Adoption Retrospective Ten Years Later: The First Birthmother

It has been ten years since we began our adoption journey.  In honor of the passing of time, I will be publishing one post each month in 2013 that reflects on our lives in 2003. Please read the January, 2003 post and the February, 2003 Post.

Motivated.  That’s what we were.

Everyone approaches the adoption process differently.  Some people spend years considering adoption before starting to pursue it.  Some people start the process and take years to complete the paperwork and the various requirements to enter the system.

I am not a lingering type of person.  Life might be easier if I were a little more patient, but for better or for worse, I run on high speed.  I talk fast, walk fast, think fast, eat fast, and like fast results (as in, I gave up eating chocolate for a day – why haven’t I lost 5 lbs yet?).  If there were ever someone less fit than I to endure the slow-moving bureaucratic process of adoption, I would like to meet her!  Learning how to WAIT more patiently was one of the biggest lessons that adoption taught me.

That being said, Andrew and I plowed through paperwork, social worker visits, the collection of referral letters, background checks and questionnaires as fast as humanly possible.  We made the decision to adopt in January 2003.  By March of 2003, we were ready and waiting to be matched with a birthmother or a child, whichever came our way.  Here is a glimpse of life as it occurred a decade ago.

March 2003

A birthmother named Crissy (not her real name) has called our adoption agency, and after reading our profile, she is interested in speaking to me and Andrew.  Nervously, I dial her number into my phone and wait while it rings.  Crissy begins talking right away and explains that she is a twenty-year old college student in Indiana who has unintentionally become pregnant by her boyfriend of eighteen months.  She is very early in her pregnancy, maybe two months along, but she says she is definite about wanting to place the baby for adoption.  “We’re just kids ourselves.  I have dreams.  I want to finish my education and become a child psychologist,” she tells me.

Crissy spent the past week talking with her mom about her situation and her desire to place the baby for adoption, and she believes that her mom is supportive.  Her father, however, wants her to have an abortion.  Crissy is adamant that she will not abort the baby.  “It just is not going to happen.  No way.”

I really like Crissy.  She sounds like a genuine, earnest young woman, and we speak together easily.  We talk again the next day, and the next, and she mentions that her boyfriend wants to meet Andrew and me.  I suggest that we drive to Indiana and meet them for lunch one weekend.

I call our adoption counselor with the news.

“Maggie, I spoke to a birthmother today and I really like her; her name is Crissy and she is two months pregnant.”  The words tumble out excitedly.

“Carrie, I spoke with Crissy when she called in on the agency's 800-line.  She sounds like a very sweet girl.  Very sweet.  But . . . she is so early in her pregnancy.  I must tell you, early connections are not best.  Crissy has barely had time to digest the news of her pregnancy, and there is a strong chance she will change her mind and decide to keep the baby.”

It is hard to have someone tell me to slow down, take a step back; that I am not about to be a mommy every time the phone rings.  But Maggie’s words make sense, and I take a deep breath.

Crissy does continue to call, and I send her some photos of Andrew and me.  She leaves me a voicemail, exclaiming, “You guys are so cute!”  When I play the message for Andrew, he smiles and says, “She sounds just like one of my students.”

Crissy and I set a date to meet for lunch the following Sunday.  “My boyfriend wants to come too,” she tells me.  Several days into the week, I call Crissy to confirm that we are still meeting that weekend.  She has given me both her cell phone and her home phone number where she lives with several roommates.  Crissy does not answer her cell, so I leave a message.

Two days later, she still has not called back, and I am a little nervous because we are supposed to meet up this weekend.  By the afternoon of the next day, nothing but silence, and I feel a cold pit of dread in my stomach.  Does this mean she does not want to meet after all?  I worry over what to do.  Assume it fell apart and let it go?  Drive to Indiana anyway?  Only Crissy knows the answer, and she isn’t talking.

March 22, 2003:  It is now the day before we are supposed to meet her in Indiana.

Reality clicks in, and I know that Crissy very clearly does not want to continue pursuing adoption with us.  For whatever reason, she has changed her mind and is definitely avoiding telling me (sort of how it feels if you go on a date and then you try to call the person without any luck until you finally get the message that he isn’t interested but did not have the ability to come straight out and say so).   I know that Crissy doesn’t owe me anything – not even an explanation – but I still wish we could have talked once more, even if all I got to do was wish her luck and tell her I’m pulling for her and her baby.

It is such a disappointment; I cry.  So frustrating, so hard to ride the emotional roller coaster.  For days, I wonder about what happened.  Did she decide to keep the baby?  Did her dad coerce her to abort?  Did she decide she was not ready to make an adoption plan?  Did she miscarry?  We will never know, and it is so hard not to internalize the situation as personal rejection, but in our hearts, we know it has nothing to do with us.  All we can do is simply leave her be and let her go in peace.  I do not call her again.

Maggie agreeds that -- as hard as it is-- when a birthmother pulls away, the adoptive parents have to respect her choice and immediately stop calling.  We turn toward the future and wait to see what may come up next for us.

And so Andrew and I wait.  Wait for the phone to ring.  Wait for a child to need us.  Wait for someone to call.  Wait for someone not to call.  Wait, wait, wait.  To this day, I think now and again of Crissy, and I hope that life has been good to her.  That she has found joy in her relationships and satisfaction in her work, acceptance in her choices, opportunities in her career, that she lives a life of self respect and strength.

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