Yesterday we heard from Kim who shared some journal entries with us from a time when she went through a failed adoption placement. Today we are hearing from another mother who also experienced a failed placement.
I wanted to share these stories because there are people that are hurting and are alone. They need to know that their feelings are normal and the sorrow they feel is real–one that other families have experienced too.
I am in no way saying that expectant mothers should not or do not have the right to change their minds about the adoption plan they set in motion for their child. That is their right and it is their baby. I believe Kim taught us by example yesterday how to handle such situations with love and grace. What I would like us to focus on is how we as an adoption community can “lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen feeble knees.”
There is pain and loss in all adoption. It can either divide us or unite us. My hope is that we will be able to show empathy to those around us who are hurting especially since we, as a community, are well acquainted to such emotions.
This is Wendi’s story.
After a year of telling my husband, Aaron, that we needed to adopt again, I finally convinced him to make an appointment with LDSFS. (Ever the penny pincher, he was worried we couldn’t afford to pay for another adoption. I told him if it’s right, it would all work out.) From the minute we walked into the office, things went smoothly for us. Within 3 months of that first meeting, we were approved and matched with a birthmom who lived just an hour and a half away from us! We just knew this was going to be the easiest adoption ever!
Within a week of meeting our birthmom, Maria, we got a phone call from our counselor telling us that Sean, the birthfather, was not happy about the adoption plan that Maria was making. We got scared and decided to back away from the situation. I had a friend who had recently lost her daughter after FOUR YEARS of fighting with the birthfather and I could not go through what she and her husband had been through.
But walking away from Maria and her baby just didn’t feel right. Even though it was probably going to be a difficult road, we knew that we had to go forward with the adoption.
During the next 6 weeks, our LDSFS counselor tried many, many times to get Sean to come into the office. He missed several scheduled appointments and didn’t return phone calls. He did show up one time, hours after he missed his appointment and told everyone that he would not allow the adoption to go forward. But then he never showed up or called again. So we all just thought he was blowing smoke.
But the day after the baby was born, he finally showed up to an appointment at the office. The birthmother, bless her heart, was on speaker phone in the hospital room, talking with Sean and he was IRATE. I was in the room with her and it got intense, so Aaron and I left to go get lunch and swing by Target to pick up some things for the baby. As we were walking out of Target, our counselor called us and told us about the meeting. She said her supervisor wasn’t comfortable going forward with the adoption because the birthfather was claiming he paid some of the birthmother’s bills and that Maria was the one who wanted the abortion.
We were devastated, of course, and we went back to the hospital to get my things. (I had stayed in the room with Maria and the baby the night before.) I was such a wreck–I couldn’t even hold the baby when I tried to tell him goodbye. I’m pretty sure I had a panic attack in the bathroom!
As we were leaving, Maria asked us to wait in the hallway while she talked with the LDSFS counselor. What?? We just wanted to get the heck out of there and get back to our kids. After an eternally-long 30 minutes, our counselor came out and told us there was a chance that the baby’s father could be another man. WHAT? Why in the heck was she just now bringing it up? We were frustrated and irritated. But we felt like if there was even a slight chance that the baby wasn’t Sean’s, then we had to go forward. Maria wasn’t prepared at all for a baby. If nothing else, this would give her time to get things together for him.
We decided that I would stay in Atlanta with the baby until the paternity results came in. (We didn’t want our kids to get any more attached than they already were.) Our counselor is an angel and let me stay with her. We thought it would only be from Thursday until Saturday morning. But after not hearing anything all day Saturday, I called the paternity testing place and they told me the results wouldn’t be ready until Tuesday at the earliest. <Insert panic attack #2 >
It was wonderful to have the counselor to talk with when she got home at night. But she was crazy busy with birthmoms and adoptive couples and her regular life and family. I was alone in an unfamiliar house with nothing to do but think about how crappy things were. And I missed my kids and my husband and I just wanted to know what was going to happen to that sweet baby. I don’t know if it’s possible to become severely depressed in a matter of minutes, but if it is, I was!
After a long weekend of half-watched movies and buckets of tears, I found out on Tuesday at 4:30 pm that the baby was indeed Sean’s and he was going back to his mother that evening. I knew in my head that’s how it was going to end up but my heart was so hopeful. Dressing him to go home was like dressing him for his funeral. I know that’s weird, but it felt so final and so hopeless. I hope I never, ever have to experience that again, in any form.
The counselor came home and got him around 6:00. I couldn’t even talk to her. I just handed her the baby, pointed to his things, gave her a hug and left. It took me 2 hours to get home. I’m glad I had the chance to be alone before I got home to my family. It gave me the chance to cry all my tears out—literally—and prepare myself to deal with my kids’ emotions. They were hurting, too, and I was glad I was able to help them (especially our very aware, very emotionally intense nine-year-old).
I had a really hard time for the next few weeks. People didn’t know what to say or do. People who I assumed would be (and should be) understanding and sympathetic made no effort to contact or reach out to us. That definitely added insult to injury! But people who I hardly knew brought food and sent kind e-mails. I was touched by their sympathy and generosity. It was definitely a time when I learned who I could really lean on—I had no idea how eye-opening a tragedy can be.
And it was Christmas time. I tried to be as normal as possible for my kids. I tried to go to all the Christmas events at the kids’ schools. I tried to be excited about Christmas shopping, but I was sad that I was buying for two kids instead of three. (Returning the cute little matching Christmas outfit that I couldn’t wait to put on the baby was torture.) I tried to be excited about sending Christmas cards, but the design I had picked out had places for three kids, not just two. I almost held my annual cookie exchange party but I just couldn’t bring myself to fake it more than necessary.
And not everyone knew that we lost the baby. So everywhere I went (for months afterwards), people asked me how the baby was doing. That was the hardest because I hated to relive it over and over again. And I hated that my story made people sad.
But thankfully there’s a happy ending to all of this. (Isn’t there always?) On February 25, 2011, I received a Facebook message from an acquaintance. She’s a Labor & Delivery nurse at one of the local hospitals. A baby was being born that day and he needed a family. She knew what we had been through, so she was hesitant to contact me. But she did anyway. And I’m so grateful she did! We met the birthmom at 4:00 pm, while she was being prepped for a c-section. At 5:09 our little Micah was born.
Earlier that week I had decided that I couldn’t stay on the adoption roller coaster anymore. I was tired of that hopeful feeling I got every time my phone rang. (“Maybe this is LDSFS telling us that we’ve been matched with a birthmom.”) I was tired of seeing all of the unused baby things in the basement. So I told Heavenly Father that if nothing new happened by the end of the month (about a week’s time), I was done. It wasn’t so much an ultimatum as a declaration of my emotional state.
But He heard me. He knew me I couldn’t handle any more and He heard me. I don’t know why we didn’t get to keep that cute little baby. But I do know that He heard me and that He blessed us with the baby that’s supposed to be in our family–the most precious, most adorable baby we could ask for. And I’m so grateful for that.