Any time you decide to grow your family, it requires a tremendous leap of faith. When you conceive a child, you take a big risk in hopes that your pregnancy will be uncomplicated and successful and that your baby will be healthy, happy and born with ten fingers and toes. You hope the “good” genes will get passed on and the less desirable ones won’t make it into the mix. But you never know. Baby-making is a gamble. So many things can go wrong.
It’s the same with adoption. Only with adoption, in addition to worrying about the health of the baby and all that comes with that, adoptive parents have an additional concern. An adoptive parent’s leap of faith is more like a catapulted canyon vault of faith because none of it, is, ultimately, under our control. We hope our baby is happy and healthy, of course, but we also worry about the birthmother suddenly deciding our baby is not really our baby after all. Our biggest fear is that we will get attached to a baby only to have the birthmother change her mind after birth. There is always a chance that could happen, and that would surely be painful, but I try not to think about it because all I can do is trust in our journey. Living in fear of what could go wrong won’t do anything but drive me crazy.
For some reason, though, people feel the need to tell me the worst stories they’ve ever heard about adoption. “Oh, you’re adopting? Well, you’ve got to hear this horrible story that happened to my friend’s mother’s cousin… you just won’t believe how awful and traumatizing it was…”
At first, I listened attentively to these stories, and they would make me nervous. But I’ve gotten used to brushing them off and now I pretty much just tune out when someone starts to tell me one. (If there’s a glazed look in my eye and I seem far, far away, someone may be telling me an adoption horror story.) The storytellers are always well-meaning–I know they don’t understand what it feels like for me to hear those stories. Unfortunately, it’s just what people think of when adoption comes up. Maybe the only adoption stories they’ve ever heard are negative or maybe people truly think they are helping us by preparing us for the worst. But no one enters into adoption lightly. Trust me, on behalf of all pre-adoptive parents: your horror story isn’t news to us. We have already thought about the worst, many times over… and we have decided to do this anyway.
For as many horror stories as we have read or heard, we have also heard some really beautiful ones. More importantly, though, there is a little voice inside of us urging us on and telling us that it will somehow be all right. That this is the way we are meant to become parents and that if we are brave and strong enough to rise above the fear and negativity, we may just get to experience the love of a lifetime. That even if the worst does happen to us before the best, it will all be worth it in the end.
If you have told us a scary adopting story, please don’t feel bad. It’s human nature to want to caution one another, and we really do appreciate your concern. But we are prepared (as much as anyone can be). If the worst happens, we will handle it with grace and try again, knowing we are that much closer to finding our child. What will be will be. So, if you’d like to tell us stories, we’d much rather hear happy ones. There are actually quite a lot of those out there, too, and I bet they’re much more fun to tell.
6 thoughts on “Please, no more adoption horror stories”
When you are pregnant, women always want to tell you the worst giving birth stories…human nature…gotta love it!!
I know – I was thinking about that. I’m sure I’ve done that or the equivalent at some point. “Oh, boy, wait until you go into labor… I heard you po*p all over the table…” 🙂
Good morning…. because I can’t help myself… our attorney (yours and mine) likes to say remember “It’s her body and her baby until she says otherwise.” This was one of the most important things anyone ever said to us because it changed my mindset from fear – fear that she might change her mind – to hope, hope that she says “yes.” And as many don’t know even though our birthmother was completely resolved in her choice and decision the birthfather was less enthusiastic. Not that he wasn’t on board, he wasn’t anything. He somehow missed that she was pregnant, missed that she gave birth and missed that he had fathered a child. And they lived together (legally giving him lots and lots of rights). And he slow rolled the process to terminate rights choosing a passive path – allowing the 30 days he had to protest the adoption to expire so he passively allowed the adoption to happen (now our attorney made sure at 30 days he terminated rights and showed up on his doorstep to sign the paperwork and inform him of his rights but that’s another story). In that 30 day waiting time people kept asking us if we were scared? Scared of her changing her mind, scared of him coming to get D. And the answer was no, we weren’t scared because we had hope and we were honored for every sleep deprived moment we had with her. As I said time and again (as everyone who came to wish us well expressed concern that something might go wrong and something horrible might happen and someone might change their mind….. ) I can’t imagine not being her mother and I can’t imagine that there isn’t a soul on this earth that wouldn’t fight and die for the privilege to do so – so yes if someone changes their might I would not be surprised and I will value the time we had together but I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t come get her. I love her and I am something more then her mother, I am her ma’am. If it is best for her to be with her biological family I wouldn’t be surprised or fight it, I would honor it. I would be sad but I would know that I gave her a mother’s love and a mother’s gift and hand her over. Eric on the other hand had a bag packed ready to run away with her (He and D have a special bond). So yes horror stories happen. But they happen when folks don’t dot i’s and cross t’s and don’t take in the mind set that this child is loved by so many already that they all want to fight for her (they happen with less careful or sketchy attorneys, and a lot in the foster-system). You have the gift of a ma’ma’s love and you can do what’s best for your Charlie – always – even if that means handing her over into another’s arms. Because the second they put that baby in your arms you are going to understand something that non-adoptive parents sometimes take for granted – your love is bigger than fear, your love is hope. And we hope for you too.
Thanks, Jennie. I absolutely get what you’re saying – and the incredible turmoil every birthmother goes through. If being with his/her birth family is what’s best for the baby and the family, then I would never want to stand in the way of that. It truly is a privilege to even be considered as adoptive parents and I will want what is best for my child, even if he or she is only my child for a short time. I will keep that, and your story, in mind whenever I start to feel the nerves creeping in. Charlie will find his or her way to us, however long it takes. If we help another baby along the way, than we will be all the more fortunate for it.
I just found your blog and am absolutely loving it. We are just starting our adoption journey and it’s already becoming very emotional. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what we should do. I know that the decision we’re making is the right one for us and that’s really all that matters. Our baby will find us when he or she is supposed to. Their color may not match us; they may not resemble us physically; but all that matters is that at the end of this journey my husband and I will be mom and dad to an incredible little person.
Thank you so much, Danielle! My advice is listen to your heart and not anyone else. Everyone has an opinion and a horror story. Adoption requires bravery and courage — you’re taking a big old leap of faith. But in our hearts we knew it was the right thing for us and we couldn’t have been more right. Best of luck to you and your husband!