That picture is super cute, isn't it? We have bunches of cute pics of a baby boy who isn't going to be our son.
As you've been following, a baby boy, A, was born on a Wednesday. We spent two days in the hospital where we were respectful of D's space and let her have as much time with A as she wanted. We had him for a couple hours the first day when she napped, and about a couple hours the second day when our parents came to visit. The hospital staff were awesome, both to us and her, and we were really pleased with how they handled the situation. We spent the bulk of our time with D in her room passing around A, getting to know her, and letting her get to know us. We spent time with her mom, one of her friends, and briefly with A's dad (who forgot our names, and barely acknowledged us, but that's a whole other issue). On the second day our caseworker stopped by and talked alone with D for quite a while. She was positive and thought that while D was starting to feel all the emotions she had kept at bay throughout the entire pregnancy, she was still feeling that adoption was the solution. When our parents came to visit, D really wanted to meet them because she said she wanted to meet our family since we had met hers. It worked out ok, and while we were comfortable, it was clear all the grandparents were ill at ease. That evening, D's mom asked us to leave the room when the last of D's sisters showed up for a visit. After we came back from dinner, there was a "Do Not Disturb" sign on D's door instructing us to contact the nurse. The nurse told us that D was having a really hard time, and just wanted to spend the night alone with A. We were allowed to go in to say good night. I held D as she sobbed, I sobbed, S sobbed, her mom sobbed. Then S and I left the hospital, opting not to stay the second night since it was obvious that we weren't going to spend time with A. Neither one of us had a good feeling at this point and spent an anxiety-ridden night at home.
Friday morning we called our caseworker to let her know what had happened, and she advised us to go to the hospital with her. Another caseworker was brought in to talk with D and to find out if she wanted to go through with the placement. (D had a falling out with her original caseworker, which is why our caseworker ended up picking up some of the slack, and a new person had to be brought in to support her on placement day.) We got to the hospital, started our paperwork with our caseworker in the hospital cafe and waited to hear news. We got the call from D's caseworker, that D was going through with placement and went up to her room. She was sad, but seemed at peace with the decision. We had the placement ceremony in her room and we all left the hospital together with the promise that I would send her an e-mail as soon as we got settled in.
I sent the e-mail to both her and A's dad as promised hours after getting home. Over the weekend we went to a friend's party (crawfish boil, yum!) and had X's birthday party with family and some close friends. We joked about traveling this summer to a wedding with two kids. S and I reveled in the thought that we were done family building. At the end of the weekend, D sent an e-mail asking for a picture fix, and we sent another little update on A and a few pictures.
On Monday, I settled into life on maternity leave, albeit with one hell of a head cold. S and I took A to his well-baby visit in the morning, and in the afternoon the phone call came. "She wants to parent".
S drove home from work (I have no idea how, I couldn't even get off the couch I was crying so hard), and we talked to our caseworker over the phone. It was decided that we would place A into cradle care, as we couldn't see caring for him while D gets it together enough to prove that she can parent. D wanted to meet with us, but we couldn't handle it and said no. We bundled up A and drove him over to the office to transfer him to cradle care. Ironically, with the same family who had X before he was placed with us. When they got there we heard "Oh my G-d, you're kidding" in the hallway as our caseworker told them it was us. They were supportive and sad for us, but enjoyed seeing pictures of X, and hearing what an awesome little boy he's become. We said goodbye to A and left.
I don't know where the breakdown was. The entire time D was in the hospital, even though she was hit by a truck of emotions she wasn't prepared for, she didn't waver from her adoption plan. I think the caseworkers took that as a good sign that she was grieving, but moving through it and they seemed to think that as she had space she would feel more comfortable with the decision. Obviously, the opposite occurred. Not to mention that we feel like we did everything we could to be respectful of her space and time with A. The other part that is horrible for us, is that we were first-hand witnesses to the chaos that is her life. It's one of those situations, where I sat in disbelief at what I was hearing. Because of that, it's hard to think that this is what's best for A. I hope that something happened and people who had not stepped up previously when she had her daughter are now going to help her out. Since she pursued the path of adoption, she has also opened herself up to scrutiny by the state, and she does have a few hoops to jump through before the agency (or state?) will let her take A home.
Over the last few days, I've had so many emotions, not the least of which is anger. She hurt us and our family. She dragged us into the chaos of her life (ok, the edge, but we still saw it) and sent us on a rollercoaster ride over three weeks in which we rearranged our lives because she chose us to be parents to her child. I know that mothers usually have to make the decision all over again after the baby is born, and I was well aware of that while we were in the hospital. The problem I guess I have is that given she had a crisis in the hospital, she could have said she wasn't sure, in which case, we wouldn't have taken him home. It would have sucked, but he would have been in cradle care, and we would have some distance while she decided what she wanted to do. By the time we had the placement ceremony, she seemed certain of her decision.
So, what did I do with this certainty?
Told every person I know, sent an announcement to work, posted an announcement on f-b. After this experience, I will never do that before termination papers have been filed with the court. They tell us not to because of this very reason, but when it appears that the placement itself has gone positively, and the baby is in our home, it feels like a done deal. The day after the pediatrician visit, I had to call the office to tell them not to file with insurance and I had to pay for his visit. Talk about confusion over the phone. Me, on the one end, trying not to break down sobbing, and them on the other end saying, but you were just here! Not fun.
I sent an e-mail to work telling them the placement fell through and I go back to work on Monday. Currently, we are doing ok. I didn't get off the couch for 2 days (partly head cold, mostly depression and grief), and X had some clingy issues with day care drop off for a couple days. At this point though, we are in lessons-learned territory. I may not give work as much notice next time, keeping all the information to myself until we are reasonably sure that the placement will be successful. I definitely will not tell our friends and f-b until the termination papers have been filed with the court (in CO it's minimum wait of 4 days after birth to file, and our agency doesn't ask parents to sign those papers in the hospital). It'll be hard, because we will be excited, but the un-telling has been horrible. People don't understand adoption, and they look for someone to blame (so far it's either been the agency, or it's been D, never us for jumping the gun). They don't understand that the agency will help D make any decision, even the one to parent after placement. They are in the business of adoption, but they don't just drop parents when it goes the other way, or force them to sign termination papers. The agency doesn't make the decision to remove a baby from a parent just because the parent had an adoption plan. The biggest thing that I've found, is that people don't realize that we took him home knowing that it could fall through. We just thought that it wouldn't.
Although I could have loved A with every bone in my body, he wasn't here long enough to attach that tightly. My wish for him, is that D will get it together for his and his sister's sake. I wish for him that he is educated, and becomes a productive member of society. I wish that some little piece of him remembers that we were briefly his caregivers, we loved him, and we'll always remember him.