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a failed adoption December 18, 2006

Posted by guinever in adoption, grief, loss.

I just spent several hours with a friend who lost a baby. A couple weeks ago, my friend and her husband were chosen by a woman to adopt her unborn baby.

This weekend, my friend took the baby in her arms almost immediately after witnessing the birth. She and her husband roomed-in at the hospital just like birth parents. The baby boy latched on to her breast and she was able to nurse her tiny newborn even though he had not grown in her womb. Her milk let down and she heard the baby swallowing. Yes, a woman can nurse an adopted baby!

Some might say what’s the big deal? It’s not as if the baby was really hers anyway.

Legally, true. The baby was not hers…yet. But she and her husband anticipated the arrival of this baby and prepared for him to join their family. They were chosen among others to parent this baby. The cradle in their bedroom is empty. What a loss of a potential future.

Let me put future adoptive parents at ease. This type of situation is rare. Very rare. Usually if there is doubt about a woman’s intention to place her baby for adoption, social workers put the baby into temporary foster care before going home to his new family.

It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

So is this a quote or a cliche’? I have contemplated this saying as it relates to the losses I have experienced. In particular, my daughter’s death has brought me great pain and will continue to do so. Wouldn’t it have been much easier for everyone involved if she had never been born so she couldn’t have died, causing me and my family infinite grief?

Easier? Definitely. Yet I treasure the memories I have of Abby, and I’m glad that she lived with me for 2 years before she died. After she died, I had to come home and parent my other children and be my husband’s wife. I had to keep on living.

Although the death of my daughter is different than my friend’s failed adoption, I see her coping in similar ways. She is thankful that she has her daughter to come home to. She is thankful for the 24 hours she had with him. She is thankful for this time because she would’ve wanted this immediate bonding if she had the opportunity to adopt him. Just because the adoption fell through doesn’t mean she wishes she had never known him and loved him. She will treasure the video and pictures she has, his footprints inked on a card, the feeding chart she filled out in the 24 hours she mothered him.

This baby went home with his mother. And yet this is a heartbreaking situation for my friend and her husband who eagerly anticipated bringing home this baby.


1. guinever - December 19, 2006


Both the potential adoptive parents and the birth mother chose this type of open adoption. My friend knew that there was a small risk involved of being disappointed like this. She does not have any regrets about this situation. She feels blessed to be able to have helped this mother in the first 24 hours of the baby’s life and is glad that the baby wasn’t whisked away from the birth mother and that she was allowed to change her mind. My friend is happy for this baby that was almost hers; she thinks of him in a loving home, surrounded by his siblings.

The risks involved with an open adoption where it isn’t finalized until 3-6 months after birth is probably one reason that so many Americans seek international adoption.

By linking to information on how to induce lactation, I’m just trying to educate potential adoptive mothers that they can nurse their baby if they want to. Taking a few hormones to make milk, in my opinion, is healthier for the baby than feeding the baby artificial formula. As far as lactation is concerned, only half of women in America are breastfeeding their baby when they leave the hospital. Then about half of those stop breastfeeding in the first few weeks.


2. guinever - December 21, 2006

To all the women out there who are offended by the word, “birth mother”

I am sorry that my words seem to offend you. I only used the term “birth mother” to differentiate her from the “potential” adoptive mother in my writing. Because I am not using names, it makes it hard to move back and forth between two women and I needed to make the distinction somehow. I totally agree with you that she is the baby’s mother. However, had my friend adopted this baby, I believe she would have been the mother, raising him, nurturing him, being called “mother” by him.

I am not saying my friend who was planning to adopt this baby isn’t upset. I did read to her what I wrote in the above comment and asked her if it was true. She said, yes, that I was a good listener.

As the days pass, she gains perspective on the situation. At first, she almost felt like this woman had her baby. But now, like I said in my previous comment, she is glad that she had the opportunity to help this woman in the first 24 hours of her baby’s life.

As far as comparing this “failed adoption” to the death of my daughter, I made the comparison because it seemed that my friend went through the same thought processes that I did. There are so many different types of loss. And loss doesn’t always include death. I will make a comparison again between our losses. I think of my precious daughter in heaven in the lap of Christ. My friend thinks of this baby in the arms of his mother.

hope this clarifies, Guinever


3. reunionwritings - December 21, 2006

It does. I still think the whole adoption system is crazy and predatory. It doesn’t seem to be in the best interests of people wanting to adopt either.

Please tell your friend from me that I am very sorry she had to go through that. It should never have happened.

I wasn’t offended, she’s not a birthmother that’s all. They are never officially birthmothers until those documents are saved. I don’t use the word birthmother but didn’t take offense to you.

