This guest post is by Shannon Richman, a hopeful adoptive mother.
Where do you go after a failed adoption? That was the question I’ve been asking myself after the woman who chose us to adopt her newborn baby suddenly changed her mind at the hospital.
We knew that a failed adoption was a possibility when we initially went into the situation. We knew things could go wrong. But when they did, we never imagined how devastating it would be.
Our story began a few months ago after we learned that an expectant mother had selected our profile and was interested in meeting us.
Frances (I’ve changed her name for privacy reasons) was having a boy and due March 21.
Through our social worker we set up a time to meet her, along with her mother and twin sister. Although Frances was shy, the conversation flowed easily. There wasn’t much conversation about the baby.
We went into the meeting with open minds, hoping to get to know these people who were about to change our lives. Things went so well that we decided to meet again the following week.
In the meantime, we also got to know the baby’s father and his mother. Although he was comfortable with us raising his son, she was concerned that she wouldn’t be involved in the baby’s life,
After meeting with them, we learned that Frances and the baby’s father wanted to go ahead with the adoption. We were over the moon with excitement!
We loved the idea of bringing home a newborn baby boy within a month, as well as the possibility of having such a wonderful extended family.
Over the next few weeks we met with Frances and her family again. The more time we spent with her, the more she came out of her shell.
She is a beautiful young lady, and we were so happy that she would be a part of our son’s life as well as our lives. We felt truly blessed.
One day after we had dinner with Frances and her family I got a text from her mother that Frances was in labor. The following day we got word from her mother about the baby’s birth and pictures of him before he was even cleaned up.
He was an amazing little thing, so perfect in every way. I was so anxious about meeting our little boy I could barely sleep .
When we met him for the first time the following day our eyes were filled with tears of excitement and joy.
I picked that little boy up and held him in my arms for the first time. I was in love! It was the absolute best feeling I have ever had.
While I was holding him, Frances’ grandmother came into the room. She ran right over to me and started crying and thanking me for what I was doing for them. I started crying and said “Thank you for what you are doing for us”.
It was a wonderful feeling to know that this family was also grateful for us.
She started calling me “Mom”. That was the name I had been waiting my whole life to be called, and there it was: “Mom”.
We talked about our future together as a blended family coming together to raise our little boy. Never in a million years would we have believed what was to come.
That night Frances’ mother asked us all kinds of questions about our pediatrician and our vaccinations and told us to come back to the hospital the next day to bring our little boy home.
But when we arrived things didn’t feel right. For a long time, we waited in the lobby. Every time the elevator doors opened, we would jump up, anticipating the arrival of our little boy.
Finally, after an hour of waiting, we phoned our social worker to find out what was happening.
After another hour of waiting, our social worker arrived and told us what we had dreaded most: Frances had changed her mind and decided not to go ahead with the adoption.
I broke down in the lobby. Tears that I didn’t even know I had would not stop. Frances and her mother asked us to come up to the room so that they could tell us how sorry they were.
My husband, Ike, the gentleman that he is, went over and hugged them both and said good luck.
I stood there dumbfounded, tears streaming down my face.
Her mother told us how sorry they were. “It was nothing you did,” she said, “you are wonderful people. We just couldn’t go through with it.”
From there, we walked to the car with an empty car seat. My life has been forever changed. How do you recover from this?
I couldn’t help but think that I just wasn’t meant to be a mother. But then why did it feel so right for a brief moment that I was blessed with that feeling of being a mom?
How do you move on from people that you developed such a bond with? How do you walk away from a little boy and family you fell in love with?
I never thought I could fall in love with someone so quickly and then, in the next instant, be without them.
We were so very grateful to all of our friends and family who reached out to support us during this time. Ike, put on a brave face and marched forward, but I just didn’t know what forward looked like.
I felt broken, lost, abandoned, numb, and yet in pain.
I had no words to speak with anyone. Even though I knew that this feeling of isolation did not help me, I had no energy to cope with the reality of what happened.
I have seen so many posts on various adoption pages and websites of prospective adoptive parents talking about their failed adoptions. In fact, I know of couples who have been victims of failed adoptions. But that doesn’t make it any less painful. The heartache is real.
The first thing we did after returning home was absolutely nothing. We allowed ourselves the time to grieve our tremendous loss. We stayed in the house and played cards, and we just allowed ourselves to be.
In the days that followed, we knew we needed a break so we booked a last-minute trip to the Bahamas, packed our bags and left. We weren’t running away from our grief. We were embracing it together.
I have heard so many times that these situations can break couples, or make them stronger. We wanted the latter.
We also went to visit a grief counselor. Ike and I had been struggling to understand how the other person was grieving and how to provide support, without feeling resentment. The grief counselor helped us make these connections.
When the disruption happened, I said that I would never pursue another adoption situation again.
I didn’t want to put my fate into someone else’s hands. But that was just the anger, the disappointment and the hurt talking.
After settling in with our grief, we realized that the important thing was to keep moving forward to create the family we so desire. We have become much more active in communicating our plan to become adoptive parents.
We have tackled social media head on, creating Facebook pages and a website. We have joined support groups and speak with as many people as we can to get guidance and perspective.
We have come to terms with the fact that we did nothing wrong, and there was nothing that we could have done differently to change the outcome.
Despite the despair and heartache of our failed adoption, it hasn’t changed who we are.
We will continue to love openly with our hearts on our sleeves. We will always love our baby boy, who we called Jonah, who was our son for a brief moment in time.
But we also know that we still have room in our hearts for another placement.
The best advice I can offer prospective parents is never give up on your dream. I want to be a Mom. And despite this setback, I remain hopeful that one day I will fulfil that dream through the miracle of adoption.
Shannon and Ike Richman started their adoption journey in April 2015. The couple, married in June 2015, seek to adopt a new born domestically. View their website for additional information.
Help us remove the stigma surrounding open adoption. Like us on Facebook.