You know, I try to not be one of those “everything shit happens to me” people. But you know, when it comes to trying to start a family, we have seen a lot of shit. Barrels. Heaps. And after a convo with my wonderful Mum C, where she gave me permission of sorts to say this because, in her words, why has every step in this been so hard…
These past couple of weeks have been no different.
We had that first call with the Birth Mother (BM). BM didn’t ask us much about ourselves or the baby, just said we were her favorite and she really didn’t want this child as her kids are older and BM wants to get on with her life, but that was glad that in all of this she could do something good for us since she knew we couldn’t have kids.
BM said she was moving to the nearby state where her mother lived to have the baby there and get away from her ex. BM sent a picture to the agency to prove she was there, a photo of her with two young kids that claimed it was her niece and nephew, after her own kids had gone to bed. Knowing her oldest would be a senior in high school and would not be in bed in the daylight while she supposedly hung out with someone else’s kids, I told the agency that I thought it was a fake and simply an old photo of the BM when she was pregnant with her youngest. But we chalked it up to her just being flaky.
We then saw the proof of pregnancy that BM scanned and sent to the agency, from last year when she found out. However no other medical records were provided, so the assumption was made that the BM had not been getting prenatal care. I told the agency I wanted to see a current ultrasound proving the baby was still in her belly and healthy before I could go forward with formalizing this match, which they agreed to request. This proof by the way is the trigger that initiates the primary (AKA massive) second payment to the agency.
BM texted me to tell me the baby had dropped and she might be going into labor sooner than expected, and said she was going down to the doctor that day and would text me when she knew more. We went into a mad scramble because it was 3 weeks before the due date and most women who’ve already had babies usually dropped right before going into labor. Then nothing. BM told the agency she had just gotten into town and the car broke down on the way. Nothing to me directly.
Agency told her, since BM was near the border, to make an ultrasound appointment ASAP in a nearby town in our state (as a side note, having the baby in our state would make the process go through very quickly instead of the 7-10 day ICPC-mandated wait), and the agency verified it was scheduled. I wired $3,000 to the agency to cover existing BM expenses which they said would be refunded if we decided not to move forward based on the ultrasound results.
BM told the agency she wanted me to be there with her at the ultrasound which was in a day and a half, and she asked me personally – on our wedding anniversary, of all days – if I would be able to come down and be there with her during it. BM sounds motivated and repeats that she just wants to get this over with and said her kids don’t like her being pregnant either. My heart beat fast with excitement and while my husband had to work, I told her I would try to make it. I told my husband, this could be some good bonding, right? I asked her which clinic it was at (as the name of hospital group had multiple locations in the area), and she said the name of a town that is down there, but not where an actual clinic for that hospital is based. I mentioned this to the agency, who said they’d confirm for me the next morning, but since I’m familiar with that area of the state, assumed she was just confused as the city she mentioned was adjacent to the one where their biggest medical center (and the doctor was primarily based).
The day before the appointment, BM asked the agency to wire her $150 for clothing she could look nice for when we met…then texted me directly about getting back to the agency about it (a no-no, as financials go through the agency). I declined this request (not to her but directly to the agency), as two line items stating $600 total for food/clothes over the past 2 weeks made this seem completely inappropriate (and also told the agency that I don’t even budget myself that much, plus beyond that I’d be at the appointment in jeans myself so there’s no need to dress up!). I also made the comment that I was already uncomfortable with paying relocation expenses so I wanted to be in the loop before anything else was approved. I had recently read about average BM expenses online and the estimated amount as a whole seemed to me way too close to a quid-pro-quo situation.
Irritated about this, and also thinking about my shit back that can’t even do a 3 hour drive without considerable pain – much less 13 hours in one day, solo – and also how I didn’t feel right going there without my husband, the adoptive father, to meet her (he has very little PTO available that we wanted to save to use when we went down for the birth), I started to think harder about this. What if the ultrasound results were negative? It’d be just me and her, without the agency, without my husband to support me. So after much thought, I listened to my gut and sent her an apologetic text letting her know I couldn’t make that long of a drive and mentioned my husband wanted to be there too but couldn’t get the time off for this, and let the agency know as well. And exhaled.
The agency let me know that she then “went off” pissed off about this and cursing, claiming she didn’t think we were serious, and the agency told her about my bad back and tried to get her to calm down and reiterated that we were still all in for the adoption, that we’ve been getting the last minute things for the baby, and that it was vital she keep this appointment so we can all move forward together.
Our therapist and our adoption agency say this type of overdramatic behavior is not unusual with birth mothers.
Appointment day comes around and that morning I ask the agency director if I should text BM words of encouragement since I couldn’t be there. I also had let BM know that if she wanted to live-stream or video-phone it with us, we would love to still share this huge moment with her.
Agency called me.
BM’s been lying to our faces.
While we don’t know if BM is still pregnant, we do know this: BM never relocated as she claimed, and has been committing felony wire fraud to obtain money for a variety of things she has lied about – car breakdowns, relocation expenses, and more. BM made the doctor’s appointment in a town far from where she actually lives, knowing she would not be there and that I would have driven 13 hours by myself to arrive to…nothing.
