Adoption Retrospective Ten Years Later: The Dream 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.

June 2003

It is June 1st.  A quiet night.  I am in the kitchen when the baby cell phone rings.

"Caller ID Blocked".

I hesitate for a second and then answer it.  A young, somewhat nervous-sounding woman introduces herself as Kirstyn and immediately starts talking in an enthusiastic rush.

"I printed your profile off adoption.com, and I've been carrying it around for three weeks, trying to get up the nerve to call, and I've showed your profile to all my friends and family."

Wow, Kirstyn sounds so blissfully normal after the fiascos with the previous three birthmothers who contacted us.

I take a deep breath to keep calm.  Kirstyn launches into her story, making it easy for me, because all I have to do is listen.

"I met this guy named Ron at a convention for work.  I thought he was so cute and so nice and we totally hit it off.  He lives in California and I live in New Mexico.  After the convention he emailed me, and we kept in touch and started visiting each other on weekends.  My family met him and they loved him.  We could talk about anything, and I was completely in love."

Kirstyn continues, "When I found out I was pregnant, I panicked at first.  But, then, I thought that it would be okay.  I figured Ron and I would get married and we'd have the baby."

"When I called him to tell him about the pregnancy, he was completely silent.  I was like, waiting and waiting, and he didn't say anything.  'I don't know how to tell you this,' he said, and I was like, just tell me, whatever it is, it can't be that bad."

I think Kirstyn is going to tell me that Ron is gay.  I wait, and she keeps talking.

"So he kept saying nothing, and finally he said, 'Kirstyn, I'm married.  I have two kids.'"

"And, Carrie, I was so shocked; I couldn't believe it.  I mean, all this time and I had no idea, and he is such a jerk but I still love him, and he kept saying he was going to leave his wife but then he wouldn't and I know he never will, and we both agreed that it is best to place this baby for adoption because she deserves a father."

As the night unfolds, Kirstyn and I talk for hours, sharing our thoughts about her situation and ours.  We connect extraordinarily well.  I put Andrew on the phone with her, and he too gets such a good feeling from talking to her.

She tells me about her family, her background (Mormon), her love of Taco Bell and Wal-Mart and Dillards.  We swap stories about growing up, as if we could tell each other anything.

Andrew and I are so excited we can barely sit still, each of us clutching a phone, chatting with Kirstyn together as if we have known her our whole lives.  She actually says the same thing to me. "Carrie, I feel as if you are an old friend who I lost touch with and we picked
it right back up where we left off."

We exchange email addresses and hang up.

"Unbelievable!"  Andrew exclaims.  We are in a daze, flush with the success of the call and the suddenness of hope.  Have we finally found our birthmother??  We stay up for another hour, packing for the wedding that we will be flying to the next day in Florida.

Even after we get into bed, we are wired, awake, full of adrenaline and excitement.  I spend hours replaying the phone conversation, imagining the baby, scared that I will never hear from Kirstyn again.

The next day at work, I log onto my computer and an email pops up from Kirstyn.  It is still true.  She is real.  Kirstyn's email simply says that she was excited after talking to us and will speak to us again soon.

Andrew and I fly to Florida later that day to attend the wedding of our friends Raj and Aditi.  We decide not to tell anyone about our potential connection with Kirstyn because we do not want to jinx it.

While driving from the airport to our hotel, the baby phone rings, and it is Kirstyn.  We talk a mile a minute throughout the drive, and Kirstyn promises to email us a photo of her and Ron.  When I finally hang up, Andrew and I cannot stop grinning. It has been a long time since we felt like this.

It is finally happening for us; we are connecting with a birthmother, and we like her so much.  Kirstyn refers to her baby as BBG, short for "Baby Girl.”  After months of grieving for Matthew, I feel my heart opening towards a tiny daughter that may soon be mine.

*          *          *          *

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject: Re: emails...

carrie...
good morning to you too...

dinner with the family went well...we had
chicken...hamburgers...and hot dogs...and of course i
stopped and picked up taco bell to take along with
me...but i was too sick to really eat anything...

as for the vote...me going there was the winner...i
need to work things out with my work to make sure
everything is covered...and then should be able to
find the best dates to fly out...

yes...i do like animals...i have a cat named
lucifer...(from the cinderella movie)...but he lives up
to his name...he truly is the cat from hell...my dad's
farm is mainly...hay...corn...cows...sheep...horses...

as for how i am feeling today...i am making it...my
belly hurts...but i am plugging along...i don't know if
it is the pregnancy...or if i have the flu
bug...(pouts)...i think i am just a whiner...

welp...i need to run my reports...and get my budgets
squared away before i take leave...take care...and
have a wonderful day...and i will talk to you later...

just me...tyn and bbg (baby girl)...

