Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Which I Make A Happy And Sad Announcement

So you may have noticed that my posts have been rather devoid of actual content for the last few days.

I mean, I wrote about my laundry room, for Pete's sake.

That's because for the past week, we've been keeping a secret that I was waiting to share with you all.  Now that things have come to a conclusion, I think it's time to tell.

Up until this morning, we were bringing a newborn home in the next couple of weeks.

One week ago, on the day after I wrote the blog post about letting Sylvie go, we received an e-mail about a possible placement in the United States.  I'm not going to go into too much detail about the circumstances of the family because that's not my story to tell.  Suffice it to say that the child was a few days old and had been born with unexpected physical special needs that would require extensive medical care.  Though the child was an American citizen, the parents were of a different nationality and would be returning to their home country soon, where it would be very difficult for the child to receive the medical support he needed.  The family was making the extremely hard decision of choosing an adoption plan because they wanted to make sure their child had access to all of the medical support and services he would need as he grew up.  However, they wanted to remain very much a part of his life.  They needed to find a family quickly because of the limited time they could remain in the country.

It didn't take Jeremy and I very long after hearing about this little guy to make the decision that we wanted to try and become part of his family.  The baby boy fit almost perfectly the description of what we were looking for; he had treatable, physical special needs but probably would not have any cognitive or developmental delay.  His medical needs would be completely covered by our insurance and we already knew a lot about most aspects of the care he would require.  We would have a very open adoption with as much contact as the family was comfortable with, which we felt would be extremely beneficial for the baby.  Our family also already had strong connections with the heritage and nationality of this child.

While we wouldn't have been comfortable with the idea of switching over if we had already been matched with a child, right now we didn't have a placement in Thailand.  So we spoke with our adoption agency, who very graciously put our Thailand process on hold so that we could see whether or not we might be an acceptable family for this baby boy and told us that we could update our home study to reflect a domestic adoption and if it didn't work out, switch back without trouble.  We submitted our profile to the family's adoption agency, and they expressed an interest in us right away.

Over the next few days we exchanged e-mails and talked on the phone with the family about a wide range of topics dealing with adoption and parenting.  Yesterday afternoon we received an e-mail from them saying that they had chosen us as a family and were ready to relinquish their parental rights.  Everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place for us.

We spent the rest of yesterday caught up in a whirlwind of planning, making preliminary travel preparations as the baby was not in our state and trying to figure out exactly what we would need, as we'd been planning on bringing home a school-aged child next summer and were suddenly bringing home an infant next week.  We began calling our family and friends to give them the news.  We were extremely happy and excited, but that was tempered by the knowledge that the parents whose child we were preparing to welcome into our lives were probably experiencing the exact opposite emotions. 

Those of you with medically fragile children who didn't know that your child would be born with special needs probably remember all too vividly the nightmare of the first few days after your child's birth.  Now add the gut-wrenching grief of having to make an adoption plan for a much-wanted child on top of that and you have some idea of what this family was probably going through at the time.  While Jeremy and I cannot imagine what that possibly felt like, we were very aware of the fact that our happiness and joy was directly tied to someone else's pain.  That's a very sobering thought, and one of those unpleasant truths about adoption that I don't think any of us like to examine very closely.  But all the same we couldn't help but be joyful about the thought of getting the chance to be a part of this child's life.  So I guess you could say my feelings were mixed; I was happy for me, and I was sad for them.

This morning we got another e-mail from the family.  They changed their minds and have decided to parent.

So now I'm very happy for them because I know that this child will be very loved; I have no doubt they will be amazing, strong parents and advocates for him.   I don't know if circumstances changed or if they just decided that they'd work things out as they go along, but in any case this little boy will be part of a healthy family and will grow up knowing every day just how much his parents care for him.  I'm so glad that he will have the chance to experience that. 

But I'm sad for me.

We have now lost two adoption placements in the last three weeks.  I compared losing Sylvie to having a miscarriage, and this second loss feels much the same only I think it's hitting me harder just because everything has happened so quickly.  Once again we're saying goodbye to a child who is still alive.  Once again we will be starting over at the beginning of our adoption journey, a little more wary, our hearts a little more bruised.

I am not a person capable, I think, of holding myself back from loving these children before we ever know them even if it would save me a lot of heartache.  Jeremy is a little better at being able to keep himself at a distance, but it's just not part of my personality to be able to hold back reserves until the day we actually cross all the 't's, dot the 'i's and the child is actually, legally ours.  Once we make a commitment to adopt a child, that's it for me. 

And though it opens me up to a lot more pain, I can't think that loving these children could ever be a bad thing, even if we will never be a part of their lives like we expected.  It makes me wonder how many people are out there now walking around not knowing that they are thought of by a stranger now and again with love.  It's amazing to think about the invisible connections that tie us all together.  How could more love being directed at a child, even if it is never known about or returned, ever be anything but positive?  I know love isn't a finite resource; there's room in my heart for all these children, whether or not we ever meet.

So I allowed myself to have a sad day today; after I took Connor to school I spent a few hours in the bathtub, sobbing into a washcloth and eating Cherry Garcia ice cream directly out of the carton, and by the time I needed to go pick him up I felt a lot better.  It'll take us more than a few hours to recover, of course, but over the next few days we'll start the process of saying goodbye.  I'll create another ritual for myself (guess those owls will have company) so that I can have some closure, and I'll allow myself to process the fact that we won't be bringing this precious little guy home either but that I'll always think about him, wonder how he is doing, and love him.  And that's okay. 

