From Adoption to Goodbye: One Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, and Finding Peace

Writers will tell you every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. A great writer will tell you that the ending is never really finished because the story should leave you wondering what happens next. For me, my journey to motherhood had a beginning, a middle, and what I thought was the end. But it turned out to be so much more.

 

By Sarah Vedas
By day, Sarah leads the Employer Brand and Digital Marketing team at Intel. By night, she is Mom to her goofy daughter, reader of books, and hiker of mountains (or very big hills).

When I was a little, there were two things I knew to be certain: First, I was going to be an anthropologist (I am not) and second, I was going to adopt a child.

After college and letting go of my super hip anthropology lifestyle, I did what most people do. I got a job, settled down, and met my now husband. When we realized things were getting serious, we had, “the talk.” Not the one about marriage, the one about kids. Adopting a kid was always in my family plan, and while I knew that was 100% the right thing for me, I also realized it’s not for everyone. So, after some long nights, and a few bottles of wine, we agreed to have a kiddo biologically and soon after, start the adoption process.

In 2013, after trying for some time, we welcomed our spectacularly amazing little person into our lives. Zoë stretched my limitations of what it means to be a mom. Everything I thought I knew was turned upside down. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I, like many new parents, found myself questioning if I was cut out for this job. Was I a “good” mom? But, as time went on, and I finally got some sleep, I realized there is no strict definition of what it means to be a good mom.

After we packed up the decorations from Zoë’s first birthday, we started the application process to become adoptive parents. I will tell you, researching agencies, putting together our family book, meeting with social workers, is a lot less sexy than the old-fashioned way of making babies. But I knew in my heart this was what I wanted. Everything about the process was exhausting and fascinating. And then, we got, “the call.”

Adoptive parents will tell you how much their heart races when they are told they have a match. They will also tell you that you probably won’t become parents to that first match. And we learned this too, a few times over. Then, in February 2015, we got “the call” and this was it! We had three weeks to get ready. It was different, but we felt prepared now that we already had one baby. We thought we knew what we were walking into.

On February 25th, 2015 we met our son. He was perfect. But oh my gosh why does no one tell you how hard it is to have two under two!? I thought I didn’t sleep before, but this was a new level of sleep deprivation. The minute one kid was settled and down for the count, the other one would wake up. But I was happy. I had my two babies. My family felt complete. I felt complete. Everything I had wished for as an adult, aside from being a world-renowned anthropologist, was falling in to place. I loved my job, I loved my family, and I was secure in my notion of motherhood and what it meant.

When you go through the adoption process, you have to take many classes to be sure you’re ready to be an adoptive parent. Some of it was incredibly helpful. Our new family member was not going to look like us, and we had to be prepared for how to talk with him, and our family and friends, about his history. And some classes… well, let’s just say I could have really used that time to catch up on some much-needed sleep.

One class that you have to take talks about the overall adoption procedure. While it varies from state to state, there are some basic steps in the process:

  1. The mother signs over her parental rights.
  2. The father signs over his rights.
  3. The adoptive parents put out an ad in local publications making sure everyone is informed about the baby and that no other family members want to contest custody.

But these were all just procedural. Merely steps that you took, that everyone goes through. You tick the dates off on a calendar and then you go to court and everything is official. Until it isn’t.

Up until this point I thought we had gone through “the call” enough times. We were past that part of the process. This was supposed to be the end of the adoption for us. We had our son, we had our daughter, and we loved them more than I ever thought possible. So why was I getting a call from the social worker on a random Tuesday afternoon? Because the man who signed over his parental rights, turned out not to be his biological father. And the man who was his father—when hearing that he had a child he did not know about and wanted to be a dad—had every right to be his son’s parent.

My heart dropped out of my chest. Nothing made sense. How could my son not be my son? We spent hours and hours with lawyers, with the adoption agency, with each other trying to make sense of things, trying to figure out what the next steps were. But after a week of dead ends and no other options, we were told we had to hand over our son, my son, my person who I had been dreaming of ever since I was a child, to a complete stranger. But I had no choice. I packed up some things for him, grabbed his formula, cried, and then handed him to someone else to be his parent.

The classes had not prepared us for this. I had no experience for what it meant to lose a child. To lose my identity. If I wasn’t an anthropologist or an adoptive parent, then who was I? Like many parents who have lost a child, I felt like I had also lost my purpose. My grief filled our house. For the first month he was gone, I kept his bedroom door closed. I couldn’t see his things without breaking down completely. I was unmoored. It didn’t help that I had to face Mother’s Day head on a week after losing my son. I was convinced that losing him made me a “bad” mom.

