When Adoption Doesn’t Go As Planned
My family just experienced a failed adoption. Many people in the adoption community somewhat balk at the term “failed adoption” because they believe it’s disrespectful to the parents who have bravely decided to parent instead of placing their child with an adoptive family. This is understandable. However, I can tell you first hand that it very much feels like a devastating failure for the hopeful adoptive family. And in some cases, a failed adoption doesn’t always indicate that the baby will stay with the biological parents. It could also mean the birth-family chose to place the child in foster care instead of with a permanent adoptive family. It could mean the birth-family decided to place baby with another adoptive family or the hopeful adoptive family choose to walk away from the situation. In our case, it was the latter. With overwhelming sadness, our family choose to walk away from the potential adoption situation after we had planned to adopt a biological sibling. We worked with her birth-mother and our adoption attorneys in Kansas for weeks trying to make it work. It was hard. It hurts. We had planned a prepared and fallen in love with the tiniest stranger we had only met in our dreams. And very much feels like a loss for our family even though we were the factor of the fallout.
After adopting twice now, I’ll tell you that adoption rarely goes as planned. As adoptive parents, we don’t get much of a voice (or at least it feels that way sometimes). We wait. We pray. We fill out form after form after form. We pay hefty fees. We wait some more. Once we’re matched, we’re just along for the ride. We may want to meet and get to know the expecting family but ultimately, the amount of contact is their choice. After all, the child is never ours until the consents are signed. We may not understand some of the reasoning and choices that are made. But we do our best to support the family and be a peaceful piece of a complex puzzle. We’re told the situation will go one way then it often goes another. Such is life, I suppose. But when it comes to a child, a child you hope and pray will finally be yours, the waiting and feeling of having no voice is excruciating at times. The situation is so sensitive, the emotions run so deep, and you fear that at any moment the floor may fall out from beneath you.
Sometimes it does. The floor, I mean. It falls out from under you when you least expect it. Ours did. And maybe it wasn’t completely unexpected. We may have felt it coming and there were so many pieces of this recent situation that didn’t feel right for us. But still, when you finally make a decision to walk away (or told the adoption will no longer happen) it feels suffocating. It feels like the oxygen has been sucked out of the space you’re in and the world stops for those moments as your eardrums relay the reality to your brain and emotions eventually spill out of you. Hard, raw, intense emotions. It’s loss, grief, confusion, and sadness all at the same time.
But here’s the most beautiful thing. Sometimes, the floor stays perfectly intact and it rolls out in front of you paving the way to the most precious and beautiful little person that will be yours forever. The complexity and hardships that the adoption process brings makes the end all the more treasured. It is a triumph. A love so pure and so profound that it alters your life in every single way. Yes, we experienced a failed adoption and it’s a pain that I’ll live with for a long time. But I have two miracles. TWO MIRACLES. I often rack my brain trying to make sense of how our stars perfectly aligned to bring my daughters to me. Across states, perfect strangers, among the billions of people in the world, and I was chosen to be their mother for the rest of our lives. I have to believe that the divine forces that brought my family together are the same forces that are placing this precious child that I thought would be mine in someone else’s arms. For some reason, one that I’ll never know, this baby was not meant for us. He/she will make another family the happiest family in the world.
If you’re a family hoping to adopt, know that it will be tough and may not go as planned. But it is a great adventure. And it’s one that leads to the sweetest places. When you find yourself in a hard place or with an aching heart, remember this: “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.” Romans 8:18