Coping with a Failed Adoption

I can still remember every detail of the night we experienced our first failed adoption.

It was a hot, clear, summer night. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at work, as my shift had just ended. My husband and I hadn’t heard from the expectant mother in a few days and somehow I knew things were not right. So when our adoption attorney called to say that our hopeful adoption situation had come to an end, I wasn’t too surprised. However, I was still in shock.

I had tried to tell myself that I was just being paranoid and that everything was going to be fine. Up until that point, everything seemed to be going so well. We had a great relationship with the expectant mother. We had talked regularly and had recently gone to her state to visit her.

Most people just assumed we would dust ourselves off and try again. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. It was so hard not to feel angry at people who seemed to shrug off our heavy heartache as if it wasn’t that big of a deal.

I drove home in silence and then broke the devastating news to my husband and our children. It didn’t feel real. I was numb. That night, I couldn’t even cry; on the second night, both my husband and I lay in bed and sobbed. We felt like someone we loved had died.

We felt so alone in our grief.  We weren’t even sure that we were allowed to call it grief. It felt selfish to cry over a baby that belonged to someone else. What were we supposed to do? How were we supposed to act? We felt so lost.

On the same hand, the people around us didn’t know what to say or what to do either. Unless you have experienced it, it is difficult to understand the depths of emotion that come with a failed adoption. Most people just assumed we would dust ourselves off and try again. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. It was so hard not to feel angry at people who seemed to shrug off our heavy heartache as if it wasn’t that big of a deal.

I remember the one response that struck a deep nerve. It was a simple, “Bummer.” It felt so trite and dismissive compared to the broken pieces of my heart that were rattling around in my chest.

So, what do you do when you find yourself experiencing a failed adoption?

Remember, every step, every stumble, and every tear is getting you closer to the right situation. One day, you will be rocking the most wanted, loved, and cherished child in your arms. You will be completely amazed that he’s even real; and you will look into his eyes and know that it was all worth it.

Have you experienced a failed adoption? What helped you work through it?

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