Blog Talk Radio Transcript – AIR DATE: 1.2.2018 “Michigan Adoption – Our host care experience” Segments of this transcript are removed for an easier reading experience.
Jennifer: Hi, and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jarowski and I’m a social worker with Adoption Associates. This is our Premier Talk Radio Blog Show. Adoption Associates was founded in 1990 and we specialize in domestic adoption. We provide private adoption services throughout all of Michigan with offices in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills and Mid Michigan. No matter where you’re in Michigan you will find a connection to Adoption Associates.
Adoption Associates brings knowledge, support and understanding about the adoption process in Michigan. Adoption is not only our specialty, it’s our passion. One of Adoption Associate’s commitments is to this radio show to help educate and support adoptive families, birth families and the adoption community. So we are very glad that you’ve joined us today and are to support our adoption focus podcast.
Today I’m excited that we’re going to be talking with Mark and Denise about their experience. Today’s topic is seeing the journey to the end. So this is a really interesting story, and I hope you can stay with us.
Good morning. Thank you for being with us. I know that you guys had a challenging adoption journey, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I wanted to see if you could start us off by sharing a bit about yourselves, as well as your connection to adoption.
Denise: Well, we met very late in our lives at 37 and 42 years old. We got married and wanted to start a family right away, but unfortunately it just didn’t happen. I mean we went through it all. Typical of many people – we did IVF. We miscarried. We had all kinds of issues. When nothing worked, Mark and I talked it over, and we adopted. We chose the Adoption Associates as our agency to help us go through the Michigan adoption process.
Jennifer J.: Okay. So, you have now become parents through adoption, right?
Mark: Yup. We sure did.
Denise: A beautiful baby boy.
Jennifer J.: Awesome. I’m sure we’ll hear a little more about him as we go on, but last year is when you received “the call,” as we like to call it. That’s the call that every adoptive parent waits for and dreams about. Tell us a little about that.
Denise: Yeah, wasn’t expecting it. You guys say to us all the time how you will not know it. Like you’re not even going to realize it and it’s kind of shocking. It really was shocking!
Mark: Yeah, Denise got the call then she called me at work and she’s like, “Honey, we have a baby.”
Denise: Guess what? Guess what?
Mark: I was just shocked. I was like, “Well what? Okay. Tell me more, tell me more.”
Jennifer J.: So this was obviously an exciting time for both of you. And, the Michigan adoption process was moving forward as expected. Eventually, the time came where the birth parents voluntarily released their parental rights and asked that you adopt Ben. However, this isn’t where your adoption story ends. To respect the privacy of everyone involved here, we won’t discuss the specific circumstances and details. So, a legal situation developed, which was completely beyond your control. You had prepared to be welcoming Ben into your home, and to finally becoming a family. But now you faced an uncertain future.
An outcome that was unknown. Do you mind sharing about this, please? What was this like?
Mark: Yeah, so when we first got the call, we could meet the birth mom and things went well. We enjoyed meeting with her, and she liked us. Then after that initial meeting, we could go see Ben in host care. That was wonderful. It was really cool, but then we ran into that legal situation.
Denise: It was the day before we were supposed to bring him home.
Depending on the adoption process in Michigan, a baby may be temporarily placed into host care. This differs from standardized foster care, as a baby is lovingly cared for by an experienced, State approved married couple who only care for one baby at a time. In addition, these babies are only placed by Adoption Associates.
When immediate placement into the adoptive family’s home isn’t possible, the baby will be temporarily placed in this way. Prospective adoptive parents visit with the baby regularly until it’s possible for them to take legal custody, which usually happens within 1-2 weeks.
Mark: That was a total shock to both of us. In fact, I got the phone call from Adoption Associates saying that this might not go through, and I was home by myself. I was just beside myself. Denise was at work, and I was sitting at home crying. Wondering what I should do. Should I call Denise at work? Should I wait until she gets home? Finally, I just called her at work and said, “Honey, come home.” I think she kind of knew that something had gone wrong with the adoption when I called.
Denise: Yeah. You have that sinking feeling, like dread. You don’t want to go home, but you know you have to face the situation that we’re told is a possibility. It’s always a possibility that it might not work. But if it happens, it just tears you up. Our hearts just hurt.
