Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's October 16th

Ok, saying it's October 16th is just about one of the most obvious things we can say. So on the surface the title to this post doesn't seem to mean much of anything. But for us, today marks 5 months since we met M, the woman we had matched with in early June, and marks 3 months since we unmatched on July 16th. There's nothing particularly notable about any of that, except that it feels like it's time to tell our story about what happened.

We haven't tried to tell our story until now. For a while we simply couldn't, except to a few very close people in our lives. And then it seemed that there was no way to share things from our point of view without compromising M's privacy or our own. Now it feels like it's time to try. I'm not sure how writing about our failed match is going to work out, but we'll see how it goes.

May 16th was a Thursday 5 months ago and it wound up being a very busy day. It was one of those crazy days at work and after months of not hearing from anyone who might be looking to place their child with us, we heard from 3 people, yes 3! Just as I was due to have a meeting with a new employee at work, my cell phone rang. A friend was calling with a potential situation for us. It was a very exciting possibility and needless to say I was on the phone for a while getting as many details as I could. Luckily I managed to send my new co-worker a quick email that I was delayed.

I was so elated after that call. The situation she told me about seemed ideal in so many ways and I thought we might get to match at last. That same day a young woman from the Northwest also sent us an email telling us about her pregnancy and yet another woman from Florida sent us a message through our profile on Adoptimist. The woman from Florida was M and her first message simply asked if closed adoption was an option. That day we thought for sure that the pregnant woman our friend told us about was the match for us, but I went ahead and responded to the other two women anyway.

Our friend sent more details to us about the pregnant woman she knew and over the next few days we sorted through everything. There was another agency already involved with her case and it quickly became clear that the situation was very complex and would ultimately be very expensive, requiring substantial fees paid to the 2nd agency along with high living expenses for the pregnant woman. Unfortunately it was much more than we could afford. So with great sadness we had to say no. We never heard again from the woman in the Northwest, but things continued to develop with M and we were cautiously optimistic that we might become parents at last. 

M's original message to us asked about closed adoption. It was an interesting question. While we were ok with this, the very act of M contacting us meant it would never truly be a closed adoption since we were already in contact. So we started to wonder what she really meant by this . We got our agency involved as things progressed. We learned that it's not unusual for a pregnant woman to ask about closed adoption when she first explores adoption for her child, but then wants things more open as she learns more and a relationship starts to grow with the family she is thinking about.

Things moved very quickly with M as we exchanged several emails over the next couple of weeks. We learned that some of her background was very similar to Mitch's and this seemed to be a sign that there was a good connection. We also discovered that she lived within just a few hours of Mitch's aunt, which seemed perfect given that M wanted a closed adoption. If she chose us and wanted little or no contact after she gave birth, then we could stay with Mitch's aunt instead of on our own in a hotel until we received permission to leave the state with the baby. Everything seemed ideal. We were very excited about the possibility of matching with M and Mitch's aunt was excited too. 

There were many things we liked about M. One of the things we really liked about her was that when she'd tell us that she was going to do something, she did it as quickly as she could. She volunteered to contact our agency soon after our first contact and she did. They asked her to complete a couple of tasks such as getting proof of her pregnancy from her doctor and she got them done as soon as she could. It seemed like she really wanted to move forward with matching. We were unsure what the timing would be and our agency let us know that it's up to the pregnant woman to decide when she's ready to match. The counselor we were working with thought it would be soon and things happened even sooner than we expected. Just a few days later we got a call from the counselor on Monday, June 3rd, not quite 3 weeks after we met M, letting us know that M picked us, yes us! We had 24 hours to decide, but we didn't need this time. Mitch and I had already talked about matching with M so I told our agency yes and we excitedly accepted the match.

We were a bundle of happiness, excitement, relief, and nerves now that we were matched. I include nerves in this bundle because after all, we had never been matched before and it was uncharted territory for us. We had no idea how to navigate it and very little idea of what to expect, especially since M had expressed interest in closed adoption. Her baby wasn't due until the end of October. This gave us plenty of time to sort out details and develop a relationship M if she wanted, but also a lot of time to make mistakes, say or do the wrong things, etc. Our relationship with M was so new and seemed so fragile that we were afraid we'd mess it up. We wanted to keep exchanging messages with her and learn more about her, but we didn't want to pester her with contact she didn't want. 

