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.

Add a Comment
Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff
  1. by CMC

    On August 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    sorry but ttc for 1 year and then going down the adoption route. If you aren’t pregnant by then you go for tests not the nearest adoption agency!!!! They were purely lazy people who wanted a family now and not do as most of use do try try try again. Adoption is for the people who have tried every avenue, not some Brad & Angelina or Madonna wannabes. I am glad the original mother decided to keep her baby. I bet they wouldn’t like to be separated from their own child. My brother and his wife are going through ivf now. You can’t really adopt newborns unless you are 30 in Ireland as a result this story makes me mad. Why did they have to adopt newborns are toddlers not worth adopting?

  2. by Adoptive Parent

    On August 28, 2011 at 9:16 am

    To the person who commented above – aka “CMC”. That is the most ignorant comment I have ever read. How about this… Go f*ck yourself! Adoption is for everyone. There is no correct age or situation. It is not only for people who can’t conceive naturally. And it’s certainly not uncommon for a families 1st choice to adopt a newborn so they can experience what it’s like to care for a newborn child. Seriously, I had to explain this??????

  3. by Emily

    On August 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

    CMC, you don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about! Just because you “go for tests” does NOT mean that you’ll get pregnant! Also, there are plenty of people, in the US & not just Ireland, who have adopted newborns, and they are nothing like Brad & Angelina. Obviously you’ve never waited your whole life for something you wanted so badly, only to be devastated in the end. Maybe then you’d have a lot less anger and a little more compassion. I hope you never have to experience such loss.

  4. by Cmc

    On August 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

    It is my opioion sorry but in some parts of the world people have no choice in what age child they can adopt. my friend would love to adopt a newborn but the law won’t allow her. There are lots of children in orphanges who need a loving family too.

  5. by ARC

    On August 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Ithink everyone should consider adoption. There are way too many kids out there(of all ages) who need a good loving home. It shouldn’t be just a last resort for ppl who can’t have kids.

  6. by Michael Raskind

    On August 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

    It is generally a safe guard for birth mothers to change their minds as adoptive parents can change their minds. The law allows for such things, based on the state. I agree that there are numerous children hoping for a loving family. I am sure the adoptive parents will find a great match.

  7. by Les

    On August 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Adoption should not only be as a last resort, regardless if a couple can conceive or not!
    @cmc possibly you mean couples should consider adopting all ages, just not newborns???
    Either way, adoption is a blessing for many, and I am glad to hear of couples of all dynamics adopting children of all dynamics! :)

  8. by Early

    On August 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Adoption is a way to grow a family, and every other detail(age, location, nationality) is utterly ancillary. Opinions like those above function only to perpetuate the myriad nasty and small minded stereotypes about how a modern family can function. Personal judgements such as, “they were purely lazy…” illuminate obvious empathetic defects, and directly undermine any attempt at an actual discourse on the subject. Trolling a subject like this is beyond pathetic.

  9. by Lindsey

    On August 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    While I personally TTC for 1.5 years before getting pregnant, that does not change the fact that this couple chose the best option for them. Furthermore, that’s all that matters- not my or anybody else’s opinion.

  10. by Louisiana

    On August 31, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I am always happy to hear when a nice family decides to adopt and it is that parent or parent’s choice whether it is a newborn or toddler, but it would be nice if there were more couples or singles wanting to adopt older foster children.

    These older kids are in such need, I am a CASA “I work with foster kids as a volunteer” and all these kids need is love, but sadly most people want the new baby, which is understandable.

    How sad for the THOSANDS of adolescents who need a home.

  11. by Shan

    On September 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    It bothers me that they even brought up the “monetary devastation”….. that should be irrelevant to the situation and by bringing it up are you implying she should have stayed with the plan because you forked out two thousand dollars (and if two thousand dollars is monetarily devastating you are NOT ready to start a family) I went through the same thing 27 years ago with a birth mother changing her mind after she gave birth. I had an empty nursery and broken heart but I didn’t care about the costs I incurred, just the lost opportunity. By the way, I went on to adopt four children after that.

  12. by ERC

    On September 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    @Shan
    blew through about $2,000 those last few weeks in addition to hospital bills, hotel bills, adoption application fees, etc. So it was an estimate. They did all this stuff for this person and for it not to work out, it sound like it was frud or something. It doesn’t mean they are not really to be parents do to the word that was used in this article. It didn’t even say if their was a nursey put together and for a fact that cost way more then 2,000 bucks these days. Its great that you did go on to adopted kids, that was just poor word choice.