Mark: We had established a relationship by going to see Ben. He was becoming more a part of our lives all the time. And then just to know that it could be just cut short, and that we might not see him again gave us such a sinking feeling.
Jennifer J.: In addition to the relationship that you were developing with Ben, I think it’s important to mention that you also were in the beginning stages of what you hope to be a relationship with the birth mother. You kind of felt like all of this was ending.
Mark: Exactly. That was like the end of the story. It’s like everything. This whole thing, this whole relationship that we had cultivated was now just being removed, and it was no longer part of our life.
Denise: Our dreams and our hopes were kind of shattering.
Jennifer J.: Right. I appreciate you guys being willing to revisit what was obviously a very difficult time for you personally and in your story toward parenthood. I think it’s hard within the format of this podcast for us to do justice in describing what this time was like for you guys. It was extremely difficult and an emotionally complex time. I’m wondering if there was ever a time in all of this that you considered just walking away from it all. You found yourself in this complex legal situation, and it wasn’t done yet. There were still things that needed to happen, and decisions that needed to be made. You didn’t have a complete thumbs up on an adoption, but it also wasn’t concluded either.
So, here you are in the middle of that. Did you ever talk amongst yourselves about, “Hey, we can’t do this emotionally.”
Mark: Yeah, that came up.
Denise: We talked about it and asked ourselves if we could. If we should.
Mark: We decided we had come this far, and that we were going to stay to the end. There was still a chance, and at this point we were in. We couldn’t just say no more. As much as it hurt, and as much as we could get hurt, we had to keep going. We had to see it to the very end, and see exactly what could come about.
Jennifer J.: How did you get to that decision? What was your thought process in deciding that you had to see this journey to the end?
Denise: I think part of that is that there was a little boy in the middle of all of this. As much as I want to say it was all about Mark and I, and about what we wanted it came down to a little boy and what we thought what was best for him. We were going to have no control over the situation. It was going to be determined, and we were totally out of that part of it, but we didn’t want this little boy hurt. No matter what. So I think we kind of put our emotional needs on the back burner. I guess maybe as a parent should. And we put our focus on moving forward for him. I think that’s how we did it.
Jennifer J.: So initially, as would be the case for anyone, it was about your own feelings and the shock that you were experiencing. Then you began that transition to saying, “Okay, this is about him, not about us.”
Denise: Yes. I mean, I know that when we started our initial conversation and when we found out that this might not go through, the emotion that you go through is like you’re angry. You’re sad. You feel guilty. There’s guilt involved in there, like should we or shouldn’t we? Are we making the right decisions to go forward, or should we walk away. What should we do? I think in the end when we talked; the focus had to stop being about what Mark and I wanted. It had to be about the little boy, because he has no control over any of this. This little boy is in a host family, in their care, and they loved him. They took such great care of him, but it still it’s about him and his needs, above any adults needs. That’s what we focused on.
Jennifer J.: Obviously it wasn’t like you woke up one morning and had this epiphany. It sounds like this was kind of process for you guys.
Denise: Yes. Because when we found out it happened, that first week we kind of shut down. We didn’t visit him, and had to process what we should do. We took a lot of guidance from Adoption Associates which helped guide us on our path. Because we didn’t know what to do. We were lost.
Jennifer J.: Sure. I mean unless you’ve experienced this, no one would know what it feels like or what choice to make. I want to clarify because we’ve mentioned host care in our conversation twice. That might not be a term that many are not familiar with. With Michigan adoption, some cases require a host home for babies in the interim between when the baby is born and when a legal plan for adoption is in place. That’s where Ben was. Sometimes host care is needed where the birth parents have not had time to put together their adoption plan, and then the baby is born. They know they want adoption for their child but have not yet selected a family.
So, that is what the circumstances were for you guys. When you were notified that a birth mother had selected you, Ben was already in the care of wonderful host parents. That’s where you met him for the first time. I’m kind of thinking here about this timeframe, and you visiting Ben in host care. And then you are suddenly in the middle of a complex adoption situation, which is not what you first thought you were entering. But you’re trying to remain positive and do what you thought was best for Ben. I’m wondering if you had support of others, or were you feeling alone? This is a relatively unique circumstance. What was helpful for you during this time and who were your support people?
