God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

Prepping for Number Two: Circum-sized Decision


I’m going to write this post in two sittings. This is the first sitting, where I write down all my knowledge and thoughts on circumcision before doing any research.

This is what I think I know:

I’m circumcised.

There is cutting involved.

I don’t remember mine, so I assumed the boy won’t remember if we do it.

These are the adoption related notes:

For the first 72 hours (or whichever point the birthparents sign the paperwork), we have no official say in the matter.

Birthparents can have him circumcised without our consent as they will still be the boy’s legal guardians.

We have a solid relationship with our birthparents, and birthmother would likely go with any decision that we made.

These are the things I don’t know:

Why do we circumcise?

What percentage of boys born in this country gets circumcised?

What does the role of religion fill in this decision?

What are the benefits of circumcision?

What are the negatives?

What is the value of a small piece of skin?

Will I see pictures that I don’t want to see while researching this topic?

You can probably move that last question from unknowns to facts, and the answer most assuredly will be yes.


Ok, I’m back. The decision is so…unclear. Usually in moments like this, like a great leader, I defer to my wife.

“What do you think we should…”

“No no no, nice try! I don’t have one so this is all on you!”


Here’s what my research has turned up, and by research I mean the internet (always the most reliable source.) Many people find the procedure to be barbaric, due to the pain and irrevicability of the procedure. The medical reasons for the procedure are few. Urinary Tract Infections are 1 in 1000 for circumcised, while 1 in 100 for non. STDs are more prevalent in non-circumcised, but this concern can be reduced by teaching the boy proper sexual behavior (let’s worry about that one later). However, the procedure itself can have minor complications as well.

About 60% of American men are being circumcised now (worldwide the number is lower). That percentage is dropping. The American Pediatric Association does not necessarily recommend, but does not discourage the procedure. Basically, many of the nurses and doctors I’ve read say the same thing. Either way is fine.


I’m not making the decision to avoid pain now if it is in his best interest. However, I don’t know if the medical is worth it. What if you could cut the tip of your pinky to lower your chance of contracting an STD and getting a UTI? What if you could just practice safe sex and proper hygiene and achieve the same results?

Well, whatever we decide, we’ll be right and wrong. I lean towards no right now, but I’ve had 33 years of experience with the other way with no issues. In some ways I wish that the choice wasn’t ours, but when we met with our birth mother recently she said she would do what we wanted.

You don’t get to be a parent without making the tough choices.

4 thoughts on “Prepping for Number Two: Circum-sized Decision

  1. My husband and I chose not to have our new son done. After some research and talking with doctors and educators, we didn’t see any real reason to have it done unless his not being done became a problem. I was very surprise when I learned just how much of what I had been told about extra care that would be needed was actually a myth. The foreskin is usually attached until around the time a boy hits puberty, so by the time any extra cleaning is needed, he will be old enough to take care of cleaning it himself. If you choose to leave him intact, please make sure all child care people, or family members who will be caring for him know this. Little boys can be injured when people who don’t know this attempt it. Presently that’s the best advice I can give. Our son is 4 months old and doing well with no problems, so far so good.

  2. Tough decision indeed! People feel so strongly about it. We weighed the pros and cons and decided to circumcise. Some people were very against it (online, in some crazy angry comments on our blog, most of which I moderated because people got quite rude…http://www.adoptionistas.com/olivers-anatomy-our-adventures-in-surgery/ ). We are glad we did. We’d do it again, but for some, it’s not the right choice. Either way, prepare for some wildly opinionated comments!! 🙂

  3. We went ahead and did it with Little Man. Proper hygiene is great and all but I didn’t fancy explaining to a five year old boy that he needs to really wash his penis inside and out. But that’s us.

  4. I’m so glad you’re giving it the proper respect it deserves. You know where I stand and I’ve sent Stephanie a long PM on FB per her request with info. I know the intactivist community can be cruel and scary. If you want to know anything specific, please ask, I would love to help you.

    The 1st commenter is right!!!! When you leave your son intact you have less work to do! You never pull the skin back until it goes on it’s own. My son was around 5 when this happened. We just showed him what to do with it and he has done it himself ever since but I do remind him even still at 9 just to be sure in case he’s neglected to clean there. No soap, just water. It’s so simple. I really don’t think we should cut a vital piece of our sons off assuming he won’t clean himself properly. Renee, I assume you teach your son how to brush his teeth? Wipe his butt? Why can’t you trust a 5 yr old to clean his penis? Circ’d or intact, you still need to clean the penis. Some men think that having a circ makes them immune to certain diseases, but a condom and abstinence does that!

    I don’t know where you stand on the religious aspect but I don’t believe God would give us something we didn’t need and in the bible it says you should not do it. In the old testament when it was referred to it was a very small cut to draw blood, not cut off so much from the skin as it is known today.

    So say your son needs it done down the road? Well at an older age he can be put to sleep, have proper pain meds, and be explained to about what’s going on. Yes it would be scary but he could still be cared for easier. Especially if he’s potty trained by then (imagine a big owie in your diaper with poop on it.. eeeek).

    If you do it to a newborn, most numbing agents are contraindicated for a baby that young. Most drs elect to use nothing. His 1st entrance to the world should be filled with love and trust, not a cold table and a knife. If you end up deciding you need to circumcise please ask that it be done by a urologist or someone specialized in this procedure. It can go horribly wrong very easily as mostly interns are given this task. you’d have to have it done now and then have to have him redone or corrected later on because it was done poorly. Also don’t fall for the plastibell nonsense if you have a choice to make. Plastibell they claim is just a device to make the skin fall off ‘naturally’ but make no mistake, they do cut the baby. I believe the Gomco method has been forbidden in some places as it’s caused more harm than should be allowed. Realize please that over 100 baby boys die each year in America from routine circumcision. I believe the rate is higher as not all of these deaths are reported as such.

    If you elect to leave him intact (and the birth mother respects that wish) please make it clear often to all the staff they are not to cut your son. I would elect to do all diaper changes to make sure that no one retracts him. Again, at daycare make this very very clear. Show them what they should and should not do during a diaper change. Better safe than sorry.

    My brother had it done at 3. He had a lot of infections but we now are sure it was because of people thinking he needed to be retracted before he should have been. UTI alone isn’t a reason to cut. You give medicine for infection, not cut off body parts.

    The rate is going down a lot every year. I believe the circ rate in the entire USA is actually more like 35% but it varies by state (Iowa is something around 85-90% for example). Most men in the world are intact without more problems than cut Americans. By the time your son is old enough to compare, I know intact will be the norm but if I’m wrong, it’ll still be some are and some aren’t and both being okay. From what I hear, boys really don’t pull their tackle out to compare to each other anyway and if they compare to Daddy (which sure sounds creepy to me!) they notice the hair, the size, not the skin. If your son were to ask you one day you just explain that what was done to you was recommended at the time and no longer is and when you know better, you do better! Simple as that!!! My daughter doesn’t compare her vulva to mine either lol

    I’m really proud of you for being brave in sharing this big decision and I wish you luck in making it. As I said before, you can always ask me for info. Just researching it makes me respect you both so much more. Truly awesome people you are!!

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