So if you are going to adopt, are you ready to take some risks? Sure there are the obvious risks like selecting an agency or picking a country to adopt from. But what about the smaller risks which you may not be expecting? It’s impossible to be prepared for ever adoption situation which may arise as every adoption is unique. But it’s not a bad idea to reflect upon some possible scenarios where you may have to risk money, your heart or when you first meet your child.
What kind of financial risk are you willing to take? Imagine you got a phone call from your agency about a baby who had been born perfectly healthy. The drawback is that the potential birthmother did not qualify for medical coverage. If it was a vaginal delivery, the extra cost may be around $7,000 versus around $10,000 for a cesarean. I know a few people who were in this situation. It’s difficult to make this decision when you know that there is a baby ready for you to adopt. While this may be a situation you have been waiting for, you need to also be realistic. Is this the same money you need to raise your new child? Was it money to be used for a future adoption? Was it money that was going to help one of you remain home from work with your baby? Think about how much money you are willing to risk for a potential situation before there is a specific situation on the plate. Once the emotions and immediacy of a potential match are in the picture, it is much harder to make the best decision for you and your family.
A similar situation is if you are matched with a potential birthmother who needs quite a bit of financial help throughout her pregnancy. Some adoption agencies have a set fee, so you pay the same amount regardless of the specific financial needs of the potential birthmother. Other agencies may have you pay extra depending on the situation. Again, if you are presented with the most perfect potential birthparents but it will cost you an additional $5000, are you willing to risk it? The potential birthparents can still choose to parent. Is it worth the risk to you knowing you may not be presented a better situation down the road? Think about these questions now before you become emotionally involved with a specific potential birthmother.
What risks are you willing to take emotionally with potential birthparents? Once you are matched with them you could hold back your emotions and treat the situation like a business deal. Why risk your feelings when there is a 20% chance that the potential birthparents will decide to parent? Or you could take a risk and place your heart out on the table for the potential birthparents to see.
Paul and I discussed this very topic prior to submitting our adoption profile to our agency. It wasn’t a simple answer to come to but we chose to be as open with our emotions as possible. We chose to risk having our hearts broken because we didn’t want to risk not getting to fully know our possible child’s birthparents. We knew that if we made it through the multiple disappointments of infertility, which included a miscarriage, then we would make it through any failed adoption. We did end up having one failed adoption during our journey to adopt our second child. And guess what? It was incredibly horrible and gut-wrenching but Paul and I came through it as a stronger couple.
Risks of When to Meet Your Child
Another risk you may have to take involves when you physically will see your potential new baby. Do you want to be there for the birth knowing that the potential birthmother can’t sign her relinquishment papers for a few days? Are you prepared to take a baby into your arms and into your heart when it’s an “at risk” situation (when the potential birthmother can still legally choose to parent)? You may have always envisioned you holding your new child after their first breath of life and witnessing some of their “firsts” such as the first bath, the first bottle, the first diaper and so on. But are you willing to witness these firsts knowing that the baby may not end up being your child? It may be easier emotionally to not risk it but instead wait to travel to the hospital to meet the baby until the birth mother’s relinquishment papers are signed and recognized by the court. After that you’ll know that the baby you’re holding is yours.
This risk was a no-brainer for me. I wanted to be there and witness as much as I could with my potential child from the first moment possible. I knew that I may not be walking out of the hospital with a baby. But in case I did, I never wanted to look back and have regrets of missing out time with my child. My husband, on the other hand, was holding part of himself back. I wanted to be in the moment of my first child’s birth as much as possible. My husband wanted to save himself as much grief as possible if the birth parents decided to parent. We both did what we felt was best for us at the time.
For our first adoption, I was blessed to be present in the room when my son was delivered via cesarean. I heard his first cry and carried him out to to Paul’s arms. Poor Paul had worn a path in the waiting room’s carpet from pacing back and forth waiting for the baby. I knew I was taking a great emotional risk by physically presenting the baby to Paul but I wanted to do it in case everything worked out as I hoped it would. I knew that would be a memorable moment. We remained in the hospital room with the potential birthparents for three days before the relinquishment papers were signed. Again, we knew we were risking a lot by taking bold steps in bonding with the baby but it felt right to us. Looking back I am eternally grateful that we have those memories of my son’s first days of life.
For our second adoption, we received word that we were selected to be the parents of a girl who was born the day prior. The relinquishment papers could not be signed until the next day. The agency recommended that we wait until the papers were official before traveling to pick her up. We didn’t listen as we didn’t want to miss out any time with her. Within hours we were on a plane with our son flying to hopefully adopt a daughter. The next day when we arrived at the hospital the relinquishment papers had just been signed so we met our new daughter minutes after she was officially ours. I admit that it was easier to love her immediately knowing that at that moment she was legally ours.
Our third adoption, our agency informed us that we were selected to be parents to a boy who was born the day before. Again, the relinquishment papers could not be signed until the next day. Again we were told to wait until the papers were official before making plans to travel. And again we chose to ignore the agency and take the risk that it was all going to work out. This decision also had the added element of risk because this baby was born very small and was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I had experience working with NICU babies and knew how important physical contact was for them to thrive. With tears in my eyes I told Paul, “I want to be there in order to hold my son the second it’s official he’s ours.” Without any arguments from Paul we packed up everyone and at 10 PM began a 14 ½ hour non-stop car drive to hopefully adopt a new son.
We had just reached our hotel when I received the phone call from our agency that the relinquishment papers were official. The agency was shocked that we were in town already and probably thought we were crazy to risk driving through the night for a potential adoption. I found an exhausted Paul hauling in our suitcases up to our rooms and told him, “Guess what? You have a new son!”. He collapsed to the ground crying. I asked, “Are you crying because you’re happy or because we didn’t drive down here for nothing?” He replied, “I don’t know!”
Soon we were at the hospital’s NICU and met our new tiny son. He had a feeding tube up his nose because his sucking reflex was not strong enough to take a sufficient amount of formula from a bottle. The nurses were wonderful and encouraged us to hold him close despite the tubes connected to him. I attempted to feed him but could only get a tiny bit of formula into him. Paul held him and our little son took most all of the bottle. The nurses were shocked and said that our baby “must have known that his Daddy was feeding him.” After that our son kept eating and had the feeding tube removed within hours.
I treasure that moment as it sums up why we took all the risks we did. We got to be an important part of our child’s first days. We could have played it safe and stayed home until the papers were signed and our baby ready to be discharged from the NICU. Instead we put our life on hold and took a leap of faith that this baby boy was to be ours. I like to think that thanks to that risk, our tiny new son got healthy quicker and home sooner thanks to the love and early attention from us, his new parents.
What About You?
So what risks are you willing to take to create your family through adoption? Do you agree that if you as a couple made it through the life crisis of infertility then you have the skills to make it through any heartache a disrupted adoption may bring? I hope that my stories of the risks Paul and I found acceptable to us may spark some thought and discussion which will help you in your adoption journey. It’s worth it to ponder some of these risks now so you never will look back on any of your journey to parenthood with regret.
Danielle I. Pennel
Three Yellow Roses