6 Things to Do After a Disrupted Adoption
Perhaps a hopeful adoptive family’s worst fear is experiencing a failed adoption. A failed adoption (also called a disrupted adoption) occurs when an adoptive family has been matched with an expectant mother who plans to place her child with the adoptive family and, for many reasons, the adoption does not happen. In some cases, adoptive families invest money, emotions, and time in to the match and plan to bring home their new baby. When it doesn’t happen, it is devastating and emotionally taxing. As always, any expectant family has every right to change their mind and decide to parent versus place a child for adoption. Sometimes, other circumstances can occur to prevent an adoption from happening such as a biological father who decides to parent or issues with the state taking custody instead. Although I wholly believe that every expectant mother deserves the right and choice to parent her child, the devastation I’ve seen among adoptive families and have experienced myself is truly heartbreaking. Our family experienced a failed adoption earlier this year for the first time (after two successful adoptions of our daughters) and we had to navigate the rocky waters and all the emotions that came with it. Here’s a few things we learned along the way to help us through.
Let yourself grieve. Grieving is such a necessary process for our health and well-being. Everyone grieves a bit differently or takes more/less time to grieve. But the most important thing is to allow yourself time, how ever much that means for you, to full embrace your grief and know it’s extremely valid. We’re so often expected to “bounce back” or move forward from traumatic events without acknowledging the hurt and toll they temporarily took from your mind and body. So, let the grief come and go as it needs to.
Reconnect with your spouse. Your spouse is probably the only person that has truly lived through this experience with you and is feeling many of the same things that no one else can relate to. And many times, we’re so focused on the adoption process and all the details that we lose touch with our spouses. Not only is it a great opportunity for you to reconnect at this point in your journey, but it’s completely necessary to support each other during the grieving process. Stay in together, cry together, take a road trip together, or anything else that makes you feel supported and connected.
Allow yourself some time for healing. Some families jump right back in to the adoption process after experiencing a disrupted adoption. Some choose to take some time away from the process and come back at a later time. It’s worth a conversation between you and your partner to decide what you need. Be honest with yourselves and allow yourself time to truly heal so you can go in to the next match feeling confident and refreshed rather than tired and still grieving from a previously failed adoption.
Evaluate what you will do differently (if anything) next time. In most cases, a failed adoption is not the result of something you did or didn’t do. It simply wasn’t meant to be – for whatever reason of which we may never really know. Use your experience as a learning opportunity. Is there anything you’ll do differently next time around? Lean on your adoption agency or attorney for their wisdom and advice. Most of all, stay positive and know that nothing life-changing is ever easy.
Prepare your finances. Many families take a huge financial hit in the case of a failed adoption. It’s likely you’ve already paid matching fees and other various fees that are, unfortunately, non-refundable even in the event of a failed adoption. Do what you need to do to regain your financial confidence and have a reasonable budget in mind before you get ready to wait for a match again.
Get back on that horse. Your babe is out there. That’s so difficult to remember when you’re in the wait or grieving from a disrupted adoption. But when you’re ready and have your energy and zest for life back, get back on that horse, mama! Get back in the game, connect with your agency and lean on them for guidance. Connect with other adoptive families to feel supported. Decorate that baby room. Get excited again and know a special little being is coming your way in the perfect time and way.