This guest post is by Amanda Jane Avis Krause, an adoptive mother.
“What?! I’m sorry, can you say that again?” I said.
“She’s gone. Her things are cleared out of the hotel room,” the voice on the other end of the line replied. “The staff says she was here yesterday, but there is no sign of her now. I’m so sorry. We can discuss the next steps when you’ve had time to process this.”
I was numb. My husband was driving and I couldn’t see the road due to the tears streaming down my face. In the back seat our 7-year-old daughter was asking questions but I was in such a state of shock I couldn’t hear her.
We were in Orange County, California to meet our baby. We had been staying at my parent’s home while awaiting the baby’s arrival. A few months earlier a birthmother had chosen us. She was a sweet and painfully quiet woman but she was confident in her decision to place. And we felt certain in moving forward with her.
But what we learned as we were at the checkout line of the local Target was that she had given birth five days ago. She hadn’t changed her mind. She left the baby at the hospital and disappeared. No one could reach her.
The birth father, who had agreed to the adoption plan, decided that his stepmother could take on the role of parent and he discharged the baby from the hospital. He didn’t say a word to us until those five days had passed and our attorneys had started to look into the situation.
We all knew he had rights and should always have rights! We also knew that sometimes hearts and minds agree to things, even though emotionally they’re hard to accept.
We realized that the baby we prayed for wasn’t ours. And that we would never see the birthmother or birthfather or their extended family again.
For days afterwards I couldn’t brush my teeth, shower, or even talk. People suggested I take time more to grieve. But my style is more of a proactive one.
After I had a few days under the covers and acknowledged our loss, I made certain our daughter understood what had happened. Meanwhile, my husband and I were more determined than ever to march forward with our adoption plan.
Our Failed Adoption Occurred A Month After My Father’s Death
A month before I had lost my father and I was still dealing with his death. To experience a failed adoption on the heels of his passing was incredibly challenging. But I also felt his presence and my husband’s father-in-law encouraging us to pick ourselves up and move forward.
I’m not good at many things. But one thing I learned as a single mommy of five years was how to be resourceful. I got in touch with our adoption team and joined some Adoption Support Facebook groups. My friends, instead of asking me about our failed match, allowed me to get back into my quest to become an adoptive parent and shared in my excitement.
I’m sure that not waiting for the grief to fully subside helped me and my family to get to the next step. Telling our attorney we were back and could be presented again with potential birthmothers was like a gift to me.
I felt guilty about the match. I knew it was not my fault. And yet my stories of becoming a mommy the first time as a single mom were so magical that I gave my husband this rosy view of adoption that it was easy and full of joy.
I had always thought a failed adoption match was something that happened to others— something you read about and sigh. And yet here we were, experiencing that gut punch together. My husband trusted me in my insistence that I was ready to keep going and didn’t need “time off.”
Our daughter was pure star shine. She asked just a few questions and then said some very mature thing. Children don’t mince words and once I heard hers, I was confident our choice to get right back to it would serve her as well as our family as a whole.
Just 48 hours after I cried my heart out over our loss, I crawled out of bed and got busy. I spoke with adoptive mothers whom I admire and lamented with other hopeful parents who had gone through a failed match.
I told my husband I was ready to drive home, back to the nursery we had put together with gifts from family and friends. I prepared myself for more sadness, more depression.
But I also knew that when I could tap into my resourcefulness, that part of me that is able to connect the dots and create connections with others, and turn the darkness into light. And that’s what I did.
I Knew Our Baby Was Out There
When I got home, there were challenges waiting for me. But I felt as if they were just another step toward our baby, a necessary pain I had to endure. I knew it was ok to cry and feel pangs of doubt.
But at the same time, I knew our baby was out there. I made peace with the struggle, the hurt, even my anger. I refused to feel vilified. I thought about all of my abilities and talents and I chose to be happy again and feel the love I had for this baby.
And then precisely one month later, it happened: My mom’s caretaker, let’s call her Jen, who was like family to us, texted me that a friend of hers was putting together an adoption plan and was confident of her decision to place her baby.
