Selecting an Adoption Agency

Learning about adoption was overwhelming for me.  You are not alone in feeling that way! We contacted at least half a dozen agencies and read countless chosingarticles online trying to figure out where to start and what to expect.  We were not only in distress about how long we had been trying for a baby, but then we learned that we could have anywhere from three months to several years on the waiting list for an adopted baby too.  Then factor in the enormous price tag associated with agency adoption and we were dazed.  As we began to verbalize we were considering adoption to others; we got all kinds of input.  Some of it was amazing and helpful.  Others only shared horror stories of adoptions gone wrong or questions of why we weren’t doing IVF like their friend, sister, cousin, neighbor did.  We had to take some time and process this.  Was it really what we wanted?

Fast forward several months of just setting all the agencies paperwork aside and living life… we hopped back on the train to adoption and settled down and found the right agency for us.   But how do you pick the right agency for you?  The agency we picked was a small agency located in Ohio that only dealt with Ohio birth mothers and Ohio adoptive families.  Their cost was much lower than the national agencies and they had high placement rates with a wait time that averaged 18 months.  They were very upfront about their outlooks and what we could expect.   They made us feel like we COULD do this and we WOULD be parents again.

One of the top questions I get asked by people considering adoption is: “what agency did you use?” People like to know that they can trust the agency with the task of giving them the family they have dreamed of.  So that’s the first place to start.  If you know anyone who has adopted, ask them what agency they used.  Ask them if they liked the experience.  Ask them if there was anything they wish they would have known going in.  Some agencies are very commutative with their families while others don’t relay every bite of information as it comes in.  You need to decide what you are looking for.

Things you may want to look for in an agency:

  1. What services do they provide expectant mothers?
  2. Do they offer ongoing support to all members of the adoption triad?
  3. Do they discriminate against single, transracial or homosexual families?
  4. How long is their average wait?
  5. How many families do they work with at any given time?
  6. How many placements do they do a year?
  7. What is their fee structure?
  8. When are the fees due?
  9. How do they handle expecting mother living expenses?
  10. Do they have “waiting” support groups or resources for you?
  11. Do they charge different rates for non-Caucasian children? (I know, it sounds weird, but some do!)
  12. How do they advertise?  Check their website for how they talk to expecting women considering adoption.  Are they guiding her in her decision or supporting her no matter what her decision?
  13. Do they support open adoption?
  14. How well do they communicate if you email or call with questions?
  15. Go with your gut and don’t sign anything too quickly.
  16. How do they handle birth fathers?  Do they see them as an obstacle or include them in the process?

You are looking for a few things by asking these questions.  You need to know how they operate and what will be expected from you so there are no surprises, but you also will be able to learn if they are ethical in their practices.   You may be thinking something like, “well I am not gay, so that doesn’t apply to me.”  Or “I was planning to adopt an African American child anyhow, so that’s great that the fees are reduced.”  But these things do nothing to promote ethical adoption or getting children to their forever families.

All this information can be overwhelming.  Hopefully you have found some recommendations from friends or support groups that can help you narrow down your search to a few agencies.  Once you start collecting information, you may want to start some file folders to keep each agency separate and you can then go through your own personal checklist of things you like and dislike about each agency.  Ultimately, go with your gut.  If something feels off, don’t ignore that.  Remember they have marketing to keep them afloat and in the business of facilitating adoptions.  You have to see through their glitter and make sure they are ethical for everyone involved.

Good luck in your journey!

Foster Series: 2

It’s been awhile since I have posted anything relating to foster to adopt.  I have reached out to some of my adoption community members and asked for assistance in this area.  Today’s post is brought to you by a “soon to be” adoptive mother, through the foster care avenue.  Erin brings a lot of insight from her experience with fostering children, infertility and the way she has looked at parenthood through her tenure.  Thank you for taking the time to read her story.  I think it’s a great addition to the Grew In My Heart blog.  – Sarah

Foster to Adopt  by Erin Connell

Paper chain family protected in cupped handsThis post is for those of you that are stuck between trying to conceive, treatments and contemplating adoption and/or foster care. Or for those of you who are just interested in foster care, but have biological children either living at home or are already grown up. And this post also tells my husband’s and my story to parenting, plus a small snippet of our life as foster parents.

