One Mom's Story of Open Adoption

One Step Closer

Happily for us, we were selected as potential adoptive parents by four different birth mothers. No one can say what draws a birth mother to pick one couple over another. One said that we resembled her own family, another said that we seemed happy in our pictures, and yet another said that she liked the fact that we went to church regularly.

The first was a birth mother in Cincinnati who already had two children, one of whom had a disability. She was 22 and thought we were "perfect." We spoke to her on the phone for several hours; she was enthusiastic and gave us specific details about how she wanted the adoption to be handled. All that she requested was that we be present for the birth of her son. She gave us the hospital address and date, which was just a few weeks away, and we scrambled to make preparations to get there, overwhelmed by the fact that we'd be parents in a few weeks.

But when we arrived in her hospital room, I knew that something wasn't right. The birth mother's new live-in boyfriend was there, and she didn't want any time alone with us. She let us hold the baby, but didn't take her eyes off us for a second. We left after about an hour, feeling unnerved and empty. The next day we received a call from the social worker in Cincinnati; the birth mother requested that we not visit or call for the next two days, and she would let us know what to do next. For the next 48 hours, we didn't shower, sleep, or eat until we got a second call from the social worker. "The birth mother has decided to parent," she said, in adoption lingo. We wouldn't be taking the baby home.

Other Chances, Other Options

The disappointment was overwhelming. Telling our friends and family that we would return without a baby was devastating. I lay in bed for five days with a migraine, moaning to the air, "We will never have a child." The sadness grew like a wedge between my husband and me. Our social worker from Pact told us that there would be a next time. We listened as she consoled us, but our sadness and rage at the injustice of it all was too much. Though we'd been chosen by three other birth mothers, we withdrew our adoption portfolio until May.

By April, I was rejuvenated and excited to get back into the process, and in the first few days of May, the phone rang with a new possibility, a baby girl in Ohio. The situation was heartbreaking. The baby's teenage birth mother had spent ten years in foster care and conceived the child at a party with a man whose name she didn't know. And although she liked our profile, she was so ashamed about her situation that she wouldn't even speak to us. If we went forward, what would we tell that little girl about where she came from? We didn't know if we could tackle such a legacy of shame, pain, and sadness.

The very next day, while we were still thinking about the little girl, the phone rang again. It was a second local agency with whom we'd also registered. There was a Caucasian birth mother who was going to give birth to a biracial baby boy in the middle of the month. We were her first choice, and she didn't want any contact with the baby until he was 18, and only if he wanted to pursue a relationship with her. We were thrilled; we'd have the child we'd dreamed about without having to deal with a complicated relationship with the birth mother.

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