Failure, via Facebook

We were matched for our second domestic adoption in early September of 2011.  The situation was a little strange from the get-go:  The birth mom had three other children, one had been placed, and the baby is a full biological sibling of the two kids she is parenting.  One of the siblings, a little girl, turned 1 just two weeks before the due date.  The birth mom is single and the birth father is not in the picture – or at least financially.  She works, but was concerned that her job would not be enough to support her family.  She felt adoption was the right choice for her, her family, and her baby.

The birth mom picked us without meeting us, talking to us, or even viewing our profile.  Our agency told us that she wanted a closed adoption (not our preference), and did not want to get attached.  I think that is one of the reasons we were picked.  We live in Nebraska.  The birth mom (and our agency) is in Florida.

As part of the adoption, we agreed to pay living expenses until the baby was born (Florida law allows this).  While we weren’t super excited about paying somebody’s rent and phone bill, we knew that keeping baby (and birth mom) safe and properly nourished was a good thing.  My wife (the financial planner) completely revised our family budget to make the numbers work, so we could mail a check to the agency.

During the first few months of the match, not much changed.  We updated our homestudy, tackled another stack of papers, and kept in contact with our agency.  Unfortunately, we were not all that impressed with the case worker we were paired with.  She wasn’t very good about getting us complete information, or following up with our questions.  Often she was be short and somewhat snippy in her responses to us.  We often felt in the dark and wondered what information was out there that we didn’t know.

We knew the birth mom had “no desire” to meet or even see us in the hospital, but we wanted to be present and ready for placement as soon as possible.  Plus, our daughter has birth family in Florida that we wanted to visit.  We purchased some “cheap” flights (as cheap as it can be to fly out of Nebraska) to arrive in Florida between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  We would spend a few days with our daughter’s birth family and then meet our new little girl before waiting for the necessary paperwork to leave Florida and reenter Nebraska.

Around the end of November / early December, there started to be some mixed messages about the birth mom’s due date and the date of the planned C-section.  Originally, we were told she was due between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Later, we were told that a C-section was scheduled for January 6.  We asked our new case worker to contact the birth mom and her doctor to get the correct information so we could potentially adjust our travel arrangements.

In early December, we asked to work with a different case worker, which was a wise decision – if only for the sake of my wife’s sanity.  My wife and I called our new case worker two weeks ago and reviewed all of the information.  The case worker had talked to the birth mom and yes, she was “very firm” in her decision to place, and had said she “knows this is the right thing to do”.  The birth mom still did not want to meet or see us.  We told our case worker that we understood that, but we hoped to give the birth mom a small gift (a necklace).  A week later (last Friday), our case worker called with an update:  the C-section was scheduled for January 6, and the birth mom was now open to meeting us in the hospital at or before placement.

The last few weeks have been crazy and stressful for us.  Aside from the normal stresses of the holidays, jobs, and raising a very assertive 3-year-old, we were also preparing to be parents of a newborn for the first time (our daughter came to us at almost 7 months), and trying to get ready to travel to Florida.  I’m sure other adoptive parents can relate.

As a result of the stress my wife has not been sleeping very well.  She’ll wake up in the night (because of our daughter, me snoring, or something else) and will not be able to get back to sleep due to all of the thoughts swirling in her head.  Last night was one of those nights for her.

So she grabbed the laptop.  One of the things she did was a Facebook search for name of our birth mom.  I’m not really sure why she did that – I had done the same thing in November and she had everything blocked.  But this time, she had opened up her Wall.  So my wife started reading.  And reading.  And reading.

This morning, I woke up to my wife saying “We’re not going to get our baby.”  Trust me, that is not a good way to start your day.

My wife handed me the laptop and told me to scroll up.  I started reading the Facebook statuses posted by our birth mom.  She was getting excited for the baby to come.  She posted that she had picked out a name for the baby – (one that was not nearly as cute as the name we had chosen).  She was organizing a closet for the baby and said “walmart here I come”.  Visions of the living expenses we had been paying for months flashed in my head.

She was counting down to her due date – December 23, NOT January 6.  Yesterday she was sending her kids to her mom’s while she’s in the hospital.  Another update from last night:  “due date tomorrow”.

Shock.  Disbelief.  Sadness.  Anger.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

We called our agency and our case worker and fired off an SOS email.  When our case worker called back, she said she was sincerely blown away and “never saw it coming”.  She had been sure the birth mom was a good person and had no indication was so ever that she had decided to parent.  We talked more, but frankly, I don’t remember too much of the call.  I think we’re going into a pool for “stork calls”, and we may be placed soon with a different birth mom, but she wasn’t sure.

