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Dealing With a Loss in Adoption

Not Sure What to Do - Other Than Keep Going - But Still...

My wife and I have had a wonderful boy named Matthew in our home for over 3 years. It’s a complicated story - I’ll provide cliff notes.

  My wife and I run a center for kiddos with Autism. Matthew began attending there. He was 10 years old - non-verbal and never had intervention. Within 3 months of attending - both Matthews parents became critically ill. (They were also dealing with Developmental Delays) Matthew’s extended family recommended that he be put in a group home. Matthew’s father requested he stay with us. He was dropped off at our home with an empty backpack and one pull up. The next year was a whirlwind that ended with both of Matthew’s parents passing within 6 weeks of each other. The rest of his family participated, visited and was active in us having him. We made sure he attended the same church, saw family whenever asked, and was always invovled. We were granted temp guardianship after 15 months of having him. (Before that he was literally “a roomate” according to children’s services.) It’s rural Ohio.

During this time Matthew blossomed - he went from no language, have never slept in a bed in 5 years, and not being able to operate a seatbelt - to saying over 20 words, dressing/bathing himself, making simple meals, and having friends. He had stability for the first time ever in his life and we had the son we always wanted. His parents made us swear on their death beds that we would love and care for him for the rest of our lives. With the blessing and legal sign of from all his family, we proceeded to finalize things forever.

The day we went to court to sign the dotted line - an Aunt that had been visiting him and that we had worked to keep in contact - came in with a lawyer. She claimed she feared that we were not respecting her place in his life as family. Like dominos we watched the people we had worked and gotten blessings from (legally)  - turn and start to change events. Suddenly we were people who had prayed upon Matthew and the family for a financial windfall of collecting his social security death benefits. We had cared for him - without asking for a penny and offering to cover medical coverage and such out of pocket - as a ruse to make out collecting his $1200 a month for the next 6 years.

Bottomline - after an extensive legal battle - we lost. We found out earlier this month - after 4 years in our lives (3 years solo custody, 1 year shared parenting with aunt during court battle)  we are no longer to see or make contact with Matthew or his aunt - unless she permits it.

Over the past year of shared parenting - where he spent the majority of time in her care - he lost everything. All words, all skills, slowly slipped away. She would text and tell me - she simply didn’t have the time.

So now my wife and I are stuck. We have his room, clothes - even unopened birthday presents. We can’t send them to her - bc she will probably burn them to spite us. Our walls are filled with family photos of him. What do we do? Do we take them down and erase these precious wonderful years of our lives. Or face them and feel this constant ache. My wife and I are each trying to stay strong for each other - but that always means we don’t really talk about any of it. Mostly because it just ends with us both crying. So we work - keep the status quo in the home and work. As far as most people see - we’re handling things great!

But, I’m trying to find resources for us - but even in the larger cities - Cleveland/Columbus an hour away - I can’t find any. Our friends either tell us - it’s god’s plan, we’ll find another child to help (you know because their interchangeable), or we’ll get him back/can appeal. (Yea bc when we told people it was over - and our lawyer told us it was over - we must have just been mistaken.) I don’t know how to answer if people ask how many kids I have or how’s Matthew.

I guest I just needed to vent and ask what has worked for others. I’m open to anything bc right now I hear Thomas The Train music and lose my crap… which doesn’t go well in the autism world bc it’s everywhere. smile



I would report them for neglect to children’s services with the info you have re loss of progress etc.He needs services he is not getting. If you can supply the names of providers (doctors schools etc) It may do no good but you never know.

You might not get him back but maybe you can get him better cared for. In retrospect the birth parents should have written a will and named you as guardians. Or done something legal. Just dropping off a child and hoping for the best doesn’t really work. It is a reminder to all parents to make plans in case their child will need a guardian.

In a few years he will be an adult and maybe you can get him back to help him transfer into the services he needs.

Remember you gave him a lot. It is still in there and may be the basis of doing better in the future. I am sure he is not understanding what happened to him.

so sad for all

Posted by Regina on Feb 04, 2018 at 6:11pm

I wish I had some great advice to give but I don’t. It just breaks my heart to hear that this poor child was flourishing only to suddenly be ripped away from two parents who clearly adored him. Do you know why the aunt was suddenly so against the adoption? Or why other people changed to her side?

I know it’s not much help but hopefully the time you spent with him will stay with him forever. Hopefully his little boy finds comfort in knowing you loved him so much. I pray that somehow you all get through this with as little pain as possible.

