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?