Adoption 101: The Visit Ends

There we were, clinging to one another in the Wal-Mart -- our own little islands of calm and sanity.  Birth mom requested a different cell phone and given that it wasn't significantly more expensive, Mary Tyler Dad went through the exchange while we shopped for some food.

Think about food without a kitchen to prepare it in.  The hotel room had a fridge and microwave, which is a bonus, but both were small.  You can't buy anything frozen, as the freezers are no bigger than a radio.  You can't buy anything that requires more than a heating.  At one point, birth mom remarked they had no bowls.  Not having a bowl will stick with me a whole long while.

We did the best we could.  I watched, hung back, tried to observe her food choices.  Again, I felt intrusive, and yet, this information seemed significant to me.  I am trained as a social worker.  We are observers by nature, then taught to assign meaning to our observations.  I remain so very grateful for my training and education that have served me so well with cancer and now adoption.

Birth mom was amenable to being linked to a social service agency -- something I had been pushing for with our attorney.  She continued to state a wish to extricate herself from her mother, another good sign, I thought.  She asked again about open adoption, wondering how often she might see the baby.  She hoped for once a month.  She hoped we would help the family move closer to Chicago, the land of opportunity.  Oy.  This worried me.  Our friends and family with open adoptions work very carefully to maintain boundaries.  It is a tight rope walk, but one we see working for those we love.  Except the idea of birth mom and dad living close to us set a panic in my heart.  I dodged.  I evaded.

As we proceeded to check out, I got a spontaneous hug from birth mom.  It was easy to hug her back.  She was so very vulnerable in my arms.  There was so much this girl did not know, did not understand, was not capable of -- I worried how those things might impact an adoption.  I felt old knowing as much as I did, carrying the worries for both of us.  I hoped she knew nothing of my worries.

We dropped her off at the hotel with a promise to return in 30 minutes for dinner.  And in 30 minutes we returned for dinner.  She picked the restaurant at the truck stop across the street.  Birth grandmother came out to smoke while birth mom was getting her son ready.  There had been tears and more concern about stolen meds and the cost of them.  There was more than a faint hint of expectation.  I could feel in my bones her desire for us to give her money, to fix the situation.  I ignored those tears as best I could, anxiously waiting for birth mom.

She came out, decked out in her new clothes, holding her cell phone in her hand, hoping Mary Tyler Dad would help her activate it over dinner.  That boy of hers was as bright as ever.  Just beautiful.  He looked right at you, clear eyes, always a smile on his face, trusting and playful.  We got to the restaurant and ordered dinner.  We both worried birth mom did not read.  Still hard to know.  The waitress seemed annoyed with the birth family.  Did she know them?  What did she know?

While we waited for food, Mary Tyler Dad and I seemed to be the only ones noticing that a toddler in a restaurant requires stimulation.  Books, activities, toys -- little incentives to sit still and be patient.  I never left the house without a bag of tricks for Mary Tyler Son.  I still don't.  This little one had to be content eating crayons.  Repeatedly.  And while I know all toddlers explore with their mouths, it just hurt a little more to see him with his grandmom on his right and his mom on his left and they didn't seem to know or understand that every time they handed him a crayon he would eat the tip of it.

When our food arrived, a plate of chips was placed in front of the boy.  Neither of his caregivers seemed to notice that the pizza they ordered for him was not delivered.  When it finally was, they put it in front of him without cutting it.  Here was this little guy trying so hard to navigate too big pieces of hot pizza.  Eventually, they got it, his mom and grandmom, but why did it take so damn long?

Over dinner, once birth moms new phone had been activated, a series of calls and texts were made to birth dad.  Would he be joining us?  Where was he?  The instinct to reach out to him was almost primal in birth mom.  The messaging was almost constant.  In between texts, birth grandmom told her daughter that she was moving to the shelter in the town where her other kids lived and that she would be taking the toddler with her.  She advised her daughter to leave her wreck of a thieving boyfriend and come with her, but if she didn't, the boy was still going.  She warned her daughter not to get "too spoiled" with all her new things from our shopping trip.

In the middle of this there was a call from birth dad who wanted to talk to me.  He needed a cell phone and wanted the same one as birth mom -- could we get it tonight?  His wasn't working well.  Um.  No.  No, we can't get you a cell phone, my friend.  The answer is no.  He kept asking, I kept saying no, as clearly and firmly as possible.  He told me that birth mom's mother accused him of stealing her pills after we left, but he was innocent, and she had just misplaced them.  Uh huh.  Got it.  No worries.  He hung up.  He was mad?  Angry?  He was something.

