(Previously published on parentsociety.com, 13 March 2013 -- http://www.parentsociety.com/pregnancy/adoption-parenting/happy-birthday-to-my-almost-adopted-child/)
A little over a year ago, our almost-daughter was born. I don’t think about her often, but once in a while I wonder how she is and I hope she’s happy.
When my husband and I embarked on our adoption quest two years ago, we knew the journey could be arduous and fraught with unexpected hurdles. I scoured online chat groups and spoke with friends and countless adoptive parents to get just a glimmer of what the process would be like.
The one thing that surprised me the most, was hearing that more than half of the families had at least one failed adoption in their past, regardless of whether they’d attempted an international or a domestic adoption. I listened with such sadness how they had waited for months for the birth and then at the last minute the birth mother, or orphanage, or agency, had decided on another plan. I couldn’t imagine how these families picked themselves up again.
After doing a tremendous amount of research, my husband I decided on a domestic adoption because we wanted an infant and we liked the idea of an open adoption where we’d remain in contact with the birth parents. Then we chose an adoption facilitator, who was recommended by our home study social worker, and through her, we were matched with a birth mom.
For the next four months, we called our birth mom weekly, just to chat and let us get to know each other. When the time came, with a suitcase full of baby gear and such excitement in our hearts we could barely sit still, we flew the 8,000 miles back to the U.S. in anticipation of our child’s birth.
The first issues arose when we got to town. The birth mom suddenly didn’t want to meet us in person. So we waited. We called her daily to check on her; brought her dinner a few times, which she took then shooed us out of the house. Days of waiting turned into weeks, with no baby. Since we didn’t want to travel too far away, hoping we’d be getting the going-into-labor call any day, we filled our time using the hotel gym and pool, reading a lot, perusing the small local mall, seeing seventeen movies and basically doing our best to fight back the foreboding feelings.
Three weeks into this waiting period, as we were heading out for dinner one night, we got a text from her, “I have a daughter.” I didn’t know what it meant. Had she gotten a sonogram and learned the sex of the child? Had she gone into labor? I texted back and asked these questions but only got cryptic replies. We called her, but she didn’t answer. We called the hospital, but they wouldn’t tell us if she was there or not. We spun in circles for hours having no idea what to do. Finally, 24 hours later, she admitted to the social worker that she was keeping her baby. We never heard from her again.
To say we were devastated is such a misnomer. I cried for two days; then just when I felt I was cried out, I heard my husband on the phone with a friend telling him what had happened and he was crying, which set me off all over again. When I read the text, “I have a daughter,” I knew in my heart this wasn’t our child. And legally, she had every right to change her mind. This was always her child until the papers were signed. But it still hurt.
Within 24-hours of learning her decision, we packed up and left town. We took a long weekend to detox and just spend time together. Our facilitator was phenomenal and gave us time to grieve, but then leapt into gear and started sending us possible matches.
They say things happen for a reason, and while it was definitely a round-about way to do it, fate apparently knew what to do; we needed to be in the U.S., able to travel at a moment’s notice. Within a week we were matched with a last-minute birth mom, and ten days later we were in the hospital holding our newborn daughter. Had we been back home overseas, we couldn’t have been here in time. So the stars aligned to get us here, it was just an emotional and exhausting journey.
It’s funny, even now, as I look at my own daughter I know this was always meant to be. She is my child, and her birth-mom is one of the sweetest and kindest women I’ve ever met and I feel so lucky to have her in our lives. But, on this day, I send out warm birthday wishes to a little girl who was never meant to be ours. But for a while there, you gave us great joy and I wish only the same for you.