Fall always used to be my (Katie, CEO/Founder of Purl) favorite month. The weather changing, football, pumpkins, the start of the holiday season. But fall started to have a different feel for me 7 years ago as my husband and I began our personal adoption journey. We had been matched almost immediately after completing our home study with an expectant mom due with a baby boy in October. As a very unprepared adoptive parent, I had purchased ALL the things, buying all sorts of boy specific items, and even an adorable baby Bear Halloween costume. I did know there was a possibility he wouldn’t end up being ours. But I was pretty clueless and even had a feeling of entitlement over that baby because we had been chosen, we had spent a lot of time with the expectant mom and had been paying living expenses for the expectant mom during the course of that pregnancy, and maybe even not so subconsciously I believed we would give this child a better life than this expectant mom could provide. We received very little education during our home study, and none from the agency we were matched with. I tried to educate myself, but things happened so fast, I had very little time to get ready for what was to come.
That little boy was born on October 7, 2015, we named him and cared for him for those first few days. But due to some complicated reasons (not due to the mom choosing to parent) a few days later we would be going home empty handed, with a nursery full of reminders that we still weren’t parents. We had planned for me to take a maternity leave to bond with our new baby, but now had to contemplate going back to work and explaining everything to friends and coworkers. For the next few weeks, I was a wreck. I couldn’t eat, sleep, i was constantly crying. We decided to take a trip up to Northern AZ to get away and, although I loved to see the leaves changing and experience the cooler weather, there was little that could change my mood. I definitely had negative feelings about that baby’s first mom and I emphasized with prospective adoptive parents who had “failed” adoptions (I’ve since changed the phrasing I used to disrupted adoptions). but admittedly, I was absorbed in my own grief and didn’t consider much what was happening and what had happened to lead this expectant mother to choose adoption, and to end up in the situation she was in at the hospital and navigating her first adoption plan.
A few months later, we would take home our daughter through adoption. I was more prepared this time around and the placement occurred without the drama that had occurred a few months before. It all made sense this time around, but the fall season still held some negative feelings for me the next few years and every year on October 7, when I always thought about that little boy, his first family. By this time, my feelings toward his first mama had softened, I hoped she had gotten on her feet, and I hoped that little boy was healthy and happy with his adoptive family.
Today, after years of research and watching over a hundred Purl families adopt, my perspective on this experience is dramatically different. I try to really educate our Purl Families in order to make them better prepared for the hospital experience and really make it clear to them that the child they may be expecting may not be theirs. To try to help them understand that if a mom chooses to parent and is able to parent, that is the best thing for that child. That there shouldn’t be feelings of entitlement to a child no matter how much you have paid for living expenses and no matter if you feel you’ll be better parents for that child. I have so much more empathy for these expectant mothers and what they go through in their lives to lead them to place a child for adoption, and what they go through around the birth and placement of their children. As I’ve explained in a blog post last year, adoption leads to a different life, not necessarily a better life for a child
. Adoption is trauma, and money and opportunities do not necessarily make a better life for a child. Of course I still feel for families that have disrupted adoptions and is can be a real loss, and sometimes it leads to large financial losses as well. Families can and should absolutely grieve as needed for that child they thought wa
s theirs after a disrupted adoption, but I do think it is important to have a different perspective about disruptions than I, and so many other adoptive families, had. Click here
to learn more about my thoughts on surviving a disrupted adoption.
These days, the gloom I felt in those first few years in October have disappeared and I love to experience Fall with my daughters. But I think I’ll always think of that little boy and all of his family each October. I will also continue to educate our Purl Families, to make them much more educated and prepared than I was for the adoption process.