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

  1. Valerie said on June 16th, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    You said it when you said “That’s her right. It is her baby” She was not “our birthmother” or “our former birthmother”. She was the mother of HER baby, and HER baby went home with HER MOTHER. She “left the hospital around 1:00 WITH HER MOTHER”. Isn’t it wonderful? You should be happy for that child, but all you think about is YOUR desire for a child…so much that you would call a pregnant woman “our birthmother”. Give your head a shake.

  2. Carlynne said on June 16th, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    I’m sorry for what you experienced. You thought you were getting a child and it didn’t happen. I have to say from what you’ve written here, that you were just as much a victim of the adoption industry as the “birthmother” is. I’m sorry, but the “birthmother” doesn’t “owe” you anything. That is her child, not yours. The adoption industry would like you to think you have a claim to someone else’s child before that child is born but really you don’t. Do you realize that for the industry, it’s all about the money?! I truly am sorry that you were not able to realize your dream, we all have dreams, but that dream depends upon someone else’s grief.

  3. Kent Smotherman said on June 17th, 2010 at 7:34 am

    What a sad tale, Thor – my heart goes out to you both. Your ability to keep such a healthy perspective through this wrenching trauma is more than admirable. I hope that, in the end, this works out for the best for you.

  4. cheap college textbooks said on June 17th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I am so sorry that is heartbreaking. I wish your family good luck in your hard times.

  5. Thor said on June 17th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for the emails and comments from everyone. My wife and I are not part of the adoption “industry.”

    This baby was and is the birth mother’s baby. Open adoption does not change that. We knew the risks when we chose this for our family, and there are enough what-ifs to go around right now.

    Open Adoption is about the baby – not me, not my family. However, the undeniable truth is that this hurt. That is all this post is about. There are no moral conclusions here or absolute rights or wrongs contained within.

    Rational people can disagree about details and beliefs. That’s fine, but that is not what this post is about. This is a post about what my family went through moment by moment. This happened. It was real for everyone involved.

    Draw your own conclusions. I am not editing or banning comments here. It is what it is and we are moving on just as any family must after a loss.

  6. Lori Lavender Luz said on June 17th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    This must be so painful for you and your wife. I’m sorry you are going through this.

  7. Kimberly said on June 17th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    A woman has a right to choose birth control or not, to say yes or to say no to a sexual partner, to chose abortion or to keep a pregnancy, to choose to parent or to make an adoption plan. Neither Thor nor I ever said it wasn’t well within this new mother’s rights to choose parenthood or that she owed us anything. She did seek us out to be parents for a child that she believed at the time that she could not and did not want to care for. We developed a relationship with her and grew to care for her and her family. At the hospital we began parenting and bonding with a child who was at that time called, by her biological mother, our child. She decided that she could not let that baby go, no one understands that decision more than we do. Because of her decision we experienced a deep and profound grief for a bond that was created and broken, for a possibility that was never realized. Her taking her child home, which is a great joy, still caused our family pain. Our pain is no less real because she had a right to do so.

    To refer to adoption as an industry is offensive to expectant parents who have the right to lovingly and willingly place their children for adoption, to the adoptive parents who love our children as though they are a part of our own bodies, and to adopted children themselves. Why are adoptive parents so quickly cast as dishonest and uncompassionate people? The world is not colored in black and white; adoption is always a mix of grief, sadness, loss, joy, and love. This is simply the raw emotion from someone who had prepared himself to be a father to a beautiful little girl and lost the opportunity to do so. Invalidating the feelings of others is the only reason I see to shake my head.

    Thor’s referring to this new mother as a “birthparent” is out of habit, as that is the term that our son’s birthmother chooses to be called in reference to her relationship to our child. I am suggesting that he edit his post to more properly refer to the young woman in this situation as the expectant or new mother.

    Thank you to everyone who commented or emailed. Your thoughts give us a greater understanding of the world and others, and many of them brought us comfort this week.

    – A proud, waiting, and terrific mother.

