Arizona Pregnancy Help

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #94 – Failed Matches, Disruptions & More – Part 1 of 2

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Ron Reigns:

Welcome, and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:

Do what’s best for your kid, and for yourself, because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid. And that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:

And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:

Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:

All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development and a master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:

And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast. A failed adoption match is when a birth mother has established herself with a prospective adoptive family to place a baby for adoption and decides not to proceed with an adoption plan or with that prospective adoptive family. An adoption disruption is the interruption of an adoption prior to finalization. It’s also called a failed adoption or a failed placement. And an adoption dissolution is the interruption or failure of an adoption after the finalization.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

During this podcast, we’re going to be talking about failed adoption matches and adoption disruptions because we are solely going to be focusing on situations regarding babies for adoption, newborn domestic adoptions. We’re not talking about older children adoptions during this podcast. We’re not talking about international adoptions. We are solely focusing on newborn adoptions. And when adoptions fail, we consider that the ugly side of adoption. 

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Nobody wants to hear about the dark side of placing babies for adoption when they’re looking to plan their family and traditional methods are not an option. They want to know, do adoptions fail? How often? Why? Who’s to blame? What happens to the adoptive family financially? What happens to the birth mother who placed the baby for adoption? What role does the agency take? Who can be held accountable? Did somebody do something wrong along the way?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There’s all these questions and concerns on behalf of the adoptive family. This is really hard. And I really want to take these two podcasts and try to break down, and explain, and establish an education amongst our listeners as to what happens, and why, and reactions that are elicited when these adoptions go dark.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When somebody is experiencing the death of a loved one or some horrific event in their life, and you are a loved one to that person who’s going through grief or a friend, family member. You always want to say I don’t have the right words, or words can’t erase the pain that you’re going through. And just like that, there are no words that are going to bring comfort to somebody experiencing when an adoption match fails or when an adoption disrupts.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There’s nothing that can be said to a family that is going to make it better, that’s going to erase the pain, that’s going to take away the hurt, that’s going to put the money back into their bank. There’s nothing that’s going to be said that’s going to make it better. An analogy for a family that has vested their time, their emotions, their finances into an adoption plan or journey is very much comparable to a death because it is an indescribable loss.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The first thing that can be done is to acknowledge that, is to acknowledge that it is a loss, it’s a death of a dream. It’s something that you are going to go through the stages of grief. And, as an agency, we are all vested in the process of helping place the baby for adoption. We want adoptions to be successful.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When a couple decides that fertility treatments are the route that they want to go to plan their family, because biologically they’re not able to create their family the way that they wanted to, and so they need additional assistance through infertility treatments. And if those infertility treatments don’t work, it is very disheartening, very difficult, very sad. Again, they’ve invested time, emotions, finances.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I think that when you are looking at infertility treatments versus an adoption plan, in some ways an adoptive family, or prospective adoptive family, can look at it and say, okay, the infertility doctor did everything he could to help me become pregnant and my body didn’t take it. It didn’t work. He did his part and therefore there’s nothing more he could have done. It was my body that didn’t cooperate with the treatments.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And when they’re going through an adoption plan- because there’s a loss of control, in other words, they can’t see what’s happening behind the scenes. And it may very much feel like the Wizard of Oz behind the red curtain, that there becomes- the blame game, and the questioning, and what went wrong. And there was no- it wasn’t my body that kept me from becoming a mother. It is the birth mother placing the baby for adoption and the agency that was working with a birth mother. And so there comes this anger and this frustration, and a lot of it is because of the lack of control that is felt over an adoption situation. Does that make sense?

