Adoption Journey Coming to an End, Having a Hard Time

Updated on June 05, 2015
K.S. asks from Littleton, CO
17 answers

Hi everyone, I'm hoping some on here can relate even though this is a pretty specific question. I just know how insightful and thoughtful responses to previous questions have been, so I wanted to turn to you during this time.

We have one amazing daughter, now 15. We had fertility problems prior to her, and a medical catastrophe (no better word!) having her which nearly killed me and her. So we are blessed and grateful to have her. We were told being pregnant again would be life threatening, so that was that (don't have to tell me twice!). The idea of adoption would pop up now and then, but we never really did anything with that idea. About four years ago, we started wondering if we would regret not adopting, or really thinking it through. So we decided that we should go through the process of being certified to adopt through the foster care system, and fully see it through. This way would either adopt, or at least know that we fully explored the topic, and would not look back with the 'what if' thoughts.

So we've done the classes, training, everything and have been certified for a couple of years. Most matches (we felt our match would be girl, 7-12) were very severe in their needs, usually ending with our caseworker saying she didn't feel it was a good idea to take that child for the safety of our daughter, or our pet, etc. so that was easy enough. One time we came close was actually a sibling pair. Even though we didn't want more than one, we agreed to meet them and they were sweet. Ultimately, my husband felt that he was not comfortable with the youngest boy, and just didn't feel a connection (he travels and didn't feel like he could be a proper role model for a boy). So we declined.

Just these last two weeks, we were presented with a 6 year old girl. We were told she had a language delay, but otherwise on pace with things. We felt this was fine, and our caseworker said the impression she had from the info was that the language delay was similar to dealing with a learning disability. Again, totally willing to support and manage this. We heard her official report, which was completely different. She has several disorders, and will be in need of special ed, etc. her whole life. I spoke with her teacher to get a better idea. She said she was a very sweet girl, and she thought that school would include the mainstream classroom, but always needing to be pulled out for special ed. Well, that's not a problem for me, I told her- we were worried that perhaps these disorders were severe enough that she may not be able to live independently as an adult. She said "oh, I didn't say that wasn't a possibility, I don't know how much help she'll need as an adult." That really threw me. On one hand, I feel a little upset that these disabilities weren't better described, because we would have gone in knowing more. We had also said that we didn't feel like we could take a child who couldn't live independently as an adult- hubs and I are mid-40s, and we don't have much family support. So if something happens to us, it would all fall on our daughter to take care of this other child, and we don't feel that is fair to lay that on her. So had the disabilities been clearly laid out, our caseworker would have ruled her out before even matching her with us. But on the other hand, I now feel incredibly guilty saying no to this sweet child.

I think at this point, we feel like maybe adopting isn't for us. And we feel like jerks. We have the financial resources to take on a child. I do worry that there is currently some strain in my marriage, and just like having a baby to fix a marriage never works, I'm guessing the same is true for adoption! It seems like adopting out of guilt is not the way to go, and especially with this little girl, that is totally what we would be doing.

I also worry that we are making God unhappy. Here he presented us with a few different of His children that need care, and we said no. This weighs heavily on me, and though I don't believe He is a vengeful God, I do worry about punishment. I don't even know what to do with that...

I guess what it comes down to is trying to remember that we did this to fully explore the idea of adoption to know that we were okay either way. But after an exhausting few years I am now mentally and spiritually drained, so yeah, we explored it to death but I don't feel any better.

I am happy with my one, and she always said she would be fine either way. I guess with this having been such a long process, I am having a hard time letting go and saying we need to get off of this roller coaster, even though I feel guilty but relieved at the thought of not going through this anymore. And I feel even guiltier saying no about the little girl. I did think she was sweet, but I must admit I didn't feel any maternal connection to her. Hubs thought she was so cute, but has these hopes that she will magically catch up to her peers.

Thank you for reading this, I appreciate your time. Do any of you know people who have gone through this? Or have any thoughts? I just don't know how to let this go and move forward. I almost feel like once we say no, I will earn the label of most heartless person, and that's hard to take.

What can I do next?

