Thursday, February 3, 2011

Adoption Fail

How to even start this. I apologize because this is going to be crappy, choppy writing. It is totally stream of consciousness and I don’t have the inclination to edit. This will be repetitive for some of you but I’ll start at the beginning of this story. As many of you know, we were approved (in Virginia) to adopt a little less than a year ago. We have been planning on an open domestic adoption. On January 5th we received a call from our Agency that a birth mother had picked us and that her due date was January 17th. So we scrambled to get things together, which we managed to do mostly because of the generosity of you all and many others. We met the birth mother (Ying) on the 13th and had, by all accounts, a wonderful meeting with her.

On paper this whole match was about as good a situation as one could ask for. The birth mom had been getting pre-natal care for most of her pregnancy, had been working with the Agency for most of her pregnancy and, we assumed, had really thought through her decision to make an adoption plan for her baby.

At our meeting we expressed to her what we hoped to name the baby and said we would like to have one of his names incorporate Ying’s Thai heritage. We walked away from that meeting so confident as did the Agency personnel.

So on the 19th we get a call from that Agency that Ying is at the hospital and would like us to be there. We arrive at the hospital and spend time with Ying in her room as she is in labor. Fast forward to that evening, and the doctor has decided that Ying needs to have a C-section to deliver. Ying tells the Agency social worker that she would like Julie to be in the OR with her while the C-section is performed. Julie suits up and is there, holding Ying’s hand through the whole thing and is actually the first person to hold little Stephen.

Because of the C-section Ying has to stay in the hospital until Saturday and the baby stays with her. We visit every day (making sure that it is OK with her) and get to spend quality time with Stephen and with Ying who was going to be part of our extended family. This was, after all, a completely open adoption and we had agreed there would be regular visits.

During this time we’re also racing to finish up some outstanding paperwork. Because we had moved to a new home in DC from Virginia, the Agency needed to update our homestudy with a visit from the social worker and we needed to get our FBI background check redone and get a DC Child Abuse database check. Now indulge me for a moment as I rant about the FBI background check. I see the purpose in this background check – no question. Here’s what I don’t understand. We had the same check done to be approved in Virginia – fingerprints are sent to the FBI to be run through their NCIC to make sure we aren’t criminals. If we had still been in Virginia this check was still valid – not like a lot of time had passed BUT states (or in this case a state and DC but it would be the same if we had moved anywhere) don’t have reciprocity. So it wouldn’t have mattered if the check had been done the week before, DC wouldn’t recognize it. Luckily we had started this process before Christmas and before we knew there was a match. So this check came back (negative of course) during the course of events. /rant. So what all this means is that until the paperwork comes through, we can’t take Stephen home – he has to be with a foster family (I suppose in retrospect this was a bit of a blessing). Now he was placed with a truly wonderful foster family who took fantastic care of him but they were in fucking Haymarket, Virginia (yes fucking needs to be part of the name). This, with no traffic (rare) is over an hour each way. Maybe the Agency didn’t have anyone closer who was ready to take a baby but maybe they just didn’t look hard enough – I don’t know and my anger is probably getting in the way here. So after Stephen was discharged we would trek out to see him in fucking Haymarket. At first every day but we realized that the foster family had a life too and so cut back our visits to maybe every other day. I was managing to still work part time and eventually went back full time so as not to blow through all my leave before we even got him home. By the way (I warned you I would ramble), once our paperwork came through we still couldn’t take him home because we had to wait for ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children) approval, which needed to be signed off by Virginia and DC. That would only take 7-10 days, during which we would be with Stephen but couldn’t leave Virginia. Of course through all this we were also waiting for the revocation period to end. Every state has a different period of time during which a birth parent can change their mind after signing a document giving up custody of their child. In Virginia that time period is 7 days.

So here we are, visiting Stephen (Julie more than me since I am working now) as often as possible, hoping the DC child abuse database check comes in soon when I get a call from the Agency telling me the birth mother has changed her mind. I am glad she called me instead of Julie because I can’t imagine her alone while I try to race home via public transportation.

That was yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

This morning (Wednesday) we had to wake up, get ourselves out the door, drive to Falls Church, Virginia (at least it wasn’t fucking Haymarket) to see Stephen for the last time and say goodbye. As far as goodbye visits go, it was perfect. He was awake, happy and active. We got to feed him and change his diaper. We had him for about an hour. Then we had to hand him over, walk out the door, collect the things we had given the foster family to use like the bassinet and drive away – family sans Stephen.

Now Ying has every right to make this decision and who knows, maybe it is the right decision. But from my position it can’t be. While her circumstances have changed a little I don’t believe they’ve changed enough to make that much of a difference. Yes I’m sure I am biased but I’m also sure that I’m right. So as my brain hurts itself trying to apply logic where none exists, I am left with nothing. No good reason for any of this other than to have Stephen in our lives if only for a short time. While it is so painful now, somewhere deep down I know that this brief time makes it worthwhile.

I still believe in the Agency we’re using and wouldn’t change them but I do have questions about this situation and, at the moment, believe there were dots not connected that should have been. Topics not delved into deep enough. You can be sure my questions will be more probing and more precise next time and if I have even a hint of something that doesn’t feel right, I will run that issue to ground and to hell with anyone who gets annoyed or pissed off with me. If given any choice at all, I cannot, will not and should not trust my situation to anyone else but my family.

I don’t know anything about Stephen’s future anymore – I don’t know who exactly will raise him, what country he will be raised in, whether he will have a father figure or even if his name will remain as Stephen. All I have is my love for him and my deepest desire and fondest wishes for all the love and joy he needs for a wonderful life.


  1. My heart aches as I read this through tears. I don't know what else to say but to send you both virtual hugs. I had no idea about Julie being in OR for the C-section. This is so wrong. So very wrong.

  2. Snurf. A perfect entry for a far-from-perfect situation and experience. Sending you lots of love, Bill. Thanks for sharing your pain and your love. xoxoxo leah

  3. I have no words...understand how you had to write this. Still sending lots of love...
    xxx Ellen.

  4. Bill- Remember that book I lent you by Neely Tucker. He and his wife had a very similar experience. You are not alone. This happens, sadly, often. I know that doesn't make it better or less painful, but know that you are not alone in your pain. I don't have an explanation for why this happened to you, but I can only say that perhaps oneday you and Julie will be able to find some sense to how and why it did. I have cried for you both, literally. You are good people and you did not deserve this pain. All I can say it to TRY to find the ray of hope and sunshine in this dark and painful situation. Perhaps you changed Ying and Stephen's life in ways you will never actually know or understand. Love is never wasted or for nothing. Your love and your kindness made the world of a tiny life a better one, even though it was for a short time. I pray that you WILL have your child someday very soon. I am so sorry for your heartbreak. Life is filled with so many losses and this one, I know, is very hard to bear. God bless and sustain you both. YOU ARE in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong for one another.

  5. love you guys, and thinking of you all the time. Hugs!

  6. Oh Bill...Both of you have acted in the most loving way. My heart is in pain reading this...Thank you for sharing something so so personal. I am at a loss for words. I can't even imagine what you & Julie must be going through. Take care of each other. Be there for each other. I know you will. I am so so sorry. There are so many other things I'd like to say about the adoption process but I'll just stop. It won't change your situation nor bring Stephen back. Know that you & Julie are loved. xxx

  7. Oh man, this is awful. John and I send you guys our condolences and prayers. Stay strong, the right baby will come along.