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject: Re: flight options

carrie...

i am excited too...i am working through my work
options now...to see when i can take off...thursday
night most likely will not be an option for me...i
would leave after work thursday for salt lake
city...get there about 1:00 in the morning...and then
could fly out on friday morning...and...i look forward
to meeting everyone...

tyn...

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject: Re: flight options

carrie...

i will have to fly out of salt lake city...my car has
to be fixed before june 30 or else i am out of luck on
that...it was the agreement at the time of purchase...

do you have a number that my doctors office can fax
the proof of pregnancy to...i will put a call into the
office first thing tomorrow...they are closed on
sundays and mondays...

i have frequent flyer miles with american
airlines...so i could use them...but i do not have
enough on southwest to really amount to anything...i
will fly with either airline...i am kinda looking
online at flight times right now...

just me...kirstyn...

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject:    Re: flight options

carrie...

ron is emailing me and asking me about the jewish
faith...can you tell me a little more about
it...specifically...what is your belief about death
and your view of other religions...

i will need to get a flight out of salt lake city or
provo...my mom cannot go with me...(frowns)...the car
place will not let her have a loaner car...so she
would be on foot...i will have my sister drop me off
at the airport on her way to work...and then i will
not even have the dealership give me a loaner...

thanks for the fax number...i will get that taken care
of asap...

me...tyn...

To:    carrieandrewbaby@yahoo.com
Subject:    ADOPTION

Andrew and Carrie,

I am writing this email on Saturday afternoon.  I tried calling you a few times yesterday but there was no answer.  So email will have to do for now.  Tyn and I have been looking at your profile for the past few weeks and felt impressed to get into contact with you and see where you were in the adoption process. 

Tyn says that you are extremely interested and looking forward to adopting a child and are not matched with a birthmother at this time.  I know that Tyn has told you some about me, which I am sure makes you have a shaded view of who I am.  I care very much about Tyn and feel horribly for what I have put her through as well as my own family. 

I guess starting off I will share a little bit about myself.  My name is Ron and I am 35 years old.  I grew up in New York and moved to California about eight years ago to pursue a career in law enforcement.  I am married and have two children who are 9 and 6.  Tyn has really changed my life for the better and unfortunately she has been hurt in the process.  She has made me a better person and helped me get back on track with my family. 

We are searching for adoptive parents for our baby that will give her a happy and healthy life and adoptive parents that will teach her to be independent.  I have talked to Tyn very briefly about your conversations but through their briefness I can see that she has developed a quick friendship with the two of you.  I am married, therefore phone conversations at any time of day are hard for me to manage. 

My wife knows about the pregnancy and is dealing with it as well as can be expected but I tend to keep her away from it as much as possible as it upsets her, which is expected and understandable.  I do have a couple questions for you and please know that you can ask me anything.

Are you willing to be involved in the birth?
Are you willing to allow Tyn to call during the first week or two after delivery?
How open are you wanting in an adoption plan?
Do you believe in God?
What religion do you belong to?
Do you attend services on a regular basis?
Are you planning on adopting other children?
Would you describe yourselves as an active family?

I know more questions will come up as we get to know one another more.  I shall sign off for now and we will keep in touch.

Sincerely, Ron

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject:    Re: flight options

carrie...

thanks so much for sharing and answering ...and thanks for sending
that to ron also...i never had friends of the Jewish
faith while growing up...i don't know if the Jewish
faith was just not as prominent around here as other
religions were...i do not consider myself Mormon...i
was raised Mormon but have not attended the church for
nearly ten years now...i go many times with my boss
and her family to the church of the Nazarene...or i go
to a non denominational church nearby...ron is not
Mormon...he attends a Pentecostal church...ron has his
masters degree in church ministries...i find your
values very much like the values i believe in...that
makes me feel good...

tyn...

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject:    Re: this weekend

carrie...

yes...i am feeling so much better...i had some yogurt
this morning on my way to work...it came up after i
got here...but i think it was down long enough for
some of it to have stayed in my system...

i am excited about this weekend also...i can hardly
wait...i feel like a little kid at christmas time...

i will call my sister-in-law...she gets into work at
10:00...and see if she can get you a deal on a
room...and she will book it under my name...(it will
have to be registered in her/my last name for the
employee rate)...if that doesnt work...i would suggest
the courtyard marriott...and the number there is (505)
325-5111...if you stay there...andrew should be able
to use his teacher rate there...if he shows proof
of being employed by his school district...

i have to go to a meeting...so i will talk to you
later gator...

tyn...

