Wednesday, April 7, 2010

a different sort of loss

So, shaken from my blahs by a bit of bad news. My daughter's best friend lives a few houses down. She is adopted, with two father (a gay couple).

I know that about 18 months ago, this couple tried to adopt another baby, but it fell through. No specifics. We haven't been too close with this family. We each have nannies, and the nannies are great friends, so our children play together. And we've been friendly with the other parents, but we each have our own lives and friends and it's only been in the past year or so - as weekend playdates and dance class and birthday parties and things have developed - that we've gotten to know them.

They have been excitedly preparing to adopt another baby for the past few months. It all seemed on track. The single mother had another child, became pregnant, and decided the adoption route because she wanted to go back to school and move on with her life. She is older, nearly 30, and seemed very set and mature in her decision, with a supportive family. There was lots of communication with my neighbors, the intended adoptive parents. It seemed good.

The neighbors had been kept in the loop as the due date drew near. The neighbors, including their 4 year old daughter, flew out for the birth on Sunday. They - including again the 4 year old - spent two days in the hospital with the baby and the birth mother and all was fine.

And today, they went to pick up the baby as everyone was discharged from the hospital. This is the separation point. The birth mother goes home, the adoptive parents take the baby to the hotel, a few more days of paperwork processing and they were heading home on the weekend.

The birth mother decided to keep the baby. She refused to meet with the intended adoptive parents. And that's it. That's all there is. A sucker punch to the gut.

Just got an e-mail from one of the dads, who asked that we explain this to our daughter before they get home tomorrow. He forwarded the explanatory e-mail the other dad wrote, which had a few details and asked everyone for understanding as they worked through this tough time.

I quickly wrote back how sorry I was, that I had no words, that we hoped they had safe and easy travels home.

And now what?

I don't think this will have much impact on our daughter. The family across the street just adopted a toddler from overseas, so we have been talking adoption - both the new friend and the new baby to be - but it's been a pretty abstract concept. My daughter, just this weekend, asked about another friend with two dads (this is urban living) and why there was no mommy.

One reason why we haven't made much connection with our neighbors is that they definitely socialize primarily with other gay couples, just as we mostly socialize with other hetero couples. (like with like kind of thing, we have no issues with them, and they have no issues with us).

I feel like I am navigating the shoals of infertility and baby loss from a completely different angle. This is baby loss - they knew this baby as their child for two days. I bet they named this baby. They have a car seat and a nursery set up at home. They expected to bring home a baby. They've lost another adoption. They are biologically infertile as a couple.

They are us, the collective us.

Any thoughts on what you would do for them, say to them, interact with them? I'd imagine they'd like to lay low for a bit. I don't want to gloss over, nor do I want to presume a closer relationship than we have. I don't want ot make it about me, but I keep thinking about writing them a note that says how hard it can be to make a family, that we get that. Do I bring them over a cake, banaa bread, a bottle of wine? Invite them to dinner? Offer to have their daughter over more to give them some time together? Send a card? Write a note? I don't want to say anything stupid - anyone done the gay equivalent of what not to say to someone who's just experienced baby loss? Nor do I want to pretend it never happened. I'd never, for example, hug either of them - we aren't that close. But I do see them so often. I think some sort of gift and a note that says we're so sorry for their loss and are thinking of them. Any thoughts?


Jo said...

I think you approach them the same way you would any hetero couple in the same situation.

Infertility bonds people, whether it's a "given" (as in same-sex couples) or an unexpected surprise. This may be an instance where your commonalities help to create a friendship where one previously didn't exist. Assuming you'd like such a friendship, then by all means extend the offer for any/all of the above (coffee, wine, babysitting, whatever). Should you not be inclined to want a closer relationship, then perhaps a simple card would do.

I guess it boils down to what you want out of this (even though it isn't about you, it is in a way). Do you hope to become better friends, or simply to let them know that someone out there understands (at least on some level) what they are going through?

I think any/all of the ideas you mentioned would be right. Not having experienced this particular tragedy, I can only rely on my own loss experience. Hearing that others were hurting along with me, and were there for me, was all I really wanted/needed.

Does any of this rambling make sense?

Trust yourself and your instincts and I bet you won't go wrong.


Dora said...

"They are us, the collective us."

Yes. They are. And it's natural to feel the urge to reach out. I think Jo's comment is spot on. Trust your instincts. One thing I've felt has served me well when acknowledging loss is to not sugar coat my language. Sometimes it helps to hear someone say, "I'm so sorry, that really sucks." None of that shit about how "everything happens for a reason." Sometimes things just SUCK!

BTW, been meaning to email. LOVE the puppets. Thanks so much.

christina(apronstrings) said...

oh, wow that is awful. i can't imagine how hard that must have been for them.
i don't have time to read all the respnses-but i know what has helped me thru 4 m/c's and an affair-

1. calls every once in awhile "i am just calling to see if you want to chat-don't call me back if you want or don't."

2. let them know that "you abide with them." someone told me that once-and i just loved it.

Anonymous said...

By all means a hug, a card, a kind word . . . anything to let them know that you care that they are disappointed and hurt.

Kindness is always good.


Wabi said...

I also think sending them a card would be a thing they'd probably really appreciate. Wow, that's just so sad to contemplate.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I went through a similar situation. In the hospital for five days with the baby and the birth parents...the baby was in the NICU and the mother had a C-section. Of course, when it was just about time to come home with the baby, which we had named, they (teenagers) changed their minds. It was devestating. We still have a full nursery with everything except a baby to fill it. It's been 7 months and it is still heartbreaking. Be kind to them. Acknowledge their loss as being real, and painful. Because it truly is. Offer to help, in any way you can. Trust me, the offer is enough. I had a lot of friends that did not acknowledge the seriousness of the loss, family too. Just be kind, and express your saddness for thier loss.

BusyB said...

how heart breaking. Its weird how things like that can just happen you think with all they went through that it would have worked and you reached out the best way possible. A hug would be great a long with some cooked goods maybe (through out the week) just to let them know you are there. Its sad, my daughters nanny is adopting and she just got a little baby girl : ) but the catch is the judge gets to decide weather or not she gets to keep the baby after 120 days.....she is torn to get to know someone for even just a day as your own then get it taken away...heart breaking and in my prayers

Jo said...

Hey, lady, just checking in on you. How are things? I miss your posts.