The day has pretty much been a fog.  We’ve started the unpleasant process of telling family, friends, and co-workers about our failed match.  My mother-in-law bawled, one of our good friends is pissed.  We have two Christmases with family this weekend and we’re afraid that both are going to be dominated with adoption talk.  It feels like we’re starting over.  Again.

I don’t know what to think.  Even though I never saw anything more than an ultrasound picture sent over a fax – which looked like a black rectangle – that rectangle was my baby girl, my [special_name_we_had_picked_out_that_I’m_not_ready_to_share_yet].  I had seriously thought about posting that black rectangle on Facebook as the first picture of my new daughter.  I’m not sure if I can give her name to another child.

I’m mad and I’m disappointed.  I wonder when (and how) we would have found out if my wife had slept soundly through the night.  Would we have gotten a heartbreaking call from our agency tonight?  Tomorrow?  On Christmas?  Or would we have flown down to Florida in two weeks expecting to introduce our daughter to her “baby stister” only to find an empty hospital bed?

I worry about the little baby girl.  If her mommy felt that she could not properly care for her and her siblings before, how are things going to be now – especially without the living expenses we’ve been paying?  Is the birth father back in the picture?  I got the impression that he’s not going to win any Father of the Year competitions.

I completely and totally respect the birth mom’s right to parent – and I will defend her ability to make that choice to the death – but I cannot shake the lone thought I focus on every time I’m filling out some 12 page form, providing some obscure piece of personal data for the homestudy, or getting my fingerprints taken to see if I am a sex offender – they do all of this because they want to make sure the baby is safe and taken care of.  But will she be?

I hate that people who know very little about adoption now have a crazy story like ours that they can tell (“Well, some people I know…”) which only taints that marvelous and magical thing that is adoption.  I love adoption.  My daughter is a miracle in every possible sense of the word, and without adoption (and a loving birth mom who for some unknown reason picked us) I would have never heard the beautiful noise that is her laughter.  Yeah, this situation is seriously f’d up.  But don’t judge adoption because….

I hate that I want to finish that last sentence with horrible, mean, and ugly words meant solely to hurt and demean a person who has hurt me.

I am trying to find the good in this ugly situation.

I am thankful that we found out the way we did – in the safety of our house.  I would be so angry if my wife would have had to take this phone call at work or while she was driving somewhere.

I am thankful we are not getting involved with this particular birth mom.  I love adoption, and I fully believe in open adoption whenever it is healthy and positive for the child.  From what we have learned, I’m not sure that would have been possible – even if she was interested in having an open relationship.  I truly believe that we will look back someday and think that we dodged a drama bullet – but that day is a ways off.

I am so amazingly thankful for our daughter.  I could go on for hours about all of the wonderful, amazing, cute, silly, and frustrating things she does.  I know that we are far from alone in having a failed match.  I also know that we are incredibly fortunate to have successfully adopted, and to have a true miracle for our daughter.  If she is all of the blessing we are meant to have, then we have been spoiled like none other.

I am thankful that my wife and I both truly believe that our first daughter was chosen especially for us, and we sincerely believe that we will be matched with the right child again.  I know that is cliché, hokey, and whatever else you want to call it, but I believe it.  And I know it can – and will – happen again.  But again, that day feels a long ways away right now.

I am thankful that we found out when we did.  My wife and I agreed that we’re going to focus our energies on our daughter to help make sure she enjoys Christmas.  There is so much joy and wonder in her little three-year-old body that it cannot help but lift us up.

Finally, I am thankful for our family and friends and especially the love, support, and prayer we are receiving from them.  I guarantee there will be times when this is the absolute last thing I want to think or talk about, but I appreciate that you care enough to ask.

*   *   *

Postscript:  As I was typing this, the birth mom posted a new status on Facebook:

“Im so happy and tired at the same time, in the recovery room watin to see baby again”

Welcome to the world, little girl.  I hope you have a good life.

Facebook Pet Peeves

I love Facebook.  I enjoy seeing what my friends, family, and random acquaintances are up to, peeking through their pictures, and laughing at their amusing statuses.  I like to click Like and let companies and businesses market to me.  I dig sharing little pieces of myself (statuses, pictures, links, and recently, blog posts) and having that be a good conversation starter with people I see.

