This past week I shared a post about how to prepare your home for a home study through the foster care system. I mentioned in that post a friend of mine is currently attempting to adopt and her request for the list was what really pushed me to share it with the interwebs.
Another conversation with her inspired me to share this.
We were sitting and talking to each other and she made the comment, “I already love them, so I hope they are approved.” I smiled along, nodding and assuring her I would be praying with her and for the situation. Afterwards, I got home and I cried. I sat with my husband and I let tears fall for a grief she had no idea that was present. The loss of a failed adoption.
When I wrote my post on my advice to making your marriage last through foster care, I mentioned Loo. I didn’t completely go into details about how deeply that adoption falling through effected us, though. I don’t know if I did the feelings of hopelessness, anger, and grief justice when I talked about it. I didn’t in depth explain the pain of losing a dream, one you created a life around. Suddenly you are no longer planning how you’re going to set up her bedroom and what you might do for the next holiday. Your arms are empty, your heart is hurting, and your future is no longer what you believed it would be.
An adoption loss is hard. I still feel the heartache of it. I often wonder where she is today, what her life looks like, if she’s okay. I don’t know if I will ever have those answers. Once upon a time, I believed I would be the one teaching her how to drive, buying prom dresses, giving her the talk one day. Now, I don’t even know where she lives, if she’s still in our county let alone our state.
If you’re in the position of an adoption loss, there’s some things I want to share with you t keep in mind as you process this and move forward with your life-without a big part you thought would be there.
Allow yourself to grieve. While no one has died, a part of your life has left you forever at this point. Depending on where you were in the process, you may already have met and spent time with this child. We had. You must grieve the loss of what could have been. Allow yourself to feel each step of of the grief process…and when it bubbles back up, four years later, let yourself feel it again. There’s no time limit on grief; I just the other day, cried a bit over a song that came on the radio.
In whatever way you need to. Grief is different for each person. When our adoption fell through, we put off foster care for about 8 months after. Josh was very angry about the situation and I spent a lot of time in denial. Now I deal with it by writing and he deals with it by ignoring it. (Pretty much how we always deal with our issues.) And allow your spouse to grieve how it comes naturally to them as well.
Talk about it. To your spouse, to a therapist, to your friends. Don’t hold your feelings in. I shut it off a lot directly following this and it left me with a lot of undealt with emotions. I didn’t realize how much uncertainty it forced on my life until we were going through Princess and Monkey’s adoptions. While being a biological child in a fostering family brought me up to live this way, adoption loss definitely had me on pins and needles until the paperwork was signed.
Lean into God. At the time, it was so hard for me to trust in His plans. I thought He was screaming at us that adoption wasn’t in our future. Instead, He was gently pushing us further down the line to get in the position where we could add the other six members of our family-something that wasn’t an option if we hadn’t suffered through this adoption loss. That was nowhere in my line of sight during the process though. I needed to lean into Jesus and pray a whole lot every darn day just to get up and make it to work the next day.
If you have a friend or family member who you know that is dealing with an adoption loss and you’re looking for some advice on what to do or say, I threw together a small list of what you could offer to do with them
- Listen to them.
- Don’t put pressure on them to walk away from adopting in the future.
- Don’t put pressure on them to jump right into adopting again.
- Make them some food.
- Get them out of the house.
- Pray with and for them.
- Offer to help them deal with any items they may have bought for this child.
- Talk about the child.
- Don’t expect them to just walk away unscathed…it hurts.
- Give them grace is they shut you out or need to step back away from life for awhile.
An adoption loss is felt deeply. It’s not only the changing of a current situation, but it’s the changing of dreams and hopes, plans and possibilities. It’s okay for this to hurt for a long time after. An adoption loss is very different from foster care reunification or moving on to a new home. (If I were to write about that experience, would anyone be interested?)
Have you dealt with an adoption loss? What advice do you have to give?