Our Big Project, something we have been working on steadily and frustratingly for over two years, is to adopt a baby.
We have been through the infertility testing stuff and the IVF stuff and all the other stuff. We concluded that having a child naturally was not going to be a possibility for us. That was about a year of heartbreak and reconciliation.
Then we decided to pursue adoption. As a stable, successful, opportunity-providing couple with tons of love to give and an intense desire to raise a family we hoped someone would be in a position to make the extremely hard, but extremely brave choice to give a child they could not care for a chance with us.
We enlisted with an adoption agency and began what turned out to be the very long, very complicated and very detailed process of qualifying for placement. Along the way we have had little support or guidance from the agency we have paid $10,000 to assist us, other than them giving us photocopied instructions of things we had to do, procure, send off for, and update. We bit our lips and soldiered through it because we believed (and still do) that at the end of this stream of paperwork, we will be connected with a child that is just right for us.
Since going “active” and being eligible to be contacted by potential birth mothers, we have had one person contact us. She was in Oklahoma and wanted to give her 1 year old son up for adoption because the strain was too much. Her parents were against it, the father was okay with it, and the mother was – ambivalent at best. We tried numerous times to connect with her but she blew us off and then contacted us again with excuse after excuse. We told her by email (the only means we had to contact her) that we wished her well, but we were no longer interested. We felt she wasn’t sincere, just overwhelmed with having a child and looking for relief, but not adoption. The agency subsequently called us in and scolded us for “dumping” the birthmother in such a way. We should have at least called her on the phone, worked with her more. If we could have talked to her on the phone, we responded, we might not have discontinued our efforts. She was unresponsive. We were told we had to expect that, and to realize that these are fragile little girls facing a humongous decision and we can’t possibly know all the issues and stress and problems they are going through. We are pawns on their boards, and we have to move as they direct us.
Not feeling good about that encounter, we never the less said what we had to say and moved on.
Little over two weeks ago we were contacted out of the blue by a doctor-friend who’d said she’d be on the look out for potential birthmothers for us. She works at an area hospital as a GYN. She had a young woman come in for a late term ultrasound, and the woman was very interested in finding an adoptive family to raise her child. She was unmarried, no family close by, and claimed the pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault. She was very interested in talking to us and we made contact by phone. We had three excellent conversations that each lasted over an hour and a half, in which she stated all the reasonable arguments for giving her baby up for adoption, and how much she liked us and thought we’d be a great choice.
Of course we were very excited. We asked her to contact our agency and provide some intake information. She never did, and I admit now, that was a red flag for me. We met her and her girlfriend for dinner on a Friday evening and still had a very good time. We talked about what would happen in the coming week (she was due any day). She said she’d be okay with us being in the delivery room, and promised to call us the moment she began labor.
The following week our attempts to contact her were unsuccessful. She finally sent us a text saying she was feeling a “lil pressure”, at which point my wife texted her back: “Are you changing your mind about the adoption?” She said, no, but if she did she would certainly contact us. We decided to wait until she called us at the onset of labor.
Monday I got a text from our doctor-friend, who said the birthmother was in labor, but had asked to have privacy during the delivery. Red flag. Birthmother did not contact us at all. The doctor called me later and said she’d given birth to a healthy little girl (we had been hoping for a girl), and that birthmother was still open to adoption, but wanted some “time with the baby”. Red flag. Then she insisted upon breast-feeding and to have the baby placed in the room with her. Full on red alert, but we were still clinging to a little strand of hope that she would call us.
Tuesday we sent her several texts, playing that we did not know anything to protect the doctor. Late last night she responded that she was “dealing with a lot of stuff”, and would talk to us tomorrow around 8pm. I called twice but only got her answering machine. I did not leave a message. Our assumption is that she changed her mind, checked out of the hospital with her baby, and is gone. Not a single word to us about her change of heart/mind, or the slightest remorse for the emotional knot she twisted us into with her games.
We are not fragile little girls. We know these are the risks. We know that until an adoption is final, we can have our hearts callously broken over and over. But we cannot go into these situations half-hearted or skeptically cautious. We have to lay it all out there, to invest our hearts and our love into a child we have never seen, delivered by a mother we don’t know. We have to be the perfectly sweet and saccharine couple and defer to every whim mommy-dearest demands. So we lay our hearts and souls out like doormats. Even when we know they can be stepped on and indifferently shredded, it still hurts to the core.
My wife says she’s fine, of course. But she’s not, of course. She was so sure, so taken in by this woman’s lies that she bought everything we’d need for the baby’s first three months. She bought a little onesie that said “My First Halloween” and showed it to me with such delight in her face I fell even more in love with her. Tonight she’s resigned, but deeply hurt. She cries for what we will never have. She understands… but she just doesn’t understand. Why? Why lie to us? Why lead us on? Now she looks around our outfitted nursery with a blank sense of loss.
Tonight I am angry, hurt, insulted, dispairing, powerless, impotent, confused, and hollowed. Tonight I had to make the call to my patient mother, 74 years old, and tell her “No, no adoption”. I had to act all tough and impenetrable and sure and certain so that my wife has a soft place to fall. Tonight I have to amputate the dreams of how my life was going to go from this day forward, and settle in behind the wheel of a new course. I have to pick up the threads of the life I have, and forget about little onesies and crying baby and everything else. We cancelled our vacation to be on hand for the birth of this child. We put our lives and hearts on hold. We don’t even warrant a text of explanation. I’m sure the agency will tell us we just have to expect that. To being disposable, to being pathetic, to being powerless.
Somewhere, tonight, a woman cuddles her newborn baby child. She giggles and coos and pets and is all excited and hormonal. She has no car, no mate, no family, few friends, limited resources, no nursery (unless, of course, she lied to us about every single thing). Somewhere, tonight, that child’s life has taken an inexorable course. The currents of choices swept her away from us. We hope the mother does not come one day to regret those choices. We hope the baby girl does not come to regret them, either.
Tonight our bassinet lies empty and barren. Tonight our hearts are pummeled, torn and bleeding. Tomorrow we start over, on the razor’s road, trying again. We know the risks. 5 months ago