"From Heartbreak to Hope"

In this personal essay, one adoptive mom shares how she and her husband moved forward from a failed match.

A family successfully formed after a failed match

I began researching adoption after our first in vitro attempt failed. We weren’t going to let agonizing fertility problems keep us from the joy of raising children. For a number of reasons, including our desire for a newborn, we decided on a domestic adoption. Our research of adoption agencies led us to an agency that emphasized open adoption, in which birth parents and adoptive parents stay in touch after the baby is placed. John and I felt it would be best for our child to know about his birth parents as he got older.

After a litany of questions, much soul-searching, fingerprinting and background checks, endless paperwork, and a home study, we at last placed a newspaper ad and set up a toll-free number, so expectant mothers could call us. One of the first calls we got was from a 17-year-old girl, who said she was very nervous, but sure that adoption was the best plan for her baby: “We’re just too young to raise a child.” Her 18-year-old boyfriend agreed.

We met them shortly afterward, and we all bonded immediately. We talked about the girl’s pregnancy and the baby’s future with us. We all cried when she said she wanted us to be the parents of her baby.

Then, on a beautiful morning in June, we got the call that she was in labor. We rushed to the hospital, because she wanted us with her during the delivery. From ultrasounds, we knew the baby would be a girl, and we had already picked her name, Isabelle Celia. I was struck with amazement when her little head peeked through at the delivery. We had a few wonderful moments of holding her, looking into her bright blue eyes, and marveling at how tiny and perfect she was. Two days later, we were allowed to bring her home.

Three days after we brought Isabelle home, we got the heart-stopping call: Our adoption-agency counselor said that the baby’s mother had changed her mind and wanted her back. We were in shock. We had known this could happen, but we thought that, if it did, it would happen in the hospital right after the baby’s birth — not now. But the baby’s grandfather had arrived from out of state and promised to help raise the baby. Although the baby’s grandmother tried to reason with her, our birth mother had made up her mind. She wanted to keep the baby. Amidst tears, we took some pictures of baby Isabelle and told her we would always love her. We wanted her to have a good, happy life.

Nine months after our first adoption fell through, our son, Ben, was born. Not long before, we had met his birth parents. Instantly, it was as if they were old friends, and we sat in their kitchen talking and laughing for hours. They had three children through previous marriages, and wanted to help a childless couple by placing their baby for adoption.

We eventually decided to tell them of our previous experience, because we wanted them to know that, if we seemed hesitant, it was because our hearts had been broken. They went out of their way to create a positive experience for us, even though it was painful for them to say goodbye to their newborn son. I will never forget the words of Ben’s birth mother as she held him in her hospital bed. She looked at me and said, “Let’s let his mommy hold him now.” And then she gave him to me.

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