Adoption efforts with our current birth mother have ended.
We found out yesterday that she reached out to the previous family and agency she’d been working with before us (I mentioned that situation in this post). She fed all the same lies to them about us that she said to us about them.
She also supposedly has a new due date of 11/17, though she can’t (won’t) provide evidence of this.
So Jeff and I are done. We walked away yesterday.
This is where I feel like I can be real.
Up to now, I’ve wanted to protect the story, identifying details, name, etc. of the two birth mothers we’ve been matched with… mainly in the interest of the possibility of them being the birth mothers of children we thought we’d be adopting and raising; therefore, having an ongoing relationship with. Like we do with Levi’s birth mom – we have a wonderful, open, supportive relationship with her now.
But I’m done.
I’m done protecting the other two.
Here’s a more detailed snapshot of the things we got to see and things we had to consider as a potential adoptive family.
Birth mother attempt #1 – Ashley:
We were matched with Ashley for nearly 4 months. The baby she was expecting was her 7th. Yes, that’s right, her 7th. Perhaps that should have been a warning sign. When you already have 6 kids, what’s one more? Ashley said all the right things, did all the right things, showed up for social workers, kept her one and only meeting with us, stayed in regular contact with us and the caseworker.
When we were first matched with Ashley, there were two main things we had to weigh. One of those was the fact that she had used meth early in the pregnancy. Supposedly she had only used four times, and she was going through drug court to keep herself clean. We don’t know if she got caught or what, but she was getting treated and regularly tested. And as much as I hate to say this, if a pregnant woman is going to “use,” meth is one of the least harmful drugs on an unborn baby. We decided to let that one slide.
The other consideration was the fact that her partner (and father of the baby), Juan, had been involved in an assault and kidnapping the previous year. How’s this for a surreal twist: You get one of those Amber Alerts on your phone (the kind that light up the entire county’s – if not state’s – cell phones at the same time to be on the lookout for a given vehicle). And less than a year later, you’re attempting to adopt a child of one of the suspects involved in that incident?
If you know anything about my story, you know I went through a near-fatal assault in 2011. If I’m looking at adopting a child whose birth father was involved in an assault and kidnapping, and this man will be living just over 2 hours from me and my family, you better believe I want to know what I’m getting into. But even that seemed to check out. I searched and searched online (though frankly, it was like looking for the Latino version of “John Smith” and I could find nothing about the outcome of that whole event). Based on the story we got from birth mom and what caseworker could find out, by all appearances it was a case of birth father being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So we let that one slide too.
In hindsight, at least Ashley’s lies were consistent, and they didn’t hold a candle to the next gal’s…
Birth mother attempt #2 – Nicole:
When we got the call about the match with Nicole just 3 weeks after the failure with Ashley, we were excited at the prospect of a birth mom who was so close to her due date. Her story went that she had left her husband David due to domestic violence, was currently living in a motel with her other 4 children, and she just couldn’t take on another baby right now.
Our caseworker explained to her that we had just been burned by another birth mother and were somewhat wounded by the experience, and Nicole swore up and down that she was legit, that she understood and felt for us, and that she was not that kind of birth mom.
Three days later, she showed up on one of the scam boards. She claimed she’d been matched with a family she wasn’t connecting with, that she really liked us, wanted us to raise her baby, started referring to me as mommy, etc. etc.
But very quickly thereafter, stuff started not adding up.
She was not helping us get her medical records. She appeared incapable of sending a legit picture of a receipt or medical discharge or prescription (come on, it’s the 21st century, and even the most rudimentary cell phones can take a decent picture) – all things she began asking for money for. We found out her husband and his brother were staying at the motel with her and her children. She canceled meetings with us, with the social worker, and pretty soon she became a spider deeply tangled in a web of her own lies. Every day it was something new. Every. Single. Day.
Still, we hung in there because she was so close to her due date. Then last Friday, much to our relief, our caseworker told Nicole her funds were being cut off until they received her medical records. She was not happy.
Saturday morning, she sent me a scathing series of texts expressing her frustration with the caseworker and everybody being all up in her business. She sent the caseworker a scathing series of texts telling her how mad she was, how tired of being judged she was, and she cut off contact with the caseworker.
Why she kept in touch with me, I don’t know. I was beginning to suspect that this placement wasn’t going to happen, but I’m known to be a bit of a pessimist (or prepping for worst case scenario, at the very least), so I let the optimists in my life win over with the benefit of the doubt.
Fast forward through over 5 months of me being in contact with these birth mothers – checking in with them regularly, seeing how they are doing and feeling, trying to be optimistic without being overbearing or always asking about the baby or the pregnancy, deciphering texts that use no punctuation or capitalization… all of it is exhausting.
Only to come away with no baby. Twice.
Ashley is the one who ended up lying to us about when the baby was born, yet continued to ask for money until she was caught. The fact she committed fraud and that it was brought to her attention is probably the only reason we got any money back. And it was a drop in the bucket compared to what she got. I hope the few thousand dollars she got were worth it for the child she is now responsible for raising for 18 years. That’s going to cost her a lot more than what she got away with.
Nicole has been lying left and right, inside out, and upside down. That’s basically why the caseworker cut off her funds – to call her out on all the lies. She was threatening she’d have to go to Reno if she didn’t get money by last Friday, then once the money was cut off, she suddenly said she could take care of herself and didn’t need it and everyone would see what she’s been going through once she delivered a healthy baby.
We hung in there, because a number of people had a hunch that she would still place. As our attorney said, “Even scammers eventually have to place.” And it’s a matter of who is still around when that time comes. She was no longer getting any money from us, so we really had nothing to lose.
Except perhaps my health.
Which is one – among many – of the reasons we finally walked away yesterday.
Nicole is talking to the family she abandoned when she matched with us. If they are willing to take her back, I wish them luck. But we are done.
As for us now, we are taking a break. I won’t put myself through this again right now. We told the agency they could present us to emergency placement cases (basically meaning a baby is already here), but that’s it.
At my doctor visit yesterday, I got a prescription for antidepressants to help manage the stress. I took my first dose last night. I need a break from being in a heightened state of adrenaline and anxiety for a time.
I need to put on my own oxygen mask first.
I don’t claim to understand how a person can take advantage of others the way we have been taken advantage of these past few months. I can only speculate that these are very broken people, people who can and will justify their actions as being in their own or their family’s best interest.
I am so thankful I was not raised that way. And those I feel most sorry for in the end are the children of these people. These are their role models. These are the people they look up to, the adults they will seek for advice and input about understanding and interacting with the world.
For years, I’ve been around lots of positive people – in some cases, to the extent of ignoring the legitimately crappy stuff that is going on around them.
While Jeff and I both want to be positive and optimistic, the idea of wallpapering over all this bullshit is just being intellectually blind. Because the reality is this just plain sucks. And I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t.
I’m reminded of when my mom died over 12 years ago, and my dad was getting the expected barrage of phone calls from well-meaning friends and family wanting to know how he was doing. He finally started calling it like it was, “Shitty. I’m doing shitty.”
We’re looking forward to the time when things are positive. But for now, don’t be surprised if you ask me how I’m doing and my response is, “Shitty.”