When a Match Falls Through

When a Match Falls Apart

Sarah Baker | September 13, 2013 | 02:00 PM

This is how our first match fell apart (from my perspective). Adoption is so beautiful, but the ride isn’t always smooth.

This is how fast things can fall apart. It’s been a really difficult subject for me to talk about. We went to visit the expecting parents in their home town in September of 2012. During that visit we had a scheduled 4D sonogram. Our birth mother also had signed us up for a TV show. The producers and camera crew were there to spend the weekend with us and document our story. It was an amazing weekend… but emotions were high and many things came up that were red flags that this adoption may not be everything we and the birth parents were looking for. Our previous visits we stayed in a local hotel. This visit she invited us to stay with her so we could have more time together. We had grown into more than just a “match”, we were friends. We left feeling closer to both of them than ever, but also had concerns that we weren’t on the same page all the time with what adoption is.

The birth father never fully supported the idea of the adoption. He is 15 years older than the birth mother and has 3 children. She is the mother of a wonderful little boy, whom she gets no financial support for from his biological father. She convinced the “birth father” that together with 5 children they would NOT succeed and adoption was the best plan. He reluctantly signed papers that would terminate his rights as long as she was moving forward with the adoption. During that weekend visit, on and off camera, he told all of us that he was becoming more comfortable with the idea of adoption, but would still prefer to keep her. It was very difficult for my husband and me to move forward knowing that this father wanted to parent his baby. But we also wanted to support the birth mother, and let’s face it; we wanted a baby that she wanted to give us. That’s when we found out they were going to want more involvement in the child’s life than what we were prepared for. The father wanted custody returned to him if we were to both die and he wanted us to return with her yearly for a father/daughter dance at his church in addition to the many other visits a year we were offering, plus a lot of holidays spent in their home. This we were terrified of. If we are being honest here, we felt it may threaten our bond with the baby as her “parents”. We also didn’t want to commit to something, living so far away, that we may not be able to stick to. Broken promises, I assured myself, were much worse than hearing the truth at the beginning. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to express the “truth” until it was too late.

The birth mother, young and not truly wanting adoption, seemed to also be having a hard eliza bellytime with separating herself from the baby. She called the baby by the name we chose and referred to me as “mommy” when she would tell me that “Eliza” was saying goodnight to me each night. But, she had loved and cared for this child in her womb for 7 months and was now forced with the very real fact that she chose adoption. Meaning someone else would be parenting her baby girl. This was something she was having a very hard time with. Almost daily I worried about her emotional attachment AND the one I was forming to the baby as well. We provided her with a counselor of her choice so she could work through what she was feeling and help her come to a decision she was comfortable with. I fully believe that if a mother wants to move forward with adoption, then that should be supported. But if a mother wants to parent her child, then she should have that option without feeling guilty for making the decision. I checked in with her all the time, making sure adoption is what she wanted. She always assured me it was. But, I felt I needed to prepare for her to change her mind anyhow. Gut feeling I guess. I couldn’t talk directly with her private counselor, but I often reached out to the one provided to her by the adoption agency. Whenever I was concerned for her mental stability or how she was handling her choice, I made a quick phone call asking the agency to check in on her. Sometimes, I knew I wasn’t the right person for the “birth mom” to talk to.

I had always told her we would like the baby to know them and see them “as much as possible”. Being that we live 4 hours away, both work and have an 11 year old son that is active in many school, sport and music activities, we thought they would understand that would probably mean a few times a year. After all, she already knew that we were already running into scheduling conflicts with our visits during the pregnancy. When we returned from our visit, everything seemed to crash and fall apart. She started asking a lot of questions, that I thought the agency had already clarified with her, but she was feeling the need to ask me directly. When I told her we could visit her 2-4 times a year and they could also visit us, she was devastated and it led to two solid weeks of her being very upset and angry with me. I tried everything to fix it, but it just wasn’t enough. She only heard what her emotions filtered. I told her it was ok if she wanted to keep the baby, because it felt like she was not happy with the amount she would get to see her if she went through with adoption. She lashed out again. She didn’t understand why I thought her emotions meant she wanted to keep the baby. To me though, that is exactly what she was saying. I wanted her to know it was ok.