And then when we're ready, Jeremy and I will sit down with the Waiting Child list and start the process of finding the next child to fall in love with. 

We've got room.



psychologizer said...

Sheesh, Jess. I'm so sorry! I really, really hate it when well-meaning people tell you that it's all part of God's plan or throw platitudes your way but in this case, I know how amazing you and Jer and Connor are and I don't know the reason all this suckiness is happening, but I do have the knowledge that someday you will get an amazing child, and that immeasurably lucky child will give you back all the love and more that you you give him or her and at that point, the gift from your new baby will be that looking back with love at the ones lost will no longer hold any pain, but only more joy. You are right, though it hurts you, loving any child is not wrong, and I love you!

*Tasha* said...

This just suddenly popped up in my head- have you ever looked at the Seattle Times' "Thursday's Child" adoption notices? Maybe it's actually Sunday's child (or another weekday) but you get the idea..... it would be interesting & worth a shot because a LOT of foster homes in Washington are pretty ridiculously unsuitable & bad environments for any child. Hate to say it, but I do have some backing for it- I have 4 foster, now adopted, stepsisters.

And, Jess, I'm very sorry. :(

Anonymous said...

I don't know that I have ever really thought that clearly about the mixed emotions inherent in adopting a baby. I am sorry for the loss you are feeling, and though it must be so painful for you at times like these, it feels like the world is better having people like you who do quickly open up their hearts.
Your quote, "It makes me wonder how many people are out there now walking around not knowing that they are thought of by a stranger now and again with love," is beautiful.
Pam in Jax

Niksmom said...

Sending up prayers that the right child will come to you in good time.

Kirsty said...

I'm so sorry, honey. I had actually got out the box of baby clothes to go through. (I know I said I'd wait, but I got excited too, so please don't blame me for jinxing it). I know that you two will find the next member of your family soon. You have such unbelievable strength and I'm sending a big hug your way.

The Henrys said...

What a whirlwind of emotions to go through. Thinking of you and sending you warm thoughts...

Julia O'C said...

"We've got room."

Oh, boy. My heart is just aching for you.

I know this is going to sound weird at best, but when that owl flew into your window, I felt like it was a sign. I mean, who has a beautiful *nocturnal* bird visit them like that? And the owl being connected with Sylvie and Thailand....I don't know. Magical thinking, I guess. And a desire to say something to make you feel better, when there just aren't the words to do that.

I'm sorry, Jess.

Julia said...

Oh, wow, on so many levels. Wow at the deep pain and loss that you're feeling, wow at the strength and beauty of your character as you process it all and grow from it, and wow thank you for sharing your lessons with us. I agree with Pam, it feels like the world is better for having people like you in it. I'm not trying to flatter you into feeling better (wouldn't work anyway, I suspect), just speaking from the heart. I hope you discover your new child soon.

Kristin said...

I can relate to you on losing pregnancies and I know how heavy the heart gets. I have no doubt that the same hopefulness at the thought of a new adopted child is of the same intensity as the thought of a new biological child. I hope that your heart is able to stay open and that a new, permanent child finds their way into it soon!

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

You are such a generous and loving family to open your hearts and arms like this. I am sorry that it is not to be this time. What a bag of mixed emotions. As you said, how great that the birth family is able to step up and care for the baby .. but your heart is clearly aching.

I am sure that the child meant for your family is in the future. And that will be such a LUCKY child to be a part of your family!

Rita said...

Jess, I'm so sorry for your loss. Just know that you will be in my prayers.

krlr said...

Jess - I'm so sorry. We plan to adopt soon (though "soon" is loosely defined) and in the meantime I've been spending too much time online reading about the good/bad/failed. Couldn't sleep last night and ended up on some ANGRY (adoptee) blogs so this might be coloring my opinion this morning. At risk of tripping over the language issues I'm thrilled the baby's parents are going to keep him - but it's heartbreaking that your family isn't going to grow yet. I think it's OK to feel both ways & nevermind the internet.

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

I am so sorry to hear this news! I can only imagine how hard this has been for both of you. I am so glad that you are continuing to press on, when the time is right, because I know that the child (or children) you do get to adopt will be tremendously blessed!

Jennifer said...

I'm so sorry. My heart is breaking for you.

Anonymous said...

How well I understand where you are at. I can sit and cry and eat ice cream with you. I tried many times to adopt a special needs child. It never happened for me. I think it will for you.
Will continue to pray for the right child to be added to your family in the right time. Blessings. sg-KS

Erin said...

Hi, I'm a new follower, pregnant with my second ubt daughter. (9;16). I look forward to learning more about Connor' story.

Kristina said...

You sure have been through a lot lately. And I know the child out there waiting for you will be so fortunate once they arrive on your doorstep!

A thought I had is that there are so many American children in foster care that are looking for a home. I am friends with a woman who has several children that came to her from the hospital after birth - only a few days old - that were looking for a home. And they are such lovely children and so lucky to have her! Maybe that is another alternative for you to look into. And, she told me the children are covered with medical care for life (in case something happens to yours) and that the cost was negligible because they were looking for homes for these little ones that are so often overlooked.

I hope the next bit of news brings you home your forever child, whoever and wherever they may be right now.

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