Waiting for the Phone to Ring
Went visiting with Eric and his family in May and then took a 2-month break from the blog. The way life goes, I suppose. The topics haven’t stopped coming, though, and it feels like the right time to get back to it. So here we continue the story…
My son is about to become an uncle. Which means his sister is about to become a mom, and his mom is about to become a grandma. All for the first time. I know Kathy won’t mind my sharing this FB post she put up yesterday…
Got me to thinking that if she’s this impatient waiting for this baby, waiting for news about Eric’s birth must have been even more challenging. There are funny pictures from Jill’s baby shower of Kathy with her hand on “the bump,” and I personally witnessed Kathy tease her daughter about talking to her grandson during my visit in May. Even though I could tell it really bothered Jill, she’s probably somewhat used to the banter and her mother’s ways.
When Kathy and Bruce were waiting for Eric to come, I’m guessing the wait would have been much more serious, less playful. And how could it have been anything other, given how high the stakes were? I remember at some point hearing Kathy say that she had only washed half of the baby clothes they’d bought in preparation for Eric’s arrival. It was her version of crossing her fingers – trying not to jinx the adoption by being over-eager.
I scoured the web in search of statistics for the numbers of women who start off making an adoption plan and change their minds – at any point in the process – before the placement is complete. Those statistics are impossible to find. Here are some of the answers I uncovered, some from adoption “forums.” My comments are in bold/italic.
- Everyone that I know who has successfully adopted experienced at least one failed match.1 [They evidently haven’t met the Stanfields.]
- There’s always a risk. Most potential birthmothers make adoption plans because their circumstances seem less than ideal for a baby… but occasionally circumstances change, or potential birthmothers decide to keep their children despite their circumstances. You simply can’t consider a child yours until after the adoption is final, or at least until after the relinquishment is signed. I realize it’s difficult and unfair, that it is emotionally traumatic and can be devastating financially to have adoption after adoption fall through. I wish that adoptive parents didn’t have to pay agencies or facilitators any money until after they got the baby.2 [Could you make it even sound slightly more like you are buying the baby?!]
- Believe me, we heard tons of stories and were quite frankly terrified of domestic open adoption when we first heard of it. Over time, we learned that the old advertising rule “if a customer is happy, they’ll tell 3 people, if they’re unhappy, they’ll tell 23” applies in adoption – we tend to share our unhappy stories much more often then our happy ones. We found that in only a very small percentage of cases, and in many of those there were huge red flags, did birth families change their adoption plan.3 [Thank you for your thoughtful comments!]
- The number of expectant mothers that change their mind is low; it should not deter hopeful adoptive parents from desiring to adopt. … To decrease the likelihood that a Birth Mother changes her mind about adoption, expectant mothers should speak to mental health professionals that are not affiliated with the adoption agency to prevent her from feeling overwhelmed or pressured to place her child. It should be a well thought out decision rooted in understanding and peace and not based on emotions.4 [This is a good idea and should be mandatory – not just a nice idea for a blog post.]
- There are certain warning signs that may indicate a birthmother (or birth parents) is more likely to change her mind and decide to parent. This is obviously an inexact science, so take them as red flags only. [There are twelve points. I’m listening only the “red flags” I would have set off.]
- Has not shared her adoption plans with her family or the birth father. [I’d have failed on this count, as I didn’t tell my folks about Eric until his first birthday. Kathy was the only prospective adoptive mom I met who understood that and didn’t try to make me feel guilty about it.]
- Seems too sure and confident of her decision. If she sounds rehearsed or scripted, she likely is.5 [I’d have failed on this count, too. I don’t think I sounded scripted, but I never really wavered in my decision – even though the agency thought I was wavering because I didn’t like any of the 11 families’ profiles I saw before Kathy and Bruce’s.]
- Though they are rare, and most adoptions go through seamlessly, revocations by birth parents happen.6 [Vague details are all I can uncover – someone may have hard numbers, but I don’t know where they’re hiding.]
There was no need for Kathy and Bruce to worry. I made my adoption plan the second I peed on that strip and saw the little pink + sign, and the two blue lines, and whatever other methods the six additional pregnancy tests I took used to indicate POSITIVE. I knew my son would grow up with other people, call another woman Mommy – and I never wavered in that knowledge.
Speaking of the kiddo – he’s not talking to me again right now. Not really sure why. Maybe the week we spent together was too much. Maybe he still has questions, but it’s just easier not to ask them. Maybe he’s hurting. I think about him every day – and daily say a prayer of thanks and wish him well. It’s all I can do from here. We’ll circle back again soon, and I’m OK with that knowledge.
All eyes will be on the new baby soon, anyway. And that’s always a good thing.
- Same as above
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Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, and consultant who coaches other authors to make and market exceptional books that change the world for the better. She is birthmother to Eric, who is finishing college in Boston this summer. Their adoption has been open for the better part of Eric’s life. She continues to toy with the idea that these posts will one day become a book. In the meantime, you can learn about her novel in progress, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.