Yesterday I woke up feeling positive about the adoption. There was a flutter in my stomach. The giddy kind, not the throw-up kind.
Travis looked at me over his steaming mug of coffee, “What is going to happen? Are we going to have a baby?” These are daily questions, volleyed playfully but also with an unreasonable hope that one of us might know.
I said, with sudden conviction but without much thinking about it, “Yes, I think we will.”
Travis was figuring out Miles’s breakfast choice for the day, so I went upstairs to get my clothes and make the beds. The sun was streaming into the back of the house–the first time in months I could remember two mornings in a row with sun. I love the silent ritual of opening each blind and letting in the warmth and the light.
Before heading back downstairs, I paused outside the small room at the top of the steps, the one reserved for the baby. I’ve been keeping the heating vent and the door closed. No sense in sending heat into an empty room.
That room faces the back of the house and the morning sun, so I was moved to open the door. What did the sun look like, now, on the second day of March?
Sun was streaming in, bouncing off the bright white walls and the yellow dresser top. The flutter came back when I stepped into the middle of the room and imagined, really for the first time, how it would feel if a baby lived here.
As I turned to leave, I opened the heating vent. I left the bedroom door open.
Throughout the day, I was restless. With Miles at preschool, I tried to write but couldn’t. I forced myself to go on a jog to settle my body; it helped a little. In the afternoon, the social worker called.
“I have to let you know I smell a rat,” she said. “I don’t know for sure yet, but I had to let you know.”
She has been trying to meet up with the birth mother in order to give her a rent check from us. (As far as I know, most states allow prospective adoptive parents to contribute a certain amount of financial support for expenses like rent, food, gas, etc.) The birth mother has always been somewhat difficult to meet up with, but she also clearly has a difficult, unpredictable life.
This time, though, she kept trying to set up a time to meet but then wouldn’t show up and tried to get the social worker to hand the rent money to someone else.
The social worker’s hunch is that the birth mother may have already given birth, wants the money, wants to keep the baby, and then will disappear. This is a pattern the social worker has seen before.
None of this is definitive. There could certainly be other explanations for what is going on, but I can’t help but put stock in the social worker’s instincts. She’s been doing this work for 30 years. I was thankful for her directness.
We’re waiting still but with less hope. We have not met this baby. We haven’t bonded with this baby. Because of a past experience with a failed adoption, we’ve been better at managing our expectations. I am honestly not crushed, but I’m confused and impatient. I try to imagine what the birth mother’s life is like so I can remain compassionate; I also feel helpless and potentially used. Probably sad too, but it’s hard to get there until we know for certain the outcome.
Before I went to bed last night, I found myself pausing again outside the baby’s room. Without thinking much about it, I slipped in and closed the vent. Then I closed the door behind me. I didn’t do it in a bitter manner. It just felt right. As if I know.