by Meika Rouda
Last year I had coffee with a friend of a friend to talk about adoption. Her name was Sarah and she and her husband had been waiting five years for a baby. They had been matched several times with birthmothers but each time the adoptions fell through. She was feeling very sad and frustrated with the process, how long it was taking and the bad luck she and her husband were having. The last adoption, she was in the delivery room with the birthmother and at the last minute the birthmother changed her mind. She and her husband drove home with an empty carseat in their car. They had hired a facilitator who they paid several thousand dollars to help them find a birthmother. The facilitator had died last year of breast cancer. No one took over the woman’s practice so they were out of the money and out of a facilitator. Somehow through this, she was staying optimistic, sure that a baby would come. I assured her that her baby was out there, to stay positive.
I contacted her last week to check in and see how their adoption journey was coming along. I expected her to say that they had a baby or at least had been matched with a very promising birthmother with a low risk of changing her mind. But that isn’t what she said at all. She said that after another year of being on the adoption roller coaster, she and her husband had decided to focus on being a family of two, not three. That it was a hard decision, one that still felt very raw but after another year of failed adoptions, they couldn’t take it anymore. As painful as it was, she had concluded that being a mother was not in the cards for her. She and her husband were accepting that parenthood would not work out for them. It was something she never thought she would say.
It turns out they are not the only couple to give up on adoption. Everyone thinks that adoption is fail proof, that it may take a long time but that eventually it works out. Now that they had gotten off the roller coaster, she was meeting many other families who also gave up on their adoption plans and dreams of being parents. Adoption doesn’t always work out.
I didn’t know what to say when I wrote back to her. My instinct was to send some upbeat words of comfort, or tell her that parenting actually really sucks 67% of the time. But I ended saying how much I respected their decision, how important it is to know when enough is enough. But in heart I felt like “No- don’t give up!”
Last evening, my husband and I were driving to a dinner party and there was a pregnant girl standing on the side of the street in our suburban town with a sign that said “Pregnant, due Thursday”. I have never seen a panhandler in our neighborhood before, let alone a single pregnant girl. We continued on and then I had my husband turn back so I could talk to her. Maybe this girl could be Sarah’s birthmother! What a mitzvah! Could fate be this crazy?
I walked up to her and she looked at me nervously. I asked her how she was doing. “Ok” she said. I handed her $20. She looked clean and well kept, I was worried she would be on drugs. “Are you planning to keep your baby?” I asked. “Yes” she said. She was going to move to Santa Cruz with the baby and live with her mother. She had a c-section scheduled for Thursday and was getting money to pay the rent until then.
In hindsight, this seems a little sketchy and I wished I had talked to her further. Why wasn’t she living in Santa Cruz now with her mother? Who pays for three days worth of rent? Today when I drove by the same corner hoping to see her again, she wasn’t there. I guess this wasn’t Sarah’s baby after all. But it is so hard to accept that an amazing person like Sarah and her husband, people who have waited years for a baby, gone through failed IVF attempts and several failed adoption placements can’t be parents and this girl who has nowhere to live or any money to care for her child can have a baby and be a parent.
I am still on the lookout for Sarah, I don’t know why but I can’t help but believe there is a baby for her somewhere.