.  When a child is fostered, the local authority and their birth parents retain legal responsibility. With fostering, at some stage, the child may be returned to their birth parents.
Adoption is permanent and the adoptive parents take on full rights and legal responsibility, without weekly payments, as they would with a child that they had conceived themselves. They become the life-long parent of the child.

What's involved in surrogacy?

What is involved with surrogacy?

Many people have such a strong desire to have a child that is genetically related to them, that they feel that fostering or adoption is not for them.
If IVF has failed to work, surrogacy may be an option. Sperm is inserted into the surrogate in the case of traditional surrogacy, but host surrogacy involves implanting an embryo.

It is illegal to pay a surrogate in the UK, but if you decide to go down the surrogacy route, you will be expected to pay for the expenses of the surrogate.
With surrogacy in the UK, you would not become the legal parents until the baby is born and the birth mother signs over rights. She does have the right to remain the parent if she chooses, as a surrogacy agreement is not enforceable in the UK.

Here at the IVF Network, we aim to support couples and individuals by providing information about all aspects of fertility, through our dedicated channel of experts and our website and blog posts.

With adoption, fostering and surrogacy, it is vital that you fully understand the legal implications and what your rights would be at each stage of the process. It’s important to seek legal advice from the relevant professionals before deciding to go ahead with any of these options.