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. And it also brings with it more of an ability to blame somebody else because that’s how you kind of find a reason like, oh, it was the agency’s fault. I know it was the agency’s fault. And so it makes it so much easier in this circumstance to place blame whether it’s warranted or not. And most likely it’s not.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. A good way of looking at it is when an adoptive family, when we have to call them and tell them that either the birth mother who has placed the baby for adoption has changed her mind, or she has decided not to proceed with the adoption plan, or she has decided that this isn’t the right family for her baby. It is incredibly hard on the adoptive family side. It’s horrific.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It is also very hard on the birth mother placing the baby for adoption, I’m sorry, on the adoptive case manager side. I have one adoptive parent case manager that has said that she will have to pace around the room for a while before she can make the call because she knows how much that call’s going to hurt. And nobody wants to bring pain to somebody else. Social workers are in the helping field because we want to make things better. We want to help other people and we don’t want to deliver bad news.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And knowing that the adoptive family is going to be in so much emotional pain when you have to deliver this is really, really hard. I have some case workers that when they have to deliver the news, they have to take the rest of the day off because they just have to regather their thoughts, and kind of recompose themselves, and get back on the horse. They say when you fall off a horse the best thing you can do is to get right back on, and they can’t even get right back on. They’ve got to recenter themselves and find their grounding again, because it is so difficult.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And when the family goes through the stages of grief, and they’re in the anger stage, and they’re calling up, and they’re saying they want their finances returned, and they want to understand why they still have to pay for a failed match. In so many instances, it’s hard as an agency to hear that because if this was an infertility doctor, would you be banging on the door of the infertility practice and saying, “Hey the treatments didn’t work, I want a refund”? That’s not-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So we’re going to talk about all of this today in these podcasts, because I think it’s really important for adoptive families that have experienced an adoption disruption, or a failed adoption match, or maybe are entering into the idea of an adoption journey, to really understand what this looks like. Because adoptions don’t always work, this is not something that is 100% going to happen.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And, just like when you go to a infertility doctor, they tell you there are no guarantees. When you are pregnant, yourself with a baby, there’s no guarantee at the end of the nine months that you’re going to have a healthy baby. There’s no guarantees that the baby is going to make it through the nine months. And I think, as with life, there are no guarantees.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When we have families that are deciding between infertility treatments or inquiring about a baby for adoption, and they have not gone either route prior, what I do suggest is really look at what is the best fit for you. Statistically speaking, depending on the type of infertility treatments, some infertility treatments have a success rate of about 23-24%. Again, it depends on what the circumstances are and medically where you are in the spectrum of what services you need. And so some would be higher. Some may be lower adoption. The national adoption rate, they say, is about 50%. Now our adoption agency, I would say we’ve been running between 78-83% success.

Ron Reigns:

That’s impressive.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, it’s a big difference. Now I will also say that, with regarding babies for adoption, you don’t have control over the situation. But with infertility treatments, there’s very little control as well. Obviously, you can go on bedrest sometimes, and there are things you can do to improve your chances, but it’s the same with an adoption plan. You very much can do things to improve your chances.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You know, you can have contact with a birth mother placing her baby for adoption. You can come out and meet her and develop a relationship. You can send her handwritten letters and there are certain things you can do, again, to improve your chances. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a foolproof situation, like there’s nothing that can go wrong. So when a failed adoption match occurs or a disruption, as we just stated, the family goes through stages of grief.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We structure our adoption contract the way that it is and fees are paid on behalf of the agency to outside sources. There are such things as legal fees, and we have to pay processors, and we have to pay for motions to be filed with the court. We have to pay the case managers for their job and what they’re doing. We have to pay for things like birth mother expenses up until the time that she is no longer working with us. We have to pay for agency overhead. We have to pay for agency insurance. We have to pay for things like her transportation. There’s so many aspects in the financial realm that are paid out, which is why we don’t deviate from our contract.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oftentimes, adoptive families, when they’re going through the stages of grief, really question the financial aspect. And they also question as to what happened to make the birth mother change her mind about the adoption plan and placing her baby for adoption. And this is what I call an adoptive family, engaging in the hunting and gathering mentality.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So the hunting and gathering is usually referred to as in the pioneer days, the men would go out and do the hunting and the gathering and the woman would stay home and they would nurture the childreng. An angry, upset, hurt adoptive family will often engage in this hunting and gathering mentality. And when they’re hunting, they’re wondering who’s at fault.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Did they not engage with the birth mother enough? Did they not come out and meet her when they should have? Did the adoptive, or the birth mother case manager, was she not diligent enough? Did she not follow through enough with the birth mother? Was there not a relationship there? Was the birth mother scamming? Was she not vetted enough at the intake? There are so many questions that they have.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They want to know, ultimately, who’s at fault. Who can they blame? And then they start playing the blame game. The agency, the birth mother, the birth father, who was it? And they’re wanting to point the finger. And then they reach the gathering stage. And that’s where they’re wanting all the information. They want the birth mother’s medical records. They want record of interactions. They’re checking the social media sites and they’re looking to see, they become private investigators. And they’re now researching and they’re trying to find answers.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that part I get because when something happens to you and it’s outside of your control, I can very much say I’m a person that really, really likes closure. I like answers. And then when I have answers, I can often find peace. When I can’t have closure, I can’t find peace in something.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So an example would be when I lost my own birth mother, when she was 59, and she had gone into the hospital with what we thought was a really bad cold, and never left. I couldn’t find peace in that. And so I, myself, had called and I got copies of her hospital records. And they were a foot thick. And going through that, I’m not a medical person, I don’t have medical training. I’ve learned a lot by reading them. That being said, I will tell you that it didn’t bring me closure and I didn’t find peace. That didn’t work.

