Saturday, September 22, 2012

One Very Long Week

There were moments this week when I thought I might be sitting down to write a very different kind of blog post.  But it turns out that I am writing this post with a pretty heavy heart.

Let me back up.  Last Friday, I happened to check my cell phone when my students went off to lunch.  There were multiple texts from Carla telling me to call her right away.  As two coworkers sat next to me, I called Carla and was told that our adoption counselor had called Carla and told her about a situation that we had to make a decision about.  Each time our profile is going to be seen by a birth family, we are contacted to see if we want to be presented or not.  So that was the decision before us.

The situation seemed pretty wonderful and stressful all at the same time.  The baby had already been born.  He was a week old and was at the nursery inside of our adoption agency. The baby was a healthy baby boy, both of the parents were involved in the process, and for whatever reason, the birth family was requesting same-sex couples without children as potential adoptive families.  So that is how we were brought up.  The only difficult part in saying yes was knowing that if we were chosen, this baby was coming home right away.  After only a few minutes, Carla and I knew our answer.  Carla called our adoption counselor and told her to go ahead and present our profile to the family.

That moment began the longest week of our lives.  We had been well prepared by our adoption agency for this moment.  But no amount of preparation really prepares you for what it feels like.  We knew we weren't supposed to tell too many people, because all of those people would then have to be told that we weren't chosen if that was the case.  We knew we weren't supposed to get excited, because it would only be that much harder to hear if the answer was eventually no.  We knew all these things, but they were impossible for us to do.

And just like we were told not to do, I immediately called my mom and sister to tell them both the good news.  We were going to be presented.  There was a possibility that we were going to be chosen.  As soon as I told them, they were excited.  There was now this excitement building around me.  A few of my co-workers knew, my family knew, and I knew.  The thoughts became consuming.  We knew that they were not giving the birth family the profiles until Monday, but after that we had no idea how long we would be waiting.

Can I just tell you that the "not knowing" is almost unbearable.  Looking back, I don't know how I made it through.  It was hard to sleep, it was hard to eat.  The only time I really was able to not think about the whole thing was when I was teaching the kids.  I started to dread when the kids would leave the room to go to art or music because then I was left alone with my thoughts.  As soon as I started thinking, then things were bad.

As the days went on, I completely understood why we were told to be careful of who we told when we were being presented to a birth family.  Every time I saw someone who knew, I knew that they were hoping for good news.  Every time I talked to someone who knew, I knew that they wanted to hear what we had found out.  It was hard to go the whole week with no information to share.  At the same time, I don't know how I would have made it through the week if these people didn't know what was going on.  I drew so much strength from my family and friends.  I drew so much comfort from my coworkers who truly got me through the week.  My teaching assistant even resorted to tap dancing for me to help me get my mind off of everything.  Talk about true friends! I needed these people to know and though it was hard, I am glad that they were there.

Yesterday was when we found out.  I was sitting in a meeting when I felt my phone buzz.  Carla told me to call her.  I ran outside of the building and called right away.  We weren't chosen.  None of the families who were presented were chosen.  It turns out the birth mother had more to think about then it first seemed.

I was heartbroken.

I didn't think it was going to be that hard to hear the news.  I thought I had kept myself realistic.  I thought I had prepared myself for a no.  But hearing the no was much harder than I thought.  Immediately, the tears started.  Once they started, they were hard to stop.  Here I was, standing outside of my school, in the rain, crying on the phone.  A good friend came out to check on me.  I asked her to go to my classroom and tell my teaching assistant to just keep teaching.  I just needed some time.  I told Carla I would call her back.  One of the challenges about working in an elementary school is that there are few private places to go.  I ended up in our conference room where it quickly became clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to go back into my classroom and teach.  I was so unprepared for the emotions that I felt.

Luckily, I work at this really amazing place with these really amazing people.  I was able to lean on those around me and figure out how I could just go home.  The people who helped me figure it out will never know how thankful I am for them in my life.  To know that I could just go home and be sad and not worry about what would happen in my classroom was such an amazing feeling.  And so, that is what I did.  I left work and just went home.

The rest of the day passed with a lot of tears and a lot of food.  We ate our feelings.  We cried when we needed to.  We told our families.  We received a wonderful delivery of wine and ice cream from a very good friend.  And we were okay.  We are okay.  We are sad and we are also okay.

And most importantly, now we know what it feels like.  Now we know what to expect.