Turns out, he was high.  As a kite.  He walked over soon after, all dolled up in his new Chicago Bears shirt.  For some reason, that annoyed me.  Birth mom was wearing hers, too, and that annoyed me.  We offered him food, he declined.  He sat, sulking and glaring, at the lot of us, but seemed most focused on birth grandmom.  After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Mary Tyler Dad and I almost singularly focused on the sweet boy at the table, birth dad stated clearly and loudly, "I did not steal your pills and I was not cheating.  I was sitting at my mother's grave."  As if that explained everything.  As if he wasn't under the influence.  As if his entire life wasn't a shambles.

We paid the bill, birth mom with a new spring to her step.  She had gotten a paper over dinner and was looking at apartments.  She was happier than I had seen her.  I was sadder.

When we got to our car, I offered birth dad the front seat.  I had heard somewhere that it was good to defer to the birth father, pay him the respect he so craves.  As I was getting in the back seat, birth grandmom was looking for her cigarettes.  She asked birth mom if she could bum one off of her.  She knew precisely what she was doing, in asking birth mom, who simply ignored her.  She asked her daughter and birth dad to borrow some money to buy a new pack.  Neither had any.  Our wallets were closed for the night.

As we made our way across the street, I saw birth dad leaning over talking to Mary Tyler Dad.  I was curious, resolved to ask later.  We got to the hotel, everyone hopped out, we made tentative plans to meet for 9 AM breakfast.  I suggested a movie to clear our heads.  Mary Tyler Dad just needed to drive, so we did.  We drove and breathed and shook in disbelief.

I asked after what words were said with birth dad.  Mary Tyler Dad told me that birth dad asked if he could contact us directly.  The consummate gentleman, Mary Tyler Dad said, "Sure, but it's really up to birth mom, isn't it?"  BUZZ!  Wrong answer.  What I had seen was birth dad leaning forward, giving Mary Tyler Dad the "jailhouse stare," and asserting his dominance as decision maker, "It's up to me, too."  That alone, his attempt to intimidate us, scare us, threaten us with his power over birth mom, probably sealed the deal for us to walk away.  Before the day started, we had created a "safe word," that was to be enacted if we needed to bail.  Just short of either of us wanting to be the first to exercise the safe word, we called our attorney to report on the day's events.

I lead with the clear substance abuse that seemed rampant.  That was followed with the dicey family dynamics -- a father and grandmother who seemed jealous of the attention we paid to a baby and the gifts we had bestowed on birth mom.  Gifts like paper plates and plastic forks and underpants and a cell phone and a package of turkey.  Our heads were spinning.  I was angry, so angry at their attorney,  who didn't provide a whisper of a clue as to what we would find.  We hung up, dazed and exhausted.  I noticed there were two voicemail.  "Here we go," I said, as I listened to them.

What I heard was horrifying.  A baby screaming, a mother pleading, shouts of "GET OFF ME, GET OFF ME, PLEASE GET OFF ME!"  The sound of slapping, hitting, skin on skin contact.  And that sweet boys piercing screams.  Not fifteen minutes had passed since we left the family.

I broke out in sobs, Mary Tyler Dad just kept driving.  I quickly called the attorney, telling him I needed to call 911 -- was there 911 in this town?  I was frantic and wrecked.  I called immediately, got it together to keep my voice intact.  Before I got to the issue, I explained who I was, where I was from, why I was visiting -- trying to establish credibility?  Who knows.  I was shaken and as I got to the messages and the location of where they came from, describing a mom, dad and grandmother, the 911 dispatcher said their names.  Each of their names was said to me before I said them.  He encouraged me to stay on the line until police arrived at the hotel, just to keep me calm.  He was older and had a kind voice.  I cried, I wept for that boy and for that mother.

We drove past the hotel and saw the police presence.  Mary Tyler Dad wanted to leave town.  Was that alright?  Yes, knowing full well that this baby was not our baby.  You can't call 911 on a family and move on from that.  Done is done.  Over is over.  Enough is enough.

We drove and I wept.  My tears were not for us, my tears were for that boy.  What will happen to that boy?  What will happen to the unborn baby?  What will happen to this mother?  Nothing good.  We felt it, both of us, and yet drove to protect ourselves, drove fast away to feel better, drove to get the hell out of Dodge.

