There’s a special kind of sadness when an adoption doesn’t go through. It’s something that dominates your thoughts and feelings, soaks into your skin, through your bones, and you feel it swimming in your blood. It’s inescapable and painful, and seemingly relentless.
I haven’t given an update on our adoption process since last spring. Part of it is due to privacy reasons. While it’s going on, I can’t write about it. And then when it fails to happen, I’m just too disappointed and upset.
Daniel and I have had two failed adoptions this year. Everyone who’s ever gone through adoption will tell you that it’s a certain type of hell. I didn’t understand, but now I do.
Over the summer, we began the process to adopt a little boy. We were finally approved for him in September. It was an amazing day, with a pure and powerful happiness that I wish we could have captured in a bottle and kept with us forever. That was a good day. I’d never felt happiness like that before; knowing that we would soon be fathers.
In the days that followed, we began the paperwork process and were granted access to his private case history. It turned out this boy we’d been working on adopting for three months wasn’t anything like what the agency had described him as. He had extensive problems, psychologically and emotionally, and the depth of these troubles were more than we felt prepared to handle. In fact, earlier this year, a psychiatrist had evaluated him and concluded in her notes that he wasn’t ready to be adopted. He needed extensive therapy and until he’d worked through some of his problems, he wouldn’t be in a healthy state of mind for a change in his environment.
(We hadn’t met him yet. You never meet the child until you’ve been matched with them and all the paperwork is ready. Otherwise, the trauma and uncertainty would be too much.)
For reasons we don’t understand, the agency chose to push through the adoption anyway. There hadn’t been a follow-up evaluation, and according to the records, he hadn’t improved at all. I almost feel as if they’d just become burdened with the poor guy and were trying to push him off onto a family. We’re not sure.
Nonetheless, we felt we had to cancel the adoption. We talked extensively with our case worker and she agreed. We were heartbroken, but we continued our journey and began working with another child’s agency that we’d found.
Over the past three months, we’ve learned a lot about him. He had a much better support system, and this time, we did feel we authentically knew about him and understood the child we were adopting. In fact, he seemed like a perfect match for us. He loved music, computers, singing, and the arts. If you could clone a mini version of Daniel and me, this child would be it.
At the beginning of this month, they’d narrowed it down to four families, including us. We were very excited. The next phase involved interviewing each family at length to decide who they felt was the best match for him as parents. Today was the final meeting. They chose a different family… But liked us very much… For what it’s worth.
We’re disappointed, but that’s how the process goes. You find out about these children and begin a lengthy process of interviews, paperwork, sometimes photos and videos. This helps build an overall picture of what that child would be like and how he’d fit in with us as a family. We tell ourselves not to get attached, but of course we do. How can we not? We’re humans, with emotions, and if we didn’t feel anything for these kids, we wouldn’t be very good parents. Plus, I think it would show in the interviews. Enthusiasm and emotion is what makes us stand out as potential parents. They want to know we will love and care for these children.
I told a friend today that the only pain I can compare it to is when a couple suffers a miscarriage. You go through a period of excitement, telling family and friends that a child may be on the way. You start dreaming up these imaginary scenarios in your head of the future with this child. Birthdays, holidays, summer vacations. And then if you end up not being matched, it feels like those dreams die, and a little part of you dies too.
Daniel and I are sad, but I know we’ll feel better. Eventually we’ll start looking again, and we know our son is out there. I think the length of time makes it difficult too. Anytime you are considered a potential match, the process usually drags on for months before a decision is reached.
It was very cold and rainy today. I went to bed at about two in the afternoon; turned on the electric mattress pad and hid under the comfort of our bed sheets while the rain pounded on the window. Our dog Mrs. Madrigal cuddled up to my chest and took a nap. I could feel her tiny nose breathing against my hand. The top of her head smelled like Christmas sugar cookies. She’d been to the groomer and they always spray her with this scented perfume for dogs. I rested my face next to her and smelled her little cookie head, and slept the rest of the day away until Daniel got home from work.
At least we have this baby, and she’s all ours.