A year ago yesterday a sweet, tiny bundle was born weighing in at 4 lbs. 1 oz. We were told he was going to be our son. We were rushing to drive north to Michigan to meet him.
A year ago today we sat in a place of utter confusion. One minute we were being told he would be our son and I was snuggling him in the NICU. The next we were told it was uncertain what would happen.
A year ago tomorrow we were told he wasn't going to be a part of our family. We were so broken. We were so hurt. We had so much grief to process.
We are a year out now and the scene looks very different. We have a little ball of pudge that joined our family many months later. And we have had time to process what the past couple years have meant and what we could learn from them.
Thinking through these things brought me back to a conversation I had years ago with an agency that was sharing their rate of adoptions that didn't go through. In the industry they are called "failed adoptions", and that's a term I've used plenty before, but its not one I feel comfortable using now. The agency wanted us to know that they had a very low rate of women changing their mind after birth. This was a selling feature for them.
This brings two things to my mind. First, that can be a good thing. It can mean that the mothers involved got adequate counseling and were firm in their decisions by the time of the birth. But, it also makes me squirm a bit, because it can also mean that the mothers involved with that agency feel like they have to go through with their adoption plan. And that is in no way ok.
So right now, I can look back at the adoptions in our past that didn't happen, and be thankful. I can be thankful that the women parenting those babies are getting to parent those babies, because it is what they wanted to do. I can be thankful the agencies, social workers, and attorneys we worked with were the type of adoption professional that leaves parenting on the table as a viable option for the new mom. Because regardless of my love for those children, they were not mine. It would not have been ok for their moms to think that because we maybe have more of what society would deem ideal circumstances in which to raise a child that we should be the ones to raise them if thats not what the moms wanted.
So I'm now in a place of wanting to see "failed adoptions" as "successful decisions to parent". We must never, as adoptive parents or adoption professionals, remove from moms their rights to be able to parent and choose to only see these decisions through the lens of what we were hoping the outcome would be. That doesn't mean that there isn't grief, processing, and hurt to work through as I surely know there is. But it is a reminder to not get ourselves so wrapped up in a situation that we lose sight of where the focus should be.