Last weekend was a nightmare for us, but we got to drive away.  It was a visit, a blog post, a bad memory.  For that family -- everyone in that family -- it is their life.  Their nightmare that they do not wake up from.  I can't feel angry at them, or upset over a lost dream of a child that was never ours.  All I feel is sad.  Big, giant mountains of sad.

Truth is, we can't fix people.  We can't help someone that can't receive help, or doesn't want it.  We can't grab their baby, hoping to reverse whatever physical and emotional and substance induced violence he has witnessed.  We can't do any of that.  All we can do is drive away.  Drive far away to catch a plane that will take us home where we are safe and loved and supported.

And when we get home, we will realize that we didn't help at all, but more likely worsened an already untenable situation.  By swooping in from Chicago with our suitcase of good intentions and our pound of Frango Mints, we upset the birth family balance.  We showered praise, attention, and things on the three least powerful members of the family -- mom and toddler and baby-to-be.  Without knowing it or meaning to, we made it worse.  We did that.  And we are sorry.

Tomorrow:  Adoption 101:  Final Exam

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  • MTM, you guys acted on the advice of a lawyer, you acted within the bounds of the law, you stumbled upon a mess. This is NOT the typical adoption situation. It's not even a typical bad one. This was a nightmare, and I'm so glad you've gotten out of it. You did nothing wrong; you were trying to do everything right. 911 *knew* these people. Bless you guys, and I pray for better luck with the net attempt! Every adoption I've ever heard of has not been anywhere close to this horrible! Again, bless you--for trying, for following the rules, and for wanting better for the family.

  • Im on the edge of my seat reading your blog. Last time I felt this way was reading about Donna. Im an LCSW so with education behind me, letters by my name I get it. But when you are in that situation with a toddler and unborn baby, young mother, just brings home how lucky I am in so many ways. I have a baby and a 3 year old who will never know this cycle of poverty and abuse, un-met needs, lack of simple attention. Thinking about you and MTD

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    Thank goodness, thank goodness, thank goodness that you and MTD got out of Dodge. I woke up this morning knowing your latest blog post would be up and hoping that the news would be that you had to walk away. I come from a pretty adoption-experienced family and I can tell you, that situation was cruel and unusual. My heart aches for that young mom, little toddler boy and unborn baby....but there are some things you just can't fix. You and your husband have kind and generous spirits... you have my deep respect and best wishes in your endeavor.

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    Wow! I am so sorry. I understand the heartbreak seeing that and the feeling of wanting to save the mom and babies. Its worse you try to help but it breaks your heart not to. I have thought about adopting, my husband and I have 5 his and hers boys from privious marriages. We both wanted a child together, and hoped for a daughter to add to our family. We got pregnant, and lost the baby at 8 weeks due to an ectopic pregnancy along with a tube and an ovary. We haven't gotten pregnant again. It has been 2 years. We have thought about adopting, and gladly would, but this kind of thing scares me terribly. I have such hope for you, and love for you and your family, I have been reading your writing for a long time and you and your family give me hope about life. I will be here reading, sending encouragement even if it isn't herd. Any family would be so blessed to have you and MTD and MTS in their lives!

  • I cannot believe you had to experience that. You are right, for you it was a bad weekend - for them it is their LIFE. How terrible. I know you will get your baby in your arms.

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    This rang so true for me:
    "Truth is, we can't fix people. We can't help someone that can't receive help, or doesn't want it. We can't grab their baby, hoping to reverse whatever physical and emotional and substance induced violence he has witnessed. We can't do any of that. All we can do is drive away. Drive far away to catch a plane that will take us home where we are safe and loved and supported."

