For a chick who sometimes forgets where she parks her car, I have startling recall of certain events. For example, I remember the warm, sunny afternoon of Tuesday, September 2nd 2008 with perfect clarity. It was just after the long Labor Day weekend. I was sitting at my desk, typing an email to someone I would rather have swallowed a cyanide capsule than spoken with, (and I’m pretty sure that sentiment was mutual, because this was back in my lawyering days), when my phone rang. A woman named Olga called to tell me about a couple in Illinois who expected a baby in early December. They’d reviewed our “Dear Birthparents” package and chosen us. First thing I did? Burst into tears. Well, first I closed my office door, and then I burst into tears. Joy, panic, hope, anxiety – I couldn’t hold it all in. Hubs and I had undertaken the adoption process with cautious optimism. Our motto? “Who knows, it just might work out.” But deep down, I think we both feared we didn’t have a prayer of winning the pageant of potential parents. I mean, in our birthparent brochure we used our best photos and tried to highlight anything we’d done that could arguably be called an accomplishment, but c’mon, we’re no Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Yet you guys chose us for this incredible gift, which forces me to believe in miracles. A few days later, we all talked on the phone for the first time, and I could have cried again … this time with relief. I came to the call 100% certain I would screw things up somehow, and send you running for the hills, but you were both so kind, and funny and human. During our conversation, and the ones that followed, you taught me a thing or two about complicated circumstances and overloaded plates, and handling a tough decision with faith and grace. That too was a gift.
In late November Hubs and I flew to Kentucky to spend Thanksgiving with his family, but, before that, to drive to Illinois and, gulp, meet you in person. There is this little shred of fatalism adoptive parents hold fast to, no matter how well everything seems to be going. As soon as you’re matched, it seems like you hear every rocky, messy, or plain-old jacked-up adoption story in the universe. The agency suggests you not schedule the baby shower until after the birth, and keep receipts for all the baby stuff purchased ahead of time. Just in case. So, with all the precautionary advice swirling in our heads, words can’t really describe how nervous we were to meet you, and how absolutely petrified that we wouldn’t measure up to your long-distance perception of us. Every once in a while during the drive Hubs would squeeze my hand, smile and say, “It just might work out.”
It did, of course. You guys were lovely, and welcoming, and just as nervous as us. Who knew? By the time we headed back to Kentucky, I felt slightly calmer. Then, the day after Thanksgiving, we got your call. V was at the hospital, and they were inducing labor. Holy craaaaap! Pack some clothes. Put the baby seat in the car. Go, go, go. It’s a five hour drive. For God’s sake, go!
We drove like maniacs and, turns out, got there with time to spare. Inducing labor took longer than expected, but some things are worth the wait. The 29th dawned cold and partly cloudy. Labor went slow, but steady, (“managed,” according to the hospital staff). You both had been through the process before and seemed amazingly, reassuringly relaxed. We sat around the hospital room and watched a Jurassic Park movie marathon on television. Then, all of a sudden, the doctor and nurses were on hand and ready for action. K said, “Sam! Stand here,” and motioned me over to the quarterback position. And I stood there, rapt, with Jurassic Park dinosaurs roaring in the background, while V pushed six pounds and thirteen ounces of squiggling, healthy, impossibly beautiful baby boy right into my arms.
He’s almost four now, and still the most precious thing I’ve ever held, (and the most squiggly, though at some point during the day he’ll usually say, “Snuggle me, Mommy,” and curl up beside me).
He’s smart, affectionate, and highly active. He loves to laugh. He loves to visit the toy stores at the Malibu Country Mart, the cupcake store, the fish aquariums. He likes his preschool teachers, and Drummer Ben the music teacher, and the Jumpstart Kids from Pepperdine. He likes cheesy pasta and chocolate milk.
He likes his science book, which includes renderings of a woman growing a baby in her womb. He says, “That’s V, growing me in her tummy.” Because to him, right now, that was all pre-ordained. He won’t appreciate the gift of what you (V & K) did, and this anniversary, the way Hubs and I do, for some time. But he will. He’ll learn that two people with complicated lives and full plates loved him enough to try to give him a less complicated situation in a loving, stable family with the bandwidth to focus on his needs. Some days we get it right, some days we don’t, but every day we are grateful for the opportunity.
We love him. You are our angels, for bringing him to us, and “Thank you” seems hardly sufficient, but Thank you.
November 2012 is National Adoption Month. I’m no expert, but if you’re thinking about adoption as an option for your family, I say, “Who knows, it might just work out?”