Adoption Loss

Over the weekend our country commemorated infant loss. I read stories of still births and saw posts from those who have suffered miscarriage. Acknowledging the pain of infant loss led me to a reminder of my own, but as always, I was left wondering where my pain fits on the spectrum. I was left questioning whether I had a right to my feelings at all.

For those who have followed this blog for a length of time, you are aware of our loss. For those who haven’t, here is the back story:

We had undergone 3 ½ years of trying to conceive before it ended in a hysterectomy. We were uncertain which path we wanted to pursue next, so for the next year, we choose to just enjoy our marriage. That Valentine’s Day we got a call. A minister who knew our situation had an expectant mother contact him regarding making an adoption plan for her unborn child. We decided to pursue it. We met with the mother and were fully confident in her decision to place her unborn child. We spent the next four months readying ourselves for parenthood.

I can remember exactly where I was when I found out our world was going to crash down around us. I was sitting in the left-hand chair in the testing nurse room. My colleague was sitting to my right as I heard the news. There would be no baby. She had given birth and chosen to parent.

I had no idea how I was supposed to feel or react. Nothing prepares you for this moment and no one understands what it is like. There was no baby to mourn. “Our” baby was alive and well, but not ours to parent. We never carried him in my womb. He was not ours at all, but nonetheless, it felt like someone had died.

Seven years later, I am still not sure how I am supposed to feel. I still think of this little boy often, wondering what his life is like. I wish I could meet him, if only to tell him how loved he was and how much he changed our life. After all, it was him and the love we felt that gave us the strength to pursue another match despite our grief.

Many have said that a late term adoption loss is very similar to a still birth. I have even read a post from a woman that had been through both and said they felt the same, but I still don’t trust that I can equate our situation with that. I never felt that little boy move. I had ultrasound pictures, but was not there to see him in my womb. We missed all that an expectant couple feels and experiences. There was no absolute knowing he was ours no matter how much it felt like that was the case.

Infant Loss Awareness always reminds me of our loss, but there is nothing to commemorate what we went through. There is no acknowledgement for couples who experience this. We don’t fit anywhere, but yet, have a gaping hole in our hearts where a child once was.

I don’t begrudge Infant Loss Awareness. It absolutely has tremendous value, both in education and support for couples who have experienced it. It is just that I wish there was something similar for adoptive families. Then again, how do you commemorate something that was never actually ours to begin with?

Writing gives me a voice to connect with others who have travelled a similar road. Together we can recognize this strange phenomenon of immense loss of something that was not ours to lose. I am grateful for this outlet. There is no ribbon for us, no day, no walks to support our cause or honor our hurt. We have voices to raise and that, in and of itself, is at least there is acknowledgement there.

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