A Failed Adoption Is Not The Same Thing

A woman shares this – Someone’s asking how to support a friend whose adoption has been disrupted at [a specific point in an unborn baby’s gestation]. This friend is a would be adoptive parent. The responses to this situation, that include some from other adoptive parents who identify themselves as having experienced this, equate it to a death in the family, stillbirth, or trauma.

Certainly, one could relate the two up to a point. The prospective adoptive parents have been excited about the pending adoption. They have the expectation of holding a newborn in their arms. They may have invested in a crib, baby clothes and diapers among their other preparations. But the similarity stops there.

My daughter experienced a stillbirth with her first pregnancy. She describes to me being given the expelled fetus in a blanket to hold and say goodbye to at the hospital. She tells me that when she became pregnant again with my grandson, she could hear this first one saying to her in her heart, you weren’t ready for me then.

Another woman shares (she is an adoptive parent) – I have had two late term stillbirths. Both were cord deaths. In no way, shape or form would I say that a failed adoption is at all related to experiencing a stillbirth or death loss. You cannot even put the two together. It’s only recently that stillbirth has been allowed to even be spoken about. This is why pre-birth adoption matching of unborn babies to be shouldn’t be allowed! Adoptive parents who compare the two, taking away from the women who have had an actual loss by birthing a stillbirth baby by comparing that tremendous sorrow with a belief that their loss of a baby because the expectant mother has changed her mind is a kind of mental illness.

An adoption reform response to prospective adoptive parents experiencing this kind of loss could be – “While this is a type of loss for your family, can you shift your perspective and realize how amazing it is that this mother and your family will not have to live with the certain regrets surrounding an adoption? It is a lovely and precious thing for this mom to be able to parent – just as it would have been for you.”

Adoption Disruptions

This is a topic I had not previously considered.  An adoption disruption is every hopeful adoptive parent’s biggest fear. After all, prospective birth parents can change their mind about adoption at any time until they legally sign their consent — and when that does happen, it can be extremely difficult for the adoptive family that has invested so much hope and energy into the adoption opportunity. While adoption disruptions are not incredibly common, they do happen.

An adoption disruption is sometimes referred to as a “failed adoption.”  It’s not surprising to know that older children adopted out of foster care would experience a higher rate of adoption disruption than younger children.  Every adoption is unique.

A family whose adoption failed is left trying to piece together a difficult situation. From the perspective of an adoptee there is always some “back” place where they could be sent if the adoptive parents are unhappy with them.

One adoptee discussing this recently shared – “I wasn’t HIS kid.  I was her kid and so anything related to me – she had to deal with because he wasn’t interested. As far as he was concerned, I should have been returned to foster care when I was a little kid.” The clincher was that this man was a religious minister.

While there are many causes – legal disruptions, children returned to care, adoptees placed in residential facilities or other out of home situations – it is also potentially caused by a breakdown in the parent child relationship.