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answers from Denver on

So many things to consider here. I think it is pretty unlikely to find a child in this age range without any issues. It's a huge lifelong commitment adopting and really unless there is a clear, significant disability, you never know what support an adult child may need.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Miami on

God didn't present you with these children. People did. God does NOT come in the form of people who are not being straight with you about a child's history and problems. People are trying to fit pegs into holes. If People wanted what is REALLY best for families, they'd be honest in their dealings. And they weren't honest with you.

You go forward by changing your focus. Could you work in a preschool? Instead of school aged children, try helping little ones. You don't have to take kids home with you to be a wonderful influence on them.

Please stop thinking of yourself as heartless. Please stop feeling guilty. You are looking at things all wrong.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

If I understood your post correctly, you went through the certification process, not because you actually actively wanted to adopt a child, but because you were afraid that sometime in the future, you might regret not having tried. IMO, that's the wrong reason to even start that journey.
It sounds to me like you aren't adoptive parent material. That doesn't make you bad people, or failures as human beings. Some people aren't cut out to be adoptive parents, just as some people aren't cut out to be biological parents.
Cut yourselves some slack, remove your names from the list, and enjoy the child you have.
And if your deity of choice would punish you for not taking on children that you are not emotionally equipped to properly raise, then I would look for another deity to worship.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I certainly don't judge you. The vast vast majority of people are not equipped to adopt a special needs or older child. Are the vast vast majority of people out there "heartless"? Of course not and neither are you. I wish too I could take something like that on but I know I can't. I'm not wired that way. I just replied to a post about being sad our children are growing up and I think what you're going through is unique but at the same time not uncommon. It hits many of us differently. Have we "contributed"? What are we doing with our lives? Even if you had two kids, they'd both grow up and you still could have adopted so could still feel guilty. You probably need to mourn some and then sit and figure out what next. It's not easy so don't make it worse by telling yourself you're heartless or anyone will think you are. Who are these people who will think that? Do they have adopted special needs children? I highly doubt your friends and family do. So regroup, look forward and be kinder to yourself.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

It sounds as though your marriage is experiencing the same kind of strain that many couples go through when they face infertility. I've heard many people talk about the sad process of facing miscarriages or infertility or in-vitro attempts, and the great toll that it can take.

Often the advice those couples are given is to relax, to stop focusing with laser-beam intensity on conceiving, and to enjoy what is right in front of them (each other, their relatives, their jobs, their home, etc).

Sounds like you should try the same thing, maybe? Enjoy your daughter. Be grateful for your husband.

And for the present time, get involved with something. Fostering and adopting are not the only ways to take care of God's precious children. Offer to tutor at a homeless shelter, or volunteer your services at a children's hospital. If you can sew or knit, make blankets or hats for a women's shelter. At the children's hospital where my daughter used to be a patient, they had volunteers who showed up in the waiting room with a wagon full of toys. The volunteer would sit on the floor and just begin playing (lining up toy dinosaurs, or toy cars, or stacking blocks) and kids would just naturally come over and begin playing with her. It was an awesome thing to watch. And at the infusion center where my daughter got her infusions, a lady would come every day and set up a table with crayons, markers, coloring books and blank paper, and she'd invite the kids with IVs to sit at her table. They just colored, some drew, some barely scribbled. Even though I was there as a parent and not a volunteer, my daughter was old enough to draw independently so I would help the littlest kids hold the markers with their bulky IVs in their little hands. The art therapist appreciated the help.

Maybe your daughter can join you in some kind of service project. You two could volunteer to read at the library during the children's storybook hour. Or think of whatever you both enjoy and figure out a way to turn that hobby or skill into a service to kids who need it.

There are many ways to serve God's most vulnerable and needy children. Find one and realize that you don't need to have them in your home to offer love and support.

I don't think you're heartless at all. You sound caring and loving.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

oh, sweetie. i hope you don't go down the road of thinking your god is mad at you. yeah, we all take our lumps with our birth kids and don't have a 'decline' option. but thinking 'if i want to adopt, i have to take any and all issues whether or not i'm equipped' is just too much.
there are incredible people who can do it no matter what. i know i'm not one of 'em. for me, the relief you're feeling at getting off the roller coaster (terrific metaphor) would be the validation i'd need to be sure that we were doing the right thing.
'no' is always an option. you explored it, as you planned, and should now walk away without guilt. as planned.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You have approached this very thoughtfully. You have tried very hard to do the right thing. No one, including God, is going to judge you negatively if you don't adopt this child. If that were the case, we would all be judged harshly, because there are so many children around the world needing so much help.

