Adoption requires you to put yourself out there and to take a chance. Most Adoptive/Foster families have an idea of how their adoption will go, but fortunately or unfortunately, things do not usually go according to plan. Some adoptions go smoother and quicker than the family could ever have dreamed of, while some families wait and wait and wait for their child to enter their lives. Some are elated when they match with a Birth Mother who is going to give them the gift of parenthood, only to be devastated when the adoption doesn’t go through. So the question becomes, how do families get through the torment of waiting, or through the heart ache of a failed adoption? We asked some of our adoptive families who have had failed adoptions in the past that very question. The families that we reached out to for advice are all now happily placed with children. Here is what they had to say to families dealing with a long wait and/or a failed adoption:
“I simply relied on my faith. I knew it would happen when it was suppose to. When the first birth mom changed her mind, I was disappointed but okay with it. When it happened the second time, I got very excited. I know that sounds odd, but I then realized Jesus had the most beautiful baby for me. I even told that to Debbie. You’ve seen Emma, so you know I did get the most beautiful, happiest, sweetest baby! So, my advice is to keep the faith! Like Maxine told me, you will get the baby you are supposed to.” -Laura
“Find something (e.g., work, hobby) to keep yourself busy – ideally something you enjoy that is fulfilling. For me it was my work. I am fortunate to derive a great deal of enjoyment from my work. Other than your spouse/partner, have someone (or people) you can talk with about your feelings. I had one good friend who listened to everything (I don’t know how she could bare to listen to me so much). We did not have children so my husband and I would do things (e.g., travel, movies, etc.) that we knew would be more challenging when we adopted. I allowed myself to purchase items for our future child…I wanted that experience. I also read other peoples’ stories about adoption (autobiographies). I subscribed to Adoptive Families magazine. Reading helped me realize I wasn’t alone in the process; it also gave me perspective. I emailed the staff at Fam2Fam regularly just as a way to feel like I had some control. Everyone was always so supportive and reassuring. After the failed domestic adoption, the wait became a little more daunting. I began to ask myself whether it would ever happen. We waited another 6 months until our son was born. It was tough and so worth it!” -Emily
“Realize the wait is a roller coaster. This is something we said at least a thousand times while we waited. You have the highs of completing your home study and getting “on the list”, the first profile showing, the call that you’ve been matched, the first meeting with the birth mother, the doctors appointments, the birth of your child. But, you also have the lows of waiting for your profile to be shown – sometimes with months of inactivity, the birth mother who changes her mind, the excruciating 48 hours. The ups and downs are an unavoidable part of the process. We tried our best to minimize our emotional reactions to the dips by surrounding ourselves with supportive friends and family. We also tried our best to distract ourselves with things we knew would be much less frequent once we had a baby (date nights, vacations). The weekend of the due date we had been given by our first birth mother we planned a trip so we wouldn’t be in town thinking about what might have been. As a religious couple, we also spent a lot of time at church and meeting with our Priest, knowing it was out of our control and in God’s hands.
We also tried to avoid putting ourselves in situations we knew would be emotionally difficult for us — I said no to several baby showers, especially after the failed placement. As happy as I was for my friends, I just knew it was more than I could handle. We also didn’t buy anything for the baby or set up the nursery until we were feeling extremely confident with our second match. Personally, we didn’t want to walk by a room in our house and be reminded that it was empty. We also asked our friends to wait until after we had been placed with the baby to have a shower of our own. We also *tried* not to look at the profile showing log every day — it’s too easy to drive yourself crazy! On the flip side, you also want to celebrate your peaks. In our case, we were never going to see a positive pregnancy test, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t experience any of the joys of being an expectant parent. We emailed the sonogram pictures to our friends and family. We attended every doctors appointment with our birthmoms. I went to a newborn childcare class with my mom. We created a baby registry. I relished the scent of his first load of laundry. But most of all, we continued to remind ourselves that the wait would be SOOOO worth it! The best part about adopting is that the question changes from IF it will happen to WHEN. Adopting our son is absolutely the hardest experience we have ever been through, but it also the most rewarding. We never knew we could feel so much love until we locked eyes with him. God knew he was our son and picked him specifically for our family. When he was placed in our arms, we knew, God had answered our prayers and all of the waiting was completely worth it.” -Kristin
In the end, every family is different. You have to find what works for you and your family. Adoption is a long and emotional process, but with a little patience your child will enter your life and you will realize that the wait was worth it.