One thing is for certain. Just like people, no two adoption situations are going to be the same. There are no cookie cutter templates at your disposal to take the stress out of the unknowns. Adoption is a unique, special, and sometimes tragic event all wrapped up in one little package; a baby or child that we’ve dreamt of having as our own.
Mentally reconciling the emotional adoption process can take a bit of time, even for the most emotionally stable. There are a few things that you can count on throughout the process that are government or state enforced administrative, like paperwork and background screenings.
Please look to all resources available to determine which route is best for you and your family. I took an adjunct route, I’ll call it. My mother passed away in December and by January my husband and I were selected to become parents of a domestic baby girl. After taking care of my Mother for over 10 years in a nursing home after she suffered a pre-mature stroke, I was finally determined to switch gears in life and begin looking to the future, not the end of life as I had done daily for years. I was ready to be Mom. Being obsessive by nature and focused when determined to get something done, I went online and spent hours a day researching adoption tactics. I learned that you could search “adoption situations” online and find real people on lists looking for loving parents for their soon-due child. I searched online, talked to attorneys and called adoption agencies. I ultimately found a “situation” online through an adoption facilitator online database. This facilitator listed all of the women’s ‘available situation’ with baby gender, ethnicity, and other important circumstances. There were only a couple of families listed as sending their bios in on the “Caucasian-Latina baby girl” to be born by “M” who was listed in the facilitators’ database. I emailed our bios to the agency, sent in a fee and the facilitator submitted our information to the bio-mother. The bio-mother was in an emergency situation, she was on the streets with two children and needed financial support immediately. Our bios were sent to M. M was given our number and called me directly to screen me and my husband. She sounded tearful and desperate. I told her I’d send money right away for her hotel and we’d look for a house to rent for she and her kids. M sounded let down. Already disappointed with the process of broken promises that seem to be in abundance in the entire chain of the adoption process. M chose us to be the parents of her soon to be born baby girl.
I don’t think there is enough time to go into the personal feeling of being “chosen” to be a mother in an adoption situation. It has to be equal in exhilaration and excitement as being told that you have a positive pregnancy test. However, the excitement is short lived when you remember “oh, I could still be denied the baby”. This is a thought always running through your head until the day you finalize the adoption in court.
Adoption has a different connotation than before we ‘jumped in with both feet’. Our Bio-mother was homeless, we put her up in a house where she could live with her two children she had from previous relationships. M was a drug addict although she promised us she’d quit once she found out she was pregnant. M said she had stopped all drugs, except marijuana. After reading research statistics on effects of drugs on baby’s whose mother’s used them in the first trimester, we decided to accept this and went forward with the plan.
My husband and I became very close to M as we navigated the last 2 rocky months of her pregnancy. Through severe itching to diabetes and eventually, a baby that was born a month earlier than the due date given, we were together by phone almost daily. The bio-mother’s mom, who was a heroin addict, had died ten years before. We were extremely happy and comfortable with plans to share our daughter’s future with M. I felt maternal about M. We felt sharing our daughter with M could help keep the mystery out of the adoption process. Besides it seemed the right thing to do to keep the doors of love open between the families who can’t deny there is a natural connection. I didn’t feel M would be inappropriately involved in our lives. She just wanted to keep in touch. M loved this baby. M made me stay at her house after being released from the hospital when I was in California after the birth of our daughter. I slept in one of the small bedrooms of the home I was renting for her family. M showed me how to fix bottles filled with formula and tips on how to care for an infant. I was clueless about caring for a baby and had no mother of my own to ask questions. I enjoyed this special bonding time with M and her two children. The kids, one girl and one boy, called me their ‘angel’ for getting them off the streets and into their first house and asked me if I would put ‘Angel’ somewhere in the baby’s name, of which I happily did. After a seven day stay in California, I was approved by the states involved to travel home with my adopted girl and proceed with the rest of the process of legalizing our daughter as our own. I was elated about having our baby and enjoying every minute of motherhood. Our daughter was healthy, alert and a non-complainer. Administratively, the stress level was amazingly high. High stress is one thing you must expect through an adoption. After a few weeks and a little panic on my end, M finally signed parental relinquishment papers. That wasn’t the end of the battle. As soon as we received the birth mother sign-off, the bio-father sends a letter from prison saying he was going to petition against the adoption. My heart fell. We’d had our baby girl over a month and there was no way we could let her go. M finally intervened with the bio-father. M begged the bio-father to let our adoption go through for the best interest of the baby. He eventually backed off just in time to let us move forward in the legal process.
