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My Adoption Process Ended In Heartbreak — Twice. Here’s How I Healed

Welcome to Refinery29’s Fertility Diaries, where people chronicle their joyous, painful, and sometimes complicated paths to parenthood. Today, we hear from a 32-year-old woman in Nebraska, who decided to adopt but found the path was more difficult than expected.
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After having the “kids talk,” my husband and I knew we wanted to adopt. We both have adoption in our family, and I have some genetic stuff that I didn’t want to be passed down to kids — and I never wanted to be pregnant
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We started the process in the summer of 2019 and expected it to go pretty quickly. We found an agency and began the long “homestudy” process during which they ensure you’re suited to adopt. We made a “profile book” that shows what our family is like and what we like to do. Expectant parents look over many such books to decide where they want to place their child. 
In May 2020, after some slowdowns due to COVID, we got a “match.” That meant we’d been chosen by an expectant mother to be a child’s adoptive family. We were picked, in part, because I put in our profile book that I'm close with my brother, who my mom placed for adoption when she was very young. I later connected with him after doing an Ancestry.com DNA test. 
The baby was due that October. We got close with the mom and visited her a few times. We had the nursery all done. My adopted brother was going to be the baby’s godfather. At the end of September, we got a call that she was in labor. We got in the car and drove the nine hours to where the expectant mother lived. 
When we arrived, we didn’t know what was going on, but our social worker got back to us a few hours later. She said the baby had passed away during delivery. That was the worst day of our lives. 
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But we were so thankful we got to spend time with the baby boy and his mom at the hospital, even in grief. We had to drive home with a car full of baby stuff and a car seat. We’d planned an open adoption with the expectant mom, with annual visits. We thought we'd have a life-long relationship with her. But after he passed away, we sent some notes and things to her, and never heard back. It was another weird part of the grieving process. 

Things like this can easily tear your relationship apart.

We didn’t really know where to go from that point, but we ultimately decided to try again for another match. It took a long time. We decided to work with a national consultant on top of the agency we’d been working with, in part due to the pandemic impacting the process. Consultants get cases all over the country, so we thought there would be more options. We matched again in June 2021, and started working with that expectant mom and yet another adoption entity she was also working with. We had a good relationship and talked to her all the time, on the phone and through messages. We even traveled many states away to visit her a few weeks before she was due. The baby was born on October 4, 2021. But the expectant mom then decided she wanted to parent after all. She changed her mind. We checked in a few times to see if we could support her, but contact mostly stopped.
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We were planning to start the whole process again, but we got a phone call on New Year’s Eve from the adoption worker. The same mom decided she still wanted to place with us after all. We spent the next six weeks going back and forth with the lawyers, but a few days before the court date, the mom changed her mind again and decided she didn’t want to place the baby with us. We were back at the beginning after about two and a half years. 
Through the losses, therapy helped, and we’ve utilized Facebook groups for adoptive parents. Few folks understand how the adoption process works, so it can be isolating. The first time, we told more people, but as we started to understand that nothing was guaranteed, we started sharing only with our immediate family and friends. Not many people know what you’ve been through, so you’re carrying this hidden grief. 
Although we connected with other adoptive couples, many of them would say: We had this loss, but then it all worked out soon after! Or, It didn’t work out but two weeks later we got a call and it was our baby! But that wasn’t our story. 
Things like this can easily tear your relationship apart, but it did feel like it brought us closer. We leaned on each other and communicated how we were doing. At this point, we knew that we wanted to be parents more than ever.
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But, financially, it was difficult. We’d covered all the legal, consultant, facilitator, and agency fees. There are also minor fees that help the expectant mother, such as transportation to doctor's appointments, counseling, or other basic needs while they are pregnant. When two different matches didn’t end in a baby, it was hard to even afford to be able to move forward. At this point, we’d spent about $50,000 total. We wish we’d done more research into paying for additional adoption entities beyond our main agency, as we didn’t feel those costs were worth it in the end. But we had savings and found ways to make it work. 
We ultimately matched and placed (through our original agency) again at the beginning of June with a baby girl who was born that same month. We got to be there for the birth, which was magical. The parental rights weren't terminated until two weeks after she was born, so we were still on edge until that went through. But she is officially staying with us now. After a few more months of paperwork and legal bureaucracy, the adoption will be finalized and we’ll have spent about $70,000 total on the entire process. 
It’s so nice to have most of the stress behind us for now, and to settle into our new lives as parents. We appointed my adopted brother our baby’s "adoption guru" or “guidefather” (like a nonreligious godfather) so he will always be a part of her life.
I don't want to say the cliché “everything happens for a reason” because I wouldn't wish our journey to parenthood on anyone. But we are so, so happy with where we are now and our baby is such a great addition to our family. It was love at first sight with our daughter.
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As told to Molly Longman
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity. 
A goal of the fertility diaries is to help readers feel less alone and to foster community. To get in touch with the author of this diary, email our diaries editor Molly Longman here.

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