Posted by KChiarilli on Feb 04, 2018 at 8:07pm

My heart is breaking for you. Many prayers and hugs to your family. I agree with above poster. At least you can try to get him more help if possible. I’m so sorry for your sadness and for his loss. Take care of yourselves. Consider grief counseling if needed for your loss.  I know it really helped me with a failed match of a baby we thought would be ours…

Posted by tls on Feb 04, 2018 at 8:09pm

The parents left a will with their wishes, along with his older sister - their power of attorney - who also signed off on everything multiple times. However, in regards to custody of children - wills are considered, but not final say legally. We were aware of this and thus had followed and jumped through every hoop we could over the years. The system in our area - and many others - gives priority to blood, when legally it should be best interest of the child. The GAL and others involved noted his lack of progress and the texts she sent along with everything else in regards to lack of progress. However, the final say was the judges. The aunt was family and we were not. There were no grounds for appeal bc she refused to even hear out witnesses so we were left in a corner. Believe me - it was tried.

We’re assuming the aunt found out about the $1200 death benefits. She literally left the court house and went straight to SSI to get his checks. We know bc SSI had to call and verify it with us. We were still in the car from court. She had a new car in less than a month.

The reason why or what else can be done is honestly moot right now. Really, we’re just trying to figure out the best way to continue on and heal best we can. That’s all that’s left to be done. That’s what I’m trying to do here.

Posted by Bex678 on Feb 04, 2018 at 11:48pm

I’m so sorry. I do understand your pain. I was caring for 2 relatives for over 3 yrs. No other family members stepped up but us when social services called. Then suddenly when parents were released from prison we were the enemy. They went straight to ssi & started getting checks. We found out from a letter that stated we would no longer receive health insurance bc we now got ssi for them. We even reported it to the fraud line. Nothing happened. After a yr long court battle & spending savings the court ruled against us. Our precious little ones went back to drug addicts that were convicted of manufacturing meth & being persistent felons. Even DCBS was on parents side. The only thing that helped me was focusing on the love & care they had when they were with us. I eventually went on to become a licensed foster parent but that too tears your heart out. Hang in there. Just remember you can’t fight the corrupt system. I hope you can somehow keep helping children.

Posted by Flugator on Feb 05, 2018 at 12:58am

Your loss is real and your grief is real.  You have to grieve it like a death even if it is different.  I think counseling is important, as well as making sure you are monitoring your physical health.  When we lost our little boy I had panic attacks and spiked blood pressure.  Make sure you are doing the basic things in as healthy a way as you are able.  Have people who can help make sure you are as OK as you can be.  My husband and I have a symbol for our little guy.  He got it tattooed on his arm, I have a necklace with the symbol I wear every day.  It keeps him close to us without it having to be explained to everyone else all the time.  We have a couple of pictures in our room, but removed his things from other areas of the house again so we don’t always have to confront it with everyone.  We have albums of and a box of his memories we keep in a place we can go to when we need to.  I wrote down every memory I could remember so that they would be somewhere other than my mind.  Those are stored away where I can get them if I need to. As time has passed, I don’t miss him less but I have learned to cope.  I am able to tell stories and talk about him more without falling apart - most of the time.  I am able to pray for him and think about him and not get as angry about how everything happened - most of the time.  Language will come in time that works for you.  I always say that I have parented two babies even though I have one child. But that loss is always with me.  He is always with me and will always be my baby.  That will always be true.  But as with any loss, we have no choice but to keep searching for joy and hope that is to come into our lives.  Not to replace, but to give new life.  May peace fill your hearts as you navigate each day forward.

Posted by jbado0607 on Feb 06, 2018 at 1:41pm

I am so sorry for your loss.  I pray for God’s comfort to cover you and your husband.

Posted by Adoption Hopes on Feb 07, 2018 at 4:44am

I am truly sorry for your loss.  It must be difficult to know that Matthew is declining now that he is no longer in your care.  It truly breaks my heart.  I hope that y’all have taken time to grieve this injustice.  I have recently been wronged myself.  I am a hopeful adoptive mother and was recently matched with an emotional scammer.  We were lied to, treated poorly and humiliated at the hospital.  I often wonder why good people go through such horrific events in life.  I wish I knew the answer.  You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.  Please know that you are not alone in the pain that you are going through.  Warm Regards

Posted by light80 on Jul 15, 2018 at 5:45am

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