Created By: BlackbirdMizu on October 15, 2011 Last Edited By: MorganBaines on May 12, 2016

Adoption Is Not An Option

In stories where an individual or couple desperately wants a child, but adoption is never or rarely discussed

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Trope
Adoption Is Not An Option is when an individual or couple desperately wants a child, but the issue of adoption is never throughly discussed, and usually not even brought up at all. It's likely that the viewer or reader is supposed to infer that the couple only wants a biological child, though that can lead to some Unfortunate Implications. Keep in mind that there are other reasons for why a person or couple may not be able to adopt, such as adoption costing a lot of money, or the person not being allowed to adopt for whatever reason, but this trope occurs when either no reason is given, or the couple/person doesn't consider adoption as a legitimate option even if they're capable of doing it if they want to.

Please be careful when adding Real Life examples, no need to start any flame wars.


Examples:

Film
  • In The Time Traveller's Wife, the titular wife has trouble getting pregnant with her husband's baby due to his genetic makeup, but never considers adoption.

Live-Action TV
  • In the original TV version of The Fugitive the argument that led Dr. Kimble to leave home on that fateful night involved this. Mrs. Kimble had previously had a miscarriage and couldn't have another child; Dr. Kimble wants to adopt but she refuses on the grounds that it would be "a lie."
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Marshall and Lily are having complications with conception, yet adoption is never discussed by them.
    • Subverted when Marshall's parents suggest adoption when they learn about the situation.
  • The New Normal:
    • Adoption is surprisingly absent, especially for a show about a gay couple having a baby. The first episode has the couple in question decide they want a child and go right to a surrogacy agency without the word adoption being mentioned once.
    • In a later episode the couple's friends, a lesbian couple, bemoan that since both of them have fertility issues they will never have children.
    • It's not as though there is a legal hurdle for them adopting on the show as there are in some states, it takes place in California.
  • Averted in Friends. When Monica and Chandler find out they are an infertile couple, their doctor suggests that while they might keep trying to conceive, they can consider adoption. They really like the idea, and they happily adopt baby twins.
  • Averted in Cold Feet. Rachel is infertile because of an abortion she had, and she and her partner seriously consider adopting. They would like to have a baby, but chances for adopting a baby are low, so they decide to adopt an eight year old girl. However, during the adoption process Rachel gets pregnant, and even though they still want the girl, the adoption gets cancelled because said girl had some issues with her biological family and new babies in the family.
  • Averted on Six Feet Under: Keith and David are a gay couple and they considered adoption several times.
    • They were taking care of Keith's niece Taylor and wanted to have full custody. It was aborted, explained by Keith's anger issues.
    • In season 5, David really wanted to have children. He preferred adoption while Keith favoured a surrogate mother. They went with both ways, hoping that at least one of them would work out. They adopted two brothers who were about eight and twelve years old.

Western Animation
  • For a period of time in King of the Hill, there was a recurring subplot where Hank and Peggy kept trying to have a baby. Following this trope, adoption is never discussed. In an unrelated episode, Hank mentions that his father Cotton hates adopted kids, which may imply some kind of values thing, but it never was brought up while they were trying to concieve.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One episode revolves around Manjula and Apu having trouble conceiving. Adoption is never brought up, but to be fair, it was only over one episode and they probably hadn't been trying long enough to consider it.
    • Averted with Marge's sister Selma. She was shown throughout the series that she would like to have children one day. When she was married (for one episode) to an actor Troy McClure, they had troubles conceiving... because Troy had troubles having sex. He suggests adoption, but Selma actually doesn't want to bring up a child in their love-less marriage. Much later in the series, she adopts a Chinese girl as a single mother.

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • October 16, 2011
    joeyjojo
    I've seen it come up but I've got no examples.
  • October 16, 2011
    queenbri
    In The Time Travellers Wife, the titular wife is adamanfly against adoption, even though her husband's genes means that she miscarries six times before finally having a biological child. No reason is really given for it.
  • October 16, 2011
    BlackbirdMizu
    Does that fall under the book version, the movie version, or both?
  • October 16, 2011
    Mimimurlough
    I've only seen the movie, so the movie version.
  • October 16, 2011
    MorganWick
    Ah yes, Fridge Logic tropes based in the absence of something. Those are always fun to come up with examples that aren't aversions for.
  • October 16, 2011
    SKJAM
    May involve Heir Club For Men as the requirement for a blood relative to take the position means that adoption, no matter how sincere, will result in a power struggle.
  • October 16, 2011
    ThreeferFAQMinorityChick
    ^ Some royal succession laws place a monarch's adopted children lower than his or her extended blood relatives such as nieces/nephews and cousins.
  • October 16, 2011
    TechUnadept
  • October 17, 2011
    MorganWick
    Hmm. I'd go with There Are No Orphanages but orphanages tend to come up a lot in stories, it's just that no one ever leaves them except of their own accord.
  • October 17, 2011
    BlackbirdMizu
    Those are fine names, but this trope refers to people who don't consider adoption for no given reason. There Are No Orphanages/Adopt Agencies implies that they aren't able to adopt because there just aren't any children who need parents.
  • October 19, 2011
    bulmabriefs144
  • October 19, 2011
    gneissisnice
    I like the title of "Adoption Is Not An Option", to be honest. It rhymes (always a bonus) and is pretty clear about the topic.

