Lisa Henderson and her husband decided to adopt in their home country of America, this is their story. If you missed Part 1, click here
A month or two after we had completed the Home Study, we were matched in-State with a young girl in her last year of High School who was expecting a baby girl.
She was the second of 6 kids, and was co-parenting her 2 and 4 year old siblings while her 34-year-old mom was studying to become a nurse. They lived in a tiny apartment, no car or phone and often, with no electricity. This Birth Mom wanted nothing more but to escape the poverty trap, join the Navy and see the world. We spent months with her in the lead up to the birth, providing her with a cell phone, getting her warm clothes and I held her hand at numerous doctors appointments.
We had a simultaneous meeting, which formally sets up the birth plan and the details moving forward for an open adoption – letters, photos and any other communication with the little girl and this birth Mom. Her constant emails and texts to me saying: “you’re the Mom”, her plans for her future – we thought it was a done deal. I lost count how many times she said to me “I’m not changing my mind”.
In the end she went to the hospital to deliver her baby girl without letting us know. She took her home quietly and without any notification to us (our social worker let us know). We heard later, she quit school to raise her daughter and her siblings.
There is no right or wrong comment on her decision. I only knew that it was immeasurable grief for us; devastating is an understatement. We had lost so many babies through miscarriage, but this was different. An amazing life we had planned for this wee girl just wasn’t meant to be. But how could I blame her? I couldn’t give MY babies up, no matter what my situation was, and I guess she couldn’t either. It was a phenomenal learning curve for my husband and I – we had been incredibly naive. Needless to say, I will always think of that little girl and hope she has a beautiful life, and just pray that she is safe and happy. And, a big part of me will always wonder how different it could have been for all of us.
A month after this, I decided I had to get back on the horse and start applying to more Birth Moms around the country, and sent off even more profiles. Very quickly we had responses. One woman was expecting twin girls in Oklahoma and had asked for a childless couple. I still applied thinking it wouldn’t hurt – and she picked us. We were in shock, and beyond excited. TWINS!! I had a phone interview with the birth Mom, a solo mom who already had four children. Her main concern was how was I going to raise black girls?
I replied with no hesitation – we are New Zealanders living in the States so already that sets us apart as different. However many of our close friends are part of bi-racial families so really, having a child of a different race wouldn’t make us any more or less special or different to the next mixed family in this country. She was OK with this, and we decided to move forward with the match. We exchanged cell numbers, and I booked flights to Oklahoma to meet her for a doctor’s appointment. We then transferred 30k into the agency’s account. This was to cover the agency’s fees, and the Birth Mom’s living expenses and counseling before and after the birth.
Within 24 hours the text messages started coming in.
I received at first, ten messages in as many minutes. Then it got out of hand: true stalking. I received fifty messages in one afternoon. She was hungry. Her son ran away from school. She needed more money. The agency wouldn’t give her enough money so she needed me to send her money direct. It was frightening and not being in the same city made it very stressful. Within hours of us transferring all that money to the agency, the agency pulled her from their books and told her they couldn’t work with her anymore. It turned out she was stalking them for money as well. It also turned out she wasn’t having twins, just one big baby girl.
We didn’t get all our money back, which was possibly one of the most corrupt and morally wrong experiences of this whole journey – the Oklahoma agency kept nearly three thousand dollars to “cover expenses” – we had been involved with this case for less than five days.
There were many, many other false starts. One woman in Florida picked us as a match for her baby boy, but we had to walk away from that situation as the medical reports came back listing a cocktail of street drugs in her system – you name it, she came back positive for it. One of the stipulations we had made at the start of this process was the health of the mother and the health of the baby was paramount. We felt we owed it to our two healthy boys at home to adopt only if we felt it would be additive for them. There are many, many good reasons to adopt when there may be risk (however slight) of health issues – but selfishly, it wasn’t an option we wanted to pursue. And, I felt more than a little bit weird sending 45K to help towards “living expenses” to a woman who had clearly lied to us. We didn’t want to be supporting a habit. We just wanted a healthy baby.
By April 2013, I was a broken, emotional wreck. I had received the news we had missed out on being picked for yet another baby from my ‘buddy’ from the Advisory Service and I recall sitting down in the garden centre at Home Depot, sobbing. Her support was unfaltering. However it had been a roller coaster 12 months – we were still hemorrhaging money and we were no closer to getting a baby. So, I planned to take the two boys down to Australia for a month and be with family. My husband and I decided we would take a month off talking about adoption and just….take a break. He stayed behind and went on the road for work, and finalized details for us to buy a new home.
The break was the best thing I could have done for us as a family, but especially for me. There is nothing like being with your sister or cousin who can ground you. Be with those who know you so well; they remind you who you are and give you the support you need. It was a lifeline to prop me up again.
We flew home to the States in May and a week later, moved into a beautiful new home. I had truly made peace with my dear wee family and our exciting life here. I told my husband, if a healthy baby falls out of the sky by September, great, we will be blessed. But if it doesn’t happen…then I will be ever so grateful for the two boys we have and I accept this is the wee family we were meant to have.
I still ached for another baby – everywhere we went I always felt someone was missing. But I knew I’d be OK and made peace with the possible reality another child might not happen for us.
Click here to continue to Part 3
To read Part 1 again, click here