Mark: I think because of the way the timing worked, our family thought we were going to get Ben that first time before all the legal things came up. Then we actually had to go back and tell our family that it would not happen. That things were uncertain now. I think Denise and I grew closer. Instead of relying on family, we relied on each other to get through this. We didn’t really want to bring in the family and say, “Well there’s still a chance,” only for it not to work out. We kept it amongst ourselves to hold it tight and just kind of rely on each other to get through this last part of the journey.
Denise: Family members were trying to be supportive. They also didn’t want to step on our toes because they knew that this is really painful. What do you say to somebody in this difficult situation? It’s an emotional journey, and so at that point I talked to my mom a little, but I kept things pretty quiet. I think it’s because it was just a way for me to protect myself. A way to hold on emotionally. We were going to hold on, and we were going to hold on to each other, and go forward. We just let people know what they needed to know.
Then my mom let my family know. She was my liaison because I didn’t want to repeat it repeatedly to the other people because it hurts. It was hard enough having to go to work and tell people I work with, and then see the look on their faces. You know? They want to help you, but you’re emotionally messed up. You’re anxious, and you’re upset, and you know you have a lot longer to go before the outcome.
Jennifer J.: What was that timeframe total? Before you guys knew what the outcome would be?
Denise: Three and a half months.
Mark: But from the time that we had the legal situation arise, it was another, six to eight weeks.
Jennifer J.: Okay. So in life when someone goes through challenging or difficult times, they look back to find meaning, or search for a better way to understand what has happened. We all have a tendency to do that, and I’m wondering regarding this adoption circumstance for you guys, what’s your takeaway from this experience?
Mark: Well we definitely learned patience more than anything during this entire time. Because it wasn’t anything, we could just snap our fingers and fix. We had to just sit back and wait. And we had to do whatever we could to get through it. That included deciding to continue to see Ben at host care, even though we were uncertain of the outcome. We felt it best that we continue to develop a relationship with him. As much as it would hurt if we lost him, that we at least owed that to him.
That allowed us to kind of take a deep breath and just hold on to him. We had to believe that it would be okay. We had to take it one day at a time. One visit at a time.
Denise: We had to accept the adoption process. When you start the process for adoption, they talk about all the legal stuff. All the dotting of the I’s, and crossing of the T’s. Even in the early process, we would get frustrated. Getting all the paperwork done. And the home study and our profile. We would get impatient. It can’t go faster, but it was hard to wait. Even though it seems like it goes on forever, it is something that is crucially important. You need to take the time to allow the process to occur. And you have to control your frustration, but in the long run, it’s really important that you go through the process.
Going to see Ben was really important. The pain would’ve been on us if we didn’t get Ben, but the pain would’ve been there if we had gotten him and hadn’t spent time with him. You know, if we hadn’t had gone to see him every single time, I would’ve been very upset and guilty. I would have felt that this poor child would live with us later and not know us. We didn’t want him to be fearful no matter what. We wanted him to recognize us and to know who we were. Because you know, he’s getting older and recognizing things and know people. It became really important that he saw us regularly.
Jennifer J.: I imagine that was quite a celebration the day you finally got to bring him home.
Denise: Yes. We were excited!
Mark: Oh yeah!
Denise: And exhausted.
Mark: Exhausted and excited. It was a wonderful homecoming. It was great to be able just to take a deep breath and know that everything was done, finally. It made it that much better just to know it was done and you finally get to your goal from working hard – you finally get the fruits of your labor.
Jennifer J.: At the time that you’re in this difficult situation, you wonder, “Will this happen? Or what will this look like at the end, or will the end ever come? What is the end?” You guys saw the journey to the end, and I think it sounds like you gained a lot of wisdom in the process of all of that. So now you’re a beautiful family. Mark and Denise, I really appreciate the time that you’ve given and pouring out of your hearts, and just being so candid about your experience.
For those of you looking to connect with Adoption Associates about choosing adoption for your baby, please call us any time at 800-677-2367. Or text us at 248-919-8094. We also have very helpful information on our website.