I admit there were times I had a very hard time containing the anger I felt when she lashed out at me. She accused me of lying to her, leading her on, not trusting me and betraying her. It’s natural to get defensive when a person feels attacked. There were times I let my emotions get the best of me and I responded to her hastily. But, no matter what, it is understandable that a scared, young mother is terrified of this process and I am the best person to lash out at… I was, after all, the threat, the woman “taking” her child.

As things began to mend with us several weeks later, she found out that by switching agencies, (She switched because the agency and myself wouldn’t participate in filming us for the show having a mediated meeting to rectify our differences.) the consent form signed by the birth father was no longer going to be used and he would have to sign all over again. She was scared of what may happen because she says she still wants to move forward with adoption. The new agency began showing her adoptive parent profiles and she is telling me about them. This is what got us into this mess in the first place that blurred line of friendship and adoption. It hurt very much hearing about new families she was considering and picturing them with the baby I was just weeks ago so certain was going to be in my arms. We knew we were not getting the daughter we thought we were going to have. It became very hard to maintain a relationship with her when I felt sick to my stomach and so much stress and depression over this situation.

After time, and convincing my husband that this wouldn’t happen again, we moved on. We got matched again a few months later and we now have our beautiful son, Ezra. But that doesn’t take away the pain, the loss, the sadness, the anguish, the anger… Having never had a miscarriage, this must be the heartache that is felt? When the baby was born, she did decide to parent her. Her and my relationship took time to move forward, but we did try. It was just last week that I made the very, very difficult decision, that for my mental health and the happiness of my family, it was time to move on. I wish her well and hope that she succeeds in life and reaches all her goals. She has a beautiful daughter now. I wanted to remain in their life, but I realized it hurt me and stopped me from healing. It may have been a selfish choice to move on from our friendship, but one I do not regret… so far.

Is a failed match something you fear? Have you had one fail in the past? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Season Finale

Season Finale

“I’m Having Their Baby”

Sarah Baker | September 04, 2013 | 11:37 AM  (adapted from original post on Cincinnati Parent)

IHTB-collage2Reflecting where we were a year ago and filming the first episode of I’m Having Their Baby with the birth mother we were matched with and where we are today, I had no idea the happiness I would have now. While you saw on the first episode things did not go according to planned with the birth mother, we were matched again fairly quickly and now have our amazing boy Ezra. The second match came fast, but felt like forever while we mourned the loss of the baby we thought was meant for us.

Tonight, you will get a glimpse of what life is like with four of the families that were shown throughout the second season on the finale episode. We were lucky enough to be part of that. We are excited to share our happy ending. The production company came out and filmed at our home and around town with us in the spring. It has been a few months and Ezra has grown a ton since then. He has teeth, is sitting and crawling and eating “solids”. Wow, he’ll be 8 months old in a just a few days!

I have also grown, emotionally, a lot since then. While I have Ezra now, I was still holding on to a lot of grief about the loss of “Eliza” during the follow up filming. I am hoping that since I have been able to let some of that pain go since then, the episode will focus more on the happiness and joy we feel with the little blessing we have now. Ezra is a wonderful baby and I feel God had a plan when the adoption of “Eliza” fell through and Tory was able to parent her little girl, Bryleigh. I feel Ezra was the child meant for us. His personality matches ours and he fits right in. One child will never replace the loss of another, but he sure helps take my mind off it.

So, tune in tonight to the Oxygen Network at 10 pm (9 central) and please just ignore the fact that my hair is a mess in the restaurant scene and Joe trimmed his goatee way too short. I have no idea what footage they are using from the day, but by the time we got to the restaurant (which I saw in the commercial) I was a hot mess from filming all day long! Hahaha

If you missed the first episode, it will be airing right after the finale called Sharanda; Tory. Thanks for all your support!