I work with foster kids, and I can tell you from experience that it is very, very hard to take on an older foster child. You really would have to feel a deep connection with this girl in order to adopt her. "Cute" isn't enough. And I personally couldn't and wouldn't take on a child who would possibly not be an independent adult, so I think it's a wise and reasonable for you to know that about yourself and your husband.

A friend of mine took on a special needs child at 6 years old, and she was quite the handful for a couple of years. If your marriage is strained, this is certainly not the time to adopt a child. You need to put on your own life jacket before you can rescue someone else.

It might be time to put the adoption idea to rest. But even if you continue to look, you are certainly not obligated to adopt a child who might never be an independent adult. There are people in this world who enjoy taking on such a permanent responsibility, and they are the ones who should adopt a child such as this girl.

You have nothing to feel guilty about.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

It seems to me that you have already made your decision, but are concerned with feelings of guilt?

My opinion is that you have to do what you feel is best for your life currently and into the future. Sure some people may think you're heartless, but there are some who would think negatively if you DID adopt. People are going to think whatever they're going to think, so I wouldn't let that affect my decision if I were you.

I would say it is better to regret NOT adopting than to regret adopting.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

The process of adoption is a roller coaster as you have found out. Sometimes there is no perfect fit for the age range.

Know that you did your best to give a child a home but there were issues that were not properly presented to you so that you (hubby and you) could make a decision on the child(ren) who did/do have disabilities. Know your limits -- you have to know what you can and cannot do for a child and leave at that.

Perhaps you can foster a child or two. I know that I cannot do this as who or when the child(ren) come to my home they are there until they want to leave and not when someone else takes them from me.

I have an adopted child who came to my home at 5 weeks old and a bio daughter. Both are now grown and on their own. I was curious as to what it would take to become an adoptive parent and we were blessed with a child in about five months. But that is not the case in usual terms.

Take sometime off and rest. Perhaps there is one more out there that will fit in with desires. My best to you.

God is not mad at your for what you did or did not do. Don't ever think that way.

the other S.

PS Perhaps a hobby or a caregiver at the local hospital will fill the need that you have to nurture.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Everyone has their limits. My aunt and uncle tried foster to adopt and ultimately chose a child from another country because it was too hard on themselves and their daughters to have children in their home where the parental rights were not already terminated. More than one baby/toddler returned to his family at the last minute. It can be more expensive to go that route, but it worked out better for their family. They were open to a wide age range and a subset of medical conditions but they needed to be assured that this child would be THEIR child before their hearts were involved.

I have another set of friends who, I believe due to finances, were looking into foster care adoptions, but they also haven't had a match that met the right criteria, due to many factors. Their first priority is the child they already have, and their social worker agrees with them (as seems to be your experience).

Adoption is not for the faint of heart. My aunt said it was the longest "labor" ever - with all the paperwork, waiting, and requirements.

You are not heartless. I told another friend recently that if her heart is set on an adoption within particular criteria, then she should stay with it vs adopting a child with needs she is not sure she could meet and regretting it for the rest of their lives. Better to say no than to have the child feel doubly rejected after adoption.

Personally, I think maternal connections grow over time and you and DH might instead evaluate if an older child is right for you or not, or if it is just the foster care system process.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Oh my gosh my heart breaks for these kids. Not because of YOU!!! I think you were very brave to go this far. In my heart I know I should foster one day. I couldn't now as a single mom of three but it's in the back of my head for future. I'm adopted myself and have so much to be thankful for. I feel like I owe it to the universe, yet I'm really not up for it at all right now.

I think you'll feel better over time. It's natural to feel guilty and sad. But you were willing to sacrifice and compromise MUCH more than most people. Not many people could promise to care for someone for their entire adulthood!

