Part 1: Domestic Adoption Nightmare, a Birth Mother Changes her Mind
Ilyssa, 28, and her husband Ben knew even before they got married four years ago that they wanted a big family. After trying to get pregnant for over a year, the couple began investigating international vs. national adoptions and decided to explore both options.
Ilyssa, who asked that her last name not be used, comes from a very special adoption background in that her parents took in literally dozens of foster kids during her lifetime, sharing meals, playtime and love in their home.
After briefly exploring an Ethiopian adoption and realizing the wait is nearly four years for a healthy newborn, the New Jersey couple shifted gears and began filling out paperwork for a domestic adoption.
They were interested in newborns. “We decided to try the domestic route, so my home study agency recommended an Alabama agency to initiate a domestic newborn adoption with a birth mother,” says Ilyssa today. “We were open to sibling groups too.”
“I come from a family of foster children and my parents took in dozens of transracial kids over the course of our childhood, and we received many priceless and amazing experiences” says Ilyssa. “We thought we’d get matched pretty quickly.”
They flew through their paperwork, parenting training classes and home study in six months. Ilyssa also has a secret weapon in her adoption arsenal: Her sister Dr. Lori Ingber created adoption software that pairs newborns and awaiting parents. While Parentmatch.com didn’t directly help Ilyssa, her sister was a fountain of adoption knowledge and has adopted herself.
“We were quickly matched to birth mother in her final month of pregnancy. We spoke for hours, at least five times, and the birth mother seemed ready and eager to be through with it. We drove south in January, when the baby was due, and bought the mom groceries and clothes, paid some bills for her, and she even asked me to be present with her in the delivery room so that I could cut my son’s umbilical chord.”
Ilyssa and her husband blew through about $2,000 those last few weeks in addition to hospital bills, hotel bills, adoption application fees, etc. But the cost proved far greater than the monetary devastation.
“After waiting two weeks in our hotel room, we got a call in the middle of the night from our social worker, who was crying in frustration, saying the birth mother had changed her mind.” In fact, the birth mother was already in labor and the birth mother’s own family (her sisters and mother) swept in and took the baby away.
“We never got to see him,” says Ilyssa.
“I remember lying on the bed of the sterile hotel room, watching my husband sob like he was dying, I’ll never forget that vision,” recalls Ilyssa. We gave away all our new baby things to strangers in the lobby of the hotel and drove back to New Jersey, devastated.”
Tune in on Friday, when Ilyssa tells us in Part 2 how she wound up with not one, not two… but three babies!
Updated: We’ve removed the family’s last name, photo, and some other details from this post in order to respect their request for greater privacy.