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Dealing With a Loss in Adoption

Failed Adoption at the Holidays

My husband and I just experienced our first failed adoption 5 days before Christmas.  After years of infertility along with years of unsuccessful treatment and 3 miscarriages, we were matched with our birthmother September 27.  I knew it was a risk to my already fragile heart, but at 37 years old with no living children, I was ready to be a mother.

We made a visit to the birthmother’s home state, and she told us in person ‘I will never break your heart’ and ‘once I make up my mind, I never change it.’  She has been in and out of prison several times and has 3 children already who her mother takes care of.  Her smile was so warm; I was just sure I could trust her.

Over time, we even got a cell phone for communication with just her, and occasionally texted back and forth.  She was inconsistent in her communication, always waiting for us to initiate it, but I chalked that up to the general chaos of her life and pregnancy hormones.  Her other 3 children live 12 hours away from her and she hadn’t seen them since August, so I also figured that was on our side.  She proudly showed us pictures of each of them when we met her.

I nested more and more, installing the car seat, taking parenting classes, taking leave off from my job and telling EVERYONE we knew.  We were having a baby boy!  Three days ago, we loaded up our SUV with every baby thing he could need, since due to the interstate compact and the fact that government businesses and law offices are closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s, we would be gone nearly a month.  I told my mom and dad we were telling them the name of their first grandchild when we got there, and we headed out on the road.  We planned to spend a few days with family before we drove the 11 hours to her home state.

When we were a half hour from our family’s house, after 3 hours on the road, we got a call from the adoption agency; there was an ‘inconsistency’ in the paperwork and we needed to ‘sit tight’.  They knew we were traveling that day.  I was thinking well, she already told us she wouldn’t change her mind, both in person and in a letter she hand-wrote to us, so it’s not that, just must be part of the inconsistency in communication we had noticed in the birthmother over time.  Forty five minutes later, the social worker called back - they had ‘accidentally’ received some faxed medical records from the birthmother’s doctor, and they had called the office to confirm what they said.  The records said 1) she was not placing the baby for adoption and 2) do not send my medical records to the adoption agency.  And this after the social worker had been texting back and forth with her earlier that SAME DAY that we were on our way, we were excited, we had all the baby’s things ready.  For all intents and purposes, she had intended for us to drive the full 15 hour trip and then tell us at the hospital that she had changed her mind.  Of course, we will never know the truth.  There is no closure.

We walked in and told my in-laws the devastating news, then I had to call my parents.  My mother burst into tears, which I had no clue how to handle.  We spent the rest of the evening, 5 days away from Christmas, texting everyone the news.  My husband is a medical professional, and he had taken time off from his practice and told all his patients over the last 3 months.  Now he gets to tell hundreds of people the same damn story over and over about how she conned us.

So, we drove home yesterday.  It was the saddest drive of our lives. I had carefully thought about how I would enter the house.  SO many triggers were there.  I had believed that the next time I walked in, I would be holding our son.  I closed the nursery door and didn’t look in.  Then I found some things I didn’t want to look at.  I ended up throwing them as hard as I could into the nursery and slamming the door, scaring my cats.

I smashed the cell phone we talked to her on with a hammer, hitting it over and over.  Now, I sit here in my pj’s, 2 days away from Christmas, broke and broken-hearted.


We just experienced a similar heartbreak right before Thanksgiving.  We had planned our lives around the arrival of our son, yet the birthmother changed her mind about the adoption plan *after* we named the child, witnessed the birth, cut the cord, held and fed him, and fell in love.  So sorry for your loss; remember that with adoption, it’s not a question of “whether” but a question of “when,” and with determination and strength, you will be parents when the time is right.  It’s just so sad when you think all is right but it turns out not to work that way.

Posted by JC Adopting on Dec 24, 2011 at 3:06am

I can’t say anything, just know my heart goes out to you.. 2 years ago this month our child should have been ours and we are waiting for the right time as well…


Posted by comotoi on Dec 24, 2011 at 3:25am

That is just devastating! I can’t even imagine and am so sorry.
I am wondering if you fault the agency though for somehow not being clear that that important piece of paperwork was not in? It seems fishy to me…

Posted by babydreams on Dec 24, 2011 at 3:26am

I’m so sorry for your loss.  If it’s any consolation I think you did the right thing by being excited and putting your all into this match.  Our first match was a brief week long match that failed.  I let it cloud my emotions when we were matched a second time.  Now as I hold my toddler I regret that I wasn’t excited before his birth.  So close the nursery door and when your ready remember that it is decorated for your child whenever he/she arrives.  Ignore stupid comments and people and let the people who love you comfort you.  It’s not your responsibility to make them feel better.  Maybe have some sort of ceremony for closure.  Bury/burn the match agreement or something.  I found writing about it helpful.  Most important keep the hope.  Adoption does work.  As I read the stories on here I have seen that adoption often seems to come when couples least expect it and are at their lowest point.  Prayer are being sent your way.  Hang in there!