Despite some of the more difficult things about adoption and foster care, my recommendation to you wondering what to do next is… if you really want to parent then do it! Stop trying to conceive (or at least simultaneously along with IVF/IUI) and move on to adoption. Adoption offers so many wonderful and challenging things, but the good far outweighs the bad. Foster care is wonderful too, (again challenges) but being a foster parent is the happiest thing that I’ve ever done, at least this time around. We weren’t ready the first time (3 yrs ago pre-IVF). Now instead of pouring my heart and soul into horrendous shots and procedures, I get to pour my heart and soul into children’s lives. It is rewarding and it takes away the time spent just wondering and willing myself to be a parent. I am no longer stuck waiting. I am just parenting. It may not be official, but I am finally a MOM! Some days are hard with 2 babies under 1. But at the end of the day, I can look back and say that I made a difference today. My kids are 9-month-old, James and 5-month-old, Riley. Both came to us at birth.

We were initially attracted to foster care because my in-laws fostered several children for about 6 or so years. They adopted a young lady at 12. She came to them at 10 and she is now 17. She is still learning and growing, but it is amazing the story she has to tell and the growth she has shown over the last several years. We were very involved with my in-laws kids and wanted to help children as well as start a family. All of their biological children were married and grown when they decided to foster. We were just starting our family. The cases they took were very challenging. They were a treatment home. We decided to foster babies. There are many different paths to take as well as many different types/ages of kids to help.

We had a brief stint with fostering in 2010 when we fostered twin 4-month-old babies. These babies are no longer with us and after that placement we closed our license and decided to pursue fertility treatments. They are now in a loving adoptive home, but their case took 3 years to get to that point.

It took a lot to get us to foster again. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and we may not always understand those reasons while we are suffering and even sometimes after the clouds have lifted. I believe in God and I believe in Jesus as my Savior and I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. They are the driving force in my life for why I do what I do. I would not be a foster parent or any kind of parent without them. To get to where we are now was a process. We needed the IVF process to strengthen our marriage and prepare our hearts to love children that may end up back with their birth families.

John and I will be married for 10 years this March. Three years ago was when we really decided that we wanted a family. John wanted one right away, but I wasn’t ready. I knew the responsibility of children was great and I wanted to make sure that it was something that I really wanted. We tried to conceive on our own for a while but nothing happened.  Throughout our marriage we never really used protection to stop a surprise pregnancy. I knew something was wrong, but never wanted to admit it. Then we got tested. I had blocked tubes from a surgery I had as a kid. It caused a lot of scar tissue around my tubes. I also have endometriosis. My husband had low testosterone and 0% morphology. After one IUI, we did a laparoscopy and decided to proceed straight to IVF. We spent a great deal of money and emotion and heartbreak on IVF. We did 4 tries, 2 pregnancies, and 2 miscarriages when we decided to call it quits. It was hard on my body, it was hard on our careers, and it was hard on our emotional state. It would have been all worth it if we took home a baby. Now I know we needed it to get to where we are today, but it is still painful looking back. We moved on to infant domestic adoption and were matched right away with a birth mom through an attorney. She ended up changing her mind 5 weeks before her due date. Our almost daughter turned 1 last month.

All of the past attempts to start a family were so emotionally draining; yet I still felt God pulling us into foster care. My husband wasn’t fully on board yet due to us having to complete all of the training again. 36 pre-service hours and then another home study. We had a friend who had 3 foster sons who needed to be adopted: twin 4 year olds and a 6-year-old older brother. They are really adorable kids. The older one looked so much like my husband and they were fun and we were smitten at first. We quickly realized that they had too many needs for us to handle being first time parents. Something we could have done, but they would be our only children and I still desired to start our family from infancy. We were also looking to adopt them alongside the baby girl and knew that it was too much to start out with so we ended up not adopting them, which put us back at square one.

