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When opportunity knocks and you don’t answer

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In January of 2003 I took a crash course on bi-polar disorder in children.

In a weekly email, our adoption agency told us and other waiting families about a situation. Normally it doesn’t happen this way. Normally, a couple waiting to adopt eagerly awaits The Call announcing they’d been chosen to parent a newborn.

But when circumstances are less than ideal, rather than show an expectant mother The Book of waiting couples, the agency instead asks waiting couples to opt in. This way, the expectant parents face less risk of being rejected by the couple they choose.

This was one of those situations. Meaghan was considering adoption for her unborn child, due in two weeks. Both Meaghan and the baby’s father seemed iffy on relinquishing. In addition, both parents had bipolar disorder. And some grandparents had it, too.

Should we opt in?

I visited Dr Google and found out there are varying types of bipolar disorder. I talked with a friend who struggles with the least disruptive type, and a friend of a friend who raised a severely bipolar child.

These conversations portrayed a harrowing picture. But in the back of my head, I continued to assert that nurture can triumph over nature, and that being raised in a loving and prepared home could mitigate this devastating (in its severe form) condition.

After much soul searching, Roger and I decided not to place our adoption profile in front of Meaghan. If this had been our first child, we might be able to parent this baby, whom I had already begun to love. But with Tessa to consider, we decided that this baby was not meant for us.

When I told the agency, our counselor let me know that no one else has opted in and that Meaghan was becoming more resolute about placing. Suddenly, the decision had to be made all over again. Was this a sign for us? Was this “our” baby after all? How in the world should we access the wisdom to know what to do?

We’d been waiting nearly five months. What if this was our one chance? Would we be “punished” for turning away from this situation by never being chosen again?

Ultimately we stuck with our original decision. I cried many tears during and after, praying that Meaghan and the baby would end up well taken care of.

What might you have done and why?

Lori Holden
Author: Lori Holden

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Comments
  • comment avatar Mama Bird September 22, 2009

    Oh, Lori! I know this must’ve been such a painful decision for you. But, ultimately, you have to trust your instincts and know that you made the best choice for your family. Wherever this child ends up it will be the right place for them.

    I don’t believe you will be punished for thinking of the children you do have first. That’s your job as parents!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson September 22, 2009

    I’m with Chris. What an agonizing choice it must have been for you. I truly, truly, truly admire adoptive parents who choose children with mental or physical handicaps but completely understand why most don’t.

  • comment avatar Melissa Taylor September 22, 2009

    I agree with Chris and just support you trusting yourself. You will know when it’s right! Hang in there. Tears aren’t always a bad thing.

    🙂 Melissa

  • comment avatar JoAnn September 22, 2009

    Lori, I would have made the same decision you did. You never truly know “what you’re going to get” when a child is involved. The mixture of DNA is a little science experiment just waiting to be observed.

    It’s easy to look back now (Would Reed be in your life if you’d chosen differently?) and say you made the right decision, but I truly believe you did. Meaghan and her child found their paths, as did you.

    Like others have said, it’s important to trust yourself. If this truly was a test, I’d say you passed.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver September 22, 2009

    Thank you all for you support. It was such a difficult fork in the road, but I must say I’m pretty happy with the path we’ve been on since then. You’re right, JoAnn, I must trust that Meaghan and her child took their best path(s), too.

  • comment avatar Kagey September 23, 2009

    I think with another child at home, I would have made the same decision. But it may always be something you wonder about.
    There will always be other paths we could have taken — that would lead us to wildly different lives. While at times it’s instructive to wonder “what-if” you can’t let that consume you — since you can’t undo most of your major decisions in life.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver September 23, 2009

    You hit the nail on the head, Kagey. While it’s normal to be curious about the path not taken, there’s nothing to be gained by obsessing on it.