How to Cope with an Adoption Disruption

It can be devastating when an adoption falls through.

Meghan Rivard July 01, 2015
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You have been working hard throughout the adoption process, filling out paperwork, getting background checks, waiting, buying clothes and toys, decorating the nursery/child’s room, and filling out more paperwork. You are thrilled because an expectant mother has picked you—or you are have been matched with a child. And then your worst nightmare happens: the adoption falls through. In a domestic infant adoption, an adoption disruption may mean the expectant mother changed her mind about placement and decided to parent herself. She has the right to change her mind until the papers are signed. In some states, that can happen after you’ve brought the baby home with you. In an international adoption, a disruption may occur because the child you are matched with became too ill to travel, or because of governmental issues.

Whatever the situation, it is heartbreaking. My husband and I went through a disruption when the expectant mother we were matched with decided to parent. While I appreciated her decision, it hurt us deeply because it meant our dream of becoming parents was on hold again, along with all the uncertainty of waiting.

Each individual will handle a disruption differently. Some people may want to be left alone to grieve while others may want people around them for support. You may want to close the door to the nursery or child’s room or even get rid of things you bought especially for him/her. Some people relate a disruption to a miscarriage, minus the physical implications, because in both senses, you are losing the child you were going to parent.

While I understand it is easier said than done, you need to come to peace with the disruption and find closure. This needs to happen so you can get back into the adoption process wholeheartedly.  You need to accept that there are many things in the adoption process you can’t control. You need to know that all your friends and family that celebrated with you when you received were matched will be there to grieve with you and offer you support.

It is so very important to remember that you are not alone. There are others who have experienced a disruption and are willing to talk to you.  Ask your adoption agency or adoption professional if they have any support groups for families who are waiting and/or who have been through a disruption. You can talk to anyone you know and they will empathize, even though they can’t truly understand your emotions unless they have gone through it themselves.

Time, ultimately, like with many situations, will help. Although you will never forget, time will help you work through your feelings and move to a place that enables you to continue with your adoption journey. Like life, the adoption process has its highs and its lows. It is how you handle the downs that will guide your future.

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Meghan Rivard

Meghan is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!


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