This guest post is by Brandon and Scott, hopeful adoptive parents.
The stage was set. We had recently purchased a new home at the top of a hill, tucked away in a cozy cul de sac.
After a contact with an expectant mother who was considering adoption fell through (actually, it felt like it evaporated) we licked our wounds, and put ourselves out there again.
Seemingly overnight, we were contacted again. Could she be the one?
Facetime turned into long emails. Long emails turned into long dinners (we even closed down a few restaurants), and before we knew it we were accompanying her to doctor’s appointments, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, and posting ultrasound pictures on our refrigerator.
Winter came, and with that, we were choosing his name, starting our baby registries, and had even picked out the baby announcement card.
And just like that, the delicate thread that was holding this story together began to unravel.
No blog, self-help book, or even the greatest support system in the world could prepare us for the indescribable pain we experienced over those next weeks.
We needed each other, and our support system more than ever.
Here were are, four months later — changed, but not hardened.
Shaped, but not defined by this experience, we thought we would share with this community some of the lessons we learned through the last few months.
We hope you can find some healing and helpful tips for your adoption journey, should you find yourself in a similar situation.
Here are 4 things we learned through our failed adoption match.
1. Being Open to the Open Adoption Experience Means Being Open to Potential Heartbreak
It’s important to remind ourselves that this experience wasn’t completely marked by pain and disappointment.
No one can take away the sensation of hearing a heartbeat for the first time or that feeling you get when the right name finally “sticks.”
We put ourselves out there, and were fully invested in building this relationship with the mother of the baby we thought was our son.
We are a stronger couple as a result of this, with an even stronger resolve to find our forever family through open adoption.
2. Grieve Your Loss And—When You’re Ready—Move Forward
Open adoption is not for the faint of heart.
The “highs” of the match (our first chat, meeting for dinner that first time, our first ultrasound) will remain some of the most joyous moments of our lives.
As such, the “lows” took us to painful depths. When our match ended, we had to do the difficult grief work of incorporating this loss into our adoption story.
There was no romantic goodbye. Through a series of text messages, our story moved into a painful, unexpected direction.
And part of the painful realization that this was not our baby was that we would have to put ourselves out there again.
The only comparable experience is dating again after your heart has been broken.
Plain and simple: it sucks. But slowly we have put ourselves back out there.
The anger and resentment have begun to fade and the desire to find our forever family is stronger now than ever.
3. Let Your Support System In—But Be Prepared for the Platitudes
We have a strong, supportive family and a large diverse network of friends and church family that were there to share in the joy and the pain of these last few months.
Through this experience, we learned that they are on this journey with us, too.
They also had dreams and expectations for this baby. And they, too, needed to grieve this loss.
When we shared with our church family the news of our loss, a dear friend compared it to a miscarriage.
Quite frankly, those were quite possibly some of the most liberating words anyone shared. It provided context to our loss and further legitimized the grief of losing him.
Conversely, not all words have been as healing.
As well-intentioned as they may be, some friendly offerings were received as detached platitudes.
“This just wasn’t the baby for you.”
“When you’re holding your baby, you will know that all of this was worth it because it brought you to your baby.”
Words should always match where our loved ones are in their grief. Avoid empty platitudes at all costs.
Looking back on these last few months, we can’t remember too many healing words that we experienced other than “we love you,” and “we’re so sorry that you’re having to go through this.”
There is nothing that can change the experience. But the loving presence of those who have loved us through this experience remains the most healing part.
4. Please Take That Vacation!
For any prospective parent out there, you know: the waiting is hard!
We plan our lives around being ready for the call, email, or text message that will bring us to our child.
One thing we are learning is to not put our lives on hold while we wait.
After our match failed, we took that vacation to San Diego. This fall, we will take our trip to Hawaii. Yes, there may be other trips in our future as well.
It has been over three years since we sat very hopeful and innocent in the hotel conference room where we attended our very first adoption information session.
These past three years of our adoption journey have been some of the most exciting, joyous, stressful, and heartbreaking years of our lives.
What remains constant for us in this journey is our love for each other, the amazing love of our support system, and the resolve to create our family through open adoption.
Brandon and Scott hope to use the painful experience of their failed match as an opportunity to support parents who might be facing a similar experience. Since this article was published, their story has had a happy ending: today, they are the proud parents of a daughter, Adelaide.
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