    Example:

    In a bizarre example, Mrs. Trottle from The Secret Of Platform Thirteen wants a baby so badly that she kidnaps one (who happens to be a prince) right out of a baby carriage rather than go to an orphanage.
  • October 19, 2011
    Nocturna
    I would nitpick the Twilight example and say that it's not really an example of this trope. Bella deciding to keep or abort the baby is really an entirely different issue than whether or not they'd/she'd consider adoption.

    I would also argue that adoption really isn't a viable option for the vampires, because either the kid would grow up, grow old, and die, which would be really hard to watch happen, not to mention the whole problem of maintaining the Masquerade, or they would have to let the kid grow up and then turn them, which has all sorts of moral Unfortunate Implications.
  • October 21, 2011
    BlackbirdMizu
    Yeah, I'm still debating on whether to keep the Twilight entry in. But I figured that many of the vampires have adopted children and then "turned" them later, so I don't see why it would be so much worse if Bella did it. Plus it seems a little off to me that Bella would be so willing to risk her life for the biological child. Still, I would have to think about it.
  • October 24, 2011
    valbinooo
    I *think*, with Twilight, Carlisle ended up turning people who were dying for some reason, and thus in a way adopting them.

    But yeah, I don't think the Twilight entry really works.
  • October 24, 2011
    Hello999
    Averted on Thirty Rock. Liz has considered adoption as part of her My Biological Clock Is Ticking schtick. The main plot of one episode involved Liz trying and failing to impress an adoption agent played by Megan Mullally.
  • November 26, 2011
    BlackbirdMizu
    Okay, I'll get rid of the Twilight entry.
  • November 27, 2011
    Irrisia
    Unfortunately, possibly a Truth In Television trope for some people, if some of the stories about people bankrupting themselves for IVF attempts are anything to go by.
  • December 2, 2011
    BlackbirdMizu
    Since you've got a link, I suppose I can put it. I better be sure to add that it's really Your Mileage May Vary, don't want anyone starting a flame war.
  • December 7, 2011
    aurora369
    Aversion: in the Roman Empire, adoption definitely was an option for inheritance of Imperial power.
  • January 7, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the original TV version of The Fugitive the arguement that led Dr. Kimble to leave home on that fateful night involved this. Mrs. Kimble had previously had a miscarriage and couldn't have another child; Dr. Kimble wants to adopt but she refuses on the grounds that it would be "a lie."
  • January 7, 2012
    BlackbirdMizu
    That's a good example, I'll add it.
  • January 7, 2012
    CactusWren
    In fiction it's decidedly Older Than Radio: in Silas Marner, Godfrey Cass's wife Nancy refuses to adopt a child on the grounds that their childlessness is God's will. "Don't you remember what that lady we met at the Royston Baths told us about the child her sister adopted? That was the only adopting I ever heard of: and the child was transported when it was twenty-three."
  • January 7, 2012
    captainpat
    dude, Example As A Thesis. Get rid of the alice and bob part.
  • January 7, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
  • January 7, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    I prefer Adoption Is Not An Option, since this is about adoption itself rather than adoption agencies.
  • January 8, 2012
    RossN
    The problem with Adoption Is Not An Option is that it could just as easily refer to the fact that giving the child up for adoption rarely figures in a 'main character has an unexpected pregnancy' plot - see Good Girls Avoid Abortion.
  • January 8, 2012
    SaladHammer
    In the sixth season of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Lily are having complications with conception, yet adoption is never discussed
  • January 14, 2012
    BlackbirdMizu
    To Ross N: That is a good point, but I think people would get it. (just as well, I can't think of a better alternate title) I'll think about it, though.
  • January 14, 2012
    cityofmist
    ^^Yes, it is. Marshall is worrying that he's sterile, his dad reassures him that there are other options, like adoption and sperm donation, and Marshall specifically says he'd prefer adoption. They probably would have gone that route if Lily hadn't conceived naturally.
  • January 14, 2012
    Antigone3
    Possibly Will Not Adopt?
  • January 14, 2012
    AnEditor
  • January 15, 2012
    SorciaMacNasty
    Live-action TV: Avoided in 'Mad Men' when Pete Campbell and his wife consider adoption only to be slapped down by his snotty family, including a relative who asks why anyone would adopt -- the children are all other people's throw-aways. Cringe.