Ron Reigns:

Well, what it kind of reminds me of, or makes me think of, is why people have conspiracy theories. Because they are trying to make sense of something, to them, that does not make makes sense. And of course, you go to JFK and people are like, it was the CIA, and it’s a way of trying to get that control over something that- how could this one man kill the president, the most powerful person in the world? And just try and make sense of it. And that’s kind of what we all do to some degree when something bad happens. Like you say, we’ll go on the internet, we’ll try and figure out why it went wrong. And so I understand completely what you’re saying. And again, at the end of it, you really don’t have that much more understanding it doesn’t help. Unfortunately.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It doesn’t. And when we have a birth mother that has placed her baby for adoption yet changes her mind, and I have the opportunity to speak with her, I will often ask her for her reasoning so that I can share it with the adoptive family. Because when there is an answer, it is much easier on the adoptive family. Like in other words, if a mother says, “I didn’t want to parent, I didn’t plan on seeing the baby. The nurse brought me the baby and I held the baby and I realized I couldn’t let her go. That I was going to parent.” That’s difficult and that’s hard, but at least the family then knows why. And at least they can be upset, and they can be hurt, and they can be disappointed and they can even be angry. But they have a reason.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When you have a mom that just disappears into the sunset, and you have no answers, and she ghosts, those are amongst the hardest for families to understand because they’re waiting. It’s like they’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and they have no answers. And they don’t know when to stop waiting. And they don’t know why. And there’s so many questions left unanswered. And I think, again, those are the hardest.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It can be, when a family member loses a loved one, and it’s because they disappear, and they want those answers, and they want to put that to rest. They want to just find peace. Again there’s a parallel there, and I’m not saying it’s on the same level, but when you are able to have closure and you can have peace, that’s how you can heal and you can move on.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

An adoptive family’s response can sometimes be misguided by misgauging the agency’s reaction. We still have to be professional. And oftentimes a case manager will be crying behind the scenes when an adoption does not go through. But when a physician is operating on a loved one, and the loved one doesn’t make it, the physician isn’t on his knees, sobbing with the family when he comes to deliver the news.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that’s not to say that I haven’t helped pick case workers up off the floor because they’re so upset. I have, I’ve had case workers that cried right along with the family. Again, very professional, but that doesn’t mean that every time they have to call a family, that they’re going to have that same reaction. You know, some families they may have developed a connection with, not everybody develops the same connection. So they may have a family they developed a really strong bond with, maybe they’ve already gone down this road before with a family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And again, going back to the one case worker that has to pace the room for so long before she can make the phone call and kind of hype herself up to it, because nobody wants to make that phone call. I’ve made it more times than I have cared to. And it is amongst my least favorite things to do. It is absolutely indescribable. The memories of some of them will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You know, they say that there is almost a primal scream or cry that a mother will make at the loss and being that person that has to deliver that news to somebody that elicits that response, it’s haunting, it’s absolutely haunting. And not that I’m looking for adoptive families to empathize with a case worker. I understand that this is our profession. This is what we’ve chosen to do, but I just want families to understand that we do get it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It is really, really hard. And our response is we are trying to be as professional as we can. And at the same time, a lot of our case managers are adoptive moms so they can relate. They understand. And the majority of our adoption staff are mothers. And so, again, they can relate as a mother, what that might feel like.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Families will also say, “I really think that our situation is different and that we should really look at our situation to see if maybe we can get a refund because I want you to hear our story.” I get this frequently from adoptive families. “I want to tell you our story. I want to tell you about why we should.” And I have to say, I don’t think asking an agency to show favoritism over one family is fair. You know, every adoptive family has a story. Every story is hard to hear, but saying that your story is more important or more valuable than somebody else’s story to me is inequitable.