Those boys gave us a gift. They allowed us the strength to do the training process to foster again. We did it for them. Once it was completed and we had already made our decision to not adopt them, we decided we might as well be open to receiving other calls to foster and/or adopt another child(ren). I owe those boys everything; they brought us to our James. (They are now transitioning in another adoptive home).

We were officially licensed on May 3, 2013. We got the call for our first placement on May 6th. After about 2 hours of pondering whether to accept the placement, we accepted. Two kids showed up on May 8th, a cute, blonde, 8-year-old and a teeny tiny, 10-day-old baby boy. When I first met James he was wearing only a white onesie and was sound asleep as the social worker placed him in my arms. It was a rather difficult adjustment because it was our first time back as foster parents. It was this little girl’s first time in care (We will call her K). Everything was new for all of us. It was hard to balance the needs of a newborn with all night feedings, alongside driving her to school 45 minutes away. It was the last 2 weeks of school and we wanted her to finish the year at her familiar school.

After one week, where I don’t believe I slept at all, K went to live with her great aunt. Guilty, I was a bit relieved. She was a very sweet kid, but I don’t think I was quite ready for the sass that comes with an 8-year-old. I have bonded with her now and she is welcome here anytime. We thought both kids were leaving, but it turned out that our James got to stay.

I had a long conversation with the aunt over the phone and ended up telling her our reasons to foster and also about our infertility. She always tells us what amazing people we are. She too, is amazing to take in her niece when her niece needs her the most. We hit it off and she has been our biggest advocate towards adoption of James. At that time, we didn’t know the future we would have with him. We were getting very attached and at the same time preparing our hearts to have him leave us at some point – most likely when he turned one. I didn’t think I could love him a whole year, have him call me mommy and we grow to love one another and then he would leave us. My husband once told me that if he didn’t parent “all in” then he didn’t know another way to parent. So that is what we did. We treated him as if he were our biological son. He felt like he was anyway.

There were times early on in our placement with James that I still wanted to conceive a biological child; one who matched my husband’s and mine mixed DNA. I wanted to play guess the gene game. I wanted to name my kids myself. Most importantly, I wanted to not have to drop him off to visit his birth mother and feel my heart get ripped out of my chest while I waited the 2 hours to pick him up. Everyday he felt like mine and then once a week I remembered he wasn’t.

Today and onwards, I want my foster son more than any biological child I could ever dream up if GOD was allowing me to choose. I may not have a biological connection through genetics or pregnancy, but my son is 100% mine regardless. Love is absolutely not dependent on biology. I love my husband, yet I share no DNA with him. James is ours and he will share many of our mannerisms, habits, and traits. He even looks like us, not that it matters. In other ways he will be uniquely himself. Isn’t that what we all should hope for our kids anyway? I want him to be unique and independent. (Adapted from Creating a Family’s web site.)

I also read on Creating a Family’s web site: “It’s interesting why we idealize the idea of falling rather than growing in love. When I think of falling, I think of something quick and painful. I much prefer the image of growing in love. Growth implies depth, roots, and the ability to withstand the forces of life.”

I did not fall in love with my foster son and daughter; I grew in love with them and now cannot imagine life without them both. I actually was worried that it would take more time to grow in love. I worried that I wouldn’t immediately have a connection with my child through biology and IVF or adoption. I worried that I would want my easy old life back. But I do NOT. I want my foster son to be MY son and my foster daughter to be MY daughter and I want more kids too! Funny how time and age matures me!

We got the call for our foster daughter when James was 4-months-old. She is from a different birth family than James. Some may say we were nuts to take another baby when we already had a baby. Doing the infant stage back to back was tough. I do believe she was meant to be ours – if you believe in that sort of thing. Her history is a bit scary, but we decided to take the placement anyway. She has surprised us in so many ways and is happy and developmentally on target. If either of them have learning disabilities in the future we will take those one day at time, but as of right now they are both very intelligent and delightful children. In regards to fears on loving children with disabilities, a good friend of mine told me, and it spoke straight to my heart:

“We know that the lifestyles these parents are living and the way in which they show the effects of those lifestyles doesn’t have to be repeated in our/their babies. A life of love and well-adjusted emotions do a lot of good for changing the outcome. I understand that some issues cannot be ‘loved’ away and they will be very real and lasting. In that   instance,

I would remember that you have prayed about babies and that God would bring the right ones at the right time. If you feel that she belongs with    you and that you could love her forever then it doesn’t matter what    they tell you or what future diagnoses could be faced. You can do anything!!! The struggles you have already had to plow through show  that you are tougher and that your God is more near to you than any obstacle you could ever face. Don’t let diagnosis, story, hypothesis or worker comment scare you or change your mind. Do what    God is  telling you and be tough… you can do it!”