And now we carry on.  It has been an incredibly difficult week.  I am drained in a way that I never really thought I would be.  I have gone from picturing a baby in our house to knowing that it isn't going to happen, at least not right now.  That's a really hard mental shift to make and I am still struggling to settle back into the reality.  A big part of me knew it couldn't possibly have been that easy.  It couldn't possibly have worked out that nicely.  But none of that rational stuff really mattered this week.  My heart started thinking of the possibilities and I am glad that I allowed myself to hope.

So now we are really in it.  Now I know why this process is so grueling.  Now I know why adoption is so very hard.  But I also hold on to the knowledge that I know one day it will all be worth it.  I know that when it is supposed to work out, it will.  It's not that those things make it any easier, it's not that those things make me any less sad about this situation, but those are the things that keep me going.  Those are the things that make Carla and I want to regroup and be ready for the next situation that comes along.  So a sad week ends and we will allow ourselves to be sad.  And we will also know that one day there will be a baby in this house. One day all those people who are waiting and hoping along with us will be able to celebrate instead of comfort.  And one day all of this truly will be worth it.


  1. That sounds incredibly difficult. I'm glad that you have so much support and I hope the next time goes much more smoothly.

  2. I'm sorry for your difficult week. It is really hard. We found the tiniest bit of consolation in knowing what to expect for the next time. It made it a little less scary. I'm glad you have good people around you to lean on, cry with, and celebrate with. Wishing you the best....

  3. I'm sorry it was so sad--I know there's really no way it could not be, and I am sad that you didn't get chosen. Eating your feelings is a totally normal (and tasty!) way of getting through the week. Hopefully next time you'll be able to repay everyone for their support with a big, grinning piece of awesome news!

  4. Thank you so much, ladies, for your comments. They mean so much.

  5. I'm a birth mom (meaning I've already relinquished). I actually blog for Open Adoption Bloggers (Monika's Musings is the name of my blog). Though I haven't been on your side, I do have one suggestion. A woman (or couple, if the father's involved) is NOT a birth mom until after relinquishment documents are signed. It's a small thing, but even if mom is considering relinquishment and seems sure of her decision, things can change rapidly. Calling a woman a "birth mom" before relinquishment (I know, a LOT of agencies do it and they're not meaning to be harmful) creates not only an expectation to the mom that she doesn't have a choice about adoption, but it creates an expectation in the hearts and minds of the hopeful adoptive parents, as it created in yours in this situation.

    It may help to continually remind yourself that she can and should change her mind at any time about adoption if it's appropriate, and that nothing's final until those all-important documents are signed. I do love adoption and think it's a wonderful choice, but I also think that moms should be given resources to parent if they wish to do so and if they think it's best for them and for their baby. I know that becoming a parent is your goal and it's a wonderful one. But please remember that in domestic infant adoptions (and even in domestic foster-to-adopt) that it's not about the hopeful adoptive parents. It's about the mom making what she feels is the best choice for her kid. When I relinquished, I didn't make the choice to make her adoptive parents happy. I made the choice because I didn't feel equipped (emotionally or physically) to give my daughter the life I really wanted for her. :)

    Also, please try to remember that though it seems like you've been waiting to be chosen for a very long time that you will be chosen when the timing is right for you and for your partner. :) Hang in there. Whenever an adoption does happen, it'll be worth the wait and all the heartache!

  6. Thank you for your comment. It is always so good to hear perspectives from birth mothers. I completely agree with all that you said. In fact, one of the big reasons that we chose our agency was because of the support, counseling, and options that they provide for any pregnant woman who comes to see them. Both my partner and I deeply recognize the important role that everyone plays in the adoption process and of course we know that the entire thing is about the child. However, that won't stop us from feeling disappointed when we are not what is best, when we are not the ones chosen. I will never claim that our disappointment is what is most important, but I also will not pretend that our disappointment does not exist.

    So, I would ask that you also remember that while of course adoption is about the mother making the best choices for her child, this blog is about our end of the journey, and whether I like it or not, that does involve disappointment and this is my place to share that. In the future, I will be more careful about the words I am using. I would also ask that you just think about that sometimes, on this blog, I will not be at my best. I will not always say the right thing and I will not always remember to choose the best words. That's part of the process for me. It's tough and I am certainly not always going to say the right things and I would just ask others to understand that does not mean I don't understand what is most important. My feelings at so genuine and, as I have written before in this blog, my admiration and respect for any mother in any part of this adoption process is sincere and tremendous.