But like everyone else, there are certain things that I do not like about Facebook.  And no, I’m not referring to the infamous “Facebook Updates” that fill normally sane people with a combination of panic and rage.*  I’m talking about a whole other collection of Facebook faux pas and things people do that drive me up a Wall.

*Answer me this:  what did Facebook look like 18 months ago, or even 12?  Do you remember what has changed?  I didn’t think so.  Get over it and move on with your day.

If any of these apply to my current Facebook friends, (and where else would have come up with these?) I mean no offense.  Think of it as a friend pointing out that your zipper is down – it might be embarrassing at first, but in the long run you’re better off.  If you are truly upset by it, feel free to de-friend me.  Besides, it is probably fair to mention that if you really exploit these, I may be deleting you in the future.  (In no particular order)

  • Copy & paste statuses.  So many of these are stupid, bogus, or otherwise inane.  People who chronically repost statuses fall into one of three categories:  1) people who forward chain emails to all of their entire address book, 2) people who lack original thought, or 3) people who are incapable of putting how they feel into a sentence.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that you love your sister, kids, spouse, or great-aunt.  I applaud you for trying to raise awareness for cancer, heart disease, lupus, or poison ivy.  But do so in your own words.  “Repost if you agree.” 
  • People who post urban myths.  Did you know that Facebook will start charging $9.99 a month starting next month?  My Facebook heroes are those who see such a status and post a link to the snopes.com article busting the myth.  I wish I had the courage to virtually slap my friends/relatives and say “stop posting crap, you gullible moron.”
  • Couples who share an account.  With all of my friends (Facebook and otherwise) there are things I’ll say to the guy that I probably wouldn’t say to his wife.  The shared account means I have no idea who is posting what.  When I see couples sharing a profile, I think one of the following:  1) one of them has major trust issues, 2) one of them really doesn’t want to be on Facebook, and/or 3) they are one of those annoying couples who is joined at the hip.  Facebook accounts are free, get your own.
  • People who do nothing, but know my whole life story.  Here’s a fun one.  You accepted a friend request from a random co-worker six months ago.  Since then, he is at your cubicle every day referencing your latest status, link, or those vacation pictures you posted.  Meanwhile, the only thing he has posted on Facebook in the last six months is copy & paste job.  If you want to be a part of my social network, you need to be social on the network.
  • Bosses who use FB to snoop on you.  We’ve all been there – a friend request from your boss.  Do you accept or not?  After double-checking your profile for anything incriminating, you grudgingly accept.  But do so at your own risk.  A true story:  a former co-worker accepted one of the senior managers as a friend.  A few months later, the co-worker gets called into a supervisor’s office and is informed that the senior manager has noticed their Facebook Chat status was “Online” during work hours.  No word on if the supervisor ever questioned why the senior manager was spending time on Facebook during work hours.  Real friends don’t spy on each other, and they definitely do not get each other in trouble at work.
  • People who friend everyone they’ve ever met.  A few months ago, I received a friend request from my high school trigonometry teacher.  I thought it was somewhat odd, but I accepted anyway.  Over the next few weeks, I noticed that she was showing up in my news feed as being friends with “Bob Jones and 37 other people”.  Upon further inspection, she appeared to be friending every student she’d ever taught over a 25+ year teaching career.  Just because Facebook offers the suggestion, it doesn’t mean you have to take it.
  • People who invite me to join their games.  Repeat after me:  “Dave does not care about my farm, my mafia, or any other game I play.”  Facebook is enough of a leech upon my time without getting sucked into a game.  And if I’m going to play a game online, it is not going to be one where I have to constantly ask people for crap.
  • People who constantly bitch about their life.  Some folks need to whine – constantly.  Some need to complain about the bad hand life has dealt them.  Some people’s glass is perpetually half-empty.  Some need to be (and have been) de-friended.
  • Every status update is political.  I enjoy certain aspects of politics, but I’m smart enough to understand that both parties share the blame for the collection of messes facing our country.  Therefore, I really don’t need to read your daily propaganda about why the <insert political party here> are a bunch of dirty, corrupt hypocrites bent on the destruction of everything you hold dear.
  • People who do not put a caption on their pictures.  My belief is if you are posting a picture to Facebook, you’re probably proud of the picture, the activity in it, and/or the folks you’re with.  Therefore, take 15 seconds to let everybody know what’s going on and who we’re looking at.
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