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Dealing With a Loss in Adoption

Failure, via Facebook

We were matched for our second domestic adoption in early September of 2011.  The situation was a little strange from the get-go:  The birth mom had three other children, one had been placed, and the baby is a full biological sibling of the two kids she was parenting.  One of the siblings, a little girl, turned 1 just two weeks before the due date.  The birth mom is single and the birth father is not in the picture - or at least financially.  She works, but was concerned that her job would not be enough to support her family.  She felt adoption was the right choice for her, her family, and her baby.

The birth mom picked us without meeting us, talking to us, or even viewing our profile.  Our agency told us that she wanted a closed adoption (not our preference), and did not want to get attached.  I think that is one of the reasons we were picked.  We live in Nebraska.  The birth mom (and our agency) is in Florida.

Since the birth mom lives in Florida, we agreed to pay living expenses until the baby was born.  While we weren’t super excited about paying somebody’s rent and phone bill, we knew that keeping baby (and birth mom) safe and properly nourished was a good thing.  My wife (the financial planner) completely revised our family budget to make the numbers work, so we could mail a check to the agency.

During the first few months of the match, not much changed.  We updated our homestudy, tackled another stack of papers, and kept in contact with our agency.  Unfortunately, we were not all that impressed with the case worker we were paired with.  She wasn’t very good about getting us complete information, or following up with our questions.  Often she was be short and somewhat snippy in her responses to us.  We often felt in the dark and wondered what information was out there that we didn’t know.

We knew the birth mom had “no desire” to meet or even see us in the hospital, but we wanted to be present and ready for placement as soon as possible.  Plus, our daughter has birth family in Florida that we wanted to visit.  We purchased some “cheap” flights (as cheap as it can be to fly out of Nebraska) to arrive in Florida between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  We would spend a few days with our daughter’s birth family and then meet our new little girl before doing the usual ICPC waiting game.

Around the end of November / early December, there started to be some mixed messages about the birth mom’s due date and the date of the planned C-section.  Originally, we were told she was due between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Later, we were told that a C-section was scheduled for January 6.  We asked our new case worker to contact the birth mom and her doctor to get the correct information so we could potentially adjust our travel arrangements.

In early December, we asked to work with a different case worker, which was a wise decision - if only for the sake of my wife’s sanity.  My wife and I called our new case worker two weeks ago and reviewed all of the information.  The case worker had talked to the birth mom and yes, she was “very firm” in her decision to place, and had said she “knows this is the right thing to do”.  The birth mom still did not want to meet or see us.  We told our case worker that we understood that, but we hoped to give the birth mom a small gift (a necklace).  A week later (last Friday), our case worker called with an update:  the C-section was scheduled for January 6, and the birth mom was now open to meeting us in the hospital at or before placement.

The last few weeks have been crazy and stressful for us.  Aside from the normal stresses of the holidays, jobs, and raising a very assertive 3-year-old, we were also preparing to be parents of a newborn for the first time (our daughter came to us at almost 7 months), and trying to get ready to travel to Florida.  I’m sure other adoptive parents can relate.

As a result of the stress my wife has not been sleeping very well.  She’ll wake up in the night (because of our daughter, me snoring, or something else) and will not be able to get back to sleep due to all of the thoughts swirling in her head.  Last night was one of those nights for her.

So she grabbed the laptop.  One of the things she did was a Facebook search for name of our birth mom.  I’m not really sure why she did that - I had done the same thing in November and she had everything blocked.  But this time, she had opened up her Wall.  So my wife started reading.  And reading.  And reading.

This morning, I woke up to my wife saying “We’re not going to get our baby.”  Trust me, that is not a good way to start your day.

My wife handed me the laptop and told me to scroll up.  I started reading the Facebook statuses posted by our birth mom.  She was getting excited for the baby to come.  She posted that she had picked out a name for the baby - (one that was not nearly as cute as the name we had chosen).  She was organizing a closet for the baby and said “walmart here I come”.  Visions of the living expenses we had been paying for months flashed in my head.

She was counting down to her due date - December 23, NOT January 6.  Yesterday she was sending her kids to her mom’s while she’s in the hospital.  Another update from last night:  “due date tomorrow”.

Shock.  Disbelief.  Sadness.  Anger.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

We called our agency and our case worker and fired off an SOS email.  When our case worker called back, she said she was sincerely blown away and “never saw it coming”.  She had been sure the birth mom was a good person and had no indication was so ever that she had decided to parent.  We talked more, but frankly, I don’t remember too much of the call.  I think we’re going into a pool for “stork calls”, and we may be placed soon, but she wasn’t sure.