    It's such a sad, sad situation, but you absolutely cannot help those who refuse to help themselves. No one is ever destined for a horrible life - we ALL have the will to be better people. It's what we do with the will that paves the way for us. What's sad is that I believe it all started with Birth Grandma. Birth mom doesn't know any better, so of course she's going to live this way; I feel for that toddler. He won't know any different either :(

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    In reply to Katie Piatkowski:

    I agree, Katie. Except maybe it didn't start with Birth Grandma either. Maybe it started with Birth Great Grandma or Birth Great Great Grandma. And I can understand that they don't know any different....but the cycle can be broken...especially in today's world, people are much more easily able to see examples of better lives and there are programs to help people. It isn't easy and it is definitely not always successful, but the cycles can be broken. Will they? Probably not. Can they? Definitely yes. My heart breaks for all of them. And you are definitely right, we ALL have the will to be better people. I

  • Unfortunately there are many, many children growing up in families who are in a similar or even worse situation when compared to that sweet toddler boy and that poor, soon-to-be-born baby girl. When you encounter such a family up close and personal, it is hard not to get caught up in their tenuous existence and want to fix things, especially when your interests concerning a child or children could overlap. But you are right MTM, experience has taught me that you can't fix it. Not only that, for the sake of your family and especially little MTS, you cannot let yourself become emotionally drained. Good call on your part, and I am sure a much better experience awaits you.

  • My God, this is such a sad story. You know, you tried, you really tried to look past the awful in this family. I mean that is the brightest thread throughout this whole thing. I wish that there wasn't this sort of situation out there. However, the very poor are almost always the most screwed up. I am glad you were so detailed, I think a lot of people forget that poverty is such an ugly thing. Children in this situation get exposed to so much and grow up to seek that out as their "normal" creating a cycle. You and MTD handled this like pros. I can say that if it were me, I wouldn't have been as graceful. You define grace and give new dimension to "choosing hope."

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    I just wanted to say that I am so very sorry that this has all happened. I have sort of walked into the "middle" of the story and have not read the earlier posts (as in how you found out about this baby and how you got involved in the first place). I just wanted to say that this posting touched my heart and my thoughts and prayers are with you and for your family.

  • Oh MTM - I Love your blog and your latest really brought memories. We went through a very similiar experience. We had been going through the adoption process for almost 2 years when we " got the call". We meet with birth family (mom,dad, and grandmother - sound familiar). Crazy meeting but we were set to go forward. Even when birth dad talked about his snake collection. Baby was already born - a boy. We got a call the next day - that they didn't like us. Talk about devastating !!! I cried for what seemed like weeks. About six months later we got another call. I was so on guard. Met birth family. Went ok - three weeks later got a call - baby born. Still on guard. Back to same hospital as first baby. Oh my God - I can't go through this again. Baby had to stay in hospital 3 days. Oh my God - I can't do this. Will we made it through. Now jump ahead 14 years and this beautiful baby girl is our and about to go to highschool. And another adoption as well. I have never felt as vulnerable as I did going through this process. It's hard - but oh so worth it. Best of luck - and follow your instinct. I have so much more to say - but wanted to pass along that it is hard process but most rewarding

  • HOPE. HOPE. HOPE.

    "Keep calm and carry on"

    You WILL be blessed with a baby. XOXOXOXOXOXO

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    I am in tears. My heart is breaking for that birth mom and that toddler and that unborn baby. I heart broke when 911 knew them. But being the silver lining seeker that I am, maybe your visit was the kicker that will wake birth mom up to accept her life doesn't have to be that way. Maybe she'll see she can do better for herself and her children. Maybe...

  • Whewwwwwwww. This is the first part of your adoption story that I have read (I've now read the others), and my chest was so tight until I got to the part where you decided to step away. Then I realized I'd been holding my breath, and I exhaled. I read Donna's story when you first posted it (and cried and cried for you and her), but I'm sorry I haven't been a regular reader. Only so much time in a day, unfortunately.

    But the Tribune linked this on their sidebar today, and due to both being an adoptee and wondering how you were doing, I hopped over. Only to be terrified for you - I felt actual fear as I read, thinking, oh God, after what this family's been through, do NOT NOT NOT let them be abused and exploited by these dysfunctional people. Just do not. I was very afraid that you and MTD were going to decide to stay with this scenario, that your desire for a baby would cloud your judgment, in which case I'd have to figure out how to set off flares over the internet in order to warn you. Needless to say, I was quite relieved to see you and MTD taking care of each other, and yourselves, and walking away. I am SO glad, MTM. Again, *whew*.

