“I got the call one afternoon in late October, about nine months after we dropped our completed adoption paperwork into the mailbox, sealed with a good luck kiss from the brother-to-be. A baby girl will be born in three weeks, and is available for adoption. The birth mother has chosen your family profile, and would like you to be her forever parents. I called my husband immediately, my heart beating outside of my chest and ricocheting off the kitchen surfaces. Do we really want this we asked each other? This is big. Our son was already nine. And my stepson was in high school. And we certainly weren’t getting any younger. But I knew what my leaping heart was not so subtly trying to tell me, and I could feel his heart answering right back as it bounced between the words and the phone lines.
My sister, who had adopted a child three years earlier, and who was my inspiration for just about everything, had bumped into me in the parking lot of Price Chopper just the day before. Our shopping carts were as packed as was our catching-up conversation. She asked me eagerly, “Did you get a call yet? Any baby news?” No, I had said, but its ok, we are in a good place. Life is rich, with two boys in the house, and they are old enough that we are getting some of our independence back. Work is good, no more daycare, no more diapers. I feel like we have a pretty delicious cake right now; a daughter would just be the icing. I’m not that big on sweets– maybe our cake is fine just the way it is. (My internal voice was telling me maybe I didn’t really deserve icing)
Then came the call. You must give us an answer within a week, the social worker had said, or we will move on to the second family on the list. This is big, we thought. Too big for logic.
If a door is put in front of you, you do not have to open it. No one will ever demand that you to open it, nor even ask you to open it. Peeking through the key hole doesn’t really cut it. If you want to know what life could have been, you kind of have to just open it wide, and step in. You certainly don’t have to, but it sure makes for a more interesting life if you do. So, we took a deep breath, turned the door knob, opened the door, and stepped right into our yes. Yes, we will be her forever and always parents.
The suitcases were bulging with the pinkest onesies, the softest blankies, the most organic formula, the fanciest bottles, the tiniest diapers, and in they went, with us, on a direct flight to Atlanta Georgia.
Since we couldn’t be at the birth, we spent her birth day across the street at the mall; cell phone ready, to await the call telling us that our daughter /sister was born.
It was a most unusual labor. We all breathed, and counted. The seconds ticked by like eons. We tried on strange and daring shoes. We did the photo booth. The massage chair occupied our time for a while, but when our 9 year old son spotted the remote controlled robot stand at the Radio Shack, we knew this could keep us busy for a while. The orange robot was going in for an attack against the blue robot, when we heard the cell phone jingle. She had arrived! A healthy baby girl, our daughter, our son’s sister. I feel pretty confident saying that Radio Shack had never been graced with the kind of elation we were spreading, like confetti, like fireworks, like a perfect summer breeze. She has arrived!
We rushed to the hospital, but the social worker apologetically informed us that we weren’t allowed in yet. So we cartwheeled and twirled around the parking lot of the hospital, the joy and expectation swirling around as thick and expectant as the Atlanta air. We got another call from the social worker. They weren’t quite ready for us, we should come back in the morning.
None of us slept a wink that night, we kept ourselves occupied with old Mel Brooks movies while the sun set, the moon rose, and as the new sun was just creeping itself up into the city skyline, we hopped into the rental car.
We entered the maternity ward, stopping at the nursery window. So many babies. Our son asked, pointing at one newborn, Is she the one? Maybe, or maybe she is that one, or that one. Maybe the one with the scrunchy nose, or maybe the one with the fuzzy hair or maybe the one with the pointy chin or maybe the one crying like a wild thing, or maybe the one sleeping as still as a stone. One by one, we were thrilled with each potential and fleeting prospect; yet we would later find that our girl was none of these.
We were escorted into what they called the family room; a comfortable homey room with flowered wall paper and a few arm chairs and a Mary Cassat print on the wall. We waited in this room for what seemed like forever. It gave us time to think. This is big. This is so big. Are we ready for this?
Then, a gentle knock at the door. The nurse wheeled in a little dessert cart. There she is. She is not big at all. She is teeny tiny and so beautiful. Sleeping a proud and peaceful slumber, her scrunchy little hospital cap, her velvet brown skin, her rose bud pink lips, her bright white gown and her perfect toes, just waiting to be scooped up and carried home, right to our hearts. She fit so perfectly. The icing on the cake. The cake was stark naked without her. Who was I trying to kid? I love sweets.”