January 10, 2006

Another Time Around the Track

R and I paid our admission (the price: a small shred of hope), once again boarded The Great Adoption Roller Coaster and strapped ourselves in for another emotional thrill ride.

We got a phone call from an adoption attorney yesterday morning letting us know that a baby had been born at a hospital about 20 minutes away. The birth mom didn’t have any particular criteria for the adoptive parents, and it sounded like we might be the only couple the attorney had on file who would be interested in the situation.

At first, I was frantically trying to put together a status update on the dozen or so projects I’m in the middle of at work so that somebody could pick up if I was to walk out the door and not come back for three months.

After an hour or so, I began willing the phone to ring. Anytime my desk phone rang, I snatched the receiver off the base, tried to sound oh-so-calm as I said hello and then tried not to let the disappointment show in my tone for the rest of the conversation when it turned out not to be the attorney.

Somehow, checking my cell phones every three minutes didn’t make those ring with happy news, either.

As the day wore on, we knew it was looking less and less likely that this would be our baby. After all, if the birth mom did choose us, it’s not exactly like the attorney would forget to call and tell us. ("Oops, sorry, it slipped my mind. Congratulations, you're parents!" Um, no.)

I left a message before heading home for the day but didn’t hear anything back. Then she called late this morning. The birth mom chose another couple, a Hispanic family who speaks Spanish, because she’s Hispanic and only speaks Spanish.

Totally understandable, but also very disheartening.

So, where did this little trip around the tracks take us? Right back to where we started, with a little less hope to show for it.

God, I hate this process. Hate, hate, hate it.


Sarah said...

So sorry that this happened. Even though the choice seems logical, the pain is still the same.It would be nice if we could just catch a break now and then. Don't give up!

Nico said...

Argh! How totally and completely frustrated you must be. To have a baby so close, only to slip away, not one, not two, but three times! I can only imagine how emotionally draining that must be. I'm so sorry.

thalia said...

Ugh rebecca that must be unbelievably tough. I'm so sorry.

fisher queen said...

I am sorry too. It sounds like a grueling process. Hub and I are going to meet with two adoption attorneys next week. I'm very scared about doing an adoption this way, just because of pitfalls like this one. Do you have any advice?

Liz said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through this again.

Rebecca said...

Thank you all for the words of encouragement and support. I appreciate it so much! This process does stink sometimes, but we’re hanging in there.

Fisher Queen: I tend to be long-winded, in case you haven’t already noticed :0, but here goes:

First of all, I know I sound like a bitter, angry infertile, and I am. Take what you can from my experiences and learn from them so you can hopefully avoid the mistakes I’ve made, but don’t take my rantings too much to heart. The domestic adoption process can and does work.

One person I met through work got matched with a birthmom in just a few months. Then she got a call about another situation. Both birthmoms, due six weeks apart, were fine with her and her husband pursuing both adoptions. The one birthmom went into labor a week late, the other went into labor five weeks early. Both babies wound up being born on the same day, and she now has a beautiful little 3-year-old boy and girl! A friend I met through Resolve got matched last spring with a birth mom and now has twins, also a boy and girl. It was not a fun process for them, either, but they made it through. Another person I know adopted a newborn boy a couple years ago, then 13 months later got a phone call just like the one in this post and now has a daughter who will be one year old soon. I hope these stories are encouraging.

Now, to actually answer your question…I think two of the biggest things are to find an attorney you trust (both in an ethical sense and a they-really-know-their-stuff sense) and listen to your gut if it’s telling you something isn’t right.

Ask the attorneys lots of questions. What is their hourly rate? How much is their retainer? What happens if they do some work on your behalf and the situation ends before they’ve exceeded the retainer? (I’d be cautious of anyone who doesn’t refund you the amount they haven’t earned.) How much do their fees run in a typical adoption? How many adoptions have they done? How many of those have been overturned by the court? (Should be none.) How many couples do they match on average each year? Do they have any birthparent letters you can have as an example? What do they recommend you do/don’t include in a birthparent letter? Are they a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys? You can find out by going to www.adoptionattorneys.org. What other attorneys do they frequently work with? I would also ask around (others you know who have adopted, your local Resolve group if there’s a chapter in your area, online adoption boards – adoption.com has state-specific boards) for recommendations of attorneys.

In terms of other practical matters, we advertised on parentprofiles.com and by creating business cards, but the only leads we got from those were scammers and people who I believe were quite serious about placing their baby but wanted a car and tuition money for school in exchange, which is illegal. All of the legitimate leads we’ve gotten have been from adoption attorneys.

Definitely do not give anyone any money until you’ve received proof of pregnancy and someone (preferably an adoption attorney or adoption social worker rather than you) has had the opportunity to meet the birth mom face to face. Try not to (and I totally realize this is much easier said than done) make decisions that don’t feel quite right because you want so badly to have a baby in your arms. That’s what got us into trouble. Oh, and be very, very wary of any adoption attorney/agency etc. that has already paid thousands of dollars in birthmom expenses before even matching her with a family and then wants you to reimburse them for the expenses before the baby is born and consents are signed. I know that probably sounds like something that would go without saying, but we let desperation override common sense and did that, and that’s why we lost so much money on the failed adoption.

Ok, I'll stop for now, but I'm happy to share any knowledge I've gained through this process, so if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I'll be watching your blog to see how the meetings go with the attorneys.

fisher queen said...

Oh wow that was so helpful, thank you so much! I'll update over at my place.