    I was adopted via closed adoption (the only kind then) in the late '60's. My feelings about adoption and adoptive parents in general are complicated, but there are no easy answers with adoption. (My adoptive parents were great, BTW.) I resented (and still do) the fact that I wasn't allowed to know anything about my birth family; I think a totally closed adoption is an act of cruelty toward the adoptee. Therefore, many people would think it's rather odd that I'm not so nuts about the wide-open adoptions happening now. Why? Because I think they open up the adoptive parents to exploitation and being put through an emotional wringer. Because I think it's got to be confusing to a kid to have the birth parents popping by once a month, or however often they decide to. They signed away their parental rights. Boom. They shouldn't have that right of intrusion into into the adoptive family afterwards. I know, KNOW, it would've confused the absolute hell out of me as a kid to have my birth mother (my birth father died a few days after I was born) involved in my life. I know it would've interfered with my bonding with my adoptive parents. Of course I don't speak for every adoptee, but it just seems to make an already emotionally tangled situation even more complicated.

    HOWEVER, not knowing anything about her, and where I came from, was horrible as well. It had profound effects on me. I think what would've helped so much would've been simply having some pictures of her, knowing her NAME, and knowing about her as a person. Knowing that she was sad having to give me up. Knowing exactly where I was born. Having my adoptive parents understand that I needed to mourn her sometimes, miss her sometimes. Those things would've helped enormously. Having read many books and blogs written by adoptees, I know I'm not alone in this.

    Why am I telling you this, MTM? It's not to hijack your blog with my own story, and I apologize profusely if that's how it's come across. It's more to just throw out the idea that while the kid you adopt has rights to her story and her past, you also have rights to your family. To your parenthood. I think that we've gone a bit too far in the other direction with adoption - I think potential adoptive parents are allowed to be taken advantage of in many ways, and it makes me angry. Angry at the system, and yes, angry at the people doing it (like the family in this case). Junkies are extremely manipulative SOBs, and remorseless liars to boot. That's what addiction does to people. The father in this case, and the birth grandmother, would've dangled this baby in front of you for more, more, and then more. He'd withhold his signature on the papers, she'd intimidate the birth mother into doing things she maybe wouldn't do otherwise. Obviously you and MTD knew this, and thank God you did. I know you feel so badly about the toddler and mother here, but you did not make the situation worse. Nope. On the contrary, I think your stepping away may begin to open the eyes of the birth mother. Probably not totally, but it's a start. That's invaluable.

    Holy mackerel, I need to shut up now.

  • I have been reading since Day 2 of Donna's Cancer Story, and I'm hooked. ... I hate that you are having to go through this! Its heartbreaking. Haven't you endured enough, already?!

    My mother was adopted into a wonderful family, and always said that she wasn't intersted in finding her birth family because of what she might find out -- something like this, or worse. And now, reading this, I totally understand why!

    My mom passed away last a year and a half ago from lung cancer, and since then, I have considered finding them myself.. For a few reasons. Curiosity.. I'm concerned about possible genetic/hereditary health issues... and it would be nice to see where she came from, and maybe someone who looks like her. I know it is a totally different situation, but this has really put it into perspective for me. ...My mom may have been right! Some things are better left alone.

    Choosing hope for you and the whole MT family! Keep on keepin on... I'm not going anywhere!

  • MommaMeg, be not afraid. I've found my birth family, and they are fabulous. Magical. Intelligent, sweet, fascinating, and more. You never know.

    Also, the medical thing - I was 37 when I found them, and found out my birth mother had had breast cancer. (She was already deceased when I met them.) So to be on the safe side, I went in for a mammogram kinda early; most women don't go for their first one until they're after 40. Lo and behold, there was friggin' cancer, large as life and twice as ugly. But luckily, since I'd had the early mammo, the cancer was caught early. (It came back a few years later, but hey, once again, it was caught early.) You deserve to know any risks you face. Everyone does.

  • In reply to Ginjoint:

    Thank you for the encouraging words and congratulations on finding your birth family! You are so lucky to have found them to be good people!

    I might look into it. I do know that her birth mother was young, and my mother would be turning 49 this month ... so her mother could easily be alive. And for my own health and my daughters sake, some medical history may prove to be important ... as it was in your case! Thanks again :)

  • Oh MTM and family - I didn't think it was possible for a heart to break more when reading your words until I read this post. That poor toddler, that poor unborn baby. that poor mother...I'd be tempted to call CPS to see if they can get the kids out of there and into a healthier and safer environment (one with bowls to eat out of and properly fitting shoes would be a start). No blame at all to you for walking away - those people were treating you and MTD like a freaking ATM.