    Film: 'Cider House Rules' features an orphanage where kids seem to be adopted only very rarely.

    Avoided in Kevin Sullivans' 'Anne of Green Gables' series, since the plot hinges on Anne Shirley's adoption by the Cuthberts. (Also in the Literature, since Based on a Book).

    Theater: Avoided in 'Annie' since the titular heroine is, in fact, adopted at the end by Daddy Warbucks.

  • January 15, 2012
    SorciaMacNasty
    List of films where this is avoided: http://www.adoptionhealing.com/AdoptionMovies.html
  • April 8, 2012
    BlackbirdMizu
    "Will Not Adopt" implies that the person or couple REFUSES to adopt. This trope will mostly cover works where adoption simply isn't discussed.
  • April 8, 2012
    StevenT
    Early on in Up, Ellie suffers a miscarriage and it is implied that it made her sterile. But though they were happy about the thought of having a child they never think of adopting.
  • April 9, 2012
    TheNinth
    Not really sure Anne of Green Gables should be mentioned as an aversion, since she's adopted by a brother and sister -- not a married couple. In that case, adoption was the ONLY option.
  • April 9, 2012
    reub2000
    I'm not sure why you're defining the trope narrowly. Whether the trope is justified (couple is denied by adoption agency) or unjustified as it's written at present, the trope is the same in that the couple needs to conceive a child on their own if they want to raise a child.
  • April 9, 2012
    IsaacSapphire
    In real life, women with psychological problems often take drugs that cause massive birth defects to control their psychological issues. Adoption agencies won't serve them because they have the major psychological problems, and going off the drugs for pregnancy can be very disruptive of her life and psychological state.
  • April 9, 2012
    lebrel
    • This is fairly common in manga, since adoption of a child by non-relatives is very rare (only 2% of adoptions in Japan involve children, the rest are mostly adult men). In particular, the fact that the couple can never have a child (and therefore cannot fulfill their duty to carry on the family line), is one of the standard relationship stumbling blocks in Boys Love Genre works. Examples of this attitude:
  • June 8, 2012
    septembergrrl
    In the book of Time Traveler's Wife, Clare does explain why she won't adopt. Is it this trope if one character doesn't want to adopt, even if from the outside it looks like a good idea?
  • March 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • Inverted in the "Hearthfire" DLC for The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, where adoption is the only option if you and your significant other wish to raise children. Presumably there was no feasible way to get the usual method past the ESRB.

    And hatted.
  • March 6, 2013
    dakta
    ^ This trope is about wanting a child, but conspicuously avoiding any mention whatsoever of even the possibility of adoption. The key requirement for this trope is that adoption must be the only possible way for those wanting the child to have one, yet it is never mentioned, not even offhand by a side character (unless that character is Breaking The Fourth Wall).

    Possibly an example of Truth In Television, depending on the religiosity of the characters who want a child.
  • March 6, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Averted in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. In the comics it was established that Bail Organa and his wife Breha had multiple miscarriages, so he more than readily adopts Padmé's daughter Leia, telling the Jedi that he and his wife had been discussing adoption for quite some time.
  • March 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    How I Met Your Mother should be removed; there's Conversation In The Main Page on this and it's still in ykttw!
  • March 7, 2013
    JoeG
    • Averted in Raising Arizona. It's explicitly stated that Hi and Ed can't adopt because of Hi's criminal record.
  • March 7, 2013
    StarSword
    @dakta: Which would be why I listed it as an inversion. In Skyrim, having kids the usual way is the option whose presence is conspicuously avoided.
  • March 7, 2013
    XFllo
    I edited the draft, improving Example Indentation and some formatting plus namespace.

    Also I added these examples. All aversions. Which makes me wonder - is it really such a prevalent trope?

