We got THE CALL.
I was upstairs getting my son who’d just awoken from his nap, so I didn’t hear my phone. Our caseworker immediately tried my husband’s number.
“Is this what I think it is?” he asked her.
“Yep.” she said.
A birth mother had chosen us.
God bless Chicken Run, or “chicken movie” as Levi calls it. I picked it up at Target some months ago, probably out of a clearance bin, to have a movie I could put in for him when I need a block of time to get something done. I know, I know… We all swear we’ll never be the parent that parks our kid in front of the TV, but then you have kids and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Plus, the kid loves that movie!
I threw it in for him, and Jeff and I got on a 3-way call with our caseworker.
We spent the next 20 minutes getting all the basic details we could, asking questions that came to mind as she relayed information to us.
“What do you think? Do you want to take a look at what I have?” she asked.
There was a pause where I think Jeff and I were each waiting for the other to answer. It wasn’t an immediate no.
“Yes, send us what you have.”
Ten minutes later, she emailed us everything she had on this birth mother, the baby-to-be, the father, medical records, drug screenings, and pictures. I immediately started pouring through it.
As I read through page after page, every so often, a little red flag went up in my head. Hmm…
Without disclosing too much detail, at the end of the day there were two things that we hesitated about the most:
First, the birth mom was not 100% sure about the paternity of the baby. She was 95% sure it was one man, but when I looked at her medical history, I wasn’t so sure. Having dealt with infertility, I learned way more about the female reproductive system and when pregnancy is optimal than I ever thought I would possibly want to know or need to know. By my reading of things, the odds looked more 50/50 as to who the father might be.
So why was that an issue for us?
There was a possibility that the baby would be 100% Caucasian, and that is the only racial makeup we were excluding in what we wanted. We do not want our older son to be the only non-white member of our household.
There was the possibility of asking the birth mom if she’d be open to a paternity test, but that would involve an invasive amniocentesis that comes with some risk. I really didn’t want to ask her to do that. Plus, there was the other issue…
The second thing we were hesitant about was the cost of her living expenses.
It is illegal to give money or anything of value in exchange for a human life. Still, more and more adoption agencies want to help these birth mothers out in some way for the sacrifice they are making. To get around the laws, they help them out by paying their living expenses once they start working with the agency, throughout the pregnancy, then a little bit beyond – and all of that is considered charitable. The adoptive parents then end up picking up those expenses as part of the overall cost of adopting.
There were circumstances causing this birth mother’s living expenses to be unusually high, and when we ran some rough calculations, we realized we were looking at the possibility of having to spend as much as $13,000-$14,000 on her living expenses. The average is more like $6,000-$8,000. And if for some reason things fell through, because that piece is considered charitable we would not be able to recover any of it.
So even setting aside the paternity uncertainty, we didn’t feel comfortable taking on the financial risk.
When Jeff got home that night, we spent quite a while talking about and going over things, and we ultimately concluded that this match was not the right fit for our family.
Jeff headed off to work early the next morning, and once we knew her office was open, we again got on a 3-way call with our caseworker. We explained our concerns and feelings about things and that we didn’t think this was the right match for us. She was totally sympathetic and understanding and said we’ll keep presenting you. We ended the call, and I burst into tears.
Even though I know we were doing the right thing for our family in the long run, it didn’t make it any less sad. It’s almost like the adoption version of a miscarriage. We get the call (take the test)… there’s a match (it’s positive)! You get excited, scared, start anticipating what’s to come. Then the red flags start popping up (the cramps, the spotting). And pretty soon, you’re realizing this isn’t meant to be; it isn’t going to happen (more blood, more pain… until it’s over).
I’m grateful for the friends and family we were able to reach out to as we considered what to do. People to pray through this with us, be sounding boards, even friends who have been in our very shoes on their own adoption journey. Community has been a huge part of this journey for us.
We know the right scenario is out there for us…the right birth mother…the right baby…the right time…the right place. And we will all meet soon enough.