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    You should not feel sorry! You didn't cause the issues, they were already there just below the surface destined to come out. You were out there to do something great! My mother was adopted at birth, and at age 16 found herself in a situation where she needed to give up a child so adoption has played a role in her life and in mine, and this was clearly not how things should have worked out for you or that unborn baby. You can only give & do so much. You can only help someone who wants to be helped and not someone who is looking to take advantage of a kind heart. I feel for the innocent victims in this horrible situation and that includes you & your husband, that poor toddler, & the unborn baby. I am so sorry that this has happened to you and can only imagine the hell you and your family would have gone thru had you not been able to walk away.

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    I am very sorry for what you witnessed. As a trained social worker, I really hoped for a happier ending though. First instinct truly is to want to run away and forget, but those people need help. Depending upon the state and the fact that you were considering entering an adoption relationship with them, you could have possibly gained (at least temporary/emergency) custody of the little one who was in imminent danger. Most likely he is now in foster care with a family who are strangers to him and the baby will follow. I hope when people read your story they will want to become involved for the sake of the children in harms way instead of only feeling bad, sad, etc and just moving on with their own lives. It's not a judgement against you, as I totally understand the fear and feelings or hopelessness, but I just want to say that people need to take action themselves to help instead of hoping the "next guy" will do right by these people. It's truly not as hard as it might seem. We have been foster parents for 9 years and have seen the worst of the worst. It is very rewarding; not easy by any stretch, but worth the effort.

  • In reply to Lisa Lewis:

    Lisa, they did take action. They called 911. It is the responding police officers' responsibility to assess the situation and determine whether or not to get whatever child protective service agency involved. Hopefully, in this case, they did.

  • In reply to Lisa Lewis:

    Hi Lisa, we are one of the "next guy" families who are trying our best to do right by one family, the family of our former foster-adopt daughter who is now reunified with her birth family. Instead of taking on several foster children, we have made a commitment to just this one family, the birth family of our foster daughter, hopefully for the rest of our foster daughter's life.

    When we first became acquainted with our foster daughter's family, they were in a really terrible place. Now, 6 years later, they are doing much better. Still, certain ways of doing things are ingrained and my husband and I now know that we cannot fix many destructive patterns. Our hope is to break some of those patterns in our foster daughter to, hopefully, create a less traumatic life for her. But it is terribly draining sometimes and, as my husband says, I sometimes get caught up in their angst at the expense of the well-being of my family. I think it is unreasonable to expect MTM and MTD to take on that kind of commitment after barely knowing a family for a few hours...they really did the best they could under the circumstances.

  • I want to thank all of you for your personal comments about adoption and sharing your stories. Just feeling less isolated in our decision to adopt has been helpful on its own. We so appreciate the insights offered. Thank you!

  • I am sad for all of you and my heart goes out to you, your family, this birth family and that little boy. I also say thank you for sharing this via blog. Hugs and peace.

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    Oh, Mary Tyler Mom, my heart just aches for you. I wish I could wrap you up in a huge hug and tell you that though it might take some time, everything will fall into place-one way or another. We're all standing in solidarity with you and the whole Mary Tyler Family and I hope you feel all the love around you. Lisa, I'm sorry, but you came across as seriously judgmental and almost pompous. They had left their son behind and gone out of state to meet that family. It was not their responsibility to go and try to gain guardianship of that child. If the dispatch knew them by address alone, the problems have been numerous and the child should have been removed from the home a long time ago.

  • Dear MTM, I'm a biracial adoptee. I have my own stories to tell about birth parents, so I'm not one to judge what you've been courageous enough to share. I have a lot of compassion for what you're enduring in order to adopt a baby.

    But I have to ask: Is your heart set on a white infant? Could that have something to do with why the process has been so difficult? What about all the children right here in Chicago who need families to belong to? Have you considered becoming foster parents or maybe adopting an older child? Again, I'm not judging. I've never lost a child to cancer. (Your blog about Donna is heart-wrenching.) And maybe I've come in at the middle of your Adoption 101 story.

    It's just that there's so much need for foster parents like you and MTD. There are so many kids like the toddler you met while getting to know the potential birth mom who would thrive in the type of environment you can provide.

    I have a white friend in Evanston who adopted 2 black kids with his partner. The kids are thriving and have enriched my friend's life deeply.

    Like I said, you may have already considered these options and have your hearts set. But I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't at least ask. God bless and good luck.