    • Averted in Friends. When Monica and Chandler find out they are an infertile couple, their doctor suggests that while they might keep trying to conceive, they can consider adoption. They really like the idea, and they happily adopt baby twins.
    • Averted in Cold Feet. Rachel is infertile because of an abortion she had, and she and her partner seriously consider adopting. They would like to have a baby, but chances for adopting a baby are low, so they decide to adopt an eight year old girl. However, during the adoption process Rachel gets pregnant, and even though they still want the girl, the adoption gets cancelled because said girl had some issues with her biological family and new babies in the family.
    • Averted on Six Feet Under: Keith and David are a gay couple and they considered adoption several times.
      • They were taking care of Keith's niece Taylor and wanted to have full custody. It was aborted, explained by Keith's anger issues.
      • In season 5, David really wanted to have children. He preferred adoption while Keith favoured a surrogate mother. They went with both ways, hoping that at least one of them would work out. They adopted two brothers who were about eight and twelve years old.
  • March 7, 2013
    XFllo
    Another aversion from The Simpsons

    • Marge's sister Selma was shown throughout the series that she would like to have children one day. When she was married (for one episode) to Troy McClure, they had troubles conceiving... because Troy had troubles having sex with Selma. He suggests adoption, but Selma actually doesn't want to bring up a child in love-less marriage. Much later in the series, she adopts a Chinese girl as a single mother.

  • March 7, 2013
    dakta
    @Star Sword: Sorry, wrong number of carats. I meant to reply to septembergrrl.
  • March 7, 2013
    LiamM32
    I'm not really sure if I should credit this trope, but I do however have an example.

    • The Pixar film Up; In the prologue as it speeds through the couples life, Carl's wife Ellie experiences a miscarriage. They don't have any children (either biological or adopted) at the end when Ellie dies and Carl is an old man.
  • February 10, 2014
    ryanthehulk
    Adoption is not an option is rather unrealistic when it appears in American media. The United States has an adoption rate of roughly three adoptions to 100 live births, the highest rate of any nation and almost three times as high as the nation with the second highest rate, Sweden.
  • February 10, 2014
    DAN004
    Okay, the absence of something (when it's not expected to appear) is People Sit On Chairs. Seriously, MTD plz.
  • February 10, 2014
    RedneckRocker
    In the first Problem Child movie, Flo basically says at one point near the beginning, "I don't wear secondhand clothes, and I won't have a secondhand kid; adoption is out!"
  • February 10, 2014
    randomsurfer
    There are a lot of "averted in"s listed. But I do think that adoption in works isn't chairs. I suggest that the trope be Adoption In Media, or something like that only more clever, covering both adopteds and when adoption is discussed but doesn't happen.

    Irrespctive of the above:
    • Newhart: In "My Three Dads" Larry, Darryl & Darryl feel their biological clocks ticking, and they don't have a woman handy, so they decide to adopt. The adoption agency takes pity on them so they get to adopt Ted, who is 17 years and 11 months old.
  • February 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Then Happily Adopted would be its subtrope.

    BTW, do we have a trope for "Not-Happily-Adopted"?
  • April 24, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    Bump?
  • April 24, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ That would probably fall in the Orphans Ordeal territory.
  • April 24, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    Zig-zagged in The Odd Life of Timothy Green. The Framing Story of the film is the couple telling their testimony to an adoption agency, but the couple seemingly never considered adoption until after the events they recount.
  • April 24, 2014
    DAN004
    I still think there's no point of listing instances of "guys never mentioning adoption at all". Cuz we'll have, like, 90% of fiction that way.
  • April 24, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I sincerely doubt 90% of all fiction has couples struggling to get a child...
  • April 24, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ exactly.
  • April 25, 2014
    Larkmarn
    The How I Met Your Mother example isn't an example at all. They discuss adoption with the fertility doctor and Marshall's parents, and this is before they even determine whether they're infertile or not.

    Actually, there's a lot of Conversation In The Main Page going on here. Taking a hat.
  • November 29, 2014
    jormis29
    Please note that the use of the Unfortunate Implications trope requires a citation or a mod will remove it. See trope page for details.
  • November 29, 2014
    DAN004
    Discard?
  • March 5, 2015
    Gowan
    • In A Brothers Price, there is a childless family who didn't adopt. May not be an example, as they are asked by the main characters why they didn't, and reply that the only families who would give children up for adoption are socially, and, by implication, genetically inferior. They would have adopted a child from the main character's family, but such families never have more children than they can afford. (Non-related orphans aren't really a thing in that setting, due to Exotic Extended Marriage.)
  • April 29, 2016
    Berrenta
    No one has brought up whether this is truly launch ready, so unlaunched.
  • April 29, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ In fact I should just discard this.
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