The day has pretty much been a fog.  We’ve started the unpleasant process of telling family, friends, and co-workers about our failed match.  My mother-in-law bawled, one of our good friends is pissed.  We have two Christmases with family this weekend and we’re afraid that both are going to be dominated with adoption talk.  It feels like we’re starting over.  Again.

I don’t know what to think.  Even though I never saw anything more than an ultrasound picture sent over a fax - which looked like a black rectangle - that rectangle was my baby girl, my [special_name_we_had_picked_out_that_I’m_not_ready_to_share_yet].  I had seriously thought about posting that black rectangle on Facebook as the first picture of my new daughter.  I’m not sure if I can give her name to another child.

I’m mad and I’m disappointed.  I wonder when (and how) we would have found out if my wife had slept soundly through the night.  Would we have gotten a heartbreaking call from our agency tonight?  Tomorrow?  On Christmas?  Or would we have flown down to Florida in two weeks expecting to introduce our daughter to her “baby stister” only to find an empty hospital bed?

I worry about the little baby girl.  If her mommy felt that she could not properly care for her and her siblings before, how are things going to be now - especially without the living expenses we’ve been paying?  Is the birth father back in the picture?  I got the impression that he’s not going to win any Father of the Year competitions.  I completely and totally respect the birth mom’s right to parent - and I will defend her ability to make that choice to the death - but I cannot shake the lone thought I focus on every time I’m filling out some 12 page form, providing some obscure piece of personal data for the homestudy, or getting my fingerprints taken to see if I am a sex offender - they do all of this because they want to make sure the baby is safe and taken care of.  Will she be?

I hate that people who know very little about adoption now have a crazy story like ours that they can tell (“Well, some people I know…”) which only taints that marvelous and magical thing that is adoption.  I love adoption.  My daughter is a miracle in every possible sense of the word, and without adoption (and a loving birth mom who for some unknown reason picked us) I would have never heard the beautiful noise that is her laughter.  Yeah, this situation is seriously f’d up.  But don’t judge adoption because….

I hate that I want to finish that last sentence with horrible, mean, and ugly words meant solely to hurt and demean a person who has hurt me.

I am trying to find the good in this ugly situation.

I am thankful that we found out the way we did - in the safety of our house.  I would be so angry if my wife would have had to take this phone call at work or while she was driving somewhere.

I am thankful we are not getting involved with this particular birth mom.  I love adoption, and I fully believe in open adoption whenever it is healthy and positive for the child.  From what we have learned, I’m not sure that would have been possible - even if she was interested in having an open relationship.  I truly believe that we will look back someday and think that we dodged a drama bullet - but that day is a ways off.

I am so amazingly thankful for our daughter.  I could go on for hours about all of the wonderful, amazing, cute, silly, and frustrating things she does.  I know that we are far from alone in having a failed match.  I also know that we are incredibly fortunate to have successfully adopted, and to have a true miracle for our daughter.  If she is all of the blessing we are meant to have, then we have been spoiled like none other.

I am thankful that my wife and I both truly believe that our first daughter was chosen especially for us, and we sincerely believe that we will be matched with the right child again.  I know that is clich, hokey, and whatever else you want to call it, but I believe it.  And I know it can - and will - happen again.  But again, that day feels a long ways away right now.

I am thankful that we found out when we did.  My wife and I agreed that we’re going to focus our energies on our daughter to help make sure she enjoys Christmas.  There is so much joy and wonder in her little three-year-old body that it cannot help but lift us up.

Finally, I am thankful for our family and friends and especially the love, support, and prayer we are receiving from them.  I guarantee there will be times when this is the absolute last thing I want to think or talk about, but I appreciate that you care enough to ask.


Sorry that got a little long-winded. 

As I was typing that, the birth mom posted a new status on Facebook:  “Im so happy and tired at the same time, in the recovery room watin to see baby again”.

Welcome to the world, little one.

Posted by FeitCanWrite on Dec 24, 2011 at 6:17am

Oh, I am SO sorry.  Too many emotions to filter: sadness over your loss, anger at possibly having been conned, concern for the baby over-all, and still trying to find the positives in a difficult situation.  I can’t imagine going through that.  You didn’t post an actual question that I noticed…maybe you just wanted to get it all “off your chest” and sort through it all some.  I’m praying for you, your wife, and daughter.

