Friday, December 3, 2010

Hey, the GG has a clue!

How nice to read in this morning's Toronto Star that Canada's new Governor General, David Johnston, has publicly urged the government of Ontario to make it easier for people in this province to adopt and be treated for infertility. (The previous GG, Michaelle Jean, also had a clue: at the time of her appointment, she spoke publicly and frankly about her struggle to have a family, and about her daughter, Marie-Eden, who was adopted from Jean's home country of Haiti.)

Johnston was chair of the panel, before he was appointed Governor General earlier this year. But even if he hadn't taken part in the panel's work, the new GG knows whereof he speaks. According to the article, "Johnston has five daughters and seven grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren were adopted from Colombia; two are the result of fertility treatment; and two came about through a surrogate mother carrying the embryos of one of his daughters and sons-in-law."

The Ontario government commissioned the expert panel in 2008 to advise on how to make adoption and infertility treatment easier & more affordable for would-be parents. The panel produced a comprehensive report & list of recommendations a little over a year ago.
Since then, however, there's been very little in the way of concrete action or evidence that the government is moving toward action on any of the panel's proposals. So this is a welcome reminder & endorsement from a high-profile Canadian.

My one peeve in all this -- perhaps a petty one -- is that every media story I read inevitably focuses on the adoption part of the report. Very little gets said about the recommendations related to infertility treatment, particularly the proposals to fund a limited number of IVF treatments. I suspect that's because, in the minds of politicians & most people who haven't had to deal directly with these questions in their own personal lives, infertility treatment is a controversial use of public funds, particularly in these harsh economic times. Adoption is a much easier "sell." After all, everyone knows there are so many children out there "just waiting" to be adopted (at least, that's how the story goes, isn't it?). (Aren't we all supposed to "just adopt" anyway?)

I'm not saying that's it's not important to make it easier for people to adopt in this province -- it most certainly is. We might have considered it more seriously ourselves, had we not already been in our 40s & the hurdles we knew we would face so discouraging.

But the panel & its report were about family building generally, not adoption specifically. Its mandate included the topic of infertility treatment, & that part of the picture should not be neglected. Because even if all the adoption recommendations are adopted, it's still not going to be an option that everyone facing infertility will automatically want to pursue.

At any rate, it's nice to know that the GG is on our side. : )


  1. i am really glad to hear that about the new GG - that he's on our side. also: didn't know that about the previous GG.

  2. That is awesome! And yes, it annoys me too that the focus is always adoption. I was telling my husband the other day that we are the black sheep of the infertility community because we didn't pursue adoption. He was surprised that there isn't a bigger group out there living without children after infertility.

  3. I'm glad that the GG brought it up again in the news. Adoption is an easier sell, so to speak, but it wasn't exactly a cakewalk. Sometimes I get a little disheartened so many that people dismiss the rather profound effects of infertility.

  4. Just wanted to say that I recently discovered your blog through a link at and have been very much enjoying reading your blog posts. I have also found some of your links to websites useful, as the Canadian information seems more helpful and measured than the British sites (I am British). Keep up the good work!

  5. Good post. I'm trying -- and failing -- to imagine a major US political figure encouraging IF treatments. Here infertility treatments, adoption, and reproductive rights are quite heavily entangled and several state legislatures have gotten involved, notably Georgia and Colorado. I can only recall former President Bush's push for embryo adoption as a win-win for everyone (no mention that embryo adoption is not without controversy within the adoption community; also no mention that his daughters were conceived with fertility meds, although the Bushes were, of course, "planning to adopt" when she became pregnant). (Sorry, I hear this line too often to put much faith in it.)

    Also, the federal adoption tax credit is considerably better known than the fact that IF meds and IVF qualify as medical deductions. That's how a lot of couples who don't have IVF coverage fund multiple treatments.