  • Ohhhhh, MTM. I really just want to hug you when I read the end of this post, because I SO understand the feeling you describe, of looking into a chaotic situation and wanting more than anything else to rescue the innocents. I have six nieces and nephews living in the chaos of their parents' disintegrating marriage and poor life choices. My husband--their uncle--lives in the house with the parents, the kids, and his mother, and every story he tells me just breaks my heart. I want to snatch up those children and take them somewhere peaceful and safe, away from the mayhem and chaos, from the arguing, the cheating, the unpaid bills; away from the scamming and the scheming and the lies, and mostly from the lessons they're learning that will hurt them for the rest of their lives. They have never seen a healthy relationship; they have never seen people work together for a common goal. They have never seen a husband and wife striving to benefit each other and their children, or even seen a true partnership in operation. I worry about the little girls, who will learn from their mother the same lessons she learned from HER mother, and who will learn to hate her in equal measure. I worry about the little boys, who will learn that their main value to a woman lies in how much money he gives her--and who will use that as an excuse to justify repeated, blatant infidelities. I worry about each of these beautiful children, and how they will view themselves as adults, when their vision will have been so skewed by the distortions of the "family" they grew up in.

    Reading this post and about the people you met in your search, I have the same emotions: I want to take that little boy, that little unborn baby, and even the childrens' mother, in this case, since she seems like something of a child herself--and take them far away, where they can live in peace, unlearn the lessons of their lives, and learn how to give and receive real, honest, healthy love. But like you--it's not my place. No matter how much we might want to do it, we can't save all the children who need saving, nor even all the ones we might encounter. All we can do is live as best we can, help the ones we can help, and love the ones entrusted to our care. I have no doublt that YOU, especially, will be absolutely STELLAR at that last part. I finished Donna's story the other night, and without hesitation I can say: you are one of the strongest people I have ever encountered, bar none.

  • White. Trash. People. The state should take both of the kids away from these people. Sheesh, I'd gladly remain childless rather than go through the nightmare of the adoption process that I've seen described here and elsewhere. It seems a lot of adoptive parents are just played by these birth families. They want free meals, free medical care and other freebies, and often have no intention of ever turning the baby over. "Open adoption" seems like little more than glorified babysitting, where the adoptive parents pay to support the kid and do all the hard work and heavy lifting of parenthood, while the birth parents get to enjoy visits and "bonding" and fun times without having to actually raise the kid. MTM might be better off going outside the U.S. to adopt. In America, the birth mothers (and often fathers) hold all the cards and have all the power, not to mention the law on their side. Google "Baby Richard" and "Baby Jessica" if you don't believe it.

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    In reply to Teddy:

    I don't remember MTM saying they were white.

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    I hope I am not the only person who actually feels more sympathy for the pregnant woman in this situation. (Let's stop calling her 'birth mom'. The term is dehumanizing, plain and simple.) She, in effect, has been abandoned. I can only imagine that she had high hopes for this family who was interested in adopting her daughter. But when reality strayed from their ideal adoption fantasy, that prospective family ran out of town. I'm sure it's not the first time someone has run out on this young woman and it probably won't be the last. I can only hope that another family will stick around for this young woman and her unborn child.

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    In reply to Lori Lay:

    Lori Lay, I bet you could find this poor abandoned young lady yourself if you'd like to help her out! Just email MTM for the name of the town and when you get there, check with local law enforcement. But you can assume that the police force's familiarity with her and her family means that she has been made aware of the many options available to her, from shelters to social services to church groups and rehabilitation centers, and yet she chooses to stay with her leach-like relations. She's young but not a minor, however, so maybe you could make her adult eyes see past her family the opportunity you would provide, even when the trained professionals have failed.

  • In reply to Lori Lay:

    They had no choice but to get out of dodge, this family unfortunately would be having their hand out forever. Open adoption does not mean you have to finance birth mom, dad and grandma. This family would be dangling this baby in front of Mary Tyler Family forever. I for one am totally disgusted with the legal representation on both sides.

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    Sorry Mary W, that my comment upset you and ruffled your feathers. I did not make myself clear. I am not looking to adopt at the moment, but hope springs eternal. Also, Mary W, you must realize that not all comments to MTM are going to be of the flowery, teddy bear variety. She has started a very interesting blog about a controversial subject, Mary W. People have differing views and MTM is gracefully allowing people to comment on her posts, and I'm quite sure she expects comments that are varied. But by trying to assert your moral superiority by suggesting that I go and adopt this young woman and/or her child is ignorant.

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