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Adoption Blog: Adoption: Not Just My Profession, My Life

Preparing for a Disruption During the Revocation Period

We are just days away from going "in the books.” What an exciting step! It also marks the last part of the adoption process over which we have control. Now the real wait begins.

Throughout our education classes and home study process, the topic of disruptions has been discussed to help prepare prospective adoptive parents for the possibility. A disruption is the term used to describe when a birth parent changes his or her mind about placing during their revocation period, after the child has been placed in the adoptive parents' home. Our agency cites a low disruption percentage rate, but, however rare, I doubt that statistic matters to those who experience it.

I wanted to hit on the topic of disruptions before they are actually a possibility because I know that, if it does happen, my emotions will be involved and I'll have to look back on this post for clarity. Knowing that we will be matched with an expectant mother from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, or Virginia, our agency thoroughly educated us on these states' adoption laws. Of these states, Pennsylvania has the longest revocation period, 30 days, and New Jersey doesn't have any revocation period once the relinquishment paperwork is signed.

When speaking about the revocation period as an adoption professional, I often find that people are surprised there is such a timeframe when birth parents are able to change their minds after placement. It is so important to remember this is one of the most difficult decisions anyone could ever make, and will likely have little to do with his or her feelings about your suitability as parents.

I once read a letter a mother wrote to the prospective adoptive parents who faced a disruption after she'd decided to parent. She explained that nothing they did or said caused her to change her mind and, most importantly, she didn't change her mind to cause them pain. Just as any parent would, she was doing her best to make the right choice for her baby.

The revocation period will make certain of one of two things:

1) That she feels that an adoption plan is the right choice, even through the grief, sadness, and heartbreak she will be feeling. Jill, a birth mother blogger of The Happiest Sad wrote: "Never doubt, not for a second, that you are loved. There is no one else in the world for whom I'd break my own heart. Only you.”

2) That she decides that placing her baby for adoption was a mistake and that she will parent.

Because of the magnitude of this life-long decision, I believe there needs to be a revocation period. A woman who has just had a baby and signed the legal adoption papers needs and deserves time to deeply contemplate the decision she had made, and to change her mind, if she feels that's right. Others may not agree, and some adoption professionals and parents talking about it being "easier” on the adopting parents when there is a very short revocation period, or no revocation period at all. But as an adoptive parent, especially one seeking an open adoption, I certainly do not want to feel as though I'm just running down the clock during those 30 days. I'd to know that I was chosen to be our child's parents, and that his or her birth mother didn't decide she'd made the wrong choice on day 31.

No matter what decision is made, there will be heartbreak, because adoption is not one-sided. If we experience a disruption, whether after two hours or 29 days, I know I will feel heartbreak because I know how hard I fell in love with my boys in the first moments they were in my arms. And if they decide their decision was right, the birth parents will nevertheless surely feel heartbreak.

I can honestly say that, when we are lucky enough to get "the call,” knowing there is a revocation period will not cause me to hold back the love I know I will feel for the child placed in our arms. However, I will remind myself that we have been asked to be the temporary caretakers of a child who may indeed come into our family while his or her parents are ensuring they are making the best and final decision, and we will think of them with compassion and respect. And if the 30 days pass and they don't revoke their consent, we will rejoice in our own family's togetherness while remembering that there is a loss not only for our child's birth parents, but for our child. We will remember that adoption causes a ripple effect and that our experience is only one side.

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I still have not reconciled our disruption from 6 years ago. I feel that 9 months is enough time to make this life altering decision. Nothing has changed during the revocation period except the emotions and grief are stronger. All of the reasons that a woman makes an adoption plan could not possibly change in 10, 14, or 30 days. The only thing that made sense to me is that the child that was meant to be ours was placed with us 6 months later.

By cpscombs on Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 2:50 pm.

Thank you for sharing your feelings about the disruption experience. I’m so sorry you experienced that intense pain.

Our placement actually was high risk for disruption after we were placed with her and we were unsure of the outcome for almost 4 months. I think from being in the field of adoption for 10+ years and seeing the other side of the journey I have a better understanding of why the revocation period is vital. When adoptive parents talk about the intense heartbreak of a disruption experience it is important to remember that is a small glimpse into that which a birthparent experiences for a lifetime.

I believe that it is important for all members of the triad to have their voices heard and that the only experience we can be experts on is our own because we cannot even begin to imagine what the other members of the triad are experiencing unless we have lived it ourselves.

By Kristy Hartley-Galbraith on Friday, October 02, 2015 at 9:10 am.

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Kristy Hartley-Galbraith

Kristy Hartley-Galbraith


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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