To learn more about our adoption, follow us on www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

Addressing Adoption with Our Little One

Addressing Adoption with Our Little One

Sarah Baker | August 26, 2013 | 11:49 AM

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is “Will you tell Ezra he is adopted?” I think this question comes from a time of closed adoptions. Some people go their entire lives not knowing they are adopted. Sometimes people find out only in a medical emergency. Other times they find out when they begin questioning their birth story or why they are tall or have brown hair. Imagine how a person’s world would be turned upside down if they didn’t already know they were adopted and suddenly were faced with that news.

As a society, we come with a long history of closed adoptions and adoption being a taboo subject. With that mentality, we are often faced with even more awkward questions than this one. We are the first generation to embrace open adoption. While adoptions have taken place in all cultures throughout history, it is just in the last few decades that research has proven that open adoptions can be very rewarding and healthy for everyone involved. It gives the first family (birth parents) the peace and knowledge that the child they loved and carried is doing well. It gives the child the knowledge of his or her roots and love. It provides the adoptive family with the answers that a closed adoption wouldn’t provide.

So to answer the question of if we will tell Ezra he is adopted, the answer is; we already talk about his adoption with him. I feel it’s important to start early with this topic so it doesn’t come as a surprise. He has a picture of his birth parents and siblings in his room. We point out their pictures and tell him he grew in her belly and tell him their names. When we get together with them, he hears our conversations; reminiscing his birth, talking about our abundant and mutual love for him. When he’s bigger and can talk with us, we will continue to call them by their names and tell him God had him growing in his birth mom’s belly, but he was meant to live with us so we could be his Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes I call her belly mama. I think it all needs to be age appropriate to his capability of understanding. Right now, at 7.5 months old, he is learning the world around him. The adoption is part of his world. I am also in the process of making his first year photo book and a Life Book. A Life Book is not about adoption, but about his life. Not our feelings about how happy we are to have him, but a story line of how his adoption took place and who he is. It will include photos of his birth family, time lines, his sonograms, his birth, his baby years, etc. We will add to it as long as he wants and what he wants as he gets older, it is his life.

If you’d like to follow more of our adoption story go to: www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

Finalization

Finalization

Sarah Baker | July 23, 2013 | 07:56 PM

Today, we had a huge day! We finalized our adoption of Ezra. I had no idea what to expect. We got a letter from our agency with the court date (which was changed because our first judge retired) and it included a list of rules for court. Other than that, I didn’t have a clue what to expect.

In my mind, I expected a court room that looked like Judge Judy’s. I expected a very formal hearing with gavels and someone in the corner typing on a typewriter. I walked into a small room with three tables and a few chairs. Our lawyer and adoption agency director were waiting for us in the room. The lawyer left to let the judge know we had arrived and a few minutes later he entered. We stood and the judgee told us not to worry about standing. We shook his hand and introduced our family. The judge oodled at Ezra for a minute and talked to Isaac about starting football. He went to his table and asked our lawyer if all the paper work was in order. He then asked us if this adoption was what we wanted, of course we eagerly said yes with goofy smiles plastered across our faces. Even Isaac looked excited! He then just said “congratulations” and stood up and talked to the lawyer and then posed for pictures with us. Our lawyer left the room with him and a few minutes later came back with the Adoption Decree showing Ezra was now legally our baby.

We took more pictures in the small court room and chatted for a few minutes. It all went so quickly and still feels so surreal. There were no big speeches, no formal questions, no reviewing of our case paperwork, no doctor to make sure we were taking care of the baby, no probing us or the agency director that everything was done, no truth serum or lie detectors, no gavel. It was like we just met a new guy and he congratulated us on our beautiful, chubby baby.

But, we know what the day means. The day means that he IS our son. The day means that his last name is now ours. The day means that we will need to spend every day of his life protecting him, teaching him, loving him, nurturing him, etc. The day means that the blessing we received may be a bitter one for his birth parents. These people made a sacrifice for him and for their other children. They placed him for adoption out of a love that is unfathomable by many. We may be his parents and “parenting” him… but we aren’t the only parents he has. We aren’t the only parents that love him. They will always be a part of his life through an open adoption agreement. Denying him of his family is not an option for us. Why deny him more love? Why deny him his identity? Why deny these amazing birth parents the ability to see the beautiful boy his is. They gave us a lifelong gift… the greatest gifts are those that you can share in the recipients enjoyment. They can see how happy he makes us, which makes them happy. His original birth certificate may be official sealed after today, but his roots are not.

