When families decide to take the leap with a domestic infant adoption, one of the most vulnerable moments as a prospective adoptive parent is waiting for the child’s birth parent to sign the consents to the adoption, otherwise known as relinquishments, typically done a few days after the birth of the child. Many parents considering an adoption plan for their child feel that confirmation to continue with the adoption plan postpartum, while others do decide to parent their child, leading to what is commonly called a “disrupted adoption”. “Michelle,” her husband and her two older children walked through a disrupted adoption and are now on the other side. She shares their story, in the hopes that others walking through the similar pains of a disrupted adoption would find comfort, as well as to share how her older children processed the complicated nature of adoption loss.

  • Please share with us about your match with “Joseph’s” mom & any relevant details about how your relationship went before he was born. 

Getting matched with Joseph’s mom happened quickly and it felt surreal. She felt more than Joseph’s birth mother to me, because she felt instantly like she could be my friend. We are aligned on so many things that I was so excited and hopeful for our relationship of two mothers loving the same baby.

  • Would you share with us what happened in the adoption disruption?

After spending three days in the hospital with Joseph after his birth, we had gone home to sleep. The next morning getting up and getting ready to go back to the hospital our adoption specialist called me and told me that the mother decided to parent. My husband was actually not home at the time and so it was just me with our two children. Immediately I started crying and did my best to explain to them that we weren’t going to get to take Joseph home and he wasn’t going to be our baby anymore. I had to break it to my husband and that was a really painful moment. It was the first time I saw him cry. We felt absolutely crushed.

  • How did you help your kids process the disruption?

We felt like we had put our heart and soul into the adoption process. We had bonded with Joseph and were envisioning our lives raising this baby. It felt like the rug was pulled out from under us. We were obviously sad and I was very weepy, but we did our best to make it a fun day for the kids when we found out. We were honest with them about how we felt, and we made room for them to process too. They seemed disappointed and confused, but after talking about what had happened and them asking questions, they seemed to move on. Occasionally over the next few weeks they would ask us questions that were pretty simple, but mostly I think they just continued to process it over time. I think something that helped was that they never met Joseph in person.

  • Did you learn anything through this loss?

We still have moments of sadness and loss, but overall, we learned it was possible to find peace. We also found comfort in eventually being matched with our daughter’s birth mother.

  • When a biological parent chooses to parent after first making an adoption plan, it can be so painful to navigate. What were some of your feelings surrounding her choice to parent?

As far as a Joseph’s mom choosing to parent, we’ve experienced it in a couple ways… In one circumstance there was our sadness and loss, but still co-existing with that feeling, were the {slowly} emerging feelings of rejoicing for that baby getting to stay connected to his birth family. We felt confident in Joseph’s mom’s ability to parent and could really celebrate for them. .That isn’t always the case, so sometimes there is fear about how the child will fare in their home environment after a disruption. So it can feel heart breaking and confusing. We know we aren’t perfect but we feel God chose us to be the perfect match for our daughter.

  • What ended up happening with your adoption story?

After our original match fell through, we waited 8 months until we got matched with our daughter. Those eight months were really difficult at times, growing weary of waiting, having moments of hope and excitement and then more disappointment. But ultimately, we were called about a baby girl that had already been born and was waiting in the hospital. When we met her we absolutely knew that we wanted her and we loved her. She is a total angel and we cannot picture our family without her specifically in it… she was worth every tear, heartache and every moment we spent waiting.

  • Do you have any encouragement for those walking through an adoption disruption currently?

Yes. Have hope and excitement that your baby is out there! Turn to the people in your life that will allow you to grieve and process in whatever way and for how long you need.

For more information about surviving a disrupted adoption, please check out a post written by Purl Founder/CEO about her own disrupted adoption she experienced before adopting her daughter.

Thank you Michelle for sharing this tender story with us. We hope that if you are currently walking through loss that you will reach out to those in your community to share the burden with, or to a mental health professional who can provide you with tools for coping with the intensity of feelings related to grief and loss.

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