Open Adoption Hospital Plan Gone Wrong

  • Comments: 23
  • Written on: June 16th, 2010

As I have mentioned here before, my wife and I are seeking to grow our family through Open Adoption.

The Open Adoption process scares some people because there are a lot of misconceptions about it and how it works.  The basic idea is that it is better for your adopted child if he or she knows who their birth mother is and has a healthy relationship with her.

My wife and I were contacted by a birthmother about a month ago who was pregnant with a little girl.  I was a little nervous because she would only communicate through text messages.  I was worried that she was trying to keep distance while at the same time move forward with an open adoption plan.  Our attorney reassured us that the younger kids out there text more than they talk these days and it was not necessarily a sign of trouble.

We got to know the birth mom over the next few weeks.  She seemed to have a good head on her shoulders.  She already had a one year old, her boyfriend was in jail in Iowa, and she wanted to go back to school.  She was a good mid-western conservative in her opinions and beliefs.  She did not want to go on welfare.  She wanted a good, healthy relationship with her little girl.  It was a perfect match for what we wanted in a birthmom.

Signs of Trouble

Sunday morning my wife received a text message from the birthmom.  She was going into labor and was headed for the hospital.  We got our stuff together, grabbed the brand new car seat we bought (couldn’t have her riding around in a boy’s car seat now could we?) and dropped Jacob off at grandma’s house.

As we headed to the hospital we received word that she had already given birth.  It all happened in about 45 minutes!  I was there to cut my son’s cord, and I was hoping for the same with my daughter, so I was a little bummed.  We pushed the accelerator down a little bit more as we rushed to meet our daughter.

We received another text from our birthmom.  She wanted to get cleaned up and rest a bit before we came up.  It was like torture to hang out in a lobby when we knew just three flights up our newborn daughter was waiting to meet us.  But we respected her wished and waited.

Two hours later, after no communication from the birthmom, we headed up to the third floor to make sure everything was ok.  The nurses on the maternity ward were great.  We were headed toward our birth mother’s room, but we didn;t want to interrupt anything or have an awkward moment so we stopped a nurse and asked to to let our birthmom know we were outside and would like to join her if she was ok with that.  After all, she had told my wife she had wanted us there for the actual delivery.

The nurse knew she was placing her baby for adoption, and that was a relief to us.  Another good sign.  But then the nurse came back out and told us that she wanted to rest a bit more and to please have us wait in the maternity lobby.

A Special Kind of Purgatory

My wife and I spent over 4 hours in the lobby.  My wife was really concerned. This was NOT a good sign.  She had to know we were dying out here.  We watched her family come and go throughout that time.  They glanced at us and we at them, but no words were exchanged.

We were becoming convinced that she had changed her mind.  We felt tricked in the most cruel way possibly imaginable.  As we sat there holding a plush pink pig for her 1 year old daughter and a small vase of carnations for our birthmom it was becoming difficult to stay another minute.

Just as we were packing up our things to leave, the birthmom’s parents came out and introduced themselves.  They invited us into her room.  We went from lower than low to sailing on a cloud.

Meeting Our Beautiful Daughter

It was then that we first saw her.  So perfect, so health and so amazing.  Kathryn Grace-Lyla Schrock was her name.  Lyla was a family name that our birthmother asked us to use, and again we honored her wishes.  Kathryn is my wife’s mother’s name and Grace is my Grandmother’s name.

We spent the next two days at the hospital pretty much all day.  It was so nice to see our birthmother’s parents and sister there to support her.  We did our best to give them time with the baby because we knew we would have forever to hold her and touch her.  I couldn’t wait to press her against my chest and close my eyes in a quiet room and thank God for such an amazing gift.

My wife’s parents came up to meet our birthmom and their granddaughter as well.  My wife’s mother cried when she found out she was named after her.  I called my 93 year old grandmother to tell her the baby had her name as well.  She said, oh my!  When will I get to meet my great granddaughter?  Soon I told her.

