The past week has been nothing short of a whirlwind of activity and rollercoaster of emotions.
We got a call from our social worker (SW) two Fridays ago that a birth mother wanted to meet with us! I had just gotten home from a very long week at work and I was not anticipating this being the reason for the SW’s call. Often, it’s something administrative like a new form or something like that. Not this time!
I quickly woke up Chad, who was napping, and put the SW on speaker so we could both talk to her. We hung on her every word. We learned that the baby girl had been born a couple weeks prior, had spent some time in the NICU–mostly because she was about 5 weeks premature–and that she had been discharged home yesterday (Thursday). We were told our next step was that we’d meet the birth mother (I’ll call her Anna for anonymity and ease of reference) and her parents for dinner on Sunday as a “getting to know you” sort of thing.
“Do you have any questions for me?” our SW asked. Blown away with emotion and an overwhelming sense of “Holy shit, this is really happening!” we ended the conversation and started to attempt to process. We told only a very limited number of people so that we had some support through the process, but we wanted to keep an extremely tight lid on the news so as not to take our entire network of loved ones on the whole range of emotions with us. Nothing in adoption is a sure thing until papers are signed.
The next two nights were pretty restless for me as my mind ran away with the possibilities. I had just started some new nutrition goals so having a couple glasses of wine was out of the question. I had to make some very eager attempts at meditation just to get sleep to come. It came eventually, but only briefly.
Fast forward to Sunday evening. As planned, we met with Anna and her parents (divorced)–plus their new spouses. As nervous as we were, we actually hit it off beautifully, laughing and joking early on and throughout the evening. During dinner, we talked about trips we’ve taken, the paths of our careers, where we grew up, family size/dynamics and favorite TV/Netflix shows. After dinner, things got a little more serious, but in a good way as we focused more on the decision at hand. The family asked us questions about what we plan to do for childcare, our faith backgrounds and our ideas with respect to openness. Our answers seemed to please everyone at the table–even bringing Anna’s mom to happy tears–and we left the evening feeling like we had just met a new part of our extended family.
The next day (Monday), our SW called to tell us how much everyone loved us and that we’d be meeting with Anna and the birth father on Thursday evening. I’m sure I screamed or squealed after hanging up; I don’t quite recall. Needless to say, it was so incredibly exciting!
Sleepless night after sleepless night came and went. Finally, Thursday came and I was ready to burst. I finally told a couple coworkers since my work might be shifting their way very shortly and I wanted to save them from being completely caught off guard. I had left a message for our SW, asking her to call because we had a couple last-minute questions.
Around mid-day, my phone rang. It was our SW.
“I’m calling to let you know that [Anna] has decided not to move forward with an adoption plan. Her father and his wife will be parenting the child…”
She kept talking. Words kept coming.
My ears muffled all sound. My stomach groaned and my heart sank.
It was over.
After I hung up, I just sat there for a few moments collecting my thoughts. I called Chad, who was in the middle of a busy, rough day as it was. We didn’t talk for long and the conversation almost seemed mechanical. Clearly, we were both shocked.
I took some time to collect myself, then informed most of those in-the-know about the news via text. I would need to call my mother-in-law. I didn’t want to tell her over a text message. I just couldn’t have a conversation at the time. To be so close, so certain, and then to have that certainty whisked away so quickly. I just didn’t understand.
Fast forward to that evening. Chad and I hugged and kissed as we always do when we both get home. We now had a free evening and we both needed to process the situation. We talked about whether we should go to dinner or do something lighthearted to take our minds off of things. Neither of us really had an interest in that so we each decided to do something that made us feel good. Chad chose to go to a CrossFit class and I headed out to buy yarn for a new knitting project. Adding to the frustration, traffic was absolutely hellish so both tasks took us each much longer than anticipated. Eventually, we each came home, I made a healthy summer vegetable succotash and roasted a pork loin. We ate dinner together, as we always do, then just had a pretty low-key remainder of the evening. We probably watched an episode of Grace and Frankie or something. I don’t really remember.
Neither of us is one to wallow in self-pity or sadness. We quickly opened our minds to the positives of the situation. For the sake of privacy for Anna and her family, I won’t go into details, but there were very clear signals that there would be certain challenges to the situation had things materialized. Also, we had already lost out on nearly three weeks of bonding time with the baby–crucial time, especially for men, who don’t put off the same biological signals that women do to help with bonding. (It does happen, it just takes more work and more time.)
In the few days since, we’ve really come to the conclusion that this is actually an okay thing. If anything, it’s inspired us to turn up the heat on our quest to become parents. We’ll be taking additional steps shortly to be more proactive in this search. It may sound cliché, but we know that the right baby will come to us at the right time and in the right circumstances.
As we’ve opened up about this, people always ask what they can do and how they can help. We are so grateful for friends and family who have been so supportive of us on this journey! We are strong and we have a deep love for one another, which helps keep us each afloat in situations like this. Still, knowing that we have such a firm foundational base of support makes this process so much more manageable. Thank you!
In the coming weeks, we’ll be engaging you with very specific ways you can help if you’re interested so please stay tuned. Thank you for reading! *HUGS*