Failed Adoption Match: How To Pick Yourself Up And Go On

This guest post is by Jennifer, a hopeful adoptive parent.

surviving-a-failed-adoption“Everything about adoption is hard, except loving the child…” – Jody Dyer, The Eye of Adoption

Good grief, Jody is right.

We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we signed with an adoption agency 2 ½ years ago.

Adoption can be hard. It’s a test of your determination, your perseverance, and how much one’s heart can take.

This past summer was probably the most joyous and most heartbreaking time of our lives. We were matched with twins!

We spent two months in the NICU with our twins; we named them, watched them make amazing progress, bonded with both the babies and their birth mom and brought them home.

And then they were gone.

Our adoption failed.

The father, who didn’t sign the surrender papers, wanted to parent. A judge agreed that he should be allowed to do so and we handed the twins over right there in the court room.

Well, I couldn’t, my husband had to do that.

We were devastated. The ride home was silent with tears streaming down our faces. We loved those babies with everything that we had, our hearts were broken.

Yes, there were red flags.

Yes, this is the short story about what happened.

But none of that matters, the fact is some adoptions fail.

How do you pick yourself up and go on?

How do you continue to believe that your child is out there waiting for you?

I am not going to lie, you are changed forever after something like this happens. You basically have two choices: let the tragedy define you or move forward. We chose to move forward.

Here’s how we got through those tough days.


You have lost a child. Some people ask if you can love an adopted child as much as one born to you. The answer is yes.

So give yourself some time to grieve and feel what you are feeling – anger, betrayal, loss. It’s normal.

After court, we came home, packed up the nursery and got out of town for the weekend. I ignored my phone for a while; I just didn’t want to talk to anyone.

I took a week off from work, ate ice cream and cried on the couch. Everyone deals with loss and disappointment differently, but it’s important that you deal with it and not let it eat you up inside.

You are not alone in what you’re feeling. Writing my blog really helped me process my emotions. You don’t have to go public, but writing about it might help work out your thoughts.

Don’t be afraid to seek out a counselor to talk with you. Reach out to friends, family and the adoption community and let them know what you are going through.

We received so many well wishes and words of encouragement, even from people that we didn’t even know.

Three months later, I am much better. I still think about the babies almost every day. I still fight tears when something reminds me of them, but I am better. It does get easier.

Stay busy  

For weeks after, my mind would wander right back to what happen. It was an endless circle. I needed something to keep myself busy.

We booked a trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary next year. This has given me something to plan and more importantly something to look forward to.

Don’t worry; we took the travel insurance just in case something comes up. My advice is to stay busy – take a class, plan a party, take up knitting. Do whatever makes you happy and keeps your mind occupied.


We thought a lot about why this happened to us, how we could have handled the situation differently and what we learned from the experience.

At first, I thought I just can’t do this anymore. Maybe we weren’t meant to have kids, but we knew that wasn’t true in our hearts. We did make some changes though.

We decided to pursue an independent adoption instead of one with an agency. So, we left our agency. We have also reconsidered adoption at birth scenario.

We are now open to a young child instead of waiting for a newborn.  If you are like us, we spent a good amount of our adoption savings on an adoption that didn’t work out.

Talk to a financial advisor about how you can get back on track and afford another adoption.  You can claim the adoption tax credit for an incomplete adoption.

You might not want to change anything, but I think it’s a good idea take a little time to make sure that you are on the best path for you.

Have hope 

We haven’t given up. I know the child that is meant to be a part of our family will find us. I get wrapped up in thoughts that we will never be parents or start that negative loop worrying the same thing will happen again.

We have both been more guarded lately when it comes to adoption.  Recently, we attended an adoption conference and were telling our story to the presenter.

He gave us some good advice; “the next case won’t be this case.” What he said really resonated with us, we have to let go of what happened.

I hope we will be able to meet expectant parents again with an open mind and open heart.

Here is lovely quote by Nicole Reed that rings true for us, “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the most wonderful things that will ever happen to us.”

The smallest glimmer of hope will get you through those seemingly impossible days.

failed-adoption-matchJennifer, her husband, Marlon, and their two cats live in New York City and are waiting to start their family through adoption. Jenn’s blog, Two Cats and Cradle, follows their journey through the adoption process.

Do you have an open adoption story?
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7 thoughts on “Failed Adoption Match: How To Pick Yourself Up And Go On”

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. We are a few weeks away from the birth of what we hope will be our daughter. We are optimistic but realistic. If the adoption should fail, I can turn to your advice to try and help me through. I saw that you mentioned you can still get the tax credit if it were to fail but we were told differently by our accountant. Do you know where we can find more info on that to show him if this should happen (we spent our life savings this year on this so it would be nice to get the credit even if we don’t finalize). Thank you again for writing this!

    1. You can file for the tax credit for an incomplete adoption, but any refund that you receive will be aggregated from the amount the next time you file for a successful adoption. So if you claim the entire credit and adopt again, you’ll get your money back, but won’t get a big refund when you do finalization an adoption. I have been talking to Amanda at US Adopt about the credit laws and she gave me a number to someone at the IRS that I can call. I am planning to do that soon. Email me through my blog and I’ll let you know what I find out. I hope you don’t have to deal with that. All the best to you!

  2. Jenn,
    I cannot imagine your pain. Your are brave to write this! I know it will be a blessing to others. I pray that 2014 to be the birth year of your baby/babies. God bless you as you wait. May you be comforted! Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you so much for that post. We went through lots of grief after a failed placement last summer, so we can imagine how hard it must be to let go and to regain hope in your case.
    All the best to you and may 2014 be the year for you and us to become parents through the gift of adoption.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your personal thoughts and journey. My husband and I are going on a year of waiting, with a failed match (during pregnancy). I find strength in reading about others who are also pressing on in the process with courage and hope for what will be. My family members are starting to ask “when do you think you might give up?” I hate being asked that question, but my guess is they just want to protect us. It gets old though! Blessings to you and your husband…may your forever child find you very soon.

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