This is mostly a rant. Just to let you know up front. It's full of opinion and experience. Here you go:
Once upon a time, there was this couple who wanted to adopt. They were THRILLED to learn that in their lovely home state of IL, a birth mother could sign TPR at 72 hours. At that point, unless some legal catastrophe happened, TPR was final. BIG SIGH OF RELIEF. What an adoption-friendly state they lived in! At least if the mom "changed her mind," they'd only have to wait a few days to find out....and if she did change her mind after 72 hours and she'd signed TPR, well, too bad, so sad. Just get into the safe zone, baby, and then live happily ever after. No looking back.
I hate to admit that I know this couple well....because it was me and my hubby!
I am sickened when I hear adoptive families talk about "good" or "friendly" adoption states. Translation: adoptive-parent friendly states.
But, if you really think about it, in states where TPR can occur at 48 or 72 hours, these states aren't really even adoptive-parent friendly, and here is why.
Think about this: Do you really want to parent a baby whose birth parents decided, after a few days without their child, that they made the wrong choice? Do you want to keep a baby from his or her biological parents because you just can't possibly bear to give the child back? The baby you've been holding and bonding with for two, three, four days? A week? A few weeks? What heartache that would cause!
Shoe on the other foot----can you imagine spending a lifetime without your baby, all because in the "heat of the moment" you made the wrong choice to place your baby for adoption? Because influential people in your life---your boyfriend, your social worker, your mother----were telling you to choose adoption because it was "best" for the baby and it was the only "unselfish choice"? Can you imagine living every single day without your baby, the child you bonded with for nine months, the child who looks like you, the child who has your blood pumping through his or her body?
(Have you ever read or experienced what it is like for a woman post-birth? Her hormones are all over the place. She's still raw from childbirth. Her world is upside down and inside out. And nearby, there's a social worker thrusting paperwork into her face, asking her to make the most difficult decision of her life despite all the emotional and physical effects of childbirth.)
Then can you imaging mustering the courage to tell your social worker, I made the wrong choice. I want to keep my baby. I am sorry that this will hurt the adoptive parents, but I just cannot do it.
The imagine the adoptive parents, who are legally the parents, saying no to you? Saying no, I just can't bear losing this child I've had for three days, the child I've waited three years for. NO. NO.
Adoptive parents---your heartache cannot compare to the birth parents' when it comes to loss. I've had this discussion MANY times on online message boards with adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth mothers. The argument is that loss is loss. How can one loss compare to another? Isn't loss relative? Perception is reality, right?
I'm not trying to say that adoptive parents don't have tremendous and raw loss in their journeys. My loss shouldn't be minimized. Type I diabetes drastically and permanently changed my life. My opportunity to have biological children was pretty much torn away from me the day I was told I had my disease. However, I can't and shouldn't make that my crutch---my excuse---to not do what is right.
Ultimately, after much adoption education, I decided this: I do not want to parent a baby who is not meant to be mine. No way, no how. Even if I have to cry many tears. Even if I want to believe it's not fair. Even if I had to wait five years for a baby. Because I am not entitled to someone else's child. Because the "other" in the situation (be it the child or the birth parent) is a real person with real feelings, and just because the birth parent made some bad decisions leading to a crisis pregnancy situation, it doesn't mean they are stripped of their humanity.
I truly believe that when agencies charge a (taking it back old school) a butt-load of money to make adoption possible to adoptive families, they are sending a powerful message: You (adoptive families) are those whom we serve. Fill out the check-list. Order up! We serve you. Please, be entitled. Be demanding. Put yourselves first. The customer is always right.
If you are a waiting adoptive parent, I want to stop and evaluate your own hearts. Ask yourself the hard questions. Choose an ethical agency that supports birth parents and doesn't push them to choose adoption at ANY point in the process. Birth parents need attorneys who will explain to them, clearly, the legal process of an adoption. The agency should clearly state that they will, no matter what, support the birth parents' decisions, whatever and whenever they may be.
And adoptive parents, you have to "go there." Have that conversation, and ask "What if?" What if, after having a baby for a few days or even weeks, the birth parents decide they want the baby back. Would you do it? Why or why not?
And what can you do as you wait, as you battle those fears of a failed adoption? I highly suggest that if you are a person of faith, you pray. And I don't mean, "God, don't let them change their minds because I've had infertility issues for ten years and all I want in life is to be a mommy to a precious little baby." I mean, "God, I am actively pursuing an ethical adoption. Let me be a witness and a support system to all I meet. Help me to support a birth parent's choice, whatever it is, whether it is adoption, choosing another family, or parenting. Help me deal with my doubts, my fears, and my insecurities. Help me be strong when it's easier to self-serve."
Even in the days between when we were chosen and when we went to court to gain custody of our children, I asked God to help our girls' biological parents and to give them the courage to "change their minds" if they needed to.
One woman I know did take home a baby, gain custody, and got a call from the birth mother asking for her baby back. This woman was tearful, heartbroken, and scared, but she did it. She gave the baby back to her biological mother. I find this action to be incredible and selfless. This adoptive mother recognized that though painful, she couldn't possibly keep a baby who truly wasn't hers. She couldn't keep a baby from her mother.
Adoptive parents----don't put on an unethical mask when it comes to adoption. Don't check your ethics at the door because you feel you are entitled to do so because you are paying big bucks for an adoption process. Don't use your pain, your loss, as an excuse to trample on someone else and scoop their baby up as your own. Stop. Think. Pray. Breathe. Act.
You can do this.