June 18, 2003.  Tomorrow Andrew and I are flying to New Mexico to meet Kirstyn!  We already have our plane tickets, and we have set up an
appointment in Albuquerque with an adoption attorney, Harold (Hal) Atencio.

We called our parents to tell them that we have matched with a birth mother who is eight months pregnant with a baby girl.  We will be meeting her this weekend.  Our families are bursting with excitement, with joy.  I am giddy.  I tell my boss what is happening and explain that, if all proceeds, I will most likely take maternity leave during the summer.  He puts in a call to HR for me, so that we can get it set up.

Before going to grab some lunch, I check my email.  I love emailing back and forth with Kirstyn.

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject:    Fwd: Wednesday

sighs...look what i just got from ron...let me tell
you...if he were here...i would smack him...i
swear...men drive me totally and completely nuts...

Tyn,

I hope you are having a good day.  I am sure that you are ready for the weekend.  I was talking to Jack the other night at Brionney's
graduation and the conversation of adoption came up.  He and Wayne are looking into adoption.  I feel they would be great parents.  You have met both
of them and there would be no concern of the baby's financial security and you have seen Brionney with Jack and you know that she just adores him.  Also, we
would both have the opportunity to see the baby whenever we wanted.  I think this is an avenue that we should explore.  Let me know of your thoughts.  You
can reach me at the office, I will be here until 3:30 my time.

Just for your information; your work email is not working, it is bumping everything back to me.  Do you think they will ever get your server running right?

Warm thoughts, Ron

I call Kirstyn, trying not to panic.  She tells me that she does not think it is a good idea for Andrew and me to come out there.  She wants to try to work things out with Ron.  We hang up the phone and I am struggling for composure.

This cannot be happening.  Again.

I break into sobs as I call Andrew at work and tell him.

Our adoption counselor Maggie tells me that she never thought Kirstyn was real.

"Carrie, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Kirstyn is not the right profile for a birthmother.  Look at the facts.  She is a college-educated, financially stable woman with a good job.  She has a supportive family; she is old enough to raise a child . . she says the reason she wants to place the baby for adoption is because it needs a father.

But that alone is not enough of a reason for a woman like Kirstyn to place a child for adoption.  She has backed out of coming to visit you once.  Now, the day before you are supposed to visit her, she backs out.  She doesn't want to meet, because she isn't real.  She has never called the agency, never sent a proof of pregnancy."

I want so desperately to believe Kirstyn is real. I look for her on the Internet on Yahoo's PeopleSearch® and find no record of her.  She had given me the name of her doctor and the hospital where she will deliver, so I look up the hospital and call to see if a doctor by that name admits patients there.  There is no doctor by that name.

Kirstyn had told me that she regularly attends a birthmother support group run by the Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.   I call
the Lutheran Church in Albuquerque.  They have no birthmother support groups anywhere in Albuquerque.

Yesterday I had asked Kirstyn for her phone number at home so we could call her when we arrived in Albuquerque.  She gave me her roommate's
name, Wendy Jones, and phone number.

Trembling, I actually dial the number.  I get a disconnected message.  Feeling cold and sick, I type the number into Google, because Google will pull up addresses associated with phone lines.  The number that Kirstyn gave me was the number for a gas station in Farmington.

It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.

My God, she must be a fraud.

She has disappeared into thin air.  I think of all the hours I spent on the phone with her.  We had picked a name for her baby together.  We picked the name Katie.

Our grief was terrible.  Hideous.

Several months later, still hoping that somehow there had been a mistake, I tried to send an email to Kirstyn and another one to Ron at the Yahoo addresses we had been using for all our earlier communication.  They came back undeliverable, saying that there was no one with that name.

To:    Carrie Goldman
Subject:    Delivery failure

Message from yahoo.com.
Unable to deliver message to the following address(es).

<forensic_ron@yahoo.com>:
This user doesn't have a yahoo.com account (forensic_ron@yahoo.com) [-5]

<kirstynln_88@yahoo.com>:
This user doesn't have a yahoo.com account (kirstynln_88@yahoo.com) [0]

I sent Maggie copies of all the emails Kirstyn sent me.

Maggie called.  "She's good, Carrie.  Really good.  I can see how you would believe her.  But she isn't real."

Who does this?  Who seeks out vulnerable people and plays mind games like this?  Why would she do this?  Who is she in real life?  Does she want attention?  How many other desperate adoptive parents has she drawn into her world?

Goodbye, Kirstyn, or whoever you are.
Please stay away from us.

Here are the previous entries in the retrospective:

Jan 2003; Feb 2003; March 2003; April 2003: May 2003

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

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