When learning all about profile opportunities and matches and timeframes, I had a secret thought in the back of my head... "I'd far rather have a last-minute placement than a long-term one."
In my mind, a last-minute placement would have been ideal, because it would come out of nowhere and so you'd have very little time to think on it too much. There wouldn't be as much time for deciding to parent after all (as is the right of every birth parent), and if that did happen I wouldn't have as much time to get attached to the idea of a little baby coming home with us. It seemed like the best option for a slightly scarred and armored heart -- fast, not a lot of time for attachment and then grief if it fell through, and a warp speed entry into parenthood without much time to freak out about not knowing what the heck we are doing. (We'll have plenty of time for that when we're doing it.)
I didn't really want a long term match, one where there are months and you can go to appointments and sort of have a due date. One where you get attached to the idea of this baby being YOUR baby and have pictures and something concrete to look forward to. That all sounds nice until you realize that matches can fall through, and maybe you'll go home with this baby and maybe you won't. So, not having as much time to look forward to and get to know a tiny in-utero miracle could protect you, a little.
I spoke with a friend who adopted her son through a last-minute placement. She let me know that there are defined risks with last-minute, risks I hadn't thought of:
- The birthmother may not have had ample opportunity for counseling, may not have been counseled, or may be more likely to refuse counseling
- You may have less of a chance of an open adoption, in part due to limited counseling
- You may not have all the medical information at the time that you solidify your match/placement, because it may not be released yet, and so there is potential for health concerns you weren't initially prepared for coming to the surface due to discrepancies in reported information versus screened information (not common but has happened)
And some that I did think of:
- You don't have the chance to plan
- You have to be ready at a moment's notice to get in the car or hop a plane
- Your employer has to be ready at a moment's notice to have your leave replacement or a plan in place
- You have to have things in order so that a leave replacement situation is feasible
It does sound quite stressful.
But, on the other hand, our first profile opportunity was a long-term situation. The expectant mother wasn't due until May 28th, which meant that at the time of our call she was about 18 weeks along. WHICH IS NOT VERY FAR ALONG AT ALL, not really. That would be a very long time of waiting and hoping that this match went through. They wanted the adoptive parents to come to appointments and be involved throughout the pregnancy, which is great. Except it made me so nervous, to be in a situation where I could get so very attached and look forward to the end of May and think it was kinda sorta MY due date, too, only to still face the very real risk of a failed match. I mean, that situation sounded pretty confident -- reasons for placing were logical and well-thought out, there was a lot of research and thought put into what was presented on the call. But still.
After 5 1/2 years of a hellish IVF experience, where so many things went wrong that weren't entirely sensical and it seemed we were characters in a Series of Unfortunate Events, how can I trust that things will work out smoothly with adoption? A long-term match sounds to me like a whole lot of opportunity for hurt.
But, nothing comes without risk. Every possible situation is risky in its own way. There's no one better way than another. Every single situation can result in a failed match, but if I live my life in this space thinking only about the awful possibilities it will keep me from enjoying the moments that can be full of joy. IVF kind of sucked some of my capacity to hope and be Pollyanna-like away. I did not succeed, and no one could tell me a concrete reason why. I tried and tried and tried, and it seemed like everything ended poorly, just in myriad horrible ways, all different.
This is a different process, though, with different opportunities for pain but so many opportunities for joy. I need to focus on the what-could-be, not the what-might-not-be. Some day we will have a baby in our arms and it will have happened in just the right way for us and for our child's birth family, if not the easiest (for anyone). Maybe I do have a little Pollyanna left after all.
I've come to think that there is no ideal circumstance, but maybe a situation where there is about a month, maybe 6 weeks to 3 weeks, before the due date? Something where you have time enough to get your house in order and your ducks in a row, but not long enough to feel like risk-taking over a long period of time. A Goldilocks timeframe, sort of. Now that I've said this it pretty much guarantees it won't pan out that way for us, but a girl can hope.
Hope and dream and try to accept risks without feeling more fear than joy.