O Baby, Where Art Thou? Chapter 7: I’ve been MIA Part 2

Editor’s note: Amanda and Hal Senal have been chronicling their journey of adoption for TCJewfolk. You can check out the first five chapters of their story here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6, which is Part 1 of this story.

… It seemed to be the most exciting and miraculous time.

Our lawyer was on vacation and we had a meeting with her set for Jan. 25 to sign pre-adoptive custody paperwork, which is what needs to be in place in order for us to take the child home from the hospital. We were all nervous, based on mom’s history that baby could be born before that meeting or even before our lawyer returned from vacation. On Friday, Jan. 20, we got a text from Joy that she thought she was going into labor. She was on her way to the hospital. Hal left work early, I finished the two hours I had left at work and ran home. We threw the pre-packed overnight bag in the car, grabbed the dog, left keys and instructions for our neighbor to take care of the cat and left for the cities.

We madly tried to get ahold of the doggy-mom we would be dropping our dog off with during the hospital stay. We had misplaced her address, so drove in that general direction trying to contact anyone we thought might be able to help us find it. Good old Google phone books to the rescue. We got lost three times but finally dropped off the dog and rushed to the hospital. We were brought back to the triage room, as Joy hadn’t been admitted yet, they were trying to stop her pre-term labor. This went on for 3 hours. But over the course of the three hours, we shared another meal with Joy.

She asked if we wanted to feel and take video of baby kicking and moving like crazy. We did. We all laughed, we prayed that little baby would settle down. By 11 p.m., hospital staff decided to admit Joy as they were not having luck stopping the contractions but they were very irregular and unlikely baby would be born anytime soon. Hal and I checked into a nearby hotel and attempted to sleep. We returned to the hospital early the next morning to find that the doctors were able to stop the contractions and any symptoms of pre-term labor. Joy and the baby were doing very well and she was to be discharged within an hour or so.

We brought Joy home that Saturday afternoon and then drove back to Mankato. Hal worked that Sunday as I tried to finish the last remaining necessities in the home for a new baby, unsure if it would be the next day or another week.

We both went to work on Monday. And at about 2:30 p.m., I received a text from Joy: “Amanda, Curt and I have decided to keep the baby. I hope you and Hal aren’t hurt.”

My stomach fell. I didn’t know how to respond or if I even should. I texted my social worker immediately, followed by a phone call a few seconds later, but no answer. I had a patient arriving at 2:45. Do I leave work? What do I do? Our social worker called back in a few minutes, she had been on the phone with Joy’s social worker. Sadly, she confirmed that Joy had also informed her social worker that she and Curt had changed their mind. At that moment, there was nothing I could do. It was 2:40, so I walked back to the office and saw the last 3 scheduled patients of my day.

That night, I spoke with Joy on the phone, and it sounded as if there were some confusion and frustration regarding the cooperative agreement which outlines the details of the adoption plan. The next 36 hours was a fury of texts and phone calls between us, the birthparents, and our social workers, which had our side believing that the change of heart was a big misunderstanding that could be remedied with a sit-down with all involved. We arrived at our appointment with our lawyer Wednesday morning, trying to stay optimistic. However, a phone call to the birth parents during that appointment shattered our hopes that things could be reconciled. What we were hoping was a misunderstanding, turned into a definitive change of heart.

As we put some of the pieces together from the previous four weeks, Hal began to think and feel we had been scammed. We will never know if it was all a scam or if it was an incredibly complicated situation that was truly a change of heart that looked suspicious after-the-fact. But this was the new reality on Jan. 25. And so we were left with giant holes in our hearts and souls, feeling dropped off somewhere between a miscarriage, and a kidnapping.

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About Amanda Senal

Amanda Senal is a pediatric occupational therapist in Southern Minnesota. She enjoys healthy cooking, running for fun, craft and DIY projects, and doting on her fur-babies. Amanda has always lived by the motto "normal is boring!" and still believes she is three-years-old at heart. Although she is no expert, Amanda would welcome anyone to contact her with any discussion or questions about adoption and infertility at 507-222-9039 or [email protected]

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