The call came in on a Friday, “Congratulations, you are pregnant!” The four words I had been waiting, hoping, and praying to hear for the past three years. Today was the day; it was finally my turn! I immediately called my husband and started making plans.
Two weeks later sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room, something felt off. Watching other couples come out with their ultrasound photos, photos of their baby, a wave of anxiety swept over me. At that moment, I knew that we would not be receiving photos of our baby. Minutes later, the panicked look on the ultrasound tech’s face said everything. When the doctor came in, he confirmed my worst fear—“Sorry, there is no heartbeat.” After that, everything else was a blur. I was given different options and forced to make decisions I never wanted or planned to make that day.
In the following months, I went through multiple surgical procedures and another IVF frozen transfer. All with the same outcome—no pregnancy. And, I was DONE. I needed a different process. So began the process of researching adoption.
First question—how does adoption work? I did not realize how many avenues of adoption were available. Domestic or international? Consultant or established firm? Private or foster care?
After much soul searching, we decided on private, domestic adoption with a private firm. After determining the type of adoption we wanted to pursue, we chose an adoption firm. Then came the paperwork! So much paperwork! However, after working in Human Resources for years, this was my time to shine. I can do paperwork. I was in control of how fast or slow this process went, and from my perspective, there was no time to lose.
Just shy of three weeks later, all of our paperwork, our home study, and our online profile were completed. We were officially on the adoption waitlist waiting for an expectant mother to choose us. The firm consistently told us that it takes an average of 18-24 months to complete an adoption. Naive to the process and what a potential birth mother was looking for, we followed the firm’s guidance when it came to online and print profiles and the profile video.
It took three years—Three years before we got the call that an expectant mother wanted to speak with us. Within those three years, we had completed three home studies, moved to a different state (which required another home study), changed around our profile, changed jobs, got pregnant, had a baby at 24 weeks, and had put more than $30,000 into the adoption process. Then a slow April day in 2020, I let a call roll to voicemail. As the voicemail played, I heard the words that we had been waiting to hear: “There is a[n expetant] mother who wants to meet you!” We entered into this phase as we did with every phase up to this point: with cautious optimism, but little did we know at that time that 2020 would be our wildest ride yet.
After speaking with Alana, she picked us! Our agency immediately filed all of the appropriate paperwork, listed on relevant state registries, and had both parties secure legal representation. This is the first time we had ever had a need to for legal representation and there was a definite learning curve to this process. Knowing what I know now, I would have requested that the agency provide a birth mother liaison to monitor the conversation between birth mom and adoptive parents.
Our birth mom was no stranger to the process, this was her tenth pregnancy and all of her children were adopted into different families. She was familiar with the process and understood what was customary for the role.
We exchanged phone numbers to maintain communication, and she was not afraid to ask for what she wanted. We were afraid that if we did not comply, she would choose another family. So, we found ourselves in a situation where we could not keep up with the requests. We were in constant contact with Alana and our lawyer to determine what was reasonable and within the adoption guidelines to grant, and the perfect storm of friction between the three parties began to build.
A month into the relationship and it came to blows with us and the legal team. We both expressed our frustration regarding the lack of birth mother liaison services, but after a long conversation, it was determined that this role fell with the legal team. Moving forward, all monetary requests would go through the legal team.
To complicate this process further, we were at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Alana lived in a different state than we did, and at that time, any traveling was highly uncertain. She wanted to meet us in person, and we wanted to oblige, but it was suggested to us by the legal team and the adoption firm to wait.
Right as she entered her third trimester, we were able to finally make arrangements to meet her. I thought the perfect activity would be to take her to a 3D ultrasound. Therefore, I set up the time, place, and date. I communicated all of the details with all of the parties and even triple-checked and confirmed plans. Everything was running smoothly until the day of the ultrasound. Alana was not responding to any communication. We has just traveled over a thousand miles and we could not find the expectant mom. Things were starting to look bleak; so, we contacted the legal team to see if they had any guidance.
They began to reach out to her and finally connected. We had to agree to pay her to get her to go. Looking back, this was one of the first signs that something strange was going on in this match. She seemed to have changed her mind about plans that she wanted to make originally. Due to the communication gap, we barely made it to our appointment. All doubts were erased from my mind once I saw that sweet baby boy on the ultrasound. There was a real baby and we were ready to be his parents.
As we got closer to her due date, communication began to get confused. The entire pregnancy we were told one specific due date, then all of a sudden, the due date began to jump around. The story seemed to be a little bit different every time we spoke with Alana and her requests for above and beyond what was originally agreed upon became much more frequent.
Still, we moved forward with the original plan and arranged everything with our employers to have leave set up when the baby came. We set up plans with our parents on how the logistics would work with our current son to ensure that everyone was taken care of. We decorated his room and made sure that all of the baby proofing was completed. We were ready—cautiously optimistic each day as the due date approached.
Then it happened, the day before the due date, sitting in my cubical at work, I got a long text message. It was Alana. She had the baby overnight and decided to place him with another family. In disbelief, still trying to process this message, I get a call from our adoption firm and legal team at the same time. Alana had been matched to two families the entire pregnancy.