Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Grieving the Loss of a Baby and a Birth Mom.

I wrote this for my friend's blog Que & Brittnay's Adoption Journey back in 2011.    I realized I never added my post to my own blog so I am doing it now.   :)  

When Brad and I first entered the world of adoption in 1998 we had a few fears.   One of those fears was that we would be chosen by a Birth Mother but then after the baby was born she would decide to parent.   As we came to understand more about adoption our fears eased but there was always that worry.

In December of 1999 a sweet Birth Mother named Stephanie chose us.  Her baby was 1 month old and she felt very strong about her decision to place.  Unfortunately her family did not support her decision and after 6 weeks of hoping the placement would still happen we received the final word that she had decided to parent.   This news was hard but we understood and felt love for her.   There was no anger…just sadness in what we would never be for us.

As the initial feelings of disbelief subsided strong feelings of grief took over.    Brad handled the loss better than I did.   I remember getting up for work in the mornings and my body felt like lead.  It was so hard to function.  All I wanted to do was sleep.   I remember many times I would go into the pink nursery and hold and rock the cute little clothes we purchased for what we thought would be our daughter.  I would sob and let feelings out in my alone moments in that special room.   After a while I just kept the door shut.    I remember one night I was up to use the bathroom and I thought I could hear a baby crying.   It was strange and I thought maybe I was crazy.   I moved through life in a haze and was full of deep sadness.   I felt so alone and sad and wondered if I would ever be a Mother.

July 2000 we had the incredible opportunity to be blessed with a baby girl.   Brenley came into our lives and we have never been the same.   We were blessed again in October of 2002 with another baby girl.  Haley brought us great joy and we felt so blessed to be parents to 2 little girls.

In December of 2005 we were contacted by 2 Birth Mothers.   Talitha was only 5 weeks along.  A few weeks after our first contact with her she  met with an LDS Family Service worker and we were placed on “firm hold” with.  We knew it was early in the pregnancy to be on firm hold but we had been through a long hold before and we were blessed with Haley so we believed it could work out.   We spoke on the phone, chatted online for hours at time.  We had correspondence of some type almost daily for her entire pregnancy.   Around 20 weeks we drove up to Montana to be with her for the ultrasound.   It was an incredible experience and we learned we were to be parents of another baby girl.   We enjoyed finally meeting Talitha in person and had a great time getting to know her.   We left Montana feeling happy and excited about her and the new baby girl we planned to name Elizabeth.

Upon our return to Utah we continued contact with Talitha.   We started noticing as the delivery day approached that she was putting space between us.   Things started feeling a little off but she reassured us that she was still planning to place.   One day after not hearing from her for a few days I felt prompted to look on the hospital website where I found the picture of the baby we thought was going to be ours.

She had given her a name and I knew she had decided to parent.

We sent her an email and she replied and said how sorry she was.   She had a story as to why, claiming it to be the birth father.   To this day I still don’t know the whole story and will never know but the story didn’t matter…we respected the right she had to parent her baby.    We still loved her and wished the very best for her and her little family.   But this was a very hard loss.   To be with her the entire pregnancy and be as prepared to love and parent this little baby and then to have empty arms, empty bassinet and untouched diapers, clothes….it was very hard.

It was also hard to fall in love with this Birth Mother and then to lose her.

We tried to maintain a friendship but it was hard.  There were some things said and unsaid that hurt us deeply.  I thought we could keep the same friendship but for whatever reason it was really hard.   I had to let go a bit and I think she needed time away from our chats so she could have time with her baby and her new life as Mommy to two little girls.   I tried to touch base with her as time went on but the last time I tried she didn’t reply.   It took a full year to come to terms with this loss.

It wasn’t just a loss of a baby, it was also the loss of a special friend.

It hurt a great deal but it truly took a year for the full impact of what had happened to come upon me.   I feel like this was a gift so that I didn’t have to feel the full loss all at once.

While we were waiting for this baby to be born we were busy building a house.   We were so excited to have a new baby to bring to our new home.   We pictured ourselves going to church with our three precious girls.   We made plans for the nursery. …there were plans for everything.   The first few months in our home was full of firsts and full of thoughts about what would have been.   There was suddenly an extra room, all the baby items had to be stored in the basement rather than in what would have been the nursery.

We had exhausted all our “finding” ideas while we were trying to find the right birth mom and had done so much, so at this point I felt no direction on what else we could do to help get ourselves out there again.   It was a period of time where I felt lost in some ways.

