Losing a baby who was never really ours, Part 1

This is the story of our first adoption match, broken into four parts for a more blog-friendly read. It was 2007, and my partner and I had been officially waiting to adopt for only three months before we got our first call. I’ve used a pseudonym to protect the prospective birth mom’s privacy.

Copper Falls State Park in northern Wisconsin

The calls went straight to voicemail on the last day of our camping trip with Gretchen and Jill in northern Wisconsin. That morning my phone ran out of juice, and I didn’t even know I had messages until hours later, back home in Madison.

The first was calm. “We may have a match for you! Please give me a call so I can give you more information.” The second was urgent, “The baby was born earlier this morning, and I really need to hear from you soon or we will have to pursue another family.”

I became aware of the sound of blood pumping in my ears as I frantically dialed the agency’s number.

It wasn’t too late; the agency staff gave us the initial details. Lydia had contacted them early in her pregnancy but then dropped out of touch until hours after giving birth to a little boy she didn’t plan to name.

She had somehow kept the pregnancy secret, and her water broke while she was driving alone in her car. The baby was in the NICU with a minor infection and jaundice but was otherwise healthy.

The next step was for me and Travis to call her directly. She wanted to hear our voices and ask us some questions. I was barely breathing as I tried her number. How do you go about a conversation with a stranger who’s considering you to parent the baby that just came out of her body?

Lydia’s voice was gentle and quiet, but fortunately she wasn’t shy. She wanted to know about our lives, what we believed in, and what kind of parents we would be. She wanted to know how we’d keep our son’s hair.

She told us the birth father was okay with the adoption, and would still be once he knew we were gay. They were no longer together.

In fact, Lydia had recently begun dating a woman and liked the idea that her baby would have “gay daddies.” She wanted an open adoption, something she hadn’t initially known was possible.

I hung up the phone, feeling giddy, surprised and exhilarated. It seemed like such a promising match. Connecting with her on the phone was easier than I had expected. We couldn’t believe, after worrying so much about whether an expectant mom would choose a gay couple, that we had been chosen by a woman on her way out of the closet.

The agency called minutes later. Yes, Lydia was still interested and wanted to meet us. How soon could we get to Baltimore?

Although we couldn’t imagine saying no, we asked for some time to talk. Our camping gear lay sprawled across our tiny apartment, and we still reeked of campfire smoke.

It had only been three months since we’d signed up with an agency, and suddenly the possibility of having a child lay right in front of us. We could barely contain our excitement enough to think rationally about organizing a trip half way across the country, let alone about what might await us there.

I forced myself to dwell on the fact that Lydia could change her mind—as we flew across the sky in the airplane or even after we spent time with the baby. But Lydia had chosen us and wanted to meet in person. Despite the risk, how could we say no?

Before we called the agency to confirm our plans, Travis asked me through a suppressed grin, “Well, what about the name?”

For months, we had gradually added names to a tiny piece of scrap paper, now stained and wrinkled, that we kept on the refrigerator. No favorite had emerged, but suddenly one in particular seemed right. I felt sure we were both thinking of the same name for this baby we had yet to meet.

It felt too momentous, too hopeful to say it out loud, so I went through the motions of reviewing the other names.

Finally Travis said it. “What about Jude?”

“Yes,” I said, feeling stunned, raw, and bashful. “It’s Jude, isn’t it?”

—> Part 2

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7 thoughts on “Losing a baby who was never really ours, Part 1

    • Sorry! I don’t really like to do it….but the whole thing is over 2,000 words and seemed too much for one post. Nice to see you here!

  1. Pingback: Losing a baby who was never really ours, Part 2 | Regular Midwesterners

  2. I got goosebumps reading this. The title already tells me how this will end, yet your writing has me hoping it all works out! Do you write for anything besides this blog? You are such a talented writer!

    • Thanks very much. It’s really nice to know you’re following my blog. I do other writing but so far just for myself. I try to write for at least an hour every day when my son is at preschool, as a practice to improve my writing and work meaning out of some of the experiences I’ve had.

  3. Pingback: Losing a baby who was never really ours, Part 3 | Regular Midwesterners

  4. Pingback: Losing a baby who was never really ours, Part 4 | Regular Midwesterners

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