That about sums up our last 24 hrs.
We got a call late yesterday afternoon from a local adoption agency run by two adoption attorneys that we'd requested information from (not the IAC). They had an emergency placement of a newborn girl born at the beginning of August who had been oxygen deprived during birth because her mother suffered a placental abruption. Most (if not all, given that they were cold calling us) of their waiting families turned down the placement because of the baby's special needs, and they contacted us because we checked the "open to special needs" box on their information request form.
The attorney followed up with an email containing more information. That info was not promising. The baby was preterm, born at approximately 34 weeks. Mom had not had consistent prenatal care. The baby's Apgar scores at 1, 5, and 10 min were very low to low. She had a couple of seizures in the first days after birth. The MRI and EEG indicated brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. That brain damage was compromising the sight in her right eye. She had a high risk of developing cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Mom and dad have a history of drug use and incarceration, and the adoption would have to be essentially closed - just letters & pictures with no identifying information due to safety concerns. On the other hand, the baby was only on a respirator for two days and has since been able to breathe on her own. She has never been tube fed, but instead has been able to suck from a bottle - a pretty high-level skill for a baby. She was born at a decent weight and has been consistently gaining weight. Her progress is so good that the NICU wants to discharge her early next week.
The catch: We had to make a decision today. That's right, less than 24 hrs. to make a decision whether or not we could make this child part of our family. Forever and ever, amen. Oh, and by the way, we needed to sign a contract by Monday that we would pay $13,700 (the agency's discounted rate) on Wednesday if the mom picked us. And, frankly, why wouldn't she pick us to parent a child with special health care needs? My husband is a nurse, and I work in maternal and child health. We have lots of access to care. We have an amazing support system. We know realistically what to expect, and we know the importance of early and consistent intervention.
Yet, at 12:24 today, I sent an email to the agency that K and I have decided not to pursue this adoption opportunity. Knowing that we are able to parent this child wasn't enough to make it the right decision. The developmental ped at work gave me the realistic picture of what the baby's brain injury would mean for her growth and development... what a world of heartache, for her, for us, and for M. We were going to have to come up with a lot of money very fast, putting ourselves into debt even before we had a child at home who needs a lot of (expensive) medical and developmental intervention. The ridiculously short time frame felt manipulative and wrong. We felt like the agency was wanting us to make an emotional decision, not an informed one. Also, we have good reasons for wanting an open adoption that have less to do with us, and more to do with what is best for an adopted child. In this situation, that was not going to be a safe option for any of us, given the nature of the parents' crimes, especially the father's.
It was the right decision, but it was not the easy one. I don't think I really understood how sad it would make me to reject a child. I knew intellectually that it wouldn't be easy, but the reality sucks. Every child, but especially this child, deserves the best parents possible. Prayers and good thoughts that the right family is found soon would be appreciated.