It can be heart breaking to have been through the emotional and physical demands of the IVF process and to have come away without a much-longed-for baby.

Many people put themselves through this multiple times, in the hope that the next cycle will work. But what happens when IVF is no longer an option? What’s next?

It may be that your fertility specialist has told you that you no longer have enough eggs to try again, or that there is another reason why doing a further cycle won’t work.

It may be that you don’t have the finances to fund another cycle, or that you’ve decided you can’t put yourself through it again. You are not alone. If IVF has not worked for you and you are still desperate to have a family, then fostering or adoption may be a choice open to you. They are just two options and not paths that everyone would consider, it may be, instead, that your life will go down an alternative route to parenting.

Take time to think about what you want to do next

Even though you were probably fully aware that there was no guarantee of success with IVF, you wouldn’t have put yourself through it if you hadn’t believed it was possible. It will take time to adjust to the new reality you are faced with.  Counselling can help you to come to terms with the feelings of grief, loss, frustration, disappointment, sadness and any other emotions that you may be experiencing. It can also help you to focus on the future, to explore new ideas and opportunities and to make plans.

What  does fostering involve?

Fostering involves looking after a child who cannot be looked after by their biological parents. It is generally a short-term arrangement and treated as a paid job. Foster children may return to their birth parents at some point, or be placed for adoption, so you will not have full legal responsibility.

Is there an age limit for fostering in the UK?

To foster a child in the UK, you need to be at least 21 years old. There is no upper limit on the age for foster carers, however, you need to be fit and healthy and have plenty of energy, in order to take on the care of a child.

Are there any other restrictions on fostering in the UK?

You cannot become a foster carer if you have committed an offence against children, if you have a child under the age of two, or if you are pregnant.  

Fostering or adoption after failed IVF

What does adoption involve?

Adoption is a legal process, in which you will become the full-time parents of a child. You will have the same legal rights and responsibilities as if you had conceived the child yourself. A rigorous procedure takes place to ascertain whether you will be a suitable adoptive parent.

Is there an age limit for adopting in the UK?

You need to be over 21 years old to adopt a child, but there is no upper age limit. You will be expected to have the health and fitness required to look after a child until they reach adulthood or independence.

Are there any other restrictions on adopting in the UK?

If you have been convicted of offences against children, or certain other offences, then you will not be able to adopt. Some individual adoption agencies also have their own conditions and restrictions.

Here at the IVF Network, we understand that everyone’s needs and circumstances are different. That’s why our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blogs explore a wide variety of topics connected to infertility, providing you with information and support to help you on your own, personal fertility journey.