I have no doubt it will get harder. I feel the need to write out some of my emotions, as we have been on edge for about 2 weeks. I share this not to place blame or as a call for action or a need for change or as a request for advice. There are extremely complicated emotions involved in domestic infant adoption, and my intent on this post is to shed some light on how hard and how emotional a process it is, and why we may seem a little aloof, on edge, or out of sorts.
Why it is hard for our birth mom:
Our expectant mom is amazing. In all that we know of her throughout our four-month developing friendship, she is courageous, giving, patient, and faithful. She has time and again impressed us with her focus on what is best for her daughter and with her service to her family in their times of need. She cares a great deal for her family. There are difficult circumstances that she has been dealing with for over a year, and she helps and serves and loves and cares. On top of how much she gives to her family, she has a chronic pain disorder called trigeminal neuralgia. When she is not pregnant, she is able to have a procedure done that holds the pain off for a few months. The procedure is too risky for baby, so she has suffered the entirety of her pregnancy with this very difficult pain. She has been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count. She has been careful not to take any medications that are dangerous for the baby, and she has throughout the last nine months put her body through not only the difficulties of pregnancy, but the complications of suffering with intense facial pain that often leaves her bedridden. She decided to place her baby for adoption because she is unable to provide a stable home, she has no support from her family, and she does not want her daughter to grow up with no support and with no father.
She found us through Facebook, and we instantly clicked. She told us that before she met us, she was lost and confused, scared and worried. After getting to know us, she was excited for her daughter, grateful to have a plan in place, and happy knowing that she was doing what is best for her little girl. We have grown to love her so much over the past four months. She is so precious to us, not only because of the child she is carrying that may end up in our home, but because we have watched her selflessly care for her family even in her hardest times, and we admire her courage and her trust in God. We have messaged each other every day for four months…
Until the last two weeks.
You see, as the time for the birth gets closer, our expectant mama has become more distant. Her texts are few and far between, and I can’t help but feel that as the time draws closer, this decision is becoming a lot harder for her than it initially was. And rightfully so. As much as we have prayed and hoped for a child to come to our home, I cannot begin to imagine the agony she faces of saying goodbye to her baby.
Along with all of these complicated emotions, her pain has increased. She has been in the hospital (again), and is wanting this whole thing to be over. So her texts have become less frequent, and we do not know how to help her.
Why it is hard for us:
We have gone through what feels like an eternity of trying to have children. Granted, we have not gone to the lengths that some have gone, and we have not waited as long as others, but for us, in our 40s and facing the prospect of being childless, this year has been the most difficult year. We have suffered two miscarriages and two failed fertility treatments, and months upon months of negative pregnancy tests. We have prayed and fasted, and pleaded with Heavenly Father to send children into our home.
When we met our expectant mom, we felt like it was all coming together. We know that she can change her mind, and we know that we could pour all of our emotional reserves into this and be left empty. We know that this is her decision, and we know that our world could shatter again any minute.
Many people have asked, “Well, how sure are you that she will go through with this?” I’ve shared, “We are as sure as we can be that this will go through. But once she holds that baby, all bets are off.” We know the reality of what she is giving and the monumental decision that will affect her and her baby for an eternity. I don’t know that I could make that decision lightly. There is a plan in place, but nothing in this world can force a woman to place her baby into someone else’s arms for the rest of her life. We value that agency tremendously, and we would never do anything that would be coercive or would remove her agency from her.
According to Illinois state law (she lives in Chicago), she cannot sign a termination of parental rights (TPR) until 72 hours after the baby is born. Once she signs it, the TPR is irrevocable. Some states allow for a 30-days to 6-months to 2-years “cooling off” period, where the birth parents can revoke the TPR and take the child home. Thankfully for us, Illinois is irrevocable. So it may take her three days, a week, a month to sign it, but once she does, there’s no going back.
There is also the financial component. I hate to bring this part up, but adoption is expensive. And we have put everything we have and even had help from generous friends and family to make this work. And if this falls through, we not only lose our hoped for and planned for baby, but we lose a great deal of money. Thankfully, much of that will be recuperated in the Adoption Tax Credit, but there is a good chunk of it we will never see again.
We have invested time and energy into creating a baby room and on getting things stocked and ready. We have been excited and have worked hard to plan for our lives to change. We have prayed for this baby, loved this baby, waited and planned for this baby. We have spent four months hoping and planning. If she changes her mind, we will be as devastated as if I miscarried again. We are facing either the greatest joy or the greatest heartbreak of our lives to this point.
On Friday, October 26th, she will be 38 weeks, and I am planning to go to Chicago to be on baby watch. It has been our plan for some time, and our birth mom has been on board with this, that I will drive up on Friday and be on baby watch, and Dennis will join us either the night before an induction, or when she goes into labor. That way he gets a few more days of work in before being on unpaid paternity leave for a couple of weeks, but I can still be there when she goes into labor. She has said a number of times that she wants me with her in the delivery room, and nothing would make me happier.
The last two weeks, every time I mention these plans, she goes dark. We have heard very little from her the last couple of weeks, and Dennis and I are in a state of constant worry. I have tried to paint a picture for you of how that actually feels, but I fall short. We have felt tremendous anxiety. So much that I have retreated into my “holding pattern”. I try to stay busy, but I avoid things that could possibly make me confront the feelings I am having. I ache for my dear expectant mom, whom I love so much. I ache to hold my baby. I ache for my husband who has emotions that are hard to express. I am raw, on edge, and trying to stay hopeful.
If you wonder where I’ve gone, or why I don’t respond to texts, or why I have not posted on social media, or why I leave church early… This is why. I am holding my breath. I am hoping for some certainty in my life. I am feeling scared, tired, worn.
Adoption is hard.