*The names of all birthparents have been changed to protect privacy*
Two years ago today we received a call that would change our lives. The call when a sweet birthmother asked us to be parents. This day seems to sneak up on me & we were talking about last night at dinner. We remember everything...plus I have kept the notes we took and they are tucked safely in Dane's baby book. I want him to have access to every detail, and be able to ask any questions he may wonder about.
But, let me back up.
It was the Friday before Mother's Day, 2013. I was teaching full-day kindergarten at the time & we had just had a big event that morning in my classroom for our mommies. I had literally just sat down at my desk for my prep time when my phone rang. Kirsh & Kirsh (our adoption attorneys). Gulp. What did we forget to turn in? That was my first thought. We had just finished our mountain of paperwork and submitted everything the week before in order to be "active" and available to be matched with birthparents. And by "mountain of paperwork," I mean Everest-sized mountain. For months we had traded date nights for laptop nights at Starbucks, typing up biographies, filling out different questionnaires & checking our to-do list. Three sets of fingerprints...Check. Federal & State background checks...Check. Home study with a social worker...Check. Doctor approval declaring us physically fit to care for a child...check. Ten page "Dear Birthmother Letter" indicating why we would be good parents & filled with photos...check. If we apply to be in the Secret Service, I believe they would already have the necessary requirements needed, and then some. Geesh.
We did not forget anything, however. Kirsh's assistant (who worked closely with the birthparents and did the matching) simply stated that a birthmother named *Kara was very interested in us and wanted to speak with us tonight. (Wait, what?! Tonight?) We had only been active for a short number of days, and I was in no way prepared for a call like this. I immediately looked for a paper bag to breathe into. She went on to say that Kara was a high school senior in the district I taught in. She was involved in numerous activities and clubs and planned to go to college in the Fall. Her baby was due in less than a month. (What?! A month?! Insert shaking, sweating, etc). She had been matched with a great couple for the last few months, but they became unexpectedly pregnant (ugh, secretly hated them) & had to back out of the adoption. She was back at square one, very nervous, and needed to proceed quickly. Their assistant finished by saying it was very important to Kara that Devin do a lot of the talking on the phone - she had spoken to a few couples already and the adoptive mother had done all the talking, which she didn't like. Devin, talk? Well, that one was easy.
I barely made it through the end of the day. Dismissed my students & drove 45 minutes home in a daze. I was nervous, but mostly excited. I really thought this was it. And what a perfect ending it would be. I could see the headline now: Couple chosen after 3 days on the active list. Baby born a month later. They all lived Happily Ever After. We sat down at the kitchen table, notepad in hand & made the call. Kara answered after the first few rings & we put her on speakerphone. The conversation was to be honest, awkward. But we were prepared for that. You are basically selling yourselves to a person who is planning to place her baby for adoption. Nothing can prepare you for that type of conversation. In fact, before we called we laughed that never in a million years had we thought we would be doing this back in college when the conversations were based around frat parties & what movie to rent. #ifourcollegeselvescouldseeusnow
Looking back, I should have seen the red flags, but I didn't. Kara was nice, but it was more like an interview than a real conversation. She asked us how we were going to discipline, and if we would be spanking. She asked us our views on Private Vs. Public Education (public educators here!) & how we would teach this baby not to have sex before marriage. All good questions, I suppose, but we never really just talked. She ended the call by saying she was having a baby girl. My heart all but burst into pink sparkles. I was ready for a girl! I could braid! I liked make-up! I would help her with cheerleading and dance! We HAD to be chosen. We just had to. Kara thanked us and said she was speaking with another couple as well and would be making her decision most likely after the weekend. We thanked her as well for even considering us and said goodbye.
We had decided to keep most information about our adoption status private. Of course our family and friends knew we were in the process of adopting, but no one knew about this call. Wellllll, except for a small number of my close friends. I HAD to tell someone. Who would go with me to shop for girl clothes? Who would help re-decorate my already finished nursery? My friends. They are my people. I immediately filled them on the call and they were just as excited. Now we just had to sit back and wait for the good news. Or so I thought.
The weekend passed & we didn't hear anything. We weren't surprised because Kara had said she wanted some time to think about it, which we respected. We had to finish our adoption education classes and had a class scheduled one day early that week. Towards the end of the class, I noticed three missed calls from Kirsh. THIS WAS IT. The good news we had been waiting for. I couldn't call during the session, so we ran out to our car right after the class & called them back. I knew as soon as the assistant said my name. It wasn't the good news I had hoped for.