Things during the first week after we matched were very encouraging. We wanted to announce our match on Facebook and a dear friend reminded me we should ask M first. She was quite right and I'm glad she reminded us of what we knew before we posted anything. We sent M an email to ask her. The response we received was so touching and sweet. She was happy we matched and wanted this to be our experience. We hadn't talked on the phone before we matched. Luckily things worked out for M and I to talk a couple of days after we matched and it was amazing. I was so nervous during our short call, but this was quickly replaced with my joy and M's enthusiasm as we talked. Later that week we heard from our local counselor that M was very happy about our call and our match. She was even talking about us meeting her in Florida before the baby was born and having me in the delivery room so I could start bonding with the baby right away. This was all great news and very promising, though definitely not what we expected given M's interest in closed adoption!

The next step was a match meeting where many details are sorted out including a plan for the hospital when the baby is born. We always thought the match meeting happened before we matched with a pregnant woman, but we were mistaken about this. It was agreed that the best form for our match meeting would be 2-3 conference calls given the 3000 mile distance between M and us. A call was set for June 19th which was 1 month, 3 days after our first contact with M. Mitch hadn't gotten to speak to M on the phone yet so it would be his first chance to talk to her and there were so many important things to talk about and agree on during these calls, including a possible visit to Florida before October. We were very excited and also very nervous about this call. We told ourselves we could do it and picked up the phone when it rang, but M wasn't there.

We didn't see that coming. While we hadn't received any more emails from M, she had followed through on everything until then and was so happy for us. It was a big shock to find that it was just the counselor on other end of the phone. We feared the worst, but our counselor was encouraging. She told us that M had let her know right before the call that she couldn't make it, which was much better than skipping the meeting without telling anyone. We spent a long time on the phone with our counselor talking about the next steps and learning about what M needed for the rest of her pregnancy. We also found out that M's computer was broken which was why we had not received any emails. Our counselor was confident the match was good and thought everything would work out, including meeting M before the birth. She thought M just needed some space, that slowing everything down would help. 

So we reminded the counselor that M could text us instead of email. Over the next couple of weeks we settled down to getting M's expenses sorted out. It was tough because we were very unsettled that there hadn't been a match meeting yet, Mitch still hadn't gotten to talk to M, and we were a little suspicious about some of the details involved in paying M's expenses. The good news was that communication opened up again once we loaded M's cell phone with minutes and we exchanged several texts. She also called a couple times and we chatted about her appointments, baby names, and more. She volunteered to send ultrasound pictures and followed through with sending them right away. We also received more emails once her computer was fixed. 

We settled into enjoying summer and making plans for the big change coming our way at the end of October. Mitch's birthday was right before the summer blackout period on our Disney passes. It was very hot and very crowded that day, but we had a great time at Disneyland and exchanged several messages with M as we made our way around the park. The next week was 4th of July and we enjoyed trading emails with M about our plans. M ended up being called into work that day and it rained in Florida so her kids didn't go out for the fireworks, but everyone was happy with the way their days worked out.

And then it stopped. We went on an overnight trip the Friday after 4th of July. M sent a chatty email that night and a text on the Sunday, but we never received replies to the messages we sent back to her. Our counselor had a hard time reaching M after the holiday weekend and we went for several days not hearing from anyone. It was stressful. We didn't know what to think, especially since we really hoped to get our match meeting sorted out and solidify plans to see M in Florida if she still wanted that before the baby was born. We had planned to load M's phone with more minutes and she knew of our plan, but we weren't sure what to do since we hadn't heard from her. We added more minutes thinking she might have run out, but still didn't hear from her.

Finally, we found out why on the morning of July 16th. I was in the shower and heard pounding on the door. For a second I was irritated, but then immediately realized it had to be something big and it was. Mitch said the counselor needed to talk to us, NOW. So I took the phone even though I had shampoo in my hair and was dripping wet and he went for the other phone. And then we learned we were unmatched, 2 months to the day after we our first contact with M. 

M never talked to anyone about her decision. She simply left a message on our agency's voice mail in the middle of the night. While we didn't hear the message, our understanding is that her family offered to help her so she decided to keep her baby. Our agency reached out to her, but she didn't return their calls or emails. I sent an email saying we understood and wished her the best, but we never got a reply to that email either. 

The ultrasound pictures she had sent were in a prominent place in our home. They caught my eye several times after we unmatched. I'd see them, not knowing what to do with these pictures. We'd never know this baby or her mother. I knew it would be too painful for us to keep them, but I also knew it felt wrong to throw them out or shred them. Finally after wrestling with this for a few days, I found a plain envelope, addressed it to M, put the pictures in with no note, and mailed them back to her. That was our last contact.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing and I'm so sorry you are going through this pain.