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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.