Diary of a Failed Adoption - Part IV

I barely slept the night before the baby we were trying to adopt was scheduled for surgery. This poor little girl, only two days old, was going to get her Duodenal Atresia fixed, meaning doctors were going to attach the part of the stomach that was separated from her intestines. Without the surgery, she would die, but it was still very difficult to imagine such a fragile, tiny little thing undergoing major surgery.

The surgery would also let us know whether the baby had any other underlying medical conditions. Furthermore, the recovery time for such a surgery would take several weeks. The baby would have to stay at the NICU the whole time, until she could process food by herself. These were all things we knew before agreeing to the adoption, but now, face-to-face with reality, I was a nervous wreck.

The morning of the surgery, we headed out to the hospital right after breakfast. I wanted to make sure I’d have some time to visit and hold the baby, as the NICU nurses had told me we would be unable to hold her for a significant amount of time after the surgery. When I arrived at the NICU, the nurse at the front desk started and blinked at seeing me at the door. I thought this was rather strange, but proceeded with the check-in process anyway. As I was headed towards the baby’s crib, the nurse said that there was a hospital social worker that was coming to talk to me in a few minutes. I was a little confused by this, but as the baby had been born on a Saturday, I knew there had been no social workers available during the weekend, so I thought maybe this was just a routine meet-and-greet.

The baby did not look good. When I approached her crib, I noticed she had bandages covering her eyes and she had been placed under what looked like a big heat lamp. Was she jaundiced? I wondered. What was going on? I looked around for a nurse, but there seemed to be none around, so I just stood by the baby’s crib and stroked her little arm for a while. Her breathing was very shallow. Something just seemed wrong, and I wondered whether she would still undergo the surgery that day. I decided to head back to the front desk and find someone to answer my questions.

When I arrived, the hospital social worker was just walking through the door. She greeted me and asked if there was anyone from my agency present at the moment. I explained that there was a social worker with the birth mother right at that moment, but that we hadn’t yet gone down to the maternity ward to visit. What she said next took the breath right out of my chest.

Apparently, sometime during the past night, “A” had called the social worker and informed her that she was thinking about parenting the child herself. Then she changed her mind again and said she would be placing after all. Then she again said she thought she wanted to parent. By the time we arrived at the hospital, she was still undecided, but had said that we could visit the baby if we wanted. Because she might decide to parent, however, the hospital could not give us any medical information on the child. They would not tell us what was wrong with her and what the reason for the heat-lamp thing was. They wouldn’t even tell us if she was for sure going into surgery that day or not.

In a daze, I walked out of the NICU and called Bill, who was walking along the hospital hallway with Dylan. Hearing Bill’s voice took the last bit of strength I had left in me, and I started crying so hard I couldn’t formulate any words. Bill hurried down the hall to where I stood and held me tightly until I could calm down enough to utter the words every adoptive parent dreads: She might be changing her mind…

(Continues next week…)


Filed under: Adoption, Failed adoption


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  • Continuo esperando el final de la odissea para hacer mis comentarios.

  • Lol! Y falta bastante todavia....

  • Ok, el final me mato. Y si dices q falta bastante como que no se si puedo tolerarlo sin Kleenex. Bill y tu son unas personas super especiales. Thanks for sharing the heart wrenching experience.

  • In reply to Ana Belaval:

    Gracias, Ana!

  • Let me get this straight. You are telling the poignant story of a child in need of medical intervention at birth. You are describing the blessed event of a mother resisting all societal pressure against her and actually deciding to keep her baby, only you frame it in terms of yourself. Then, in the comments section, you are joking about the "telenovela" that you are serving up? Have you no shame? How far removed from reality are you? At long last, have you absolutely no shame?

  • In reply to IbnZayd:

    I am telling it in terms of myself because as the adoptive parent, this is MY story and MY experience. I cannot tell the story on the side of the birthmother because I don't know what was going through her head/heart at that moment, but if you would have only given me a chance to finish my story before leaping to judgement, you would have found out that we decided we did NOT want to pressure "A" or make her have to struggle with her conscience to make a decision and we REMOVED OURSELVES from the match. Adoption involves a lot of people's feelings, and while we fully support the rights of the birthmothers to choose to parent, that doesn't negate the fact that there is a lot of heartbreak involved for the adoptive parents when the match doesn't work out.

  • In reply to Khadine Kubal:

    Khadine, you should not feel as if you have to defend yourself. At no point in your story have I felt as if you were being insensitive to the birth mother. In fact, as I recall, you talked about the emotions you all felt when "A" held her baby for the first time. The bond of parenthood, especially in the context of adoption, goes hand in hand with a lot of complex emotions. All you can describe are your own feelings as you prepared to bring a child into your home as a daughter, then had to deal with the void of letting her go.

    I am so sorry for your heartbreak. We raised a little girl for 13 months - she was placed with us for adoption because her mother had major issues with alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness and a violent relationship. Miraculously, she overcame her problems to the extent that she was deemed able to take care of her child. I went through the anguish of the impending loss of this beautiful girl, Nina, whom I had raised as my daughter, while helping her birth mother form a relationship with Nina and learn how to parent her. When Nina went back to her mom, I thought I would die of sorrow and was immersed in my loss, even though I had formed a friendship with her mother by then and was happy about what she had overcome to get back her daughter. To this day, 3 years later, every time I see Nina (we are in regular touch with her and her mother), the "mother bond" in me kicks in and I feel a tinge of sadness when it's time to say goodbye. I wouldn't dream of negating Nina's mom in any way - in fact, I am quite fond of her, but it is important to acknowledge your own feelings of loss so you can deal with it responsibly and move on. I think writing about it is a great way to do so.

    So, kudos to you, Khadine, and do finish your story - it helps a lot of adoptive parents who, like you, have faced such a loss.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Thank you so, so much for your kind words. I am very touched that you took the time to write in my defense. You are right that I shouldn't have to defend myself, but I was so taken aback by the comment that, before I knew it, I had crafted and posted a response.

    Thank you also for sharing your story with me. I cannot imagine the pain you must have went through, and I admire you for continuing that relationship with Nina and her birthmother. I love what you said about acknowledging your feelings of loss so you can deal responsibly and move on. I feel exactly the same way.

  • In reply to Khadine Kubal:

    You are welcome. I must add that Nina's birth mother has been extremely generous and set aside her ego in allowing Nina to continue to see and visit us. I had no right to see Nina, it was all in her mother's hands - and she has been most kind. Especially when Nina first moved in with her mom and would tell her that she loved us more, I felt so hurt for her and wondered if she would stop allowing us to see Nina. Yet she persisted in letting the visits happen (and to this day calls me if I am even a day late calling Nina on the phone). She is the one to admire, in my mind. And because of her Nina now has a whole lot of "family" around her who love her so much, with her favorite person being her mommy! (which is not me anymore).

    Can't wait to hear about your happy new beginning after the last chapter of "Failed Adoption" - and my best wishes to you and your family.

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Nina's mother does sound like an amazing person. I am glad she was able to overcome all she did and not only be a mother to Nina, but allow you in her life as well. Thanks again for sharing your story with me!

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