Posted by Lara on Dec 24, 2011 at 6:32am

I am so sorry this has happened to you.  There seems to be a lot of bad news here today.  I also love adoption and know the process can work and that there are good, loving birthmothers out there.  I agree that they have the right to parent even at the last minute.  Having said that, something doesn’t seem right about your story.  Almost as if she intended to parent all along.  Can you go back to her first status indicating she was parenting and determine if she accepted any money after that post?  Not sure if you can take legal action.  I would be tempted to.  I can understand why your friend is angry because I’m angry on your behalf.  I also understand where you are coming from in having to add to the negative stories about adoption.  Are you sure your agency is legit?  Do you know if they contacted her and let her know her “con” was up?  I don’t know the line between scam and mind change.  My prayers are with you.  Christina

Posted by gqqfier15 on Dec 24, 2011 at 6:39am

My husband and I had two failed adoptions before adopting our son in August 2011.  The first involved fraud and the second fell apart unexpectedly while we sat out of state waiting to take “our” baby home.

It was hard to remain positive about adoption after the two failures.  Our agency placed us on the “short list” for placements straight out of a hospital and that is the way our son came to us.  He was meant to be our little boy.  smile

I am sorry that you are going through all of this pain right now.  My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your loved ones.

Aunt Lolly

Posted by Aunt Lolly on Dec 24, 2011 at 12:41pm

Thank you for posting your heartbreaking situation. I am very very sorry. I also want to say it is VERY well written and I think you could try to get it published. It gives a great window into the experience while defending adoption itself and the birth mothers basic right to parent (not to screw people of course).
Good luck

Posted by babydreams on Dec 24, 2011 at 11:12pm

Thanks to all for the responses - let me try to answer some of your questions:

Lara - Nope, no real “question” per se, just trying to come to grips with what has happened and receive support from others who have gone through something similar.

gggfier15 - Our agency is absolutely legit (and one that would recommend to anyone).  There is a possibility that the BM received support after she changed her mind.  Our agency is looking into it.  They make the BMs sign something every month indicating their intention to continue with the adoption plan, but I’m guessing that money is long gone. 

babydreams - Thank you for the kind words.  Not sure if anybody from the magazine reads these or not, but I’d be open to having it published - especially if it could help others.

Posted by FeitCanWrite on Dec 24, 2011 at 11:55pm

Yes, my husband and family and friends carried me through our devastating loss, and kept my faith and hope in tact when I was so ready to throw it all out the window.  I wish we had a better system in place—but what can you do, make them take lie detector tests?  It’s just the terrible side of adoption.  My baby is now two months and I agree that the best thing to do is to focus on the positive and try to let go of the other.

Posted by cecelia on Dec 25, 2011 at 2:03am

I agree- this is very well written and I hope it was cathartic for you.  My heart goes out to you and your family.  I admire your composure in writing your post. I am moved by your ability to steer clear from rage and keep the faith- to continue to see the beauty in adoption at a very ugly time.  Cliche and hokey? Maybe, but you are absolutely right- your child will find you at the right time, just as your 3 year old did.  My husband and I had a note taped to the fridge for several months preceeding our second adoption that said “we trust that God will bring us the perfect child, for whom we are the perfect family.”  She is now 9 months old, sleeping in her crib and ready to celebrate her first Christmas.  Adoption works, God is good, and our children find us when they are ready.  Many blessings to you and your wife.  May your joy soon overshadow your grief.

Posted by be the change on Dec 25, 2011 at 11:31am

Thank you so much for sharing your story.  First of all, I think all of the other people that already replied are correct.  Your child will find you someday, it wasn’t meant to be, etc, etc

But I know that this does nothing to help heal the broken heart you have over THIS child.  We can only hope and pray that she grows up in a healthy and safe environment.  Even though she might not ever realize it, she is loved far beyond measure. 

I don’t think you are being hokey or cliche at all.  You are grieving the loss of your child.  Even though she may not “officially” have been yours, she was yours in your hearts.  I will be praying for you, and I hope to read an update from your family soon—hopefully with much better news.

Posted by SincerelyJenni on Dec 29, 2011 at 4:40am

OP - while my adoption was from Russia and I don’t know the specific emotions that you are feeling I wanted to say that you wrote them out with a profound realism that others here will identify with.  I did have a failed referral and when it fell apart, my heart broke and I grieved for a child who I would not parent and who I felt like in some way I failed because I could provide him a home and love and opportunity that he would never know in his current situation.  In retrospect, I now know that his referral came to fill a space in time which would allow for my son to become available and ready to come into our world.  Without little guy number one, my son wouldn’t be laughing at Toopy and Binoo beside me.  I know my response is both understood and cliche, the child destined for you is already on their way and this little one filled time, space and hopes to ensure he or she would fill the space in your home and hearts already reserved just for them.  Thanks for posting and best wishes moving forward.

