Our Hardest Trial Yet: "Failed" Adoption
I wrote this blog in November of 2017, nine days after the events you’ll read about took place. I knew that I wanted to write out all of my emotions, before I forgot about the feelings I felt and the lessons I learned. As God would have it, exactly 16 days after writing this post, “K” joined our family. Her first mom, in all of her bravery, chose us to be her daughter’s family forever. Where we thought the road ended, God was just starting a new story.
It’s been nine days since we thought we were going to bring a baby home. I didn’t want to wait until the pain had totally gone away before I wrote about the emotions. On the one hand, I want you to get a good view of what a "failed adoption" feels like, but I also want you to know that I don’t yet have the answers about how to process it.
Eleven days ago we received a call about a 16 month old baby girl whose mom was ready to place her for adoption. We submitted our profile, and she chose us! We thought we were going to an office to pick the sweet girl up. We’ll call her K. As we walked in to meet her, the lady there was snapping pictures of us as K literally ran towards us with the biggest smile. It was precious. For the next couple of hours we got to know K and her mom and talked through it all. Around lunch, we ended with the decision that K’s mom was not going to sign papers on the spot that day, but that she was going to go home and process all of this and let us spend time with K the next day and just make sure we were a good fit. We went home with a nervous excitement. This little girl was amazing and her mom was very strong to even be contemplating this decision for her daughter.
The next day came. We got up, had our coffee, and headed to Target. We bought some diapers, cups, snacks, and obvi. a couple of toys. My husband, Charlie, was sure that she needed the biggest box of goldfish that money could buy, so of course we got that too. We arrived at the house and she was so cute, happy, and ready to roll. We loaded her in the carseat and went to the only place we know to take a toddler for lunch, Chick-fil-a. After cutting her nuggets into pieces way smaller than necessary, we enjoyed the best lunch. She sampled the chicken, fries, fruit, but chugged that milk right down.
After we got our calories in, we headed to the park. She put on a show. She was running up and down the hills, sliding down the slide on repeat, and making sure to talk to every friend we passed. We took pictures and videos like we were seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. They don’t really do it justice, but it’s a time you never want to forget.
She didn’t so much as whimper the whole day, she giggled and observed the world, the most content baby girl. Once we got back to where she was staying, I spent an hour or more talking with her mom as Charlie and K played in the floor, like he’d done that same thing every day his whole life. He was such a natural, K’s mom was shocked at how well they took to each other. She told me all about K, what she likes to eat, how she sleeps, and what her middle name is, and why she’s making this choice. She sent us home with most all of her things in two small boxes and one bag. We planned to meet up at 9am the next day with all of the necessary people and papers to bring this baby girl home. It was a whirlwind. We didn’t even tell all of our family, because it happened so quick! When we left their place, we came home, unloaded her things, scarfed down some food and went on a shopping spree. We had to get the necessities (and a few extras). It was so nerve-wracking and exhilarating. I knew she wasn’t ours yet, but what we had prayed for 5.5 years felt so close that it evoked an emotion I really can’t quite put words to yet.
It’s not really my place to unveil all of the details that occurred over next several days, but suffice it to say that it was really hard. We don’t know where K is, but we know that she is not our child and she never was. We are glad to have gotten to love her, if even just for a short time. I will always believe that her Mom truly wants what is best for her, and even though it wasn’t the route she chose at that time, pursuing adoption is one of the ways that she showed that. We are not mad at her for her decision.
Adoption is very, very hard. Seeing, holding, loving and losing a child that doesn’t belong to you is a test of faith like I have never experienced.
Here’s what I’ve learned in this short amount of time:
- It’s ok to be sad. Not knowing what was going to actually happen, I held it all in for several days. I tried to put all of my emotions on pause. But, as I sat alone several days later, I actually started allowing myself to feel pain and I felt like God told me to press into that pain. Don’t suppress it, press into it and really feel it. As much as I wanted to get up and get on with my day, I sat and wrote down fun memories from our very short time with her and I looked at her pictures, especially the one of her looking into Charlie’s eyes laughing. Once I let myself be sad, it was almost like my joy was restored. I am no therapist, but I know that healing followed the sadness.
- She was never our daughter. Until the papers are signed, any baby that we hear about, meet, love, cuddle, and care for is not our child. It doesn’t mean we can’t love them, it just means we have to keep a proper perspective. This is like the number one rule in adoption, but man, it’s hard!
- Nothing is wasted. Our time with K wasn’t some sort of sick joke by God. She served a purpose in our life, and I hope and pray we served a purpose in her life and her Mama’s life. She exposed some anxieties that we had to deal with, and I think we’ll be better parents because of it. She taught us that adopting a toddler could be really fun. Most importantly, God used her to remind me that He loves her and He loves me, more than I could ever imagine. He isn’t being mean to either one of us and He’s got really good plans for both of us. She’s His daughter, and so am I. He’s a better parent than we could ever dream of being.
I don’t know the end to K’s story or the end to ours. As hard it was, we would go through it all over again. Hard things aren’t bad things.