Coping with a Failed Adoption

Sometimes a planned adoption fails. It could happen for a number of reasons: the expectant mother changed her mind and decided to parent, she couldn’t go through with the adoption after all, she chose a different couple, her parents or the biological father offered to support her, or some other unforeseen reason.

Unfortunately, the reality is that adoption plans occasionally do fall apart, and even though you were aware of the possibility, it can still be utterly devastating if it happens to you. While you may feel shocked, angry, and betrayed, especially if you’ve developed a relationship with the expectant mother, it is important to remember that expectant mothers not only have the ability to change their mind, they have a right to do so.

It may be hard to believe right now, but you can get through this! Many other adoptive families before you have done just that and went on to have successful adoptions, so we encourage you to stay strong and don’t lose hope. Here are some suggestions for getting through this difficult experience and holding on to your dream of adopting a baby.

Take some time.

This is a loss, and grief is an understandable reaction. You may need a little break to work through your feelings before you’re ready to move forward again with the adoption process. Keep in mind that you and your partner might not grieve in the same way or for the same amount of time, so you may need to give each other some additional time and space.

Get answers.

If at all possible, try to get answers from the expectant mother about why she changed her mind. Legally she is not required to give you an explanation, but any information you are able to get will help you better understand her decision and provide some closure to cope with the loss.

Lean on your partner and/or your family for support.

Being open about your feelings will allow you all to move forward in a healthy way. You may even consider eventually telling the next expectant mother you meet about your experience to help establish a degree of openness and trustworthiness in your relationship.

Join a support group.

One of the best ways to get through a difficult situation is to connect with others who have had the same experience. Look for a support group specifically for parents who have adopted or are waiting to adopt a baby. Chances are you will find others who understand what you’re going through and who are happy to provide support and encouragement.

Talk to a counselor.

If you’re still having difficulty coping after some time has passed, consider talking with a counselor. This could help you better process the experience and move forward.

Don’t give up.

Most importantly, don’t give up hope. It may be especially difficult to be optimistic at a time like this, but other parents who have successfully adopted a baby will tell you that the hard times will pass. When you find the baby who is truly the right fit for your family, it will all be worth it.

More How to Adopt