During the tough days, I remember these words and thank my friend for them.

James will be officially adopted (Feb. or March 2014). I am happy to say that I am a foster parent to a wonderful, perfect (I can’t imagine a more perfect) little boy who I love so deeply it hurts. It hurts because I can’t imagine the thought of ever losing him. I can’t imagine the devastation that it would bring my husband who if you watch him he is so enamored by this little guy. And he is an extraordinary father! We feel the same way towards our daughter.

It will always be a little hard to share him with his birth family, but I always will because I love him and I know that is what will allow him to grow up in a secure relationship with my husband and me.

His birth parents are wonderful people who love him very much and are just working through some things in their life right now. I want them to get better. I want them to have a healthy relationship with me someday. I want them to get healthy for their 2 daughters who are old enough to understand what is happening. They are very supportive of us and asked us to adopt their son. They wanted him to have a better life. They are working towards reunification of the girls. They signed their rights away at court in November 2013. It was very emotional for his birth mom and us. She wrote me a beautiful letter and gave me a disc with photos from his birth.

Usually a case takes at least a year before the county will discuss permanency, whether that is with the birth family, a kinship family or an adoptive family. The county will give the birth parents this time to work a case plan that usually requires them to get counseling, take parenting classes, take drug tests, and take substance abuse classes. Sometimes they need to get a job or move. The goal is to become clean from their addictions and into a safe environment for themselves and their children. Some cases are simple like James’ and others are more complicated like Riley’s. We got her from the hospital and the goal for her was 99% adoption, but legally they still have to give her mother the year to follow her case plan.

Adoption and foster care are hard. Adoption and foster care are wonderful too. It is possible to have two conflicting emotions at once. I can despair what I do not have yet (in regards to fostering with no real answers to whether these kids will stay or go) and despair the challenges that adoption and foster care bring. And love what I get to be in these children’s lives and the other children we will hopefully bless as they will bless us. With adoption and especially foster care, it is challenging to strike a good balance between being respectful to the biological parents’ rights and feelings as well as showing them how much you love their/your child and being compassionate to them as well. You will have to decide how much openness you want to have with your child’s family whether fostered or adopted. These kids will always have two sets of parents, sometimes more. She is his/her mother in a way I will never know and I am his/her mother in a way she will never know, but together we are motherhood.

Openness is a thing that will take time and you will grow in a relationship with the families as time moves on. We started out with a safe distance and gradually got to know them more over time. We are pretty close with James’ sister and her aunt. We feel like extended family to them. I feel like an aunt to K. I also feel like an aunt to the other sister who is with her biological father. You will learn that these relationships can be complicated, but also beneficial to the well being of your future child/adopted child. In Ohio, open adoption is not mandatory it is a verbal agreement between you and the birth family. In regards to domestic infant adoption that openness usually is respected. In foster care you have to do what is best for your child. If the parents are abusing alcohol or drugs or in an unsafe living environment around people that are unhealthy and unsafe you may not allow your child to see his biological parents once adopted. During foster care they do see them at court appointed meetings usually for 2 hours supervised by a licensed social worker. Once adopted there is a goodbye visit where they will see their birth parents for the last time and then it will be up to the adoptive family to make decisions on what is best for their new child.

Three years ago we would never have seen ourselves being so open with the birth families. Time and God changed our hearts. My husband wanted no contact with the birth families at all and now he enjoys hanging out with James’ family. With our daughter, we have not had the same openness. I do not know what the future will be like for her in regards to her and her relationship with her birth family. We will take it one day at a time.