It was a relief to get through the first couple of months but unfortunately, these hiccups along the way don’t conclude our adoption journey. One hot day eleven weeks after our baby girl was born we received a call from California. A voice of one of M’s friends was on the other end of the line. She said M was found dead. She had drowned in the bathtub after doing heroin. The last time I’d spoken to M at length, M told me that her kids and boyfriend were ‘being mean’ to her. M said that her kids and boyfriend need to remember that she might be in the middle of postpartum depression. I suspect she had also gotten back on drugs. She would call me asking for money for food for the kids but I knew she got state support for food. I wondered if her kids were showing their resentment for her lack of attention by saying they ‘hated’ her and other things kids can do without truly meaning harm. The lines can be blurred between addiction and adoption. I don’t know if the drug simply got the best of her or if M really did this on purpose. I’m not sure if the adoption was the driving force behind the overdose, if it was an accident, or the lack of support from her boyfriend, or her own thoughts that pushed M back to drugs. It was her straying boyfriend she was on the phone with when she died. Her boyfriend could have called her dad in the other room to go in to the bathroom and save her but being in his own addiction stupor, he didn’t do anything. A note was found. We still don’t know if she meant this particular thing to happen that day as the note wasn’t dated. It is heartbreaking to remember the words from the note. She wrote about watching over everyone from heaven as they graduate schools and live their lives. I can only hope M is watching over all of us. I know I could use her support after enduring the loss of such a beautiful, honorable and loving person who was doing her best in life to survive against the odds. We wanted M to be in our lives forever. We care for her two children. M was absolutely brilliant and loving about how she allowed me in her personal life and shared with me the biggest thing I’ll ever have in mine. I have no idea how I will share this tragic story with our daughter. We hope to stay in contact with M’s children.
My attitudes towards adoption have changed after experiencing M’s death. I am now certain that the birth mother’s sacrifice is far greater than any of us who have not given up a baby can realize. My heart goes out to every one of these women making the hardest decision of their life. I don’t care if ‘they are on drugs’, or, ‘live on the street’, or are doing ‘fine’, or any other subtle statement that is used to make ourselves feel better about what we get and what the bio-mother loses. I never want to diminish the existence, the sheer heartache, the emotional trauma the bio-mother experiences through allowing another family to adopt her baby. In all cases of adoption someone has done something completely unnatural by giving up their baby. We show much respect to the adoptive families but in reality, it is what the bio-mother has done out of the love of her baby that makes adoption special. Most of us can’t imagine the strength this act must take. For their selfless act of adoption, let’s thank all of the incredible bio-mothers.
Process (by no means meant to be complete – these are general highlights)
– Complete Counseling, Paperwork,Background Checks for Homestudy – Approx. Cost – $1200-$1600
– Have adoption funds or access to it ‘” Approx. Total Cost – $10-$25,000
– Contact Specialized Facilitators, Attorneys, and Adoption Agencies can help
– Pick Up Child ‘” if at birth, sometimes from hospital
– Finalize Adoption Paperwork, Finalize bio-mother and bio-father relinquishment
– Finalize Post Adoption Counseling Visits
– Finalize adoption in court of child’s state of birth
There are many required administrative steps, including counseling to obtain a home study, background reports and financial reviews. You can go several routes for adoption, including working with an adoption attorney, in some cases this is a fairly inexpensive route. You can go through an adoption agency. This is usually a very long, but more structured path to adoption and sometimes more expensive. An adoption facilitator can help find fairly immediate available situations. If you go this route, you will pay the facilitator to find the situation for you, you’ll work with an adoption agency to handle the adoption paperwork and an attorney to finalize the adoption in courts. The good thing is that if you are interested in adoption, there are many available situations out there. When I began the process I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to turn so I went everywhere and I found something in very short amount of time. You mothers to be out there know what I mean when I said I was ‘ready’. When you are ready to be a mother nothing can get in your way, so I wish the best of luck to you and your adoption process. Let me know your story of adoption by sending me an email at email@example.com .