Immediately I felt excited and my heart was racing. But I also knew that this woman– let’s call her Kathy–was most likely scared and unfamiliar with the process of adoption.
After a few hours of Jen messaging back and forth with Kathy, it was clear to us that Kathy definitely wanted to meet and talk. I drove to a motel about 30 minutes from our home and took her our adoption book and some groceries.
When I entered the room, I stayed back and remained quiet. I felt a great need not to speak up until she was absolutely ready to engage me in the conversation about what she wanted. As Jen and Kathy spoke, I listened patiently and thought, wow! She’s amazing. strong, brave and feisty.
When Kathy was ready, she looked at me directly with conviction and began telling me about how she came to her conclusion about adoption. I was even more impressed by her.
I wanted to run and hug her. She expressed that she wanted to move forward, that she read about us on our website and that Jen had described her experience working for us as my mother’s caretaker.
I was floating. We made plans to help her get to the doctor the next day and implement her insurance. We contacted our attorney and got the legal ball rolling. We left that day with the promise that she was in control. That this was 1,000% her decision and that she didn’t have to choose our family.
Our Son’s Birthmother Will Always Be A Superwoman To Me
She reassured me that she wanted us to be the baby’s mommy, daddy, and big sister. My heart was exploding with joy and I could not stop thanking Jen enough for reaching out to me when she realized Kathy was pregnant and wanted to make an adoption plan.
That was nearly four months ago. Ten days ago, our son was born. His birth mother is still and always will be a superwoman to me. I’ve told Kathy many times that she wears an invisible cape, but to us it’s decorated with her favorite colors and sparkles as brightly as her smile.
Our son is sleeping soundly in my arms as I write this account. It has been so different from my first adoption in 2013. Both are wondrous and beautiful. Both have given me the greatest gift. Both introduced me to women who I will hold in my heart forever.
We never know who we will meet along the way. Jen and I are even more connected now because it was she who brought us to our birth mother. Perhaps this is why I knew upon interviewing her for the position, that I was convinced within minutes that she was the right choice for our family. That was she before she became family for us and now our family has grown because of her friendship with Kathy.
Self-matching isn’t easy. Self-matching locally is sometimes even harder. The specialness of our adoption will never be lost on us. I am forever grateful to my guardian angels and higher power for allowing me the certainty to keep moving forward despite the sadness of our failed adoption.
Not stopping for more than a few days and doing what I needed to do was exactly the right decision. Returning home and being fully invested in finding our baby allowed me the space to be ready to meet our birthmother and become our baby’s mommy.
I’m not brave and I’m no warrior. I’m a mom who knows in her soul that having more children is what was right for our family. To deal with grief so deep is to come to terms with who we are and who our support system is.
Dealing with challenges is part of our journey as hopeful adoptive parents. I know I’m a better wife, mother and friend because of what I had to go through to get where I am today.
Adopting A Baby Is Rarely A Straight And Easy Line
I also know that what’s right for me may not be right for others. I invite you, my fellow hopeful adoptive parents and adoptive parents, to learn about my family’s experience and decide for yourself how you would handle something like a failed match.
I pray that you or anyone else never has to go through that ordeal. But, as I’ve learned, adoption is not always a straight and easy line. Adoption is beautiful and magical and full of glory when the pieces come together and everyone involved honor their hearts.
Being ready for that one person to connect you to your future birth mother is key. Knowing that you may have questions and concerns but are ready for that introduction is essential! Being as positive as possible, despite all of your doubts, is also crucial.
See yourself as the family you wish to be. Imagine what that is like. Sense what the day to day joy’s will feel like. Express your true emotions when you find your baby. Doing this simply prepares you further and tells your heart and soul and those around you that YOU ARE READY!
Preparing for a baby through adoption is not only about getting the nursery ready or finding a good pediatrician. It’s also about preparing your emotional and spiritual self. And when you do that you’ll see, just like I did: MAGIC happens!
Amanda Jane Avis Krause is a retired professional dancer who teaches yoga and Pilates online to clients. Her love of movement and fitness keeps her household active—dance parties in the living room are a common occurrence! She loves to write and thanks her mother for teaching her about the joys of written expression.
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