And then, a funny thing happened. There was a small, almost miniscule, crack in my gray that started to let in the tiniest bit of light. It was so small, but it was there, in my daughter’s giggle, the way she held my hand, or patted my back when I cried. I slowly started to realize that I was missing being a mom to the amazing human in front of me because I was so wrapped up in what I thought being a mom meant. To her, I was the perfect mom because I loved her, unconditionally.

I still wonder how he’s doing. I think about what he’s into these days as a six-year-old. Does he like dinosaurs? Is he reading? Does he have any brothers or sisters? But most of all, I wonder if he is feeling all of the love from his family that I had wanted to give him, that put me down the adoption path in the first place. Because no child should feel unloved. When I was able to come to terms with this, I was able to make peace with his leaving. It still guts me to my core, and Mother’s Day is still an exceptionally painful day for me, and for countless other people who want to be parents but can’t, who have lost a child, who are raising children in the most difficult of circumstances. Losing my son no longer feels like the end of my story, but the start of his, and the next chapter of mine.

So today, when you see someone who doesn’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day, or has a hard time with the day, be supportive of their journey. Because, the road to motherhood has taught me many things, but most importantly, that the only thing I can control is how much I love my children.

 

Intel understands the challenges and commitments of parenthood. A career with us means support for you and your family. Learn more.

About Sarah Vedas

By day, Sarah leads the Employer Brand and Digital Marketing team at Intel. By night, she is Mom to her goofy daughter, reader of books, and hiker of mountains (or very big hills).

45 thoughts on “From Adoption to Goodbye: One Mother’s Story of Love, Loss, and Finding Peace

  1. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. Whether it was for a moment or a lifetime, you were his mom and provided him what he needed the most – Love.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Sarah. It took me three sittings to get through it. :) In my mind, I see your son playing with his toys and getting into all kinds of trouble. Just like little boys should be.

    Thirty years ago, when my wife Linda and I first met, it was hard to hear her family members scolding her because she didn’t have any children by this point in her life. At one point, she completely broke down during a family gathering and screamed, “that’s because I cannot have children!!!” It was though to watch.

    However, since that time, we’ve had two beautiful children – a boy and a girl – who are all grown up. We’re careful not to assume they want or can have children, even though we so desperately want to see some grandchildren by now.

  3. I felt so moved by your story. So vulnerable, so real, a love story of your son, of your daughter, your family and of yourself. Thank you for this gift. Sending you all my love.

    Andrea
    Mother to Sofia, 14 and Camila 7.

  4. Sarah, I am so sorry for the loss you experienced. I remember the days, and the heartbreaking story as it unfolded, though I couldn’t fully appreciate what you were going through. You are such a strong person and a wonderful mother. Zoe is so lucky to have you as her #1 role model in her life!
    Thank you for sharing this, in such a well-told story.

  5. Thank for sharing such an inspiring story, it makes me think of my mum. Unconditional love, which is so hard to achieve these days!

  6. Hi Sara,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I, like you, have a dream to adopt. However, as a single woman, it’s not possible in my country when you also want to work. So I will now try the natural option and hope that in the future there is an opportunity for me to be able to try for adoption again. You have a beautiful family and I wish you a Mothers Day that allows you to be you, a mother, not always happy but a mother who loves unconditionally.

    Thank you again for sharing your story!

    Lisa

  7. Wow, Sarah. What a tough thing to go through and as a Mum I can’t begin to imagine how you dealt with it all. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

  8. Oh wow! what a story – very brave for sharing – thank you! Wishing you and your family the very best x

  9. As a Mom, I feel your loss through your beautifully told story. You powerfully yet kindly remind us that some days we normally celebrate may not be days of celebration for some.

  10. You ARE the definition of a great mom! Your son now has another parent(s) that will love him unconditionally, just as you do. Thank you for sharing your story that no doubt is still unfolding and will hold great memories for Mother and Daughter.

  11. Wow, Sarah. What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for being open to share, and for providing a perspective on adoption and motherhood that I did not have.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story and spreading inspiration to many of us!
    Sending you and your beautiful family lots of love and happiness!

  13. Sarah,

    You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and heartwrenching story in such an honest and vulnerable way.

    Karlin

  14. Sarah, Very well written. I have been working with the State of California on just the very similar situatuion with two Resource to Adopt boys. We don’t have a clear line of sight as to dad, as he may be a citizen in Mexico City. However we have had other Resource (Formerly known as Foster) children, we have become the role of Uncle and Aunt to a great 5 year old little girl (Brooke) and unfortunately our first resource son was captured by a “Great Uncle” that then handed him back over to both of the unfit parents that he was rescued from in the first place. We also wonder if he is talking as of yet, if he has flown past the diagnosis of spectrum disorders. Honestly not a day goes by that I can’t say being there for these kids has bot been worth it, both for them, but for my wife and I… Yes it hurts every time they take the part of us we hoped we would have forever, but we also knew that there would be days like this… I have a 13 year old daughter from prior marriage, and she is so resilient, and so accepting of these changes in her life and world. We all hope and pray that these two twin boys will be our forever pair, and honestly our second to last placement. We want to help our agency though going forward to give a guiding light for abused and neglected children with giving respite care. Thanks again for your story… Keep your vision open for other in need children if you are able.