Posted by gqqfier15 on Dec 24, 2011 at 3:31am

I am sorry you are dealing with this.  You have every right to feel how you are feeling! A failed adoption is hard anytime they occur, but having it happen during the holidays makes it worse!

I want to share our story. Last year we had our son in our home for 5 weeks and then his birthmother changed her mind and wouldnt sign the papers. We had to return him on 11/30 to his birthmother.  The holidays were Horrible!!!

I closed the door to his room for weeks and couldn’t look at it. I had to have my mom buy a present for my cousin’s new baby as I couldn’t do it—she was born the day I “lost my little boy.” I had to bag up all of his clothes and get them out of my house as I couldn’t have the constant reminder around.

For weeks people asked about him-eventually I became very callous to the story…i actually felt bad for the people that had just asked and ended up trying to make them feel better—they were just trying to be nice and ask how he was.

I was very bitter with the whole adoption process and all involved.  It took me a couple of weeks to get over it…and move forward.  My husband I agreed that we would move forward…we would be much more “guarded” on the next situation.  My husband was pretty admit that no one would come home with us unless all rights were terminated—we couldn’t do that again. 

When I was little my dad would say if you fall off the horse you need to get back on it….this fall really hurt and it hurt multiple people!

6 months later, we got a call about a little girl that was 14 months old.  One week later she was with us—- all rights were terminated.  Finalization occured on 11/2. She is the light of our lives!!!!

For us the horrible holidays last year paved the way to our beautiful little girl.

I have no idea why we had to go throught that situation and I wish no one else ever has to experience it. That situation taught me:  how much our family loves us and they were grieving too, How supportive our friends are—even when they don’t know what to say, How strong our marriage is—I know believe we can go through anything as long as we are together and I found support in people that I never woud have thought of.

I will admit I was very bitter towards our birthmother for a long time as I feel she never really was going to sign the papers along—she just wouldn’t be honest with anyone.

Nothing anyone can say right now will make you feel any better.  You have the right to grieve and be angry!  You will never forget-I know i haven’t. Take some time with your husband and try to do something fun. 

Like the post above said, when we least expected it, we recieved a call—this one was meant to be.  If things would have worked out with our son…..we wouldn’t have our beautiful daughter—I can’t imagine any other child being part our family.  She is the sparkle of her mom and Daddys eye and has her grandparents wrapped around her finger.

Please let me know if you want to talk.  I would be happy to listen.

Posted by cella14 on Dec 24, 2011 at 4:42am

I pray the right decision was made for the child. If she isn’t parenting her other children I hope he is safe. Maybe the birth dad and or his family stepped in. Maybe she can parent him. Maybe her family stepped in. You will never know but I pray for your healing and for the baby that he is safe.

So many things happen in life for which there is no why. Grieve, comfort each other.

If it is easier for your husband send out a little notice or post something at the office so he doesn’t have to repeat. A simple thank you for your good wishes, unfortunately the adoption fell through but we are hoping for another opportunity to adopt in the future.

Posted by Regina on Dec 24, 2011 at 5:04am

I am so very sorry for your loss.  There is nothing I—or anyone—can say that will make you feel better.  Right now, all you want can do is vacillate between being angry and being sad.  I get it.  I had a match over the summer and told EVERYONE.  I’m a teacher, so I told my colleagues, my principal, my own friends and family…the nursery was decked out in pink and frilly outfits filled the drawers.  Two days from making hotel and travel arrangements, I called the agency to check in.  They hadn’t heard from birthmom IN WEEKS (it was to be a closed adoption—she was finishing a jail sentence) and the agency felt that things would have “turned around.”  Well, let me tell you, nothing turned around.  Birthmom stopped all visitors, all calls, etc.  I was devastated and had to tell countless people.  I lost nearly 10K, and wasn’t sure I could go through this again…well, here I am, back in the queue, with fingers and toes crossed.  It took WEEKS for me to recover.  I shut the nursery door, I gave bags of clothes to my parents to get rid of, and had certain friends try to spread the news… It’s been four months and I’m still a little bitter, but remind myself everyday what the end goal is.  Time will make you both feel better and you have to be gentle and generous with yourself.  Get through the next few weeks as best you can.

