Monday, February 2, 2009

Coping with a Failed Placement

In December 1999, a year after being approved for adoption, my husband and I received the news we had been praying for… a birth mother had chosen us to be the parents of her one-month-old baby girl. We did what any excited expecting couple would do…we announced the news to our family and then went shopping. We were to pick up this little baby in two days. We were told that the birth mother felt strongly about her decision and had received spiritual confirmation that it was right, so we were surprised to learn the placement was on hold while she struggled to gain family support. After six weeks of being told: “W e feel this will still happen,“ we learned that the birth mother had decided to parent. We didn‘t blame her for this decision, and we hoped for the best for her and her baby. We picked ourselves up and sadly moved forward. We just felt numb during the first few days, but as time went on, the pain became stronger until we felt as if all were lost. Mornings were especially difficult. The desire to do anything but lie in bed forever was practically non-existent. Seeing pregnant women and witnessing blessings at church were more painful than before. There were times when I would walk into the nursery, take out the baby clothes we had purchased, and rocked them to my chest as I sobbed. One night I thought I heard a baby crying. I felt so alone, so hopeless, and I wondered if I was going crazy. No one seemed to understand what we were going through, and people said all the wrong things. They seemed to think It as nothing. Finally at some point a person (actually a worker at LDS Family Services…not our own worker)validated my pain by letting me know that what I was feeling was similar to what a woman would feel if she had miscarried. I received another gift when the Lord blessed me with a dream that renewed my hope. I hung on to that hope as If it were a life preserver. It came at the darkest time of my life, and it helped me survive. In May 2002 my sister delivered her only baby girl…stillborn. It was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced. Diane went home with lots of material about what to expect in the grieving process, and because I was one of her primary caretakers, I read the information. Not only did I learn about what my sister might be going through, but I also realized that if any-one could be there for her, it was me. All of the things mothers feel after losing a baby were what I had felt when the placement didn‘t happen back in 1999. This experience brought a new understanding and comfort to me. In July 2000 my husband and I had our first baby girl placed in our arms. It was a miraculous day! I have never felt so much joy and gratitude. Then, in October 2002, our second daughter was placed with us, and we felt like we held the world in our hands. The pain of our infertility and adoption loss made the joy of parenthood that much sweeter. In August2006we again faced a failed placement. After working with our birth mother for her entire pregnancy, she chose to parent. But this time I was armed with the knowledge of what to expect, and I knew that, just as before, the Lord would help us as we tried to pickup the pieces. We also had a worker who cared about us and called to see what she could do. These things made this loss easier to bear, and we truly felt that the Lord was carrying our pain for a time. I didn‘t feel the full impact of the loss for almost a year…but by then, the Lord had brought understanding to my heart, and I was able to bear it better. The following year, we were able to adopt our son, Camden, who has added so much joy to our family. Couples, if you have experienced a failed placement, you are not alone in your loss. Many of us have felt the pain, anger, and hopelessness you feel. If your worker is not reaching out to you, then reach out to them, your FSA board, or anyone else who will listen. Let your bishop know about your loss; let people in your ward and family help you. They may not fully understand, but many will want to help. If you are currently hoping that a birth mother will choose you, consider preparing a plan for what should happen if you ever suffer a failed placement/adoption. If you need someone to take over and call your bishop for you, that is OK. Let your worker be the one to call. Share your plan with your worker and your bishop, and let them be part of it. If you would rather be left alone, share that as well. I am thankful to say that while my husband and I have suffered through much loss, we have actually gained from those losses. We have gained greater empathy, greater compassion for anyone who is grieving over the loss of a child (including birth mothers),and a greater love for our Savior and our three incredible children. Grief is a difficult journey, but we can be blessed with comfort and help as we travel.
Written By: Brenda Horrocks
Published in FSA National Newsletter Spring 2008


Tanya Hermansen said...

wow, this was so beautiful and insightful. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and feelings.

Ps. I came over anothersmalladventure. I think ;).

We have one son adopted and have worked on adopting again for the past two years. It's has been difficult to realize that that it just has been the right time for our family. We have worked on numerous adoptions that have all failed during the process. It is very emotionally challenging and it's nice to talk with others that have experienced that loss and can understand what you are going through.

Heather said...

I am glad you have decided to keep posting on this blog. I can't imagine having such personal thoughts and feelings attacked others but I am glad you are going to continue. I very much relate to your words and appreciate them. I feel like my feelings are validated. I often keep them to myself because many do not understand and because I am so afraid that people will view them as desperate, unappreciative or emotionally unstable. Sometimes it feels as though we have to appear perfect in order to be worthy to adopt. I know this is usually not the case and I am grateful for this opportunity. It just feels good to know that we are not alone when we struggle with these feelings. I appreciate your courage and candidness.