What . The . Fuck .
By the time the director got to this part of the call, my whole body was shaking and numb all at the same time.
The agency said that they confronted the BM with her crimes and have told her that she is to call the hospital we have specified in the major metropolitan area in our state (much closer to where we live – I provided OB names) and that she is to have an appointment made and confirmed by Tuesday. They told her that if she does decides to keep the baby which is her prerogative (or of course if they find out she’s not actually pregnant), they will be pressing both felony charges against her as well as calling Child Protective Services because she has claimed her 3 kids are not being fed or cared for. They dropped the hammer on her and the agency said she went from cursing and coarseness to ‘yes ma’am’. She kept asking about funds during this time and they told her you know what, you won’t get another cent until you start to behave honestly and do the things you say you’re going to do.
This was Friday and I gave doctor names by noon. It’s been a holiday weekend so she has until 5pm to comply otherwise police will be involved.
Is she pregnant? Who knows. That’s the thing, they tell adoptive parents one of the big things to avoid a scam is that you should ‘make sure you have a pregnancy confirmation’ which is completely useless when they come to you claiming to be in their third trimester with no medical records beyond that! Lots of people have had positive pregnancy tests! She could have had an abortion or a miscarriage since then. If she is pregnant, she could very well know who the father of the baby is and they could be in on this together. If she is pregnant, she could have already had the baby when it supposedly dropped last week. If she is pregnant, she could have no plans to place it and just continue to try and get $$.
My husband and I talk a lot about trust and after things he’s experienced, to encourage him to try and trust more. Our therapist said this is not uncommon BM behavior and to hang in there. But how the fuck do you do that when this happens? This is some serious sociopathic shit trying to send me out of town to even greater devastation. Was someone going to jump me down in the hospital parking lot? Was someone going to try and rob our house up here while I was gone? Was it just some sick joke?
I cannot even attempt to guess at the Why’s.
And then there’s the agency questions I’ve asked: Did one of their social workers not meet with her in person (we assumed it, but then anything is possible)? No – it’s pretty common for the agency to not meet the actual birth mothers until the attorneys get involved. There are no legal protections for adoptive parents when they get scammed – only wire/mail fraud charges if, like our agency, they have good documentation of the crime(s). Why do we not have a current, pregnant photo of her (one that is verifiable that it is current, i.e., her holding our profile book or today’s paper with the date)? Why was she not vetted with both written and visual proof of CURRENT pregnancy (it’s her 3rd trimester, y’all) BEFORE she was introduced to us (hell, *I* can provide a pregnancy confirmation and 1st trimester ultrasound from my miscarriage in 2016. It’s not hard!!)? In this day and age when you can google ‘birth mother scams’, how were these things not automatically done?
I know that most birth mothers are not like this. I know every situation is unique. And I know that I suppose there’s a remote possibility that she is indeed pregnant and indeed planning to place her baby with us.
But it reminds me of those years of IVF, where those deep in it, no matter how hard they try to stay away, go onto online forums and blogs and websites looking for just one example of when it actually worked under our particular circumstances. You know, that ONE case where someone did Donor Egg IVF with 9 embryos over 6 cycles and finally got pregnant (nope, never found an example matching mine). Or that ONE case where the pregnancy test didn’t show a second pink line until a month later. All that crap.
I didn’t find those examples of a BM lying to the adoptive parents through the entire process then actually being pregnant and actually having a huge moment of enlightenment to do the right thing and start being honest and also place the baby with the parents she’d deceived (and ooh! even pay back the money she stole!.
Last night I even did what I did after the first failed DEIVF cycle – I talked to my husband about what kind of trip we should go on if this goes south as seems imminent. Everything feels so similar to those extreme highs and lows, and the dizzying nature of being sucker punched. Like my miscarriage, the sudden unexplained guilt you feel for having told people even though what happened was far beyond your control. The knowledge that you have tried so many times to start a family that you can’t count it on two hands, and that when after 4 years the someone that does pick you is only trying to fuck a stranger over. That the world is telling you to go fuck yourself if you think you’re going to be a parent while assholes who can procreate tell you ‘never give up!’ and ‘I knew someone who did X and they finally got pregnant!’ and of course ‘now that you’re adopting you’ll get pregnant I’m sure!’. Commence vomiting.
So we’ve got about 2 hours, waiting for the final hammer to drop, most likely cracking us into even more pieces than we thought possible and most likely forcing us back to our lives of trying to ignore all human beings with children and wondering why everything shit happens to us.
But as someone I once knew said, don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle. Maybe she indeed is pregnant, indeed wants to place the baby with us, and is just now so embarrassed she doesn’t know what to do? I told the agency honestly, if she is too embarrassed to meet us face to face she doesn’t have to, she could have the baby and the agency could do the relinquishment and we could pick up the baby after she signs the paperwork. I know addict behavior is to run after fucking up rather than doing the right thing.
Because damn, it’d be a miracle indeed if a big bright beautiful sun finally peeked out from these storm clouds. Because it is 3:20pm and she’s not responding to the agency. And my heart has shattered all over again.
Where we began.