Posted by AllyC on Dec 24, 2011 at 6:15am

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through.  I lost the child “on hold” for me, and was devastated…I felt like I had miscarried, was consumed with grief, cried uncontrollably, felt like there had been a death in the family.  As time went on I told myself, at least the child is alive, and that the right one will come at the right time.
But I totally get exactly what you are going through.  Be kind to yourself, don’t let yourself be consumed by hate, believe in yourself, take the time you need to heal,be there for your partner, and let your friends be there for you both, but trust that all will be well in the end.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 24, 2011 at 11:57am

I am so sorry for your situation.  My husband and I had two failed attempts and one of the worst parts was the lack of closure.  The first case involved fraud and the second fell apart while we waited out of state to take “our” baby home.  The pain was heart breaking.

However the heartbreak led us to our beautiful baby boy who we adopted in August 2011.  I am so glad that he found us.  Don’t give up hope even during this time of great despair.

Love and prayers,

Aunt Lolly

Posted by Aunt Lolly on Dec 24, 2011 at 12:48pm

I am so sorry to hear all you have been through! We went through it as well in the beginning of Nov. We had a great relationship with our bmom—she told our agency that she was having this baby for us “no matter what”... Well, after lots of stress and worry, we brought the baby to our hotel for 4 days - the bmom changed her mind and came and got her from us. The pain was the worst thing ever! Having suffered miscarriages and trying everything under the sun to get pregnant - it was a loss I wasn’t prepared to deal with… I do feel like I am doing a little better and still trying to be optimistic (a lifecoach specializing in these situations has helped!!) - but it’s hard. This Christmas was supposed to be so special for us… Feel free to message me if you want to vent to someone who has been though similar and I def recommend our life coach. She does calls as she is in Maine… But it’s been extremely helpful…

Posted by waitingforpink2011 on Dec 24, 2011 at 10:16pm

We had a very similar situation last Christmas.  We too drove 12 hours, fully prepared, and spent three days with the baby before the birthmother, who had also been totally sure, changed her mind.  It was absolutely devastating.  Absolutely. I took me the better part of last year to recover.  I tell you all this to encourage you not to minimize the grief and to let yourself grieve fully.  I allowed all the people in my life to share in this, and they helped me immensely.  We even had a memorial service for her to help us have closure.  We now have a little girl who is almost two months, and I am so glad I was able to move through the pain of that first situation before she arrived, because now I can be with her completely.  It will be a very difficult time for you and your husband for a while. but hang in there.  Don’t turn on each other.  Let yourself be as sad and angry as you are.  And then one day it won’t feel as bad, and then one day you will have your baby.  You won’t ever forget this experience, and if you’re like me, your ability to trust will get a little dented, but the pain will subside.

I will be thinking of you…

Posted by cecelia on Dec 25, 2011 at 1:56am

Our first-born match is now almost 13 years old.  Today he carries the name my husband and I gave him, although his birthmom chose to parent when he was 4 days old.  The devistation did not lessen until we received a phone call 8 months later asking us about a baby boy that had been born, was 6 weeks old in hospital and may be diagnosis with an illness that his matched adoptive parents were not willing to deal with.

Today we have 2 boys, ages 12 and 7, both adopted and healthy.
We never took the risk again until parental rights were terminated, but have paid by not spending those first weeks with our boys.
Please know that indeed your time will come, I can look back now and know that the first situation was not right for us, although it took years for me to admit that.

You will carry on, you will prevail and you will have children some day.

HUGS and prayers that it happens soon…

Posted by lifemoms on Jan 04, 2012 at 4:06am

We just go the call this morning, that our birth mom had given birth on Saturday and decided to parent.  She’s addicted to drugs and has been for years, she’s already placed 2 children for adoption, and she’s in jail.  She’s trying to get the father’s mom who is in her 60s to parent until she’s out of jail.  There’s no guarantee right now that DFACs will let her parent.  This poor baby is in a hospital going through withdrawal all alone.  He’s probably going to end up in the foster care system if she ends up with custody.  In the meantime, I can’t stop crying.  I’m sad for us.  I’m heartbroken for him and what this means for his life.  And while I know we’ll start this process over, right now I don’t know if I can do this again.

Posted by dmariehill on Feb 23, 2012 at 1:33am

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