Whatever place you are in right now in the parenting journey, I would love it if everyone would consider foster care. There are tough kids and tough placements. These kids are hurting because they have been abandoned. They need good families to step up and intervene and sometimes save them from themselves. The older ones will test your commitment to them. If you make it through the testing phase the outcomes are so worth it! I won’t say it is easy because all parenting is hard. But parenting is worth it! There are stereotypes too and not all children from foster care fit into that mold. Many are newborns and adopted before ever going back to their birth families. All of us in humanity are working through something or have been hurt by someone. These kids are mostly just like all of us. The foster care journey has a lot of unknowns, but not unlike any other way to parenting. Fertility treatments bring a risk. Will it work? Will I miscarry? How much will I have to spend? Even getting pregnant the first time you try brings risks. Will I have a healthy child? Adoption. Will the birth parents change their mind? And then foster care. Will I parent a child that is just going to leave? Will I parent a child that just doesn’t fit into my family? Will we get along? Will my foster child have major mental or medical needs? To all these questions the answers could be hard to hear and ultimately handle. My advice and encouragement to you if you are just contemplating this journey… open your hearts to love. I don’t want fear of all the unknowns to rob you of the biggest blessing and joy of your life. We want to be parents, right? If you are struggling with infertility or not, these kids need homes and the foster care world needs willing hearts! They will bless your life as much as you will bless theirs. There will be amazing times and hard times. This is what we call LIFE.

To learn more about Erin and to read her blog, please visit fallopianfailure.blogspot.com

Milestones

walkingIt seems time has gotten away from me and it’s been awhile since my last post.  The life of having a one year old is not what I remember when Isaac was this age.  Granted I didn’t have a career back then.  I didn’t serve on the PTA as a chairperson.  I didn’t write a blog.  I don’t even remember having this many chores; laundry is never ending, the dish washer is full every day, there are toys that scatter my house, not to mention all this SNOW!  I just pretty much sat around playing with my baby.

The best part of having a one year old again, is watching him grow. One of the biggest reasons we chose domestic infant adoption was, although I had a biological child, Joe became a step dad when Isaac was 6 years old.  He was not there for the milestones that come with a baby.  I wanted him to experience the joys of being called dad and understanding the kind of love you get when you bring a baby home from the hospital and are present for every first.

Ezra just started walking.  That was a milestone I was so excited for, yet so sad when it happened!  My little baby, likely our last child, was growing up.  It’s like the ultimate transitional milestone from being a baby to a toddler/kid.  I was so excited when he lifted his head the first time, or smiled the first time, that first laugh, first bite of cereal, first roll, first crawl, first word, first stand… but first WALK!?!

Experiencing milestones gives me so much joy.  It’s when I see him the most as MY son.  My beaming pride, the look of adoration on my husband’s face, the clapping and cheering that comes from my older son, Isaac; it is all part of parenting and being a family.

When a couple faces infertility or enters the realm of adoption, milestones may be something they fear they will never get to experience.   I guarantee no matter if you adopt an infant or through foster care, there will be a lifetime of firsts that bring smiles and tears.

Adoption Day Celebrating? – “Gotcha Day”

One of the things that has recently been on my mind is celebrating something called “Gotcha Day”.  While I think this often pertains to children from international or foster care adoptions, it is becoming more and more a thing to celebrate in the adoption community by all (or more) adoptive families.  In my understanding, the celebration started because in some situations the exact birthdate is unknown for the child and a celebration of when the child came into their family became the day to give gifts and celebrate their child’s life.  The new “holiday” has evolved and taken on this name “Gotcha Day”.  It is commonly celebrated by gifts, special treats, trips to the zoo or other outings by many more adoptive families than the origins intended.  This is where it seems to confuse and confound me.

