Has anyone else seen that article floating around Facebook, The Child I Didn’t Adopt by Liz Curtis Faria? When I reached the end I remembered an experience Tyson and I had early in our journey to parenthood through adoption. The baby we decided not to adopt. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of a baby that we didn’t adopt. We never thought our first actual contact by an expectant mom would come a mere month after receiving news that we were approved. We also never expected to say no to a situation.

In late December one year, we were contacted by an expectant mother who happened to be within a couple of months of delivering her precious little one. We emailed for a bit and then quite suddenly our caseworkers talked and decided that it was time for all of us to meet in person. So we went up to her local agency to meet with her parents, social worker, and herself.

As this was our first time meeting our nerves were crazy in anticipation. We put together a little present to give her including some silly socks (I have a thing for socks with patterns) and some favorite treats that Tyson and I enjoy and we made the almost hour-long drive sweaty hands held tight trying to calm our nerves. Naturally, we arrived early and sat in the car trying to calm each other down. We had an idea of what she would ask us about and tossed around ideas of what we could ask her.

Sounds like almost any other first face to face with an expectant mother, right? Now I’ll let you in on the big twist… The baby had been positively diagnosed with a condition that could not only require immediate surgery but could be fatal. If the baby was to survive delivery then he/she would need higher specialized care and no doubt we would need extensive training.

Between receiving that first e-mail and meeting her face to face we did as much research as possible. I contacted doctors, tried to learn all that I could, and had many lengthy conversations with Tyson. At the end of each discussion, we agreed that we needed to meet her and see how things felt. There was no way that we could make any kind of decision until we had that face to face.

The meeting went great. She’s an amazing young woman who was equally as shy and nervous as we were. Her parents were kind wonderful and so welcoming to us. They had all kinds of questions for us some about parenting in general and some specific ones regarding the recent diagnosis. After we hugged and parted ways we took a few minutes to talk with our caseworker. No decisions were made and we all agreed we needed some time to think things over.

A week or so went by during which Tyson and I had many more discussions. I couldn’t say it then, but I came away from each talk more and more discouraged and frustrated. There was this preconceived idea I had that since she chose us we had to accept. What if we didn’t say yes, we wouldn’t be chosen again or we would be ‘blackballed’ by our agency.

Towards the end of the time, we had to make our decision we came to the same conclusion. That special baby wasn’t ours. There were countless tears shed as I tried to convince myself that we were meant to be this baby’s parents.

Tyson and I sat down and composed an email (we didn’t have any other means of contact) to the expectant mother letting her know how much we admired and respected her and how we wished her and the baby all the best and that we didn’t believe we were the right parents to give all that was needed.

A month or so down the road I reached out to her mother to see how she was doing. The baby was born early and was doing great! She had found another family nearby and the mom was even a nurse. The baby was confirmed to have that condition but was doing great and thriving. That email was the biggest relief. I still think about the baby all the time, but I know its parents are the right ones.

I don’t know that I’ve ever really told people about the first two months of our home study approved journey, but after reading that article I knew I had to. We hear so often about failed adoptions (we had some before adopting our son), but we rarely hear about this equal heart-wrenching side. Maybe we don’t discuss it due to the fears I listed. Maybe we as hopeful adoptive and adoptive parents want to maintain a certain image.  Perhaps it is denial.  Regardless of the reasons, turning down an adoption referral is a difficult and emotional rollercoaster.

Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.