‘I had clothes laid out for her. I left my job to be a stay-at-home papa. This hurts, BAD.’: Dads share disrupted adoption story, ‘I couldn’t imagine life any other way’

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“In October of 2016, my husband Douglas and I started our deep discussions again after having such a blessing with our first adopted daughter. We talked about what we have learned so far with fatherhood and how we felt about everything up to that point. Our girl Alli Mae has helped us grow smarter, faster, and allowed us to truly see what matters most in our lives.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

We are both in our mid-thirties. We have said in the past we want to raise a multiple child family. In order for this to happen, we would really need to make some quick decisions about our future. One huge factor came into play. Douglas was about to finish his third year of medical school. In his fourth year, he will have a significant amount of time to help me with Alli Mae and the new baby if we were to match with another birth mother soon. In order for it to happen, we needed to start the adoption process as soon as possible, because what if it took longer to find a baby this time? After having our deep discussion, we decided to jump back on the adoption train again!

We got our federal and state background checks in order. Then, we renewed our home study. Then, we waited. We waited, and waited, and then we waited some more. Then we got a call. It looked like there was a birth mother in Mississippi! Our hearts jumped out of our chest. We quickly typed out a portfolio with pictures talking about our life and sent it over. We were quickly informed the birth mother had chosen family members to adopt her baby. I have to admit that stung, but we were just happy the baby would be going to a home who was family and a home who would love and care for her.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

About a month later we were told to make a really nice, hard-back portfolio album telling about our lives. Where we live, about our daughter, our church, our families, etc. We were pretty excited about this. We worked really hard on it and the finished product came out wonderfully! About two weeks after, we received a call our portfolio was being shown to a birth mother. We felt really positive about this. From the feedback we were getting, it seemed like everything was moving in a positive direction. About two weeks went by and we were still feeling good about everythinguntil we got the call. The birth mother chose another family. Now, to be perfectly honest, this frightened me. The birth mother declined on us because we already had a daughter. She ended up going with a family who didn’t have any children at all. This was alarming for me. This whole time, I thought putting our family on the cover of our portfolio would be a strong visual and would show just how happy we are. I completely understand why the birth mother chose the other family, and this, I suppose, is why it scared me. Some birth mothers want their babies to go to a family who is desperately seeking to find a child. They want to know their child will not be loved more than a sibling. To us that is impossible and would never happen, but we respect different birth mothers’ decision processes.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

So there we were. I was pitiful. And Douglas, again, my coach and rock, was able to get me to see the beauty in how the situation unfolded. The family who matched now will have their first child. We read their portfolio and it was so charming and it really made my heart happy to know they finally would be able to welcome their first baby home. It was time to get up, dust our shoulders off and keep marching forward. Each situation seemed to get us more and more in tune with the process. Alli Mae basically fell from Heaven into our lap. Our 3-5 year wait we were told in the beginning turned out to be a 3.5 week wait. We knew going into this again this scenario is VERY uncommon and to not allow our minds and hearts to think it could happen again. We were already three months into waiting for our second baby. We knew our ‘Alli Mae situation’ would indeed not be playing out like it did before.

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

Mid-January rolled around and the phone rang. This was the call we had been praying for. This was it! I started shaking as I was talking with our agency. She was going over the details and what we would be expecting if we were interested. I hung up with her so I could frantically call Douglas at school. He didn’t answer. So I called his mom. After talking with her, I really felt like I could make the executive decision. YES! We are interested. We are DEFINITELY interested!

After we got confirmation, we were indeed matched. We started our planning process. In a way, we planned like we did when we first found out we were going to bring home Alli Mae. We read that when you first bring your new baby home, your first born will be jealous and resentful. There were things we could prepare for before we brought the new baby home. The first thing was to move Alli Mae into her new room before the baby comes. In doing this, she will feel like she isn’t being ‘kicked out’ of her nursery. There was about 3 or 4 weeks in between where she could get use to her new ‘toddler’ room. We were eager to transform our guest room into her new jungle. This room is much bigger than her nursery and it is absolutely perfect for a child her age. I wanted a vibrant color in this room to match her personality. We picked out a sunset orange color. It is technically called ‘Tiger Lilly Orange.’

Courtesy of Erik Alexander

After we got her settled into her new room we started preparing for life when the new baby comes. I ran a restaurant in the French Quarter for 10 years now. I knew things would have to change once we brought the new baby home. With the help of my dear friend and owner of the restaurant, we came up with an exit strategy. As hard as it was for me to leave this part of my life, it was equally exciting to begin this new future. I would be able to stay at home while Douglas finished out his last year in medical school. The feeling of being a stay-at-home papa was so empowering. I knew my children would be perfectly fine and I would not have to have a sitter or daycare. The closer we got to the date, the more anxiously happy we both were. The day we got the sonogram picture of the baby was when it really felt real. To see this tiny treasure inside of a tummy was so surreal.

We were in contact with the birth mother weekly. We knew she had an obligation at the end of the month and once it was seen to, she would be ready move into the agency’s apartment in New Orleans in preparation for the baby’s birth. This was absolutely fine with us, it just seemed like it was very close to her delivery date. Once the end of the month came, we anxiously awaited the phone call for our birth mother to relocate. One day led to two days, then led to three days. By the fourth day after her obligatory date, my heart really started pounding. We called the agency and it was like someone punched me in my stomach 10 times. Our birth mother had disappeared.

I didn’t know what to do. I was in complete shock. We had invested so much into preparing for this adoption. All the planning with my job, the money we paid up front, and moving our daughter into a new and unfamiliar room just seemed SO unfair. I just felt sick. I am telling you, I was a complete and soggy mess for days. I had three huge bags of retired clothes from Alli Mae I had separated into different sizes in the middle of the floor of the nursery for our new baby girl.

To this day, all the piles of clothes are still in the middle of the floor in their respected sizes. I just can’t bring myself to open that door. Each day that goes by, I get a little stronger. Douglas is my rock and Alli Mae is my angel, my ray of sunshine. She helps pull her papa out of any depression that comes along. Her laughter and curiosity just warms my heart and definitely keeps me busy. Douglas and I are so blessed to have her in our lives, and to let sadness and depression overshadow her light would just be wrong. Yes, this hurts. BAD. We knew in the beginning, ANYTHING can happen. I didn’t expect it, and it might be where I went wrong. Adoption is not for the faint of heart, that is for surebut it is absolutely worth it once it is completed.

Now that I can look back on things, there are some red flags I wish we would have caught. As I said earlier, even though we have Alli Mae, we are still pretty green to this process. The ‘ins and outs’ were not really clear for us. Now we have officially seen something fall through, especially the way this one did, we now can pick out a few of the warning signs. I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask the right questions. You may shy away from asking certain ones because of different circumstances, but at the end of the day, you want to make the best decision you possibly can on the information you are given. Make sure you and your spouse write down a list of different personal questions you feel will better help you understand what is going on.

Adoptions still fail even when the hard questions are asked. People love to hear the beautiful side to adoption. But there are definitely other dark and stormy sides to it as well. It is a wonderful thing to experience. It is a much different story when your adoption fails and sadness takes the place of joy. But please, if your adoption does end in a way you wish it hadn’tlearn from it. Walk away a smarter person and apply this to your next experience. Life is about learning and growing and seeing the beauty inside of the darkness. Find the silver linings and go from there. Don’t let a failed adoption dictate your future. It did not dictate ours. We finally got our second daughter, Ella, and our son, Shane, and I couldn’t imagine having any other children as my own!”

Courtesy of Erik Alexander
Courtesy of Erik Alexander

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erik Alexander. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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