Coping with a DisruptionJust when you least expected it, you received “the call,” the one informing you that a birth mother has chosen you – the call informing you that in just a few months or weeks, you will finally be bringing home the baby you have waited so long for.

However, amid all of the talk of baby names, nursery paint colors and excitement, you find yourself receiving another phone call – only this time the outcome is much more heartbreaking. It is the call to inform you that the birth mother has had a change of heart and is no longer moving forward with the adoption and that your adoption has just disrupted.

Many families have had the unfortunate and heartbreaking experience of a disrupted adoption. At first you may feel as if you are in shock and that this can’t possibly be happening to you. You may also feel anger – anger at the birth mother for changing her mind, anger at the adoption agency or even anger at yourself. A disrupted adoption is very much like a loss – including all of the feelings of sadness, anger and disappointment.

Allow Your Friends and Family to Help You
Don’t be afraid to rely on friends and family to help you process all of the emotions you may be feeling. Just as you have supported them during emotionally challenging times, they are also here for you during this time. Welcome the hugs, tears and support they offer you – don’t feel as if you are “putting them out” or burdening them. Just as your friends or family were there with you to celebrate the beginning of your adoption journey with you, they are also here for you along the way – even if there is a bump in the road. If you don’t feel comfortable openly sharing your emotions with them, then simply accept their offer of a dinner out or an afternoon of shopping or golfing. Just spending time with those who support and care about you can help you in this difficult time.

Let Your Partner Grieve in Their Own Way
Everyone deals with the disappointment of a disrupted adoption differently. While some may cry and share their emotions freely, others may try to focus on other things, such as hobbies or work. It is important that each spouse be allowed to grieve this loss in his or her own way. If your partner chooses to keep their sorrow to themselves, don’t push them to talk about how they are feeling. Likewise, if your partner seems to speak of the disruption often, don’t discourage them from sharing these feelings with you. There is no “right” way to grieve and spouses will often grieve differently from one another.

Seek Closure
Examine what you have lost, and determine what you will need to move forward. Feel free to ask your Adoptive Family Specialist any questions you may have about the birth mother or the process. Don’t become overwhelmed if you have lost at-risk fees – take time to analyze your adoption budget and make adjustments, if necessary. Try not to dwell on what you have “lost.” Instead, try to focus on your adoption journey and all of the reasons why you chose to adopt.

You may feel loss for more than just items, such as at-risk fees, but also for the emotional toll the disruption has taken. If you feel as if you need more time to regroup or deal with your emotions, simply share that with your Adoptive Family Specialist. There is no rush to return you to the active list – simply let us know when you are ready to move forward, and we will honor that wish.

Some couples choose to get rid of all of the baby clothes, toys and other items they may have collected since receiving their adoption opportunity, while other couples choose to box those items up and put them in a closet or the basement for storage. There are also couples who choose to make no changes and leave the nursery the same, ready and prepared for a new baby. While you should allow yourself time to properly grieve, you should also begin to slowly look toward the future and determine what steps you and your spouse need to take to continue on with your adoption journey.

Make Peace
Just as you should seek closure, you should also seek peace. Whether this is peace with God, a higher power or yourself, remember that you are not in control of where your adoption journey takes you.  Each adoption story is unique, and each one has its own sense of “it was meant to be.” Have peace in knowing that your happy ending is out there for you, as well. Although your adoption journey hasn’t quite turned out as you expected, it is still far from over.

Time is a great healer. Whether you are in the initial stages of shock, disappointment and anger, or have begun to seek closure and peace, allow yourself time to process through all of your emotions. Your Adoptive Family Specialist is also here for you – do not be afraid to share your thoughts and feeling with her. We are here to support you through each step of your adoption process, from the beginning to the end and everything along the way.

Written by Desiree Koudele