Turning Down a Match

On Columbus Day, I had to do something that I never thought I would have to do, that was both harder and easier than I thought it would be, that was the right decision for my family : I turned down a match with a birth mother.

BMD was clearly in crisis, and her story pulled at me. She had been slated to place her child for adoption through an agency in Texas that put her up in a mothers’ home. (I didn’t even know those still existed!) She left there because she was going hungry, and found Acadia. There was also the coincidences and conveniences of this match : BMD was due in late January, which would make O just over two. She has a son O’s age, and I dreamed of going to visit her and having our sons play together. She would be coming up to Maine, which would make it so much easier to go up and visit during the pregnancy, and I know the lay of the land for delivery.

There is also a lot of me that wants to quit my job. I’ve got a new position in a school that hasn’t staffed the library in years, and hasn’t staffed it competently in what looks like decades. Digging this library out of the hole it’s in is dispiriting work, and it’ll never be done at the funding levels they’re committing to it. The last few weeks O has been sleeping a lot, which means I don’t get a lot of time with him, and he’s cranky when he’s awake. Typical almost-two-ness, but frustrating and making me feel like I’m not being the parent I want to be. I want to get back on a review committee for YALSA. It was an insane amount of work, but I miss feeling like I’m abreast of current literature, like I’m part of a national conversation. So having another kid in January, just as I would start a new committee, would mean that I could take twelve weeks of FMLA as a trial run of taking the next few years off working in schools.

So I had a conference call with BMD. In the call, It became clear that she hadn’t been able to access my profile, so I didn’t know if she knew that I was gay, and Jewish, and part of a multi-racial family. And as she talked about placing children for adoption before, it became clearer to me that she didn’t want ongoing contact. She kept saying “the past is the past”, like a personal mantra. I totally understand that self-protection coping mechanism.

And before I had O, and a relationship with BMA, I think I would have accepted this match. I respect the choices birth mothers make, and every person is different in the ways they handle these things. But I could see that I was borrowing trouble down the line. I know that the relationships my children have with their birth families will be different, unique things, but the vast disparity between annual visits and no contact at all is too much. I spoke to a friend who is a foster parent about this dynamic, and she told me about how her children are acting out at each other out of hurt and jealousy. I don’t think I realized exactly how spoiled I had been by BMA until this discussion with BMD, and how much I intend to rely on her to represent her own choices to O once he has questions about them.

After I got off the call with BMD, I spoke to my contact at Acadia. I said to her that I didn’t think we were a match, and she suggested that maybe BMD would be interested in contact. I doubted it, and asked her to clarify about this. A few days later, she emailed me to confirm that BMD wanted the adoption to be closed, and I turned it down. I have to trust that there is a family out there who is right for BMD and her child. I have to trust that there will be a child out there for me. I have to feel this fear and hurt and then let it go, and try to control the things I have control over in order to make my life better. I have a lot to do.


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