The Phone Rang

By: Stacy Ellis

I was going to write about the way people react to the words “We are adopting.”  Such as the  woman in Babies R Us who said, “Oh how great! You’ll love that baby just as much, I’m sure!” Or the dozen people who have responded with, “Oh you just wait, now that you’re adopting, you’re going to get pregnant!”  Not quite possible in my situation, which they all knew, but to them it seemed like the right thing to say.  And I was going to talk all about how every person I tell that I couldn’t have a biological child says, “Oh I did so many rounds of IVF and I totally understand.”  But every one of those people all have natural biological children as their IVF worked…again not quite the same.  But I am no longer going to talk about any of that because this past week, the phone rang…

On Tuesday, we received a call. There’s a baby in Pittsburgh and if we can get there by tomorrow morning, the baby is ours.  There was limited information provided on the birth mother.  She is white, the father was black.  Both the birthmother’s parents died of cancer twenty years ago.  She has a son who is a high school senior.  The birthfather is unknown – a guy named Charles – whom she had a one night stand with nine months ago.  The baby was delivered at 37 weeks – 40 weeks is full gestation – yet the baby was just 5 pounds.  The Apgar test was 9 out of 10.  Otherwise, the baby appeared healthy according to the hospital social worker.

This kind of adoption is what is called a “safe haven” adoption. A birthmother ignored her pregnancy for the past nine months and decides at the hospital, after giving birth, she does not want to take the baby home.  Our adoption attorney, along with numerous agencies, have established connections with nursing stations who then call them, saying, “Do you have prospective parents? We have a baby that needs a home.”  If no one claims the baby by the time the birthmother is discharged, the state is called and the baby goes to foster care.  Eventually the baby will be adopted – but once the state gets involved, that could take months or years even if it is a completely healthy baby.  However, if a private attorney or agency gets involved, the baby is released to the new adoptive parents. That is, IF the prospective parents get there in time.

My husband and I were on the phone staring at the paperwork on our respective computers. We were both at work. We desperately wanted the paperwork to say more.  More medical history about the birth mother and random birthfather, just…MORE…we didn’t know what to do.   If we turned down this chance to be parents, would it take that whole year for another opportunity to come?  If we turned it down, would that taint us in the process for other birthparents?  We had just one hour to make a decision because if we were not the adoptive parents, they had to find someone.  Like I said, we struggled with what to do and then, an epiphany.  We’ll have one of my friends who is a private investigator run the birth mother’s social security number and see what it says, and then we’ll make a decision.

Within minutes, while on the phone with the investigator, we learned she had five convictions for theft. Okay, theft.  Maybe she’s poor and needed to feed her son.  It wasn’t a violent offense. Okay.  But then it got worse.  She was convicted three times of manufacturing methamphetamine.  Now this was bad. I know a few things about meth from my reporter days and the one main thing I know is that the byproducts from manufacturing meth are worse than the meth itself.  They are toxic and they stay in the walls, carpet, bedding…and the byproducts don’t disappear over time. The home needs to be cleaned as if it were being eradicated of mold.  It can cause serious medical conditions and even if she didn’t use the drug, if she lived in a house where it was manufactured, that could be the reason the baby was only five pounds.  Then the last information: two convictions for conspiracy to solicit. This is prostitution.  The baby was most likely conceived out of some kind of prostitution – she knew nothing about the guy except his first name was Charles and he was black.

Our decision was made. This was not the right match for us.   We had to let it go and believe that our baby was out there growing in the womb somewhere.   Of course we wondered if all future “matches” would be like this.  Even if they weren’t “safe haven” matches, would future matches have such limited information?  Is this what we signed up for?

And then two days later, the phone rang again…


  1. says

    I’ve been reading your posts with great interest: in part because I, too, struggled with infertility for a long time and faced a range of often heart-wrenching decisions about next steps; in part because I love how you write (your honesty, the vividness of your descriptions, the way you pull your readers into your experiences in a really palpable way); in part because I work with couples who are “expecting” (whether that means they’re pregnant, they’re using a surrogate, or they’re trying to adopt) and I’m eager to learn more about the impact of these various ways of having a family on a couple’s relationship. There’s something so poignant, raw and “present” about this post that I’m finally adding a comment. Thank you for sharing your journey with readers; it’s a real privilege to be allowed into your process.

  2. says


    WOW another great story. I, too, would want more information. After reading this I think you made the right decision. A baby is out there like you said growing in someone’s womb with less issues or at least known issues.

  3. says

    Also, if I am not mistaken you just filled out your paperwork. It is amazing that within a month you already had an opportunity to adopt a baby. Amazingly fast.

  4. Stacey says


    Thank you for the compliment. Everything I write is the truth and from my heart and you will see the sheer craziness that has become our lives within the next two weeks…we are only a ‘week behind’ real life…as I try to keep up with the blog and as you will see what is coming. I appreciate your comments. What I can tell you is that all the pain, hurt, anguish has disappeared.

    I think once you find the right path for you, you will find the same thing happens. The past year of infertility treatments was a blur and almost feels now like it all happened to someone else. They say time heals all wounds, well so does love…

    Thank you for reading!


  5. says

    Thanks back, Stacey. I completely relate to what you wrote about finding the right path. I gave up my infertility struggle and opted for adoption (a different saga than yours and more detail than worth going into now) but every time I look at my daughter (she’s almost 3), I know she’s the child I was meant to have.

    I still have twinges of sadness when friends give birth to babies, but I never, not for a second, ever doubt that I had my child exactly the way I was supposed to. Plus, as time goes on, I firmly believe I become more and more aware of the gifts of my (painful) fertility journey; for example, it inspired me to become a Life Coach.

    The best I can wish others navigating the (in)fertility path is that they’re able to find the approach that’s right for them, that they find a way (if they’re partnered) to be gentle with each other and continue to nurture their relationship in the thick of what is a very stressful experience, and that they get to the other side in a way that brings them joy.

    Thanks again for your poignant and wonderful blog posts.


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