Posted by sstennant on Dec 30, 2011 at 1:48am

I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you. My husband and I just went through a similar experience last week.  I keep wanting to write about it but have been very angry (that may still come out in this writing) and my words would not be as kind about our birth mom.  Also, I have given up hope on ever being a parent.  Last year at Christmas we went through an ectopic pregnancy, later in the year told we would never be able to have kids on our own, not even with IVF so we started adoption and had a birth mom that was harassing us and demanding money and a car.  Our facilitator did not handle the situation well and thought the bmom was scamming us, so we pulled out, only to get into this horrible situation that is far worse than any of the other stuff that has happened to us.

The new bmom was due in late January but kept telling us she was going to go early.  We had a good relationship (or so we thought) with her talking to her once a week and she kept saying that adoption was the best thing for the baby.  The birth dad was the one wild card, but we kept talking to him and he said it would be hard but he would go through it.  We talked to the birth mom the Friday before Christmas and she said she was having contractions but they would stop them since she was only 34 weeks (or so we thought).  She told us she would give us a call from the hospital.  We kept calling the next day and could not get a hold of her.  Dumb us for not trying the hospital or getting into the car and driving to AZ (we live in CO).  Instead we flew to OH to be with our family and when we landed and still no word from her, we called the hospital.  The birth father who lied and said he was a friend answered and said no baby was born yet.  We were skeptical and booked the only flight out the next day- first class and more money towards an already expensive situation. 

We landed and our adoption facilitator (we tried calling her and emailing her with no response until we were on the plane) left us a message that the baby was born.  We could not get a hold of her so we called the hospital and talked to the birth mom.  She said she changed her mind but we could come and see the baby (we don’t believe she changed her mind, she was never going to go through with this).  The baby was born full term, she lied to us on that.  We get to the hospital and find out that the baby was born positive for meth.  They also lied and said he was born on Saturday and it was really Friday night in an emergency C-section.  They told us to visit them the next day because they were still thinking about the adoption.  More lies and manipulation.  They were planning to be long gone with that baby.  Since she has no care for any life but her own and smoked meth during her pregnancy, the good thing (Not for us, but the baby), is that CPS got involved and would not let her take the baby home. 

At the last minute they were trying to get us to take the baby - they said they would release custody of the baby to us so he didn’t go to CPS.  They were only doing this so they could try to get him back.  We said we would not do that.  She then went back and forth for several hours between giving him up for adoption or having the birth father fight to get the baby back.  Did I mention she did the same thing 15 months ago (baby + for meth), fortunately for that family she went through with that adoption…not so fortunate for us.  Also, this was her 6th baby and she has none of them, theyve all been removed from her due to drug use. 

She and the birth dad finally said they would agree to the adoption.  The baby went into the custody of CPS with a great foster family but CPS worker said we could continue with the adoption.  We were able to see the baby, but didn’t feel like things were going to work out (we should have known), so left before we got attached.  The next day, we are filling out new adoption papers (have to use an agency, not facilitator) and we called the birth dad and he said they were going through with the adoption but had to sign pre consent forms later in the day.  A few hours later we get a call from CPS, basically the birth mom/dad told them they were not going to give up the baby for adoption, but get a family member to take the baby.  Since the baby was in the custody of CPS, they could not even do an adoption if they wanted (the CPS worker the day before gave us the wrong info the day before).  The bdad kept calling us and said he was going to sign the papers.  We told him to leave us alone and we knew he was doing nothing but lying.  We were able to have closure with him, but not with the bmom.  I wanted to call her and yell at her for all of her awful behavior, but I knew it wouldnt do any good.  I just finished writing her a letter that I will burn along with all of the information we have on her, hopefully to help with the healing.  Next week there is a hearing on where the baby will go.  We hope he stays with the foster family and they have the chance to adopt him because this bmom does not deserve to be a parent.

The bmom had no intention of ever giving up the baby for adoption.  She ruined the life of that baby by putting him in jeopardy by doing drugs.  Shame on us for not being smarter or doing more to fight things, or getting there a day sooner.  I will forever live with the regret that we could have done more, though my husband says nothing would have changed, there are bad people in this world and they will do whatever they can to manipulate people and the system.  We spent a few days trying to heal, but now we are back home and reality has sunk in.  We are devastated, feel embarrassed, are out thousands of dollars on fertility and both adoptions, have to return to work, tell our family and friends why we dont have a new baby (someone already told us we were dumb not to see the signs). 

So with all of that said, I have a question - how do we move on?  It will be difficult for us to pay for yet another bmoms expenses for several months and we know our facilitator will not give us our money back, so even if we want to trust in adoption and go to a new agency, it may no longer be a choice for us.

Posted by mk5280 on Jan 03, 2012 at 9:20am

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