Healing After Heartbreak: Payton’s Story

The agony of a failed adoption can feel extra painful at times like Mother’s Day. I have shared my own personal failed adoption story with some but felt like now was the right time to share with everyone. Our second adoption was going to be beautiful. Chosen by a 16-year-old mom who was struggling with addiction and was in a treatment facility seem seemed like a situation in which we would not need to worry about her changing her mind. But, we were wrong. We were supposed to be at the hospital for our baby’s birth, but the plan changed (as it so often does!). We ended up going to the hospital the next day after he was born. We had a lovely time with birthmom and her family, taking photos together and taking turns holding our precious baby. We named him after my husband Rob’s personal hero. We left the hospital that night and returned the next morning to take our baby home.

We arrived home with baby Payton to a host of friends and family excited to greet him and welcome him to our family. (This was 22 years ago-I’ve learned a lot about the things we could have done differently since then!) We took photos, prepared our baby announcements to send out and the congratulations cards and gifts rolled in. Little Payton was not such a good sleeper; he would only sleep if he was laying on my chest, so nights were a bit long, but I loved every second of it. Our dream of having a sibling for our oldest child, Cole had happened, and we couldn’t have been more excited!

We had our precious baby for 8 wonderful days….until the phone rang on a late Saturday afternoon. Our social worker asked if Rob was home, I knew by her voice that something was terribly wrong. She informed us that birthmom had changed her mind and we would not be adopting our precious Payton. We had some choices; we could wait until tomorrow and take him back, or we could do it today. We chose to do it right away as we could not keep him in our arms one more minute if he was not going to be our child.

We went to birthmom’s house to entrust her with this precious baby. It was a very difficult time as we thought we could talk to her and she would see why WE should keep him. We knew right away that was not going to happen. We said our goodbyes and had some wonderful counseling from our social workers that night.

 Why have I chosen to write about this now? Truthfully, I don’t even know. I can tell you that I write this without tears, without sadness, without pain, now. This child was not meant to be mine; he was never mine. I loved him while I had him, but it was never supposed to be that way. The pain I felt at the time could not be put into words, I felt all the feels: anger, sadness, etc. I know now, I experienced this for a reason in this world, for another purpose. Maybe that purpose was to help others who go through the agony of a failed adoption, maybe it was preparing more for a deeper kind of grief….I don’t know. What I know is that tomorrow the sun will come up, there is a reason for everything no matter if I want to accept that or not. God had a different plan. That plan was for me to be the mother of a beautiful, wonderful and amazing daughter, who at 22 years old is also my best friend. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. And THAT I feel was one of the reasons I wasn’t meant to parent baby Payton.

Stay strong in your journey, allow yourself to hurt, grieve, love. But don’t give up. There is a way, there is a plan. Do whatever you need to do to help you cope with your loss. I made a box of all the little items that were important to me when Payton left us as you can see in the photo. I don’t need this box anymore. I looked in it for the first time in years today. I can’t believe how many photos could be taken in 8 days! Like I said already, I don’t need this anymore, it doesn’t bring sadness or pain. It is just something that was. My prayer for anyone who has had a failed adoption is that you will stay the course, keep strong, but allow yourself the time you need to heal. Our staff, and me, will be here to support you all the way.