Thank you Teri and James, today wasn’t possible without you. We are forever in your debt.

Family Bonding

Family Bonding

Sarah Baker | July 01, 2013 | 02:45 PM

When adopting a child, the fear of bond is even greater than it is when it’s a biological child. I can remember when I was pregnant with Isaac and reading about women who failed to bond with their child after birth. That terrified me. If I had those fears with my biological son that I carried inside me for 9 months, how would it be with my adopted son? I feared it would take us longer to bond. That I couldn’t give him the maternal love he needed, that things would be “different”. The good news is… it was exactly the same. It was surreal, but it was the same. I saw that precious baby the moment he was born and was instantly in love with him. The first night we bonded so well that by the next day I knew him and he knew me. My husband was instantly smitten and I saw him cry just holding our newborn son.

With adoption it can be hard to bond with the unborn child. You bond with an idea of being a parent. You may have names picked out and a great relationship with the birth parents… but you still fear that adoption being disrupted. In our first match, we put ourselves fully into that match. When we saw family members treating us different from siblings that were also expecting; we were hurt. But, for them, the match wasn’t real. The baby wasn’t here yet, there was no guarantee. We wanted to celebrate our excitement, but they were afraid. We had to speak up. We now understand that it wasn’t their lack of excitement for us, but that they were protecting themselves in the chance it didn’t go through. Of course, our first match did fall through and we felt like that would just support their cause of not being excited if we got matched again. It’s like a miscarriage, in the sense that you don’t know what could happen. But should the “what if’s” cause you to avoid attachment? WHAT IF it does go through? Then you haven’t prepared or mentally bonded with that baby?

So when we did get matched again, we were terrified. But Ezra’s first mother knew about our first failed match, she understood my need to be up front about everything and clarify our expectations and us to understand her expectations so that the match could be a success. After we got that out of the way, I was able to cautiously bond. I was still scared, all the way up until he was born. But, I also was afraid for her. Afraid Ezra’s expecting mom was hurting. Afraid she would regret her decision. See, the beauty in bonding with Ezra before he was born, was that I also bonded with her. She is an amazing, strong woman that chose life for her son. She chose to be the best mom she could be to him and to her other 2 children by placing him for adoption. I am so glad I didn’t allow my first failed adoption to result in shutting my emotions down when we moved forward with trying again.

When Ezra was born, we stayed a couple days in the hospital with him and them. We did not invite family, but we were on the phone a lot, talking to family and texting pictures. When we got home, our immediate family came to visit in the days ahead. Those family members that struggled to bond and show excitement fell in love immediately. Their fear of the unknown vanished when they held our little 6 pounds of perfection.

The best part is seeing our older son, Isaac, with Ezra. When Ezra was about 2 or 3 months old, I was talking to Isaac and I said “I can’t believe he’s ours. He really feels like he is OURS.” Isaac said “duh, that’s because he is. He’s my brother.”

Follow Up to TV Premier

Follow Up to TV Premier

“I’m Having Their Baby”

Sarah Baker | June 25, 2013 | 03:02 PM

tvshow sonogram picI don’t even know where to begin. An hour long show (43 minutes with commercials) is hardly enough time to accurately portray a 7 month long relationship during a pregnancy with the many ups and downs and emotions that go with adoption. The show title “I’m Having Their Baby”, implies something entirely different than what it is. It sounds like a show about surrogacy… or that these expecting mothers are required to place their child for adoption to the couple they have chosen.

Obviously that’s not what happened in our story. If you haven’t watched, here is the link to our episode: http://im-having-their-baby.oxygen.com/blogs/premiere-full-episode . If you did watch, here’s the recap: Mike, the father, was against the adoption, but developed a close bond with us, the adoption fell apart (we did not back out as the show implies), Tory picked another family, then Tory decided after delivering to parent her baby girl, now she and Mike are engaged.