In December 2006 we received a call from a girl who had contacted us just a few days before Talitha had.  Her name was Samantha and she had gone back forth about placing but in the end she decided to parent.   We had an instant connection to her from her first email so when she decided to parent we thought maybe we were just meant to be her friends and support her emotionally as she parented.   She gave birth to Camden (the same name we had decided on for our first boy) April 17, 2006.   She even called us right after she delivered him but before delivering her placenta.  You could say we both felt this invisible string that tied us together but we didn’t really know why.   We maintained this special friendship.  Her call in December of that year was a different call….one I will never forget.

She felt Camden belonged with us.

Placement happened a few days later on Camden’s 8th month day.  It was a joyous occasion that helped us see  the Lord had plans for our family….he was preparing the best gift for us.   We were never left alone.   All that time I thought I was lost and wondered why inspiration on what to do next wasn’t coming…the Lord was telling us to be still.  We had done all we could do and He was taking care of the rest.   (Camden’s entire story is amazing.  You can read more by going here.)

Our 3rd failed placement (spring of 2008) was a easier to handle.  It was a married couple who didn’t feel they could handle another child.  Their marriage was a little rocky and finances were difficult.   I started to prepare for this little baby.   We were especially excited because this would be Brenley’s birth cousin who would be joining our home and we already loved Brenley’s Birth Family so it felt right.   The baby was due in August and we were all very happy about it!

In May 2008 we learned they would be parenting.   It was sad to have to put the baby items back in boxes and to realize there would be a baby coming to stay but we were also excited for this little family.  This would be their first boy after 3 girls.   While I didn’t grieve a great deal over this loss I did have some sadness and some thoughts of what might have been.

Out of all 3 of our failed placements this was by far the easiest to handle and we felt joy for this special Birth Family.

Failed placements are difficult and unique when it comes to grieving.  You don’t just grieve what might have been.

You don’t just grieve the loss of the baby that you thought was going to be yours forever.   You also grieve the loss of that special relationship that can be found between a Birth Mother (or Birth Family) and the Adoptive Family.

While a friendship is definitely still possible and very rewarding it doesn’t feel exactly the same as that kind of sacred bond you develop in those special circumstances you all find yourselves in together.   It is a hard loss and it can take time and care to get through the grief.   The following are some ways we have dealt with grief:

Give yourself time
Don’t feel like you need to hurry and put away baby items or pack away the nursery.   Sometimes grieving over items helps get feelings out.
Don’t feel pressured to be at activities or gatherings…do what you feel like doing don’t try to do things to please others.
Pamper yourselves…if you have been putting off a vacation this is a good time to do it.   Go do things only couples can do.

Find an outlet for your feelings and a way to take a break from thinking about it.
Talk, talk and talk some more if you feel like it.
Write…in a journal, notebook, create a blog.
Read books that take you away from your life…or read about others going through similar circumstances.
Listen to comforting music…or music that is upbeat and fun.
Go to a movie or rent an old favorite.
Attend the temple.

Special Note:  If you already have children in your family remember to help them as they grieve.  They will feel the loss too.    Let them talk about it, ask questions, draw pictures, play with baby dolls (in certain ages) or buy them a special doll just for them to take care of until a placement happens.   The kids will often fall in love with the Birth Family too.  Let the kids write letters or draw pictures for the (would have been) Birth Mother/Family.   Allow them to draw pictures or send a gift to the baby if that is something they would like to do.

Our family has struggled through 3 failed placements and they were hard but when a door closes a window opens.  We have been blessed with 4 incredible children through adoption.  

We have learned so much along our journey and we have witnessed miracles.   There will always be some failed placements in adoption but when things are right it will work out.   You will hold your little one in your arms and be so thankful for your journey to parenthood.   The loss that was suffered will be nothing compared to the joy that will be yours!  I know this is true because I have lived it three times!  One day while watching a favorite movie I came across this quote.  It spoke to me.  I hope it does to you too.  Hang in there…your life can change in a day!

"For whatsoever from one place doth fall, Is with the tide unto an other brought: For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought."
~Edmund Spencer (Faerie Queen Book v)

* For more information on the topic of Failed Placements you can view my presentation going to the following links
Part A1
Part A2
Part B2
It is divided into short parts in order to be on youtube.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  

You can also see them on Brenda's blog by clicking here.

1 comment:

Willow said...

Wow, what a story--so much joy from adoption, and so much grief on the journey, too. But of course each step of the way led you to the wonderful family you have! Also wanted to make sure you had my new blog address: http://multimama.wordpress.com/. Hope to see you there!