By Michele Fried, Adoption STAR Founder & CEO
Marie and Peter were coming up on their two-year mark with the agency. Their home study was already updated once and soon to expire again. For an agency that was only slightly over four years old at that time, the “wait” to adopt was not long at all. Even now, the agency does not recruit countless numbers of prospective adoptive clients, but rather registers a fair amount of clients each year. Each year a portion of the clientele finds that they are pregnant and withdraws from the process; a small percentage of applicants decide to remain childfree and some place themselves on a hold status, still determining if adoption is for them.
Once a client does conclude the home study process, the agency has seen placements occur in a couple weeks to three years later. So, when Marie and Peter appeared to be reaching their two-year mark, we called to invite them in for a meeting to discuss their feelings at this point. Marie and Peter experienced many years of unsuccessful fertility treatments before arriving at Adoption STAR. Once with the agency, they proceeded smoothly through the process and created a beautiful profile for birth parents to view.
When prospective adoptive parents wait longer than the typical timeframe, it is often due to circumstances surrounding their ages, for example, being “older” then the average adoptive parents, or significantly older than their partner, or because of their geographic location, living in a more “rural” area then the majority of the agency’s clients, or sometimes an applicant might wait longer if they have a biological child or children, or maybe due to their grids which record what they are open to regarding health risk factors, race of a child, as well as level of openness desired in an adoption ~ but also for some, none of these scenarios may affect their wait time.
Sometimes we provide suggestions for applicants to tweak their profiles, but with Marie and Peter we did not have much advice. They fell within the average age, they were good looking, had good education backgrounds and good jobs, owned their own home in the suburbs, and had really adorable pets! Their “dear birth mother letter” was beautiful and their photos showed a down-to-earth, loving couple, who loved their pets and enjoyed traveling. In fact their profile was what many of our pregnant women are looking for and so they met their first expectant birth mother and found themselves disappointed when she chose another family over them. The second pregnant woman they met changed her mind about adoption when she gave birth. The third woman who chose them decided not to meet them but was nonetheless committed to her adoption plan. Sadly, she did not honestly share her abuse of drugs and when the baby was born testing positive for numerous substances, and it became clear to her that now she needed to be more forthcoming. It was a very difficult decision, but Marie and Peter very bravely decided to turn down the referral due to the fact that they were not prepared to parent a baby at high risk for special needs. Then there were the other times, when they were profiled but not selected. The staff, understanding the feelings of disappointment and rejection, tried their best to protect and soften the disappointment for Marie and Peter but could not shield them from the roller coaster that their adoption journey had shown them.
Being an adoptive mother myself, I knew they would adopt. When? I had no idea but I would not be in this field if I didn’t believe that adoption works. I hope that it is Adoption STAR that makes our clients parents but sometimes their baby is waiting elsewhere. Maybe even in another country. It happens when the right child arrives and as corny as it may sound, that will be the baby meant to go home with them.
So on a Friday I called Marie and Peter and spoke to both of them separately to tell them that their two year mark was approaching. I invited them in to meet with me to begin discussing how they were feeling and what other options within adoption may open the door to becoming parents. I mentioned international adoption and I identified three programs that may be interesting to them. Peter said he has been getting “antsy” and wanted to look to see what changes they can make and Marie responded that she just didn’t believe it would happen for them. I told them to talk together over the weekend and to call me on Monday with a time to meet. Peter called Monday morning and we made an appointment that same week for Wednesday afternoon.
What none of us could have known was that on Tuesday we received a call about a baby girl. We spoke to a 17-year-old young woman and her parents and met a birth family that touched us all. They marveled over their new baby and just fell in love with her. They knew adoption was in her best interest and so the telephone rang at Adoption STAR. Because there were minimal risk issues in the background and due to short notice, 6 profiles of waiting couples were selected by the adoptive parent department as ones that best matched the birth mother’s preferences and who appeared to be in the best interest of the child.
I introduced each profile to the birth mother and her parents while she lay in her hospital bed. I did not highlight anything specific about the couples except for their first names and the fact that they fit the preferences that she gave to us. After giving the birth family time alone, I returned to find that one profile stood out over all the others and that profile was Marie and Peter’s. The young girl’s father explained that this couple appeared down-to-earth and traveled to many of the places that they have traveled to. An added bonus was that the birth mother loved pets as much as the adoptive couple.
All the birth family asked to know was what the reaction was when the phone call was made telling them that were selected. It was at that time that I shared with them some of the losses the couple had experienced, so they would know that for waiting couples, adoption is often a long road.
As expected Marie stayed reserved. She had been so close before so she did not want to celebrate just yet. Marie and Peter were invited to come to the office to meet the birth family the next morning. The meeting was lovely and tears fell freely. The birth family kept the meeting short as they just wanted to meet the couple who would raise and love their birth child and to wish them well.
After the meeting with the birth family, I asked Marie and Peter to return to the office later in the afternoon when they would meet their daughter. The really neat thing was that it was the same time that I was to meet this couple to discuss their feelings about exploring other options!
Sometimes while we wait for our baby to arrive, it may feel that it will never happen. I have always felt that you must believe that adoption will work for you. It’s just like the birth mother’s father said, “They were waiting for this baby.”
Read More on What is Happening at Adoption STAR: Our Calendar of Events for 2013