Since we began our foray into private adoption, it seems as if babies have come flying at us. That weekend, after T and I deposited the envelope with our application in the mail—that’s when it all started. On Monday we got an e-mail from the Agency with all of the forms and the details of the home study. We figured it would take a couple of months to complete the entire process. Since we had been through this before we knew the drill, but also knew that it was just plain time-consuming. We joked about having a Christmas baby.
On Tuesday while at work, I answered my cell and was immediately thrust into a conference call with Darrow and the Agency Director. They were discussing the birth mother that we had been tentatively matched with—what? I wasn’t prepared for the conversation. I struggled a bit to keep up. I didn’t have my questions ready. I couldn’t imagine how we could possibly be ready for a December baby. It was a mind bending few moments.
After Darrow and I had had a chance to review the questionnaire that the mom had filled out, it quickly became clear that there were problems. Both parents had multiple medical and mental health issues, as well as lifestyle issues. We might have been able to agree to individual, isolated issues but the combination was daunting. The biggest problem for us was that with such a risky combination of potential medical complications, the mom had not sought out any prenatal care.
Because of the velocity with which things were happening, we were propelled into making decisions that had not even been discussed. I mean, isn’t there a form we have to fill out indicating the risk factors we were willing to accept? With foster care we did go through this exercise, but this is different. We have to make risk-assuming decisions based upon what the mother discloses and what medical information we can obtain, rather than what is evident from a physician’s report on a foster child.
After contacting the Director, we declined the match but began to work on the adoption package as if we needed it done tomorrow. I was making fantastic progress—our fire inspection and health and safety inspection were up-to-date because of our foster care license; I already had the financial records assembled; the dogs’ vaccination records were scanned; I updated my biography; and sent off the reference request letters to friends at the waiting. Then came the late night e-mail from the agency director a few days later. All it said in the subject line was—you need to call me.
We put him on speaker-phone and he began to tell us about another mother that had just contacted him. Both parents were young but were open to adoption by a same-sex couple. He went through the mom’s paperwork with us—there weren’t any red flags and she had sought prenatal care when she discovered her pregnancy. There was only one tiny little issue? She is due in just over a month.
We knew that we could probably swing the home study process; the Agency Director was also game for the challenge. I think the bigger factor was, were we ready mentally, emotionally or practically for an infant before Halloween? Biological parents have nine months to figure out all of the details, we had about forty-some days. Knowing how this agency works, we knew it could happen fast, but people don’t just decide to adopt a baby and then less than two months later he or she is swinging in the bassinette.
The next “oh.” The director said that the mother did not want to know the gender, so the sonogram results did not include that information. Were we okay with that? We turned and looked at each other—there had been a lot of discussion on this one topic. We had always imagined a little boy. It’s not that we didn’t like girls—we love our nieces and the daughters of our good friends. When it comes to love and care and family, there was no difference. I just think we have both felt a bit ill-equipped to raise girls. It’s one thing to be in an adoptive family without a mommy figure, but something very different it seems, to have a daughter yet be without an in-home female role model. In addition neither of us felt capable of managing the puberty years. Sex and boys and omygawd, the clothes and the hormones and how would I ever keep my sanity and hers? I think Darrow and I both imagined ourselves becoming these freak-show daddies, alienating daughters and scaring prospective boyfriends to death.
It’s all mental gymnastics of course, but I often wondered if most dads are a little apprehensive about having girls. I mean, I know Tonkas and Matchbox cars and ruff and tumble. I am less familiar with tea parties, dolls and Hannah. But as someone pointed out, girls aren’t necessarily pink, flowery, doll carrying, things, totally into Barbie. The reality is that our circle of friends and family has plenty of strong female figures. Among close friends, the number of women far outnumber the men in our life. So we are not without resources. Besides it would be a kick to see Darrow sitting on a little chair sipping tea with a big flowery hat—kind of like that commercial.
We have come to recognize that the private adoption route is inherently different from fostering-to-adopt. With foster children, you already know the gender and that becomes just one more decision point. Private adoption is much closer to being a biological parent in that much of the arrival is a surprise. We knew that we could be good daddies to a girl just as easily as to a boy. The surprise of not knowing would make the experience all the more exciting; would make that birth-day all the more amazing; would make our lives just that more rich.
It was agreed then—we wanted to be presented to the birth mother as prospective adoptive parents. When we contacted the Director to let him know our decision, then came the final “oh.”
She seems to have disappeared….