Wednesday, April 14

Joyful, blinding, misery

I'm not sure if you've read the case of Baby Emma.  If you are an adoptive parent, like me, reading stories like this puts a surge of fear and sorrow through your body.  Literally, like a knife.

I shall paraphrase her story for you:  Emma's biological mother decided to put her up for adoption (what an ugly turn of phrase by the way.  It sounds like she was on the auction block or something.  Who wants this baby, going once going twice...) knowing that Emma's biological father wanted to keep her and raise her.  She didn't tell Emma's father that she went into labor or that his daughter had been born.  And Emma was consequentially given to a Utah family, where she now lives.

As I was reading about Baby Emma, it occurred to me that the real problem at the root of this story is who, exactly, this child belongs to.  You see, if Emma's mother had decided to get an abortion, her father would not have been able to stop that action no matter how willing he was to keep his child.  If Emma's birthmother had claimed not to know who the biological father was, chances are her father would not have been notified in time to file paperwork for custody at all.  A biological mother has all the power in situations like this.  But, now that Emma is here, a living and breathing child, it gets all tangled up.  Who does Emma rightfully belong to?

Of course, right off, I have sympathy for the adoptive parents.  Chances are they had no idea that there was a willing and waiting birth father for Emma.  The adoption agency probably warned of danger ahead, but also assured resolution.  That's what adoption agencies do.  They are in the business of hope, for good or ill.  Most adoptive parents already love their potential child, just as a pregnant woman loves her fetus (another ugly word, can't we think of something even a little better people?)  The womb of an infertile woman is not in the belly, but rather the heart.  Many adoptive parents will face failed adoptions before the 'one' comes along.  In fact, I don't know a single adoptive parent that hasn't had a failed adoption or two.  Or three.  Or more.  This isn't just simply changing names on paperwork - failed adoptions are grief and heartache akin to miscarriage, still-birth, or death.  It's just plain awful.  That's what Emma's adoptive parents are facing.  The death of their child, but maybe even worse because the child still lives somewhere with someone else.

But, I also have sympathy for Emma's biological father.  And mother.  This father aches for his baby girl, has never seen her, has never kissed her, has had her ripped away.  And her biological mother is faced with uncertainty and regret because she can't move forward and she now sees (according to the story) that Emma's father truly wanted her.  Her father lives in fear that he will never see/hold/touch/parent his child.  He is facing the death of his child, too, though she still lives somewhere with someone else.  He will never have his lost moments back, no matter the outcome.

I don't think there is or can be a right answer here.  I do feel the adoption agency that facilitated this mess is at fault (shame on you!).  I do feel that Emma's father has a right to his baby girl.  And I mourn for her parents, who will likely lose their case and their child, and for all the dominoes of adoption that fall the wrong way.

"One day while I was hanging out with one of my friends the topic of our parents came up. My friend always knew that I was adopted through open adoption but we had never discussed it. I guess on this particular day he was feeling rather brave and launched into a slew of question, like do I see my birth-mom, and, how often. You could tell that he was relieved that I felt so comfortable talking with him about it. Then he asked me, between my adoptive parents and my birth parents which did I feel were my "REAL" parents. I was sort of surprised by what seemed should be the obvious answer. I told him, hey, they're both my "REAL" parents."

Young Man, adopted through Open Adoption


Heather said...

This makes me sad. Either way someone will be hurt- and it's just not fair, especially to Emma.

llegue said...

Way to succintly sum up how I've been feeling about this. :(

Harmony said...

Oh my. I wasn't even aware of this! That is crazy! And we even were signed up with that agency (but we ended up getting Megan through a different one). It just makes my heart ache! I can see it from both sides as well, though it's hard for me to think the child would be better off anywhere other than where she already is. That poor family! I can't even imagine the turmoil.

Megan's adoption is finalized in less than 2 weeks, but I still find myself freaking out that something will go wrong, even though I know it will all be fine. The adoption laws in Utah are definitely great for adoptive parents, and as an adoptive parent, I certainly hope they don't change. But, if this kind of thing happens enough, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before things get harder for adoptive parents.

Golly. I just want to give all of the people involved in this a big hug, and that poor baby, too! I hope it all works out for the best. Thanks for making me aware of this. I seriously can't believe I hadn't heard of it!