Reproduction is possibly the most important piece of human existence. The central cohesive unit of society is that of the family—an institution that exists primarily for the rearing of children. The physical act of reproduction—sex—is one of the most popular topics of discussion in everything from comedy to gossip to advertising.

The desire to reproduce is something that is hard-wired into our brains—our ‘biological clock,’ as it is often called—and I think it’s safe to say that just about everybody wants to have kids at some point. And I’m no exception! While I’m certainly in no hurry, I do look forward to eventually having one or two children of my own.

There is certainly nothing unreasonable about the desire to reproduce. Having children is a way of becoming immortal; a way of passing on the knowledge that you acquire in your life and keeping humanity alive for yet another generation.

But some people, for any number of physiological reasons, cannot reproduce naturally. When a couple cannot conceive, it can be a particularly difficult and emotional thing—and understandably so! After all, as I said earlier, we have these pesky biological clocks. Often, people in this situation resort to a myriad of fertility treatments which have been conjured up by modern medical science.

We’ve got all sorts of drugs, treatments, and alternative methods of conception—in-vitro fertilization, and so forth—that can help couples overcome natural infertility. They do not always work, but can often have very positive results.

As I start to get into the process of planning my wedding and figuring out just what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, this kind of thing has been on my mind. It’s not because I have any reason to suspect that Melissa and I would have any such problem, but simply because my mind likes to prod into all of the possibilities.

In my thinking, I came to the potentially startling conclusion that I don’t really approve of fertility treatments. The idea is a bit distasteful to me.

Now, before anybody starts accusing me of being a cold-hearted wacko (any more than usual, anyway), I should reiterate what I just said—”the idea of [fertility treatments] is a bit distasteful to me.” In other words, I am not talking about public policy. I’m not advocating any laws or prohibitions. I am simply going to make a point based on my personal beliefs.

I don’t expect my opinions on this subject to govern anybody but myself; my only reason for sharing them with you is to get you thinking.

I don’t like the idea of fertility treatments because it just seems like a silly thing to waste time, money, and emotion on when there are thousands and thousands of children all around the world who are orphaned or abandoned, and available for adoption. Especially when you consider that fertility treatments are not always successful, I think it’s clear that adoption is a reasonable—and potentially better—choice. It gives you the chance to be a parent for a child who is already in the world, and already in need of care.

There’s a fertility clinic here in the Washington, DC, metro area—I have forgotten the name—which advertises regularly on the major radio stations in the region. They have money-back guarantees if things don’t work out, and they cite prices for “IVF [in-vitro fertilization] and donor egg” in the ads. Fertility is big business in this area, I guess.

When I hear those ads, I do marvel at what science can accomplish. A woman can donate her egg cells to these clinics, they can fertilize those eggs with a man’s sperm (the legal dad-to-be’s, or another donor’s), then implant the fertilized zygote into a legal mom-to-be’s uterus, and she can give birth to a little human being only nine months later.

It’s amazing stuff.

And I can’t really fault the people who go through (or desire to go through) with these kinds of procedures. People who want children of their own understandably want to go about it in a way that approximates the “natural” way as closely as possible. But, were I in such a position, I don’t think I could do it.

Every time I hear those ads, I also think about how selfish I would feel spending all that money and going through all that trouble just to make sure that some of my DNA ends up in my kid. I, personally, would feel quite guilty because I know that right here in this same area there are hundreds—maybe thousands—of kids who were produced the old-fashioned way and then given up.

Those kids deserve better than orphanages and temporary foster care (though I recognize and appreciate the importance of such temporary care). They deserve a permanent family too. Who better to provide that permanent family environment than people who desire children but have difficulty conceiving on their own?

I think that adoption is a wonderful thing, however I think it is underutilized in this country. Too many people fail to consider adoption as an option in the event of an unwanted pregnancy (although I’ll delve more into that whenever I get around to ranting about the abortion issue), and I think too many people fail to consider adoption as a reasonable alternative to fertility treatments.

Using the adoption system is a great way for pregnant women considering abortion to give the gift of life to their child, and it’s a great way for people who want children to give the gift of family to a child whose biological parents were unwilling or unable to provide it. It is, all around, a positive thing—and people should take advantage of it on both the input and output sides.

But, while infertility should provide great motivation for a couple to adopt a child, I would encourage everybody to give it at least a little bit of thought. Providing for a child in need is probably one of the ultimate good deeds that people can do. It can be a wonderful blessing for both the adoptive parents and the adopted child.

When I do get to the point of wanting to have children, adoption is something I plan to think about very seriously. Everybody else should do the same. You don’t have to actually decide to go through with an adoption—again, I’m not trying to change laws or force anybody to do anything—but I think those children without families of their own deserve at least a few minutes in your thoughts.

And if a little voice in your head says, “Why not? Let’s do it,” at least consider listening to it.

For more information on adoption, check out the U.S. government’s National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.