  15. I can’t even imagine as this brought tears and took me a while to get through it. Thank you for sharing such an emotional journey. May your spirit be intertwined in his heart and soul.

  16. This was such an honest and eye-opening piece. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story, Sarah.

  17. My heart goes out to you Sarah…I have 3 boys and adore each of them SO much!

  18. Thank you for sharing. As a creative at Intel who is feeling confident in my career journey, I’m now looking toward my adoption/motherhood journey. Like you, I’ve always known in my heart that adoption is the route for me, even though it can present unique challenges and unique rewards. There are others like you here and we look up to you!

  19. Sarah thank you for sharing your family story. Saying goodbye to your son must have been heart wrenching. I hope your memories of him are filled with joy and love for the comfort you and your family provided in such an important bonding time. ♥

  20. I have admired you from the moment I met you, and I admire you now even more! The size of your heart and the size of the heartbreak that challenges it are both inconceivable. I am so sad that this is part of your story; I am so grateful that Zoe is a part of your story, too. Hang in there!

  21. Sarah

    The more I learn about you, the more I admire and respect you. Your story is so touching. I’m so sorry you and your family experienced this. You’re an inspiration, Sarah.

  22. Sarah — A mother’s love clearly displayed in your beautifully written story. He will always be in your heart just as you are in his heart today. Zoe is so blessed to have you as her mother, a caring, thoughtful, vulnerable, and strong woman she will always look up to. Sending you a big virtual hug, Sarah. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Imelda

  23. Thank you for sharing this story. My family just adopted a son (much older) outside the U.S and we are living through the first month of re-adjustment, re-prioritization and building relationship with my other two children. You’ve done a great job in sharing your experience with us all!

  24. Sarah: Thanks a lot for sharing your story and being so open and vulnerable! A big hug!

  25. I am truly touched by your beautiful and heart wrenching story. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Wow Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing your story. My heart ached and rejoiced at the same time. It made me reflect about my own motherhood journey and purpose. Thanks again for being so vulnerable

  27. I remember sitting in Vegas at dinner when I believe you got the initial call. The full story is heartbreaking. I’m skirt for you loss and your pain each Mother’s Day.

  28. Thanks for sharing Sarah, and also thanks for your help with Folding@home.

  29. Thanks for sharing Sarah!

    I was about a bit shocked to see that Mother’s Day can also be a day of pain simply because of my own experiences which are mostly happy and of celebration.

    Without stories like these I believe we would lose understanding of other’s feelings and be disconnected from one another.

    Blessings!

  30. Sarah, thank you for sharing your story, you are brave and beautiful in your love and courage. As a single person who adopted an abandoned infant through the foster system I relate to your journey personally. Love and light to you.

  31. Many blessings to you, Sarah. I know that those seeds you planted in his life, during that brief time will yield an abundant harvest. Thank you for sharing your motherhood experience with us.

  32. Sarah, I can see a beautiful human in you, teaching the best lessons life can teach. Life is beautiful :)

  33. Sarah – What an incredibly written take on a roller-coaster experience! Glad you have been able to find peace and have a renewed discovery of motherhood. More power to you and thanks for sharing your journey!

  34. Sarah, thank you for sharing such a personal story. What a difficult and heartbreaking situation. I am happy to hear the sunshine in the story. I hope you are well!

  35. Thank you for sharing your story of love. It reminds us that not everyone wants to celebrate every holiday and to be mindful and understanding when they opt-out. It also makes me more conscious of the struggles of others and what we cannot see. Thank you for teaching us all how to be more inclusive of others.

  36. Sarah your story brought tears to my eyes. It also showed everyone what an amazing human being you are!! You have the biggest heart that a mother can possibly have. Thanks for sharing your story.

  37. Sarah – thank you for sharing your heartbreaking yet beautiful story. You are every bit of what it means to be a mother with such a pure devotion to love. And, I so connected with the fact that Mother’s Day isn’t always bucket of sunshine for all of us as we remember babies we have lost and mamas that have gone before us. Again, thank you, Sarah for expressing what so many of us feel. ~Kelly

  38. Thank you for that. I’ve had to tell several people, and some of them a number of times, to leave me alone about Mothers Day. If I have said no this year, stop repeatedly asking me to come to your Mother’s Day Celebration. Trust me, I don’t feel “left out”. I not feeling “victimized” by it. I’m simply having a hard time with it this year. On the other hand, I have a fantastic Mom. I love her dearly and celebrate her every year (and day, frankly) with my whole heart.

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