Ron Reigns:

Right. And the thing is, everybody feels that their own story is special because it is to them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In other words, if you have two 8-year-old little boys, both of them break their arm, and they both go to the hospital, and there’s only one physician, and both mothers are crying, wanting their son to be seen first. And they’re both trying to tell their story. How is it fair for somebody to listen to say, “Okay, well, your story is definitely more significant. So we’ll take your son first.” Like that just doesn’t seem fair to me.

Ron Reigns:

Right, because what’s wrong with the other one? It’s a tough situation. I empathize with you. 

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That is, and some, I would say that any match or adoption disruption is really tough. The ones that families, in my opinion, have the hardest time finding peace with, are when the birth mothers do disappear. And we don’t hear from them. And either something pops up on a social media feed or something. And we hear later on that she had the baby and we don’t have answers. I think those are hard. Not having answers, I think is very difficult.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In talking with birth mothers who have placed a baby for adoption yet changed their minds and who have really struggled with their adoption choice, I have found, and again this isn’t statistical data, this isn’t anything, every mother is going to need to walk her own adoption journey. What I’ve learned is, when a birth mother is planning on spending time with the baby in the hospital, what I have found to be the best and easiest in terms of attachment for the birth mother, if she really wants to spend time with the baby, is to do it in short increments, do it in more times, but shorter periods of time, because the longer she spends time with the baby, the more she’s bonding and the more baby’s bonding with her. And that makes the separation harder.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Now, some birth mothers placing their baby for adoption, especially mothers that have had children before, will say I know exactly what you’re talking about. This is the way I want it. And that’s honored, but spending little bits of time, frequently, seems to be easier on birth mothers. And I have learned that from, like I said, from talking with mothers. And again, statistically, I’m not saying that there’s any research backing that, I’m just saying from experience. That’s what I see.

Ron Reigns:

This is just anecdotal evidence.

Speaker 4:

Right. When an adoptive mom has a very close relationship with a birth mom, and then we find out that the birth mother who planned on placing the baby for adoption has been scamming her and the agency, that’s very difficult because it’s a violation. In other words, it’s not just her changing her mind, but it’s like when somebody, that feeling you get, like if somebody was to come in your house and steal things out of your house, that violation, because you’ve opened your heart and not just, emotionally, financially, et cetera, but you opened your heart to this person and you welcome them in, and you’ve developed that relationship. And when you find out that it was on false pretenses, that’s another added layer that just hurts. When a family matches and the match disrupts very quickly after it has happened, that also is very hard because a family can’t wrap their brain around, “I wasn’t given a chance. I wasn’t given an opportunity to develop a relationship with this mom.” I’ve seen that being very difficult.

Ron Reigns:

And this is where we’ll pick it up next time on part two of this two part series. We’ll also have a special guest. Adam Scarry, Kelly’s husband, is going to be talking to us on part two of the Ugly Side of Adoption: Failed Adoption Matches, Disruptions, and Disillusions.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption , click here. Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112. That’s 6-2-3-6-9-5-4-1-1-2. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at AZpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also goes out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song I Dunno as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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