She went on to say that she was very sorry, but Kara had chosen another couple. I pretty much blacked out here, because I don't remember the other details. Another couple. That was all I heard. We were devastated. Of course we had been told that this could happen numerous times, and nothing is set until the adoption papers were signed. But, we had hope. We knew we were going to be good parents. We had been through enough. We didn't understand. I cried all the way home. I went upstairs & cried for the next few hours. Devin finally coerced me out with a trip to get ice cream. And we got ice cream...twice that night. (That's when you know it is REALLY bad). I called the friends that I had told and sobbed to them on the phone. My friend, Rene, who had adopted twice and totally gets it - just listened. And then she said, "Abigail. I know you don't want to hear this, but I will say it anyway. That baby girl just wasn't your baby." I cried some more. I have never been anywhere close to having a miscarriage, but I imagine the pain is similar. Your heart feels like it is been ripped out, torn into shreds & then scattered every which way. I wondered if it would ever be put back together.
We made it through the weekend & I decided to at least shower and put the cleanest pair of pajamas on that I had. I went back to school that next week and finished out the year. Nothing from Kirsh. We were officially waiting again. Summer began & we were busy with friends, going on lots of dates, grilling out & just enjoying that time of year. Devin's sister was getting married, I had a baby shower coming up planned by family & friends & things were looking happy again. Even if the nursery was still empty.
June 24th. My mom's birthday. I had met a friend for lunch & was leaving when I checked my phone and saw a missed call from Kirsh. Hmmm. I called back & their assistant first told me that Kara had gone into labor & decided not to place her baby for adoption at all. Another sweet couple's hearts had been ripped out as well. I said I was sorry, but wondering what the call was really about. She went on to say that another birthmother was interested in us. Her name was *Lauren and she was due December 17th (she gave more details that I won't share in order to respect privacy) Lauren wanted to speak with us tonight. She had narrowed down her choices to us and another couple from Chicago. Here we go again. I drove home in another daze.
Devin came home early from football, we sat down with our notes & made a promise that we would not get our hopes up again. (But who I am kidding, I was ready to finally press "checkout" on my Amazon order full of baby stuff. Not getting hopes up & Abigail just don't mix). We called Lauren and she answered on the first ring. This conversation just flowed from the start. We all just "talked." We didn't feel like we were being interviewed, yet she did ask plenty of questions. She knew our ten page Dear Birthmother letter like the back of her hand. She loved that our families were so close by, that we were involved in our church & that we were teachers who had the summers off to spend with this baby. My Hopes Meter was raising again. I didn't want to look at Devin in the eyes. He knew the promise was broken. Talking to Lauren was like talking to an old friend. Nothing awkward or uncomfortable like with Kara. We spoke with the birthfather, *Matt, as well. He was quiet, but did ask a few questions. Lauren shared that when she had made the decision to place her baby, she invited her friends over to go through the Dear Birthmother letters with her. They highlighted things they liked in each packet. My heart fluttered. Her friends. Her people. That is exactly what I would have done! The phone call came to an end and I didn't want it to. Did we tell her everything? Did we share that I planned to make all of my own baby food and that Devin would be a hands-on-play on the floor-type of dad? Did she know how much we would love this baby?!
The conversation ended similar to Kara's. Lauren needed to time to think and would be letting Kirsh know of her decision very soon. We thanked her and Matt & said goodbye.
The following morning was June 25th. Devin was downtown for a training and I was home
Then she said quietly, "Do you have plans this weekend? Because I would really like to meet the parents of my baby."
Total silence. I looked at Devin & saw that he was crying. I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone. The man doesn't cry. No one spoke for a solid 10 seconds. I'm not even sure which one of us said something first, but something came out indicating to Lauren that YES! We would be this baby's parents! YES, YES, YES!
That night two years ago will never be forgotten. And so started a relationship with Dane's birthparents that is very special to us. We met them the following weekend, were invited to doctor's appointments, & were there for the birth of our precious boy.
I wish I could go back and tell myself two years ago that everything will be ok. To ditch the paper bag. Just fall asleep.
That Dane was always meant to be ours.