Thanks for this dialogue, it’s good for people to talk about adoption from different perspectives.

all the best


4. Hannah - March 3, 2007

You are an amazing friend to your friend that went through the pain of a failed adoption. She is lucky to have you. I have gone through a failed adoption and it is PAINFUL. To have someone compare it to the death of a child gives it legitimacy. We had baby S. in our home for TEN days when the birthmother changed her mind. I don’t fault her for that. She had every right to do it. It was just so unexpected for us (given the lead up) and so painful. While we previously grieved a “concept” and “shattered dreams” while going through infertility now we grieve the loss of an actual person – someone we LOVED in addition to the same old shattered dreams. It is so intense. We spent YEARS learning about and opening our hearts to open adoption. Now we feel like we are at the beginning again… deciding what on earth to do. Adoption is very complicated and painful thing all the way around. But in my opinion it’s inaccurate and hurtful to hear birthmothers use terms like “predatory” in reference to the adoption process or the adoptive parents. In our case it took a lot of love and a lot of courage.


Kristy - August 26, 2009

I don’t know if you will get this. My best friend just experienced a failed aoption. She had been in Florida for two weeks waiting for the birth and was at the hospital holding the baby the night she was born. What can I do for my friend? I know there is still a change of things turning around so I am praying. But, if they don’t, what can I do to help?


5. Rox - March 20, 2007

A lof of “b-mom’s” find the term “birthmother” hurtful. The adoption system IS predatory. I think it’s hurtful to women who lose children to adoption without really being informed; to not acknowledge this fact. Kim expressed that it is unfortunate that adoptive parents are encouraged to see themselves as the parents of an infant before the baby has even been born and is still legally and emotionally, in EVERY sense the child of another woman. And the mother of that child has every right to parent that child and should be ENCOURAGED to parent that child. That should be celebrated if the child is able to stay with it’s original family.

What should not happen is that adoptive parents be so involved before an adoption has even taken place. For the sake of preventing the mother from feeling like an adoption is what is going on (despite that she has signed nothing)…and also to prevent potential adoptive parents from feeling hurt and let down if the mother does (happily!) decide that she believes in her own ability to mother and love her child.


6. Daisy - April 25, 2007

Predatory is a very inaccurate way of describing the hospital birthing situation. In an open adoption the “birth mother” decides whether she wants the “adoptive mother” in the room or for that fact in the hospital. As an adoptive mother I wanted to see my baby come into the world and I believe that my baby’s birth mother felt great comfort knowing that we loved her from the very moment she arrived. It was a bonding loving experience.


7. Pamela Ann Chabak - May 12, 2008

My partner and I have been trying to adopt for the last ten years. Our agency insists on fostering to adopt. We had the plug pulled on one adoption and we are waiting for a young man to work his issues in a group home and had eight additional foster children stay and move on. I have been sad and I think it’s from all the loss. I think it’s difficult to not get attached to these children when your goal wasn’t to foster. In my case, I had an accident which prevented me from carrying a child to term. I had already been in the process of preparation for pregnancy and had a donor etc. After the accident my only regret – was not becoming a mother. Because my accident was life changing, I held onto that desire as a goal to keep going forward with life and not get stuck in the losses from having surgical error disable me after being given 24 hr to live. With a second chance… I felt compelled to continue to focus on giving a child (of the many in the USA ) a chance to be happy and have a family. I was totally unprepared for the process of adoption. Our search remained in the USA because our agency told us horror stories, and we researched enough to know there were so many children waiting right here. The thing I don’t understand about our search attempt to match; is the lack of assistance we received and support. We have a six inch binder filled with children whom I came to know their stories through their caseworker. I was vigilant at following up on children we were serious about. Why then was it so difficult to be selected as parents? We are very average people, who started our quest in our late 30’s-early 40’s. We didn’t even want an infant , we wanted an older child. We are 10 yrs older now, early 50’s and our hope is waning. We grieve for the child that was never matched with us out of 400,000 lost kids nationally. We have come to believe that matching may be political because we gave it our all. It became a full time job at time to track down leads. Thank God natural pregnancy is easier otherwise a larger number of good parents would be grieving. The hardest part is we’ve been isolated. I’d like to meet other couples straight or GLBT who have had similar experiences. We pray as a family with our foster kids for all the children that are available -but are never adopted and yet their are other good parents in our situation. We grieve for a family, but we grieve for the child that didn’t find their way into our home. I think this loss is very similiar to miscarriage becasue you build up your hope and you are let down again and again. My friends who experienced that loss are the most understanding in our situation. I hope someone out there benefits from this honest telling of our story.


8. meg - March 31, 2009

Hi. Friends of mine adopted a baby and then were forced to return her to her biological father after a paternity suit was filed. They had the baby for 8 weeks, from the day after her birth. Does anyone know of any online support available for folks dealing with this kind of grief?


9. ann - October 1, 2009

Is this blog still going?


guinever - October 30, 2009

Yes, it is. I don’t post much here, but it’s open for reading and commenting=)
~blessings, Guinever


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