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Adoption Blog: Be Bold or Go Home

Moving On From an Adoption Loss

We have a globe at our house with five thumbtacks sticking out of it: one protruding from Phoenix, another jabbed into the middle of Ohio, two stuck side by side into southern Ethiopia, and one emerging from North India. The thumbtacks represent the birthplaces of each member of our family—but there’s also an empty pinprick where a tack once marked the South Indian city of Hyderabad, a visual reminder of the wound of our missing child and the adoption that fell through.

The story is too long and complicated to fit into one blog post, so for now I’ll just say this: We had a little girl once named Haseena. We knew her, we spent time with her, we loved her, and we lost her so dramatically and publicly that the entire experience still seems unreal. You can read some of the story here.  It is hard to retell.

Our family is moving next week to a bigger house, so right now our old place is exploding with half-packed boxes, overflowing trash cans and all the mess and stress that comes with a major life transition. I’ve been busy scrutinizing our possessions the way you do when you move, trying to decide what to toss and what to keep. So many objects, like the globe, date back to the era when we were preparing for Haseena’s arrival. In the rush of daily life, most of us don’t really focus on the familiar objects surrounding us, but for the past week I’ve had to look carefully at everything and let the memories engulf me. Toys I bought for Haseena a decade ago sat in boxes for years until our other children began arriving. I wasn’t sure about the karma or the feng shui or the whatever of letting the kids play with toys originally meant for the child who never came home, but keeping them boxed up also felt wrong—and I still wasn’t ready to let them go. It didn’t take long for our first daughter’s playthings to disappear into the household chaos, but this week everything has washed ashore.  The sight of Haseena’s old plastic toy suitcase sitting in a pile of abandoned junk in the middle of the garage left me sobbing.

The house we are leaving is a unique, old adobe in a great family neighborhood. It’s also the house we bought with Haseena in mind during the long months of waiting that stretched to years, and the place where I cried over her loss and struggled with the question of trying again to adopt. It’s a house burdened with a history of complicated emotions into which we brought our other three children. I loved this house, but I am relieved to let it go. I’m finally ready to give away many of the old things as well. We’re still taking plenty of reminders of Haseena with us, mostly photographs, a box filled with truly special mementos, like a strand of Hyderbadi pearls, and yes, the globe, which practically tells the story of how our family was formed.

Many parents deal with an adoption loss by telling themselves, “It was meant to be. I wouldn’t have the wonderful, beautiful children I have if the earlier situation hadn’t fallen through.” I have never felt this way, and I never will. I imagine four beautiful children around my table instead of three. I can’t help it. At the same time, I hope and pray that Haseena, who was given a new name and a new life by her adoptive family in India, feels the sentiment I cannot: that everything worked out for her as it should. I pray every day that she is happy and loved.

Like my husband and me, my children Didi, Gobez, Lemlem each have their own complicated stories of love and loss to describe how they came to be part of this family, but in a couple of days, we will shift over to the new house that the five of us chose together. The sorrows and the joys that we experience under that roof, the new memories that we make, will all be shared. I can’t wait to begin.

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I have experienced the full circle of adoption.  I lost 2 children at birth and decided to adopt.  I adopted 2 children, a boy and a girl, both babies.  When my adopted son was in his early thirties, he found his birth mother and we all had a very happy and emotional reunion.  The following July, my adopted daughter gave her 2nd child up to a very happy adopting family.  During the legal process, in the hospital, I held my new little grandson handing him over to these new excited parents, crying the entire time.  A bitter sweet moment in all of our lives.  But the story does not stop there.  My daughter is a drug addict.  Since that time, 3 years ago, she has given birth and adopted out 2 more children and she just had another baby which she had signed up to adopt out just to change her mind at the last minute leaving a prospective adoptive family in emotional pain and financial loss.  All of these were private adoptions.  There is something so wrong with this picture.  Any comments or shared stories would be greatly appreciated by me.

By saddened on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm.

I am new here. We are in the process of adopting a second child, as our first adopted child is now a whopping 6 years old. Monday evening marked our second failed adoption since this past March. I am absolutely devastated. The baby boy, we thought without question, was ours until birth when the birth mother decided to keep him. Should I be selfish and feel sorry for “our loss”? Or should I be happy for the strength the BM gained to “keep” her child? Such mixed emotions but I must say I am being more selfish and feeling sorry for us. We were packed and ready to get that call saying she was in labor. We even prepared our daughter for the last minute call.  And yes! We even had a name and the most adorable new boy clothes ever. Did we set ourselves up for such failure? Jinx ourselves by being totally prepared? These are the type of idiotic questions I ask myself. And the big question…“Am I strong enough to continue the process?” I know once we gain a new son or daughter, all this will be worth it. But how do I stay sane in the meantime??

By kleo109 on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm.

Interesting and Useful Article!  People get sad and demoralize after losing adoption, but they can learn from here how to come over it.

By Judith Bell on Friday, July 24, 2015 at 2:34 am.

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Sharon Van Epps

Sharon Van Epps


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
Ethiopia, India

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