The term in itself, “Gotcha Day”, while I think it is intended to be a funny little play on words that kids understand, I think it also stoops to sound like our children are commodities. Like celebrating the day I bought my first house or got my first car. I know not all my adoptive parent friends see it that way, I apologize if this post offends you.  I just don’t understand the logic behind celebrating this day.  Granted, my adoption was a domestic infant adoption.  I “got” my son the day he was born.  I “got” to hold him in my arms seconds after his birth.  I “got” to spend the days at the hospital with his birth family and we all rejoiced his entrance to the world as we ALL loved him dearly. I “got” to bring him home when he was released from the hospital.  I “got” to formally give him our last name 6 months later in a formal court hearing when our adoption was finalized.  While I put the word “got” in quotations… the key to each of those sentences is actually the word “I”.

I was the one who benefited from “getting” Ezra.  I gained a child.  He lost the parents he had known from the womb.  They lost him.  Celebrating “getting” him and calling it “Gotcha Day” seems to belittle the loss that surrounds adoption to me.  While Joe and I may always smile and acknowledge the day we brought him home from the hospital and how surreal it was and we will also always smile at the thought of him being forever “ours” after that emotional day in court. That celebration will not be as our new property, but that we welcomed a child into our home to love, raise and be our own.  I see him no different than our biological son.  I didn’t “get” Isaac.  He was born into the world and he was mine, a human being to love and cherish forever.   Not to mention, for Isaac, would it be fair if Ezra got essentially two birthdays (a Birthday and a Gotcha Day), while Isaac only got one?

The idea of parenting an adoptive child is to raise him as my own, while recognizing he WILL have differences that need addressed as he gets older and has questions.  But, for me to single him out and celebrate his being adopted, seems to me, to be insensitive.  While other parents may argue it makes their children feel special to have a day dedicated to them, I worry about the implications it will have on them as they get older and may see the day as pointing out their non-biological ties to the family they are raised in.

So, if I feel so inclined to celebrate a Gotcha Day, I’ll do so with my pets.  For my son, we’ll find other ways to celebrate his life and our family together.

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.

Continued Training

Continued Training

Sarah Baker | May 30, 2013 | 01:36 PM

Once your adopted child is home with you, the adoption doesn’t stop there. While your heart may love the child as if he is your own, the fact remains, that biologically he is not. As mothers we want to protect them. So when people ask me if I plan to tell Ezra that he is adopted, the answer is, “I already tell him”. Ok, so he’s not even 5 months old, but it’s never too early to start building his identity. An important part of who he is is that he is adopted and that he has more than one family that loves him.

Every family is different, but one thing we cannot do is be afraid to discuss with him where he came from and how he came to us. I would never want him to think his birth parents didn’t love him and that they “gave him away”. Can you imagine the pain that would cause a person going through life, feeling unwanted by someone so important? Obviously they love him; they chose life when the easy way “out” is readily available abortion. The worst thing I could do for myself would be to try to hide his story from him. He would resent me in the future. Kids have enough reasons to “hate” their parents as they get into their teens, I am not going to fuel that fire.

Not all adoptions are as open as mine, with having an ongoing relationship with the birth parents. But, if you are considering adoption, I really do encourage you to try to have an open adoption. Ezra’s birth mother initially wanted a closed adoption. We would know who she was, but she wasn’t sure she wanted contact after placement. She thought it would hurt too much. I told her how important I thought it was for both her and for him to remain in contact. I am glad she changed her mind. Information you can provide your child about his biological family will help him understand who he is and feel more confident in life. Parenting is hard enough when the child is biologically yours, but add adoption to the mix and you have a whole new set of things to think about. This is why continuing to learn about adoption is something I take very seriously. There will be questions I don’t think of. Problems I never heard about. Emotions I don’t know how to handle.

There are local support groups I have joined. I can connect with other adoptive families and hear what they are going through and share anything I may have going on. There are thousands of online resources with training, tutorials, guides, tips and social networking communities. There are books. There are counselors. Building a foundation of support is a good thing. It would be too easy to just forget that a child is adopted and keep on trucking along. But, in that child’s mind, he knows, he will fantasize about life with his birth family, he will have questions. Creating a Life Book for your child will be something he will cherish. It is a story about his life, not your adoption of him.

So, don’t be afraid. Do your research and keep learning. I think it’s much easier to address things if you see them coming than if you aren’t prepared.