It was very painful to watch the show and relive those emotions… but what started as pain, turned to anger while watching. We agreed to do the show because we wanted to support Tory in her decision to film her story. She decided to do it to show women the beauty of adoption, opposed to choosing abortion. We wanted to share our journey with her and show our friendship and the ups and downs of adoption in hopes that other adoptive families could learn from our experience. Unfortunately, the show had to make cuts and edit scenes down. What we didn’t anticipate though that those edits would tell the portion of the story they wanted to be told. It was not accurate in telling the truth of our journey. It focused primarily on the birth father wanting to keep the baby and the pain we all were putting him through. It didn’t focus at all on the friendship we had with him, other than a small glimpse when he and my husband Joe had a good man to man talk about the adoption.

We were thrilled though that it did show a small glimpse of our happy ending in the recap at the end. Seeing our precious boy make his big TV debut was fun! There will be a follow up of us during the season finale and how happy our life is with baby Ezra!

I am going to try to move on from this experience and not focus on all the things that could have been shown differently… but if you have any questions about our episode, the adoption process or anything at all… please use the comment section below. I will try to answer with the best I am able to do.

Adoption TV Shows

Adoption TV Shows

“I’m Having Their Baby”

Sarah Baker | June 12, 2013 | 09:30 AM

It seems in the adoption community there are mixed feelings about shows portraying adoption. When we decided to add to our family through adoption we welcomed any resource we could find to help us understand the process and cope with the emotions. Television was one of those ways. Whether a documentary on adoptees and birth parents being reunited or shows featuring the adoption process, we watched. However, I guess some feel that adoption shows shed a negative light on adoption or make adoption trendy.

One night while talking to our first birth mother over text, I was also watching a movie on the Oxygen Network. A commercial came on for “I’m Having Their Baby”. I told her how a new adoption show was coming out and we should watch it together each week. It featured two expecting mothers considering adoption and often also followed the adoptive parents the mother picked. Our birth mother thought it would be a great idea to watch together weekly (over the phone) so we could understand the emotions and gain insight the other person was feeling since those emotions are hard to communicate. I wasn’t expecting what happened next… she signed us up for the show.

What are the chances we’d get picked? The first episode hadn’t even aired yet. She started getting calls about her application and soon the media group was sending out producers and psychologists to meet with her to learn more about our adoption story so they could decide if we would be a good fit for the docu-series. It wasn’t long before they told us they wanted to film our journey. They found our friendship and match to be unique. Add in the fact that the birth father was involved and did NOT want to do the adoption and I guess it made for good TV.

Our episode airs tonight and I am terrified! The show has posted several sneak peeks of our episode on the web. I learned the hard way that although the media group shoots and produces the shows, the Oxygen Network can take the footage to make the clips any way they like. The first clip showed me in a horrible light. I cried the entire preview and was a ball of stress for days. I looked like a baby hungry vulture, circling the expecting parents to take their unborn child in the clip. What it doesn’t show is full conversations and the bond we had with the birth parents. Yes, the birth father was struggling with the adoption, so was the birth mother. It was hard to watch. So tonight when the whole episode airs, I have no idea what to expect. How can a 7 month long bond during the pregnancy be shown fully during 30 minutes of television? How can our journey be fully documented? I fear they will focus on the emotions at their highest and leave out the casual and fun times. I am nervous how I personally will look to others. Why do I care? I know, I shouldn’t care what strangers think… but fact is, I do.

It doesn’t help the situation that my family and I are on vacation. Our rental condo does not get the Oxygen Network. We have not seen the episode. So, it seems the rest of the world, our friends and family, will see the episode before we do. That feels like a nightmare to me! I have a feeling tonight my phone and Facebook will blow up.

So, hopefully you can tune in tonight and watch our episode. I hope that it portrays the real story well and helps anyone in our situation know they are not alone and maybe help them through the emotions and figure out solutions to the problems that come up. We are so happy that our story has a happy ending. Our little guy will be featured in the show’s season finale as well. The show crew came back and did a follow up with us when Ezra was 3 months old.

http://im-having-their-baby.oxygen.com/

“I’m Having Their Baby” Oxygen Network Wednesday June 12th @10PM/9Central