How do you cope with a failed adoption? When we miscarried, I found comfort in knowing that our baby was with God in a much better place. Our daughter (who wasn’t ever legally our daughter, but in our hearts she was) isn’t even with her mother now. She is in foster care for at least a year. So I have no idea who she is with or what kind of place she is in. I held this precious little girl in my arms, looked into her eyes, and promised her I was going to do everything within my power to make sure she was happy and taken care of for the rest of her life. Now I have no way to keep that promise.
We knew going into this that it was a risk. We signed the contract and initialed the part saying basically that we understand that a baby is not *ours* until all of the legalities are taken care of. We knew, intellectually, that the mother of the child held all of the cards and could change everything at any time up until finalization. We thought we were prepared for that possibility.
We started letting ourselves get our hopes up when our particular situation looked so promising. The estimated date of conception listed on the first page of medical records we received was listed as 8/20 – my birthday. We were told that the agency affiliated with the pregnant mother (let’s call her “Ann” for the sake of brevity) had the highest success rate of anyone. “Ann” is incarcerated and has no family, neither of the potential fathers wanted to raise the baby, so we were told the risk was extremely low that she would change her mind because she didn’t really have any other choice. She told us how she grew up in the foster care system and was abused, and that her experience was so horrible she could NEVER put a baby into the system. She had already placed one child for adoption a few years ago and felt wonderful about that decision – she told us many, many times how happy she was that she was able to bless someone who was unable to conceive with a child. Ann seemed firm in her decision. She even insisted that we be contacted and allowed to bond with the baby when she was born on Monday night. We allowed ourselves to call this baby our daughter when we met her because we truly believed, without a doubt, that she was.
We found out Tuesday morning that the baby had been born Monday night and we immediately hit the road. It was about a 9 hour drive. When we got to the hospital, they brought the baby out to us. Told us we had a room and were going to be able to have the baby with us whenever the Ann allowed. We spent over an hour holding her, taking pictures, and falling in love. Then the nurse came in and sheepishly said that Ann wanted the baby back. She told the nurse that she would let the baby spend the night with us while she slept (it was a a little after 6pm at that point). Around 10pm we thought maybe the nurse had forgotten – so we asked if Ann was asleep yet, or if she knew when we would be getting to see the baby again. About an hour later they brought the baby to us again. Less than an hour after that the nurse was back – Ann wanted the baby with her again – told us we could see her in the morning. We said we completely understood!Red flag? Maybe in hindsight – but at the time we still had zero doubt. She was going to be transferred back to the jail in less than 48 hours … she had three days to spend with the baby, we had 18 years to look forward to – of course she wanted to spend as much time as she could with the baby now. All told we spent 2 hours on Tuesday with the baby who was, in our hearts, our daughter already. The baby we had named and spent the last two months falling in love with.
That was the last time we saw her, we didn’t get to say goodbye or anything. The next morning, the social worker called and said that Ann wanted the doctors to talk to us – that when they came in for rounds she told them that the adoptive family were the ones who needed the information. So we went to the hospital and talked to the doctors – found out that the baby was perfect, healthy as could be. We waited a few hours and then asked the nurse if they had any idea when we would get to see the baby again (it was incredibly boring in that tiny little room and torture knowing we were so physically close but unable to see or hold our daughter). They came back after a little while and said she wanted the baby to stay with her that day, for us to come back that night and we could see her then. Again – hindsight is 20/20, we should have been concerned. My mom even asked me later that day if I was worried and I said nope – not at all. And I wasn’t! Then around 4:30 the social worker called and said she needed to meet us somewhere to talk, where were we staying. I said “uhoh that doesn’t sound good” and she said “no, it’s not”. I begged her to just tell us over the phone, and she delivered the most heartbreaking, soul crushing news I’d ever gotten. “Ann has already signed papers placing the baby in CPS custody and agreed to go into rehab when she gets released from jail. The baby will be in foster care for now but Ann wants to try to parent the baby when she is able. She is not going to place the baby for adoption. I am so sorry, I did not see this coming. Ann wants me to tell you she is very sorry.”
I think I said thank you, then I hung up and my entire world fell apart around me. We called family, our pastor, friends … we cried and screamed … we prayed … I’m not sure exactly what else we did. We decided none of us (my mom was with us) was in any shape to drive home, so we packed up and decided to leave early the next morning to go back home. My mom, bless her heart, packed up all the baby stuff and loaded it into the car while Chris and I just stared at each other trying to figure out what to do next.
The next day (Thursday) we drove home. My dad had the handyman come take the screen door down and replace it with the original door. He and my friend Ginny moved everything baby related into the nursery and closed the door. We got home and my mom put all the baby stuff we had taken with us in the nursery, too.
Friday through Sunday are a blur. I remember my cousin coming to visit. I remember me and Chris taking the dogs to the park to get some fresh air and get out of the house. I don’t know what else we did. Monday I went back to work for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Tuesday was really rough because it was the one week anniversary of the best day of our lives and now we were well below rock bottom. That night I finally went into the nursery, curled up with a baby blanket in the rocking chair/glider and sobbed for hours. Wednesday we emailed the social worker and found out that the social worker hadn’t heard from her since the previous Wednesday in the hospital – and she said that if Ann decided now to place the baby for adoption it would go through CPS and not through her. So that door was slammed shut – and I fell apart. I had been holding out a little bit of hope that Ann would change her mind again and when that hope was taken away I had nothing left to stop me from drowning.
Now it’s Sunday and I’m starting to heal. We have been presented with three additional opportunities but sadly, right now we can’t afford to go forward with them – even if we were emotionally ready to do so, which we aren’t sure if we are. I don’t want to let this derail us because I truly believe that we will be parents one day soon. However, I want to grieve this loss first. There is an important distinction between grieving the fact that we aren’t parents yet and grieving the loss of this particular, individual child that we held in our arms. She is irreplaceable. Yes, we will adopt a child but we will not miss this little girl any less – nor will we miss the baby we lost to miscarriage any less.