Adoptions fail for many reasons, but whatever the reason, the adoptive parents are left feeling heartbroken and confused. Everyone will react differently and experience the pain of loss at different times and in different ways. We experienced a failed adoption in 2016/2017 and understand the depths of your hurt and were left questioning where it went wrong.
First, know that it is not your fault.
We questioned time and time again where we went wrong in the process. We had already had a two and half a year old through the gift of adoption, so we knew what the process looked like and have an amazing relationship with our son’s birth mom. Maybe part of it was our fault for “comparing” what our first adoption looked like to this one. But whatever the reason, we still blamed ourselves for not doing more or not doing things differently. Over time you realize there is nothing you could have done differently. Adoption is an emotional process for all involved and it takes two to build an adoptive relationship and make it work. We simply were not a good match for each other. We saw things differently. Maybe she wanted more contact than we were willing to give. Or she thought we were going to turn our backs on her after the baby was born. Whatever the reasons, our relationship did not work, which meant the adoption did not work.
Give yourself time. Give yourself grace.
It is hard to lose something you thought you were going to have. I have compared the process to the grief process. For us, one of the hardest things was knowing that the baby was being raised by someone else (the birth mom in our case). This was supposed to be our baby. She was supposed to be our son’s baby sister. Losing that hurt. Losing her hurt. But almost two years later the hurt is less and less. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about what our life could/would have been but I don’t think about it as often.
Talk about it.
I know it is hard to talk about. I cried for what felt like months after it. I didn’t want to talk about it. But I know I had to. I was also mad. We felt like we were taken advantage of and lost a baby all at the same time. The emotions were high. But the more I talked about it, the better I felt. I have a few family members who I consider my counselors, so I didn’t seek out a professional, but I did talk to my counselors. If you need professional help though, seek it out. Or if you have a family member/friend that is great at listening and giving great advice, seek them out. There is no shame in it. If I have learned anything over the course of my life, it is that I need to talk about it. I need to get the feelings off of my chest. I need to talk through what happened and how to process it. That doesn’t mean I am weak or that I can’t handle life on my own. It means I am human and can admit that I can’t do it on my own and need help. You can also seek out support groups. Most churches will be able to point you in the right direction if you need help locating one in your area. Also, if you are working with an adoption agency, they may be able to help you find others who have been in your shoes. Along both of our adoption journeys, I loved talking with people who also were adopting or had failed adoptions, as they truly know what you are going through and can offer the best advice and support.
For whatever reason your adoption failed, don’t give up hope. We know it is hard in the moment, but it does get easier. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t scare you to try again, but if you desire is to have a family through the gift of adoption, keep trying and don’t give up hope.