The Reality of “Miscarriages” in Adoption

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The past two weeks have been extremely hard for me. I felt like all I could do was cry, sleep, or stare aimlessly. I really didn’t understand why I was so tired and weepy, and I thought it must have had something to do with my change in medication. I couldn’t seem to sleep at night, and then I couldn’t manage to do anything during the day. I accidentally missed a class in my yoga training and I didn’t even realize I missed it until my leader texted me the next day. I felt overwhelmed, under motivated, and completely at a loss for what was going on with me.

Then a friend of mine posted a beautifully tragic picture. It was a necklace with a butterfly wing on it.

Butterfly Wing

 What a beautiful way to remember these dear children of hers. I just sat there on Facebook, crying.  Crying because I understood, I got it, it made sense. All those plans for that child didn’t just disappear when the pregnancy ended. All those plans weren’t just replaced by another pregnancy. No, each loss was its own. Each baby had its own set of dreams, plans, excitements, and fears.

It got me thinking about my own story of heartbreak and I realized something: a very large part of me has not allowed myself to fully grieve the loss of these four children and even baby Brave from back in November.  I didn’t feel worthy of it, I felt like my loss didn’t really count. They were never really my children, and in the case of the four I made the decision to back out, so I should be ok. I should be able to handle this. But I wasn’t ok. I was at peace about my decision, but I wasn’t at peace about the loss I was facing.

When I started thinking about the butterflies that represented my friend’s pregnancies I was a little jealous that I didn’t have anything to represent my loss. There was nothing tangible about my loss. My loss was like the loss of fairies or mermaids or unicorns; it never existed except for in my head and in my heart. How can I lose something I never had? How can I express sorrow over something that never actually was. And because there is nothing tangible about it, I felt that I wasn’t worthy of grieving it, or that I shouldn’t grieve it. I felt like my loss was not enough to count. I couldn’t commemorate the loss of adoption mismatches could, I?

When a woman miscarries it is a physical loss and an emotional loss, but because of the physical loss, it is easier for me to accept that that person is going to need some down time, some grieving time, and maybe a little extra love and support. But for some reason it did not even cross my mind that I would need the same grace and love in my own situation.

After we realized the four were not our four, we went back to regular life. I tried to do everything as I did before. And yet, I just couldn’t.

Last weekend we were at church and we heard another couple was pregnant. Usually I can muster up a smile and clap along with the rest of the congregation. I can make it through the church service and then when we get home I break down and cry. Not because they are pregnant, but because I am not. Not because they have been blessed by God, but because I feel forgotten by Him. But I couldn’t do it that day. I was sucker punched, the wind had been knocked out of me, and I was just trying to breathe again. The corners of my mouth had anchors weighing them down and there was absolutely no energy for a smile, my lead arms were too heavy to lift in applause. I didn’t even have it in me  to fight the tears. So instead of smiling, clapping, and praising God for this blessing… muddy mascara tears streamed down my face and I got a bloody nose. Luckily, the bloody nose allowed me to leave the room without feeling like I was protesting a pregnancy announcement. Once safely in a bathroom stall I completely broke down, holding my breath every time someone came in and praying to God that a sob wouldn’t erupt from between my clenched teeth until the person left. And the whole time I was crying I felt so guilty and so horrible for being upset about this good news.

If a woman I knew just lost a baby would I think she was a horrible person for crying at this news? No way, I would think, “oh, that’s got to be difficult to hear, I wonder if there is anything I can do for her during this time of loss.” I would probably bake a batch of cookies and bring a dinner over for her family. If I heard that she spent most of her days crying and napping, I wouldn’t be surprised and I wouldn’t scoff at her or make her feel lazy for neglecting the dishes or not being able to cook. So why was I doing the complete opposite to myself?

Of course I’m tired, weepy, and a little depressed! Of course I can’t muster up the energy to make dinner or complete a yoga practice without spending the majority of it in child’s pose. I just spent a month and a half dreaming, planning, and praying for these 4 children, and even a couple weeks dreaming about baby Brave. I spent hours, days, and weeks, imagining what it might be like if they were my children. The last thought before I fell asleep was the prayers I was lifting up to God for them. The first thing on my mind when I woke up was wondering if I had received more news on them. I cried over their heartbreak, I cried over their past, I prayed for every aspect of their life and mine. I did countless hours of research on each special need, each food allergy, etc. I invested my heart. I attached myself before I even met them.  And then I had to say “no”. My “no” wasn’t retroactive; it didn’t undo everything that was already done. It didn’t suddenly unattach my heart. It didn’t suddenly make it easy to let go.

No, it is still very much a loss.

An emotional miscarriage.

A broken heart.

Grief.

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5 thoughts on “The Reality of “Miscarriages” in Adoption

  1. Thank you for your honesty and transparency in these posts; it’s inspiring. We haven’t met, but I’ve been following you for a few months now. I am also infertile, unexplained, trying for 2 years, and have never had a pregnancy, not even a blip on a test. I always thought growing up I’d have children, and then when I met my husband I just knew that we would someday. However, it hasn’t happened, and I’m going through my own process of grief. Just wanted to stop by and say you’re not alone.

  2. Melissa

    Your loss is just as real as the ones that I have physically suffered. As much as I tried to justify what happened or find a reason why, because… why woukd God give us something just to take it away? The more I learned it is just his way of preparing us for what will be coming eventually. His time, never ours. That is the hardest part to accept I think at times… everything you are going through will make it all the more worth it in the end. Love you dearie; cry when you want to. I still do. Not a feelinf you ever forget; not a feeling that ever leaves you.

  3. I think your grief is appropriate. Children are still not on the radar for my husband and I for a few years, but I have had a kind of similar experience when I had planned to attend graduate school and then my husband didn’t hear back from the jobs around where I was admitted. All of my anticipations, plans, and hopes for this life change to fill some voids suddenly came crashing down. It was a rough year. But God provided us with some friends during that year that we didn’t know that we needed, that we never would have come by had everything gone according to Plan A.
    Although I don’t have insider information, I am sure that your adopted child (ren) will eventually come, and the joys that you were planning for the group of 4 and baby Brave will come to be– not the exact same plans, but ones just as lovely and satisfying, customized for each child.
    I hope your grieving lasts only as long as it has to. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the sun will come out soon enough.
    All the best,
    ~Katie

  4. Stephanie Onguka

    I’m glad you are recognizing it for what it is, give yourself time and space to grieve friend. Praying for you,
    Stephanie

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