One of the risks adoptive parents face is a birth mother changing her mind and backing out of a placement.
At any point before she delivers, while at the hospital, even days or weeks after giving birth in some states or cases, she can change her mind and choose to keep her baby or ask for the baby back if she’s already placed him/her with a family.
It just comes with the territory, and no one can fault her for deciding not to go through with it, for choosing instead to parent herself. We would not fault a woman for doing that. It would be heartbreaking and sad, but we would be able to understand and sympathize with her choice.
That’s exactly what we thought happened to us this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, we have since learned that was not the case.
When our caseworker called us Tuesday morning to relay the news that the birth parents had changed their mind, she had only spoken to the birth father at that point. He’d told her that the baby arrived the night before (Monday night), that it happened so fast, and they just decided they couldn’t go through with the placement.
Again, very sad, but adoptive parents know this can happen and that it’s a risk. One of the reasons we chose the adoption agency that we did is their failure rate is very low, around 7%, compared to national averages in the 20-30% range.
We hung up the phone, and I spent the bulk of the rest of Tuesday puffy-eyed and in and out of crying spells.
At some point late in the afternoon, after I’d already shared my last blog post on social media, I got the idea to look at the birth mother’s Facebook profile. I don’t even know why it occurred to me. Maybe in the back of my mind I wanted to see the baby I thought would be ours and thought I might see something there… I really don’t know what drew me. I’m not friends with the birth mother on social media, but I had looked her up before when we first got matched.
Sure enough, the first thing I saw were pictures of a new baby boy – his name, weight, length, and an excited mom. Then I noticed the date. The post was from Saturday.
But wait… they said he arrived last night.
I kept scrolling.
Another post from late Friday / early Saturday: “Well i had my baby 12:58”
And then it hit me.
I immediately screengrabbed the image and fired it off to our caseworker.
“She’s been lying to us. He was born on Saturday. Which means she lied to me via text over the weekend.”
Birth mom had been texting with me over the weekend—in fact, she initiated it—giving every indication she was still pregnant. She asked what we had planned for our son’s 3rd birthday. She talked about a headache she had and how she couldn’t take anything. She texted me Monday night to say she’d message me after her doctor appointment the next day, the one where they were going to talk about scheduling her to be induced.
But she’d already had the baby.
If a birth mother decides to parent, she is cut off from the financial assistance she’s been getting for living expenses, since the adoptive parents can no longer expect to receive a baby. Yet this birth mother continued asking the caseworker for money from her account for living expenses.
When she’d already had the baby!
I grabbed more images off Facebook and continued sending them to our caseworker. I grabbed a few of the comment threads – typical chatter you would expect to read between a mom with a new baby and her friends.
In the meantime, Jeff got home from work, and I was relaying my findings to him at the same time I was going back and forth with the caseworker. By now, she had reached out to the birth mom to call her out on what she’d done. And would you believe, shortly after that, posts started disappearing from her Facebook wall? Until eventually, her entire profile disappeared.
No matter. I had enough to at least confirm that she and the birth father had lied about when the baby arrived.
But what do we do now?
I went back and forth a few more times with the caseworker talking about what she knew, what I knew, sending her images. She advised that we could press charges. It was getting late, and I told her let’s talk tomorrow.
When we spoke the next day, that’s when I learned that birth mom had asked for more money at the start of the weekend. As I’ve mentioned before, we pay her living expenses from the time she signs on with the agency. It’s just all part of the process.
But the fact that she asked for more money from the trust account after the baby had already arrived, but not informing anyone that he had arrived…
That is fraud. What she did is illegal. It is adoption fraud.
Unfortunately, there may not be much we can do. Our caseworker advised that she’s never had success pressing charges in the state of California. And frankly, we don’t have a lot of evidence to prove their intent wasn’t to follow through, up until the weekend.
At the end of the day, we could press charges that wouldn’t go anywhere, but it might make us (me) feel better. Maybe it would scare them, give them a wakeup call… I don’t know.
The caseworker did order the birth mother to return the funds she’d asked for after the birth. And even that, the birth mom tried to negotiate away.
We got an email the next day from the finance person at the agency giving us the estimated total of what we lost in expenses, and it was just over $8,500.
$8,500 in birth mother expenses and third party expenses that we cannot recoup. Now what? We just start over? How can we trust another birth mother?
As followers of Jesus, we believe that revenge is not ours to seek. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m mad, that I want them to pay for what they’ve done, that I don’t want them to get away with this. I want justice. I have no idea what it takes to be a person who can do these kinds of things, and it makes me sick to my stomach.
But is it worth it for something that will probably go nowhere?
They are the ones who have to wake up to themselves every day. They are now raising a total of 7 children, and if we pressed charges, who would suffer in the end?
Their kids would.
So here we are. We’ve been lied to, and there’s next to nothing we can do about it. Other than continue the search for the next birth mother.
And pray this doesn’t happen again.