My four year old son came up with grandma and grandpa to meet his sister.  Our birthmom saw him peeking at the baby and she looked him in the eye and asked him, “do you want to meet your baby sister?”  My son nodded eagerly  and he ever so gently touched her hair.  He asked if he could hold her, and with some guided assistance he did.  It was one of the most heart-warming sights I had ever seen in my life.

Our birthmother was about to get a massage and a pedicure form the hospital staff, and my wife made sure she had some nice nail polish to use as well.  We left to get some dinner and give our birthmom some privacy.  Little did we know that was the last time I would ever see my daughter again.

Time to Leave the Hospital

On Tuesday afternoon our birthmother was going to be discharged. My son had pre-school that morning so the plan was to drop him at pre-school, head to the hospital and make sure we were available to run interference with lawyers if need be.  Our birthmother did not seem to like the attorney we had hired to represent her in the adoption, but she was the absolute best.  She managed to find and serve our bithmother’s boyfriend with the adoption papers while he was in jail in Iowa.  She was tough and efficient, so we wanted to be there in case things got out of hand.

We were all piling into my wife’s car to drop Jake off at pre-school.  Jake was super excited to get to wear his Big Brother shirt to school and tell all of his new friends that his baby sister Katie was coming home today.

My wife’s phone rang.

The caller ID said it was our attorney.  Our hearts stopped beating for what seemed forever.

My wife answered it and all I could hear from where I was were the words “I have some bad news.”

Devastation in Motion

I immediately started talking to Jake about what he was going to do at School today.

My wife’s eyes started welling up.

I reached into the Emergency bag and pulled out a new shirt.  It said Dad is my #1.  It had a “10” on it.  That is Jake’s favorite number.

My wife started to sob.

I don’t want to change my shirt.  I like my brother shirt he said.

Jake saw my wife crying and was concerned.  Mom, you need to calm down he said.

My wife got out of the car and shut the door.  It didn’t do much to cut the sound of her crying.

I looked at Jake and said, baby Katie isn’t going to get to come home today.  As his face tilted slightly in preparation for that favorite 4-year old question my mind was racing.  How do you explain to a 4 year old that a birthmom is changing her mind?

How could I have been so stupid.  I exposed my son to this.  I allowed him to meet her and the baby.  We were so sure…

He asked, Why daddy?

Everything is ok, I lied.  Baby Katie is going home with her mommy.  She’s not going to be your baby sister.  I’m sorry buddy.

The look of disappointment was crushing to me.  I redirected.  Smiling, I asked him who his best friend was in pre-school?  It worked.  He moved on – for now anyway.

Explaining the Unexplainable – Why???

My wife and I held it together and asked Jake if he wanted to go to School.  He was pumped to see Thomas now, so he wanted to go.  I walked him in and explained to his teachers what had just happened.  My wife stayed in the car.

We pulled away as my wife texted our former birthmother asking her what happened.

Choosing to place a child for adoption is one of the most difficult decisions a mother can make in her life.  The day you leave the hospital it get real.  It’s not just an ambiguous idea or a fictional plan where everyone lives happily ever after.  When it comes down to actually placing that child its a gut check.

Our birthmother changed her mind.  That’s her right.  It is her baby.  Yes we are hurt, and yes we are angry, and yes we feel like we just lost a child.

After a long delay the reason our former birthmother texted back was that she didn’t feel we loved the baby enough.

I understand that you changed your mind, I thought to myself.  But don’t you do this to my wife.  Don’t you tell her she did something or didn’t do something that changed your mind.  Don’t leave her with the what-ifs.  Make your decision, own it and move on.  You owe us that.  My anger was melting into sadness as I watched what these texts were doing to my wife.

Kathryn Grace-Lyla Schrock was renamed and left the hospital around 1:00 with her mother.  I don’t know what her name is today, or if she will ever know about us or what happened on the days surrounding her birth.

Despite everything if the birthmom called us back and said she changed her mind again we would welcome that child into our home without question and make sure that she and her birthmother had a strong and healthy relationship.  But that’s the stuff of late-night tear soaked fantasy now.

We are working to move on and find another birthmother to begin the process anew.  If you know a woman who is considering open adoption and wants to place her child with parents that will encourage a strong and healthy relationship with the childs birth family, please direct her to our website at

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