Friday, November 4, 2011

Failed Adoption...Cherlyn's story

I have had the pleasure of knowing many wonderful women because of adoption. Cherlyn is one of these women. To be completely honest I can't remember how we connected on Facebook but I am so entirely grateful we did. Cherlyn has helped me through some very hard things when it comes to adoption. It's sad to say we have never met IRL (in real life) but I'm hopeful sometime soon I'll be able to. Up until recently I has no idea Cherlyn and her husband Sean had been through a failed placement. My heart broke as she relayed the following story with me.

My name is Cherlyn and I am always happy to share my family’s journey on the path to adoption. We have a son that we adopted in August 2010 and are currently matched with another due November 22. It has been a path full of so many unexpected surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. I have always wanted to be a mom. It is something that I knew I would be good at, but as my life went along I really questioned and worried if I would ever be a mother. At the age of 39, I was still single and really felt the proverbial clock ticking. But I also knew that I had to wait for the right person. I didn’t want to get married just for the sake of getting married and being able to have a family. Then one day, I met Sean. As we got to know each other we knew that we were perfect for each other and looked forward to a future together. He has 3 children from a previous marriage, so before I agreed to quit dating others, I had to be sure that he was willing to have more children. He was and we were married in January 2009. We were both 40.
We began right away to try to add to our family. After we had been married 4 months we decided to go to a fertility clinic just to make sure that pregnancy would be possible given our ages. We did all the testing and tried 2 rounds of IVF. When the doctor found out we weren’t totally tied to the idea of our children being our biological children she suggested we adopt. We had already reached that decision on our own after a negative pregnancy test following the 2nd round of IVF. We made the decision in October, selected an agency in Utah and started our home study in November 2009. Sean and I went to the Cayman Islands for our first anniversary. While we were there, a lifelong friend of Sean’s contacted us and told us that his cousin was pregnant and would like to talk to us about placing with us. We were stunned and thrilled. We spoke to her while we were there and she and I really had an amazing connection. She asked us many questions about our family. She asked us if we were religious and I told her we went to church every Sunday and tried to make our home a Christ-centered home. We never discussed what specific denomination we were and I didn’t think twice about it. When I got home, I sent her pictures and a profile and she chose us without meeting us. We live in Virginia and she lived in Nevada and she didn’t feel it was necessary.
She and I spoke once a week on the phone. We shared our hopes and dreams about the baby girl that she was carrying. She had had a dream that she was watching the baby grow from afar and knew that adoption was the right choice for her. There was a very strong spiritual connection. She wanted to know what plans we were making for the baby. She wanted me to have a baby shower, so my colleagues threw one for us. She was due in May and we decided that I would fly out for an ultrasound and meet her in March. I was soooo excited and so was she. We met and were instantly friends. We spent the day at the agency that would facilitate the adoption, getting the ultrasound, and eating. Her mother was with us. We talked and had a great time. During the conversation, the subject of religion came up. Her mother found out that we were Mormon and said that unless we accepted Christ, Jane (not her real name) would not be placing with us. She felt that Mormons were not Christians. We spoke about this for over an hour. I explained my feelings about Christ and felt that things had ended on a very positive note. Jane walked me to my car and said that she would still be placing with us and not to worry about her mom.
The next morning I drove to the airport fly home and got lost on the way to return the rental car and missed my flight. While I was waiting for the next flight, Jane’s mother called me and told me that Jane felt horrible, but would be selecting another family for the baby. My first impulse was to go get another car and drive to Jane’s to talk to her. I wanted her to tell me the news not her mother. I called my husband who insisted that I stay at the airport and get on the plane and come home. I was dazed and I don’t really remember the flight home. I know I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Jane called and confirmed that she wouldn’t be placing with us. I couldn’t believe it. It hurt so badly, but I also knew that Jane was hurting about her decision because she knew we were the family.  
I was so depressed for weeks. I would come home from work and go straight to bed. I turned visitors away. I felt such a tremendous loss. In my mind, that baby was our baby. Jane had told me that so many times and I really believed it. My husband and I went to church and I heard a baby crying and ran from the building in tears. I didn’t know how to get over it and didn’t know anyone who had had a similar experience. I also really missed Jane. Two weeks later Jane and I spoke. We talked a lot about our religion and she still felt that the baby belonged with us. She told me to let her handle things on her end and she would get back to us. She had contact with us for a few more weeks and then we didn’t hear anything. My husband’s friend called us when the baby was born. I called Jane when the baby was a day old. I didn’t expect her to answer, but she did. I asked her what she had decided. She told me that since she couldn’t place the baby with us, she was going to parent. She said if the baby couldn’t be with us, she couldn’t be anywhere else but with her. She did want to place with us, but the reaction of her family was too strong. She and I had email contact for about a year after the baby was born. She wanted to know if we had found another baby and how we were doing. But we have not had any contact for about 6 months now and I am not sure that we will. I wish her the best. I understand that she was in an extremely difficult situation. It was one of the saddest cases of miscommunication I have ever experienced.
Living through a failed adoption prepared me for future contact with other birth mothers in a few different ways. I would never ever again assume that the baby was “mine” until the birth parents relinquish their rights. I enjoy the process, I prepare minimally, and I remember that the baby is theirs until legally it isn’t. I am also over the top in the information that I provide potential birth mothers. I never want there to be a misunderstanding like that again. I say anything and everything to make sure they have all the information to feel good about placing with us. I never want someone to feel that they were tricked into placing with us. I also want them to have what they want for their child and if we are not that, then we are not a match. I have also been much more relaxed in the last two matches. If it isn’t going to happen, there is nothing I can do about it and I have to let it be.
One of the worst things said to me after the baby was born was said to me by Jane’s father. He called me when the baby was about a week old to thank me for my role in his daughter’s decision to keep the baby. That was like a knife to my heart. I told him how I felt about that comment and needless to say, he never contacted me again!
There is always a risk for a failed placement when it comes to adoption. I want others to know that there is life after failed placement. It won’t feel like that at the time, but as time carries you forward you will have reasons to feel blessed. We now have one beautiful son and hope to have another in 3 weeks. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Thank you so much Cherlyn for sharing. I can only the imagine the heart ache and pain that is felt in the adoptive parents hearts when a failed placement happens to them. I hope and pray that peace will come to them as peace has come to you.

This was posted via iPhone so I hope it looks ok... Much love!


AshleneW said...

Cherlyn is amazing! She and I connected through FB and we have helped eachother through a lot:) she is so strong and I'm proud to call her a friend:) I cannot wait for the next step in her journey <3

Sheri's Open Book said...

Beautifully said. I'm proud of my sister-in-law!!!

Amber said...

Does Cherlyn have a blog? I have been through a change of heart (June) and have been looking for some blogs with similar situations for me to read. I love her story and share many of her views on it. Thanks so much!

Katelyn Krum Shaw said...

@Amber. She doesn't have an adoption related blog but her and I are actually working on a blog post right now. Her business blog is

prosanjit kumer said...
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