  8. Kelly said on June 17th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Shame on those who chastise this wonderful family for grieving over the loss of this little girl. Of course it is the mother’s right to keep her baby, no one is saying otherwise. But, that doesn’t mean that Kim and Thor don’t also have the right to be sad that they didn’t get to take her home like they had prepared to do. The fact that they are so upset just shows that they really did love that baby, not that they don’t respect the birth mom’s rights. Considering they serve no purpose other than to hurt those already saddened, maybe you people should have just keep your nasty comments to yourselves!

  9. Shawn said on June 17th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. Families who are as prepared as you to adopt a baby are a blessing to “birthmoms” or “expectant moms” or whatever the politically correct term is.

  10. Kate said on June 20th, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. It brought tears to my eyes. While not everyone might agree with your view, I would hope that it would put another perspective about adoption out into the internet universe so that expectant birthmoms who are on the fence about adoption can maybe see what it’s like from the other side when they change their minds. Maybe this post will inspire a woman to make the right decision easier, whichever way she decides. I am sorry that one of my favorite families had to go through this pain and sadness, as if you guys hadn’t already been through enough already. I love you guys!

  11. watch season episode said on June 21st, 2010 at 8:04 am

    So they can communicate by text but what happens if mother no longer wants to reply? I always wondered about adoption. Keep up the good by the way. 🙂

  12. Tasarım said on June 23rd, 2010 at 4:45 am

    A very sad story… I wish you and your family good luck Thor 🙁

  13. Moorpark Real Estate said on June 23rd, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I’m feeling very sad for your family. This must be so painful for you and your wife. I’m sorry you are going through this. You please don’t worry, everything will be better soon. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Moorpark Real Estate said on June 24th, 2010 at 4:17 am

    Really decent post dude. Maybe this post will inspire a woman to make the right decision easier, whichever way she decides. I am sorry that one of my favorite families had to go through this pain and sadness. I believe that God will definitely make everything well.

  15. Amonia Soaked Sea Roach, from Space said on June 29th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    As an adult adoptee and as 1/2 of a parenting team that decided on adoption as a way to extent our family, the language we use in these situations needs to change, as well as the many pervasive and poisonous attitudes regarding adoption, both domestically and internationally.

    Considering that we live in a society where half(50%) of pregnancies are unplanned, wouldn’t it make sense that those who have the inclination and resources to go through adoption—and whatever other hoops(and there are many, many hoops involved) they have to jump through to get a baby—would, on average, be better equipped to raise a baby?

    Maybe we should have all hopeful parents be fingerprinted with criminal background checks, have social workers come into the homes multiple times, financial records gone through, and complete medical physicals before you can maybe get on a list to parent. You have to do all this and more if you choose adoption.

    Maybe, just maybe, the people who work very hard to have children through adoption because they really want to have children and be parents turn out to be better parents than folks who got knocked up by accident.

  16. Moorpark Real Estate said on July 1st, 2010 at 5:18 am

    I felt so sad after read this post. I am so sorry that is heartbreaking. I wish your family good luck in your hard times. just believe in God, everything will be fine.
    I too suffered from same stage. You please keep updating your blog with few more good posts.

  17. Tasarım said on July 1st, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Really heartbreaking story Thor 🙁 I hope you and your wife are OK now.

  18. taoist meditation said on July 1st, 2010 at 9:14 am

    The nurse knew she was placing her baby for adoption, and that was a relief to us. Another good sign.

  19. used tires said on July 6th, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Sorry to hear that Thor, I can understand why you would be disappointed, playing with the emotions is something that is a really tough ordeal to go threw, I am sure you will get a new baby at the end of it all, as hard as it may be right now.

  20. abartisizlik said on July 7th, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I’m feeling very sad for your family. 🙂

  21. Nokia said on July 12th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I think it is not bed idea on this post with have a great thought.Thanks have this nice sharing….

  22. vefasizlik said on July 15th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    They can communicate by text but what happens if mother no longer wants to reply? I always wondered about adoption. Keep up the good by the way.

  23. bölgesel zayıflama said on August 1st, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I felt so sad after read this post. 😉

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