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Losing Maria

by Angie Krebs

Love lost and found as a daughter joins her birth father.

On February 5, 1997, as we were getting ready to go somewhere, our daughter's maternal birth grandmother showed up at our home, demanding that we give Maria to her. We told her that she could see Maria but we would not allow her to take the baby. At that time she became violent, telling us that she wanted Maria with her. It got nasty.

The next morning we went to our attorney's office to meet with him and the worker to try to make some sense out of everything. After what seemed like 100 phone calls to the court house, our attorney was able to find out that the grandmother had petitioned the courts to stop our adoption and to allow her to have Maria. The court date was set.

What right did she have to do this and how could she do this? What did we do wrong? We thought that once the birth parents decided to place a child for adoption, that was it. Now I'm being told that this grandmother has the right to stop everything. Neither the attorney nor the social worker had heard of this happening before, and they couldn't tell us much except that they would check into it and get back with us.

About three hours after we left the attorney's office, he paged us to come back in because he had some news for us, but it wasn't the news we had been hoping for. He told us that technically any blood relative has the right to petition the courts to stop the adoption, most of all grandparents. He said that grandparents have rights even in a couple's divorce. He said that we could fight the petition and try to keep Maria but it could cost $10,000 and take a year or two, and we could still lose. He had spoken with everyone at Social Services, including our worker, and everyone told him that most likely a judge would allow the grandmother to have her since she was a blood relative, but mostly because she was the grandmother. Then he told us that Social Services thought it would be best if we dropped Maria off at a place called "The Home of the xxxxx" until the court date because that way if the grandmother did get custody, it would be easier for us. They gave us 48 hours to have her there. I asked the attorney how could I just go and drop her off?

I thought that maybe the birth mother could help us and got in touch with her. That was a mistake, but I didn't know it at the time. She told me that if we bought her a plane ticket, she would come and talk to her mother. I rushed to the airport and spent $317 for her a ticket. About two hours later, I received a phone call from a friend of hers, telling me that she had cashed in the ticket and got most of the money and that she had to have Maria back because she couldn't live without getting the $193 monthly AFDC check, and she knew that no judge would ever allow her to have Maria back, and she wanted nothing more to do with us. I hung up the phone wanting to go and do things to her that I'm ashamed to write, but I'm sure you can guess.

I called the attorney to tell him what I had just been told, thinking that now our chances of keeping Maria were better. Unfortunately, he informed me that a judge would never listen to hear-say and that the birth mother didn't have to be in court and if her mother got custody, then she could give Maria back to the birth mother. I begged our attorney to please tell me what, if anything, we could do to keep Maria from going back to that kind of life. He said the only thing we could do besides fight was to find her birth father.

The only thing we knew about her birth father was that he was one of six different men. How would we find this one man? This was going to be like finding Waldo. Then again, if we were able to find him, how did we know that he would even help us? But this was our last hope, and our time was running out.

We knew of two guys that she had been with during the time she got pregnant. We drove to where they were working just to see if Maria looked anything like either of them. After seeing them, we knew there was no way either of them could be her birth father. Then it dawned on us that the birth mother had been married at the time she got pregnant, but we had been told that they had stopped having sex months before she got pregnant. But we thought that maybe he could help us by telling us who she was seeing during this time. I was able to locate his parents and left a message for him to call me. He called about 35 minutes later.

I told him what was going on and begged him to please help because he was Maria's last hope. He told us that with the baby being born in late September, he knew he wasn't the birth father, but he would help us in every way he could. He caught me a little off guard when he mentioned that she had been born in September. I told him that she was born in July. I thought he had hung up on me because there was complete silence on the other end. He asked if he could see the baby because with her being born in July, there was a chance that he could be her birth father.

When I saw this man, there was no doubt that he was, indeed, Maria's birth father. The eyes were a dead give away. Maria doesn't go to just anyone, especially men, but when she saw him it was as if she had known him all her young life. As he held her, he started to cry.

He called his attorney to see what, if any, rights he had; and I called our attorney to tell him that I had found Maria's birth father. To make a long story short, he did have the right to have Maria because his divorce from the birth mother wasn't final and in that state, the husband is the legal father of a child born during a marriage. We agreed that we would give Maria to him the next day at his attorney's office. We would have one more night with her, and he would have time to get things together for her. He asked if we could bring her over to his parents' home, where he was living, because he wanted his parents to see her, and he thought we all needed to sit down and talk.

When his mother saw Maria, she started to cry and kept thanking us for finding their son. She said that she and her husband would do whatever they had to do to help their son with their new grand-daughter.

Maria's birth father is 28, and he's been at the same job for over three years. He's not a teenager. His parents' home is huge, and it looks like a daycare center because they have four other grandchildren, and they have everything a child could want. He has a two-bedroom apartment over top of his parent's four-car garage, and his mother was going to go out and get everything to make a room for Maria before she was to come stay the next day. His mother had agreed to keep Maria while he was at work. We decided to bring Maria over the next day around 6:00 p.m., and they told us we would be welcome to come visit her anytime.

At home while packing her things, I felt sad because I knew this would be her last night as my daughter. Then again, I was happy for her because she would be going with her birth father and his family, and they would love her as much as we do, and we'd still be able to see her and know how she's doing. All of our family and friends came over, not to say good-bye, but to see her and be happy that everything was going to be okay.

When we arrived the next day at her birth father's home, his mother couldn't wait to show us what she called the "Angels" room, which would be Maria's room. Just 24 hours earlier this room had been full of unpacked boxes and weights. Now it was the prettiest room I had ever seen. It was done in a very pale pink and white with a theme of angels. All the furniture was white with a pale pink trim. Words can't tell you just how wonderful this room was. She told us that she started on the room right after we had left and didn't finish until about 15 minutes before we returned.

George and I left there knowing that we had done the right thing, and we felt a peace that Maria was going to get all the love and care she needed. Our tears were of happiness for Maria.

About an hour after we got home a dozen tiny pink roses arrived with a note that read, "Thank you for helping me to find my daddy, you will always be my very special mommy. Love always, Maria."

Since that night we've seen Maria several times, and I've spoken to her father almost every day. She's doing great. He now has full custody of Maria. Now the other grandmother has no rights to her, nor does she want anything to do with Maria or her father. Everything is turning out great for Maria, but the pain of not having her with us is still in our hearts and always will be. Yet knowing she's loved and cared for brings a peaceful feeling.

© Copyright Angie Kreb

Real Moms is a newsletter by and for adoptive mothers. Support, information, encouragement, and networking for domestic adoption are offered to adoptive and prospective adoptive mothers.

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Letter to A Birth Father
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A Special Bond of Love
Losing Maria
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