I don't know what to say to make you feel better. I would feel the same. God will not punish you. Your heart has been in the right place. Only a very few people are able to take on the kind of needs these poor kids have.

Sorry for your pain and disappointment, but you haven't done anything wrong! You are not heartless. Maybe if you are clear on how you just could not commit to such high needs into someone's adult life, a better match will show up down the road...Or maybe you'll completely move on. Right now you're in the grieving phase of something you thought would be but isn't. It's OK, it will get better.

I'll be saying prayers that good opportunities open up for these kids.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

One of the hardest decisions I have had to face was letting go of the possibility of adoption. My husband & I got married with the intention of adopting to start a family, and due to circumstances out of our control, it wasn't possible for us until many years later. When that time came, our marriage wasn't strong & there were personal issues that needed to be addressed, and bringing a child of any age into our home wasn't in their best interest.

I've now come to peace with the fact that parenthood just wasn't meant to be for us. Perhaps we will foster at a later point in time, once I'm out of school. In the meantime, I work hard at being an awesome aunt to my two nieces, and celebrating my friends children.

When deciding to adopt older children (as we were), especially because the children involved have already been through so much, it is so very important to make sure it is the right child, at the right time, so that they & you are not in a position where there is still a question of whether or not it was the right thing to do.

So many people have children naturally, and they are not perfect, and the struggles that the parents deal with puts a strain on the marriage. Rather than worry that God is judging you for saying no to these children, I think you should focus on the fact that God is rejoicing that you said yes to your family & your marriage, to make sure that they are safe & strong & where He wants you to be.

I know there is no one right answer that will make this all better for you - it is an internal struggle that you need to work through - but I hope that my words & the other ladies on the board have helped offer perspectives to help you come to peace. T.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Reread and print out Elena B.'s advice. It's beautiful. And it represents the love you have to give and the God who loves you, always.

There are many paths to serving God. You will find yours. I think you are realizing this path is not your path.

God will support you, and I think you know that. All my best to you, your husband and your daughter.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I think that you are making the very best choice for you and your family. We did adopt 3 boys from Russia just over 10 years ago and it ruined our marriage (we did manage to put that back together), our finances (which we will never recover from), and terribly scarred our relationship with our (my) 3 biological daughters. 2 of the 3 will never live independently - one of those two is currently residing in a residential treatment facility due to the danger to us, our children, and our neighbors. It is unlikely he will ever return to our home (however, miracles happen so we do not give up hope). The 3rd boy, has some learning delays (mild), and some behavior issues (also mild), but although we both pray every day for the best in life for him, we feel in our hearts that when he leaves home into the outside world, he will not be able to say no to drugs and alcohol, which will profoundly affect his future (we pray we are wrong and we obviously would never let him know that we do anything more than have normal "parent worry" about making good choices).

Bless the people out there that are able to give some of these extremely damaged children the home they so richly deserve. However, for most of us "regular folks" - their issues are simply more than we can handle.

Chin up! Be proud to know yourself well enough to know when to stay stop. Be proud that you value the family that you have and want nothing but the best for them. Be proud that you know your limitations as to what your family can and cannot handle. Be proud that you can love any child - but that doesn't mean you can help every child.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I don't think you could be called heartless if you turn down a child for the best interests of that child. Worrying about a child's future welfare is part of being a parent and it's especially hard if you know you will not be there. That said, I think there's a solution to every problem. Not necessarily what we would want. This isn't a perfect world. But the joy that child could bring you could be worth all the difficulties. What you could provide for her, love and caring and stability, is priceless. I can't help you make that decision, but I feel for you. It is a hard choice.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Hi K.,

I could not have children so we decided to explore adoption and we ended up adopting my son. We originally wanted an older child due to our age and the thought was like 8 - 10 years old. After doing tons of research and attending all of the classes, we decided to go with a young child. It has been a wonderful experience. In the process though we were offered so many children that were not a good fit for our family. Do not feel guilty. By you being honest with what you can and can not handle, you are definitely doing yourself and most importantly the child a favor. Do not take on what you can't handle. God Bless you though for even exploring the idea. There are so many kids out there that do not have homes and go from one family to the next. Very hard on the kiddo's. Best of luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Please, do not adopt!

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