Adoption Retrospective: Babies Everywhere and Nowhere

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.

May 2003

May blossomed with possibilities.  At times it felt as if babies were raining down from the sky and all we had to do was reach out our arms and catch one.   There was Jennifer, a birth mom from Arizona, who called several times.  And then, silence.  There was a baby born to a teen mom right here in Chicago, and the birth mom loved our family profile.  But then the grandmother said she would take care of the baby.

There was Heidi, another birth mom from Arizona, who swooped into our lives with desperation and hope, but her tangled web of lies and dysfunction frightened us, especially since we wanted to do an open adoption, which is built on trust.  I walked around for days with my jaw clenched and my stomach tight, agonizing over whether or not to proceed with Heidi.  I felt enormous relief when we decided to pass, and I know it was the healthiest decision for everyone in our family.

There was the very sweet birthmom with whom I spoke extensively, and everything between us clicked, until I asked her what the most important thing was to her in an adoptive family.  She responded without hesitation, “The most important thing to me is that I find my baby a family that loves and accepts Jesus Christ as our savior.”

“Umm, the thing is, we are Jewish,” I told her after a moment.  I never heard from her again.

A week later, as I was speaking to another birthmom, I told her right away that we are Jewish.  “What’s Jewish?” she called out to her husband.  I LOVED his answer. Through the phone, I could hear him holler back to her, “They are good people.  They don’t believe in Jesus but they believe in God and they work hard.”  They too decided not to place with us, but I still felt positive about them and their views of people who are different.

There was the woman pregnant with twins who called and talked to me every day after work.  She was in her thirties and single and ultimately, she decided to keep the babies.

The truth is that many many many mothers decide to keep their babies, and adoptive parents need to know this and be prepared for it.  It is the right of the birthmother, whether single or married, rich or poor, young or old, to choose to keep her baby.  I recognize and support that right.  I also know the pain of lost hopes and dreams that adoptive parents experience when it occurs, and it is undeniable that this pain is severe.  It is part of the process, and it hurts.

It is possible for adoptive parents to understand and support a birthmother’s decision and simultaneously feel sadness, grief and even a sense of betrayal.  The truth is, we feel what we feel.  I am a firm believer in the healthiness of acknowledging that multiple, conflicting emotions can occur all at once.

As such, I spent May of 2003 in constant conflict.  Every time a possibility arose, I wanted that baby.  Every time a possibility ended, I told myself that it was not meant to be my baby.  And I cried.  Tears of sadness, tears of regret, tears of anxiety and frustration and weariness.  And I ate some chocolate and cuddled with my husband and regrouped.  I waited for the next chance.  I knew from others who had done this before me that I would be a mother.

Portrait of an Adoption is written by Carrie Goldman, the author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.

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