December 30, 2009

First Contact

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother — adoptation @ 11:57 am

After getting so used to having things move so slowly on the baby front…suddenly things have snapped into fast-forward motion. This morning we got our birth mother’s e-mail address and an invitation to make first contact.

That should be easy enough, right? After all, I’m deft enough with the written word, super-comfortable communicating via e-mail, and used to reaching out to total strangers (between work & sites like Facebook, it happens a lot). So I sat down, opened up a fresh e-mail, and…


It was a strange feeling, not knowing how to begin. I think Hemingway named his fear of the blank page The Great White Bull; until now, I’d never really understood what was so scary about writing those first few words. Of course, there were tons of things I wanted to say—expressions of gratitude, questions about her decision-making process, select info about us—but it seemed nearly impossible to rank these things into some sort of order, nevermind figure out how much was too much and how little was too little.

Luckily, the adoption agency’s booklet about navigating the match process had some tips. Basically: start simple, keep it short, show how excited you are, and just say thanks. Which is what I did. After all, my wife and I are essentially this unknown person’s #1 fans, so all we really needed was a short fan letter, right?

Hopefully, the note I wrote will get the ball rolling (or, really, continue it rolling) in the right direction. Now I’m sitting here like a heartsick teen, staring at the inbox and waiting to hear back from the woman holding our future in her hands & elsewhere.


December 29, 2009

…and Birth Mother Makes Three

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Infertility — adoptation @ 4:52 pm

If there’s one thing my wife and I learned during our few years of infertility misadventures, it was an appreciation for healthy self-absorption. Despite the gaggle of doctors, lab technicians and insurance reps on one end, and the passel of family, friends and bloggers on the other, in the end only we really had our backs. Everyone else had something/someone that came before us, and that could be a hard pill to swallow between scheduled hormone injections.

As much as we’d been a good little team before, we were now a battle-hardened unit. When it came to the baby quest, you messed with us at your peril.

But now that we’ve gotten The Call, there’s another player in the game: the birth mother who picked us. She’s suddenly on the team, and she’s running the show. The adoption agency gave us a booklet about navigating the match procedure, and it leads with this:

“Imagine the following situation in a car: You’re in the backseat, the birth mother is the driver and [we are] the guide providing directions. The birth mother has all the control. She can choose to follow directions provided by [us] or not follow them. You, the adoptive family, are along for the ride. You may have a different route in mind but you don’t have any control over where she takes you.”

Wow. That’s gonna take some getting used to. Because when we were dealing with a doctor, who knew more than we did, we could still advocate for our point of view (and even get a little testy if we really didn’t like something he said/did). When we went in for donor eggs and the donor canceled some of her appointments, we got on the horn with the broker agency and passed along the info that this had to stop—now. When our families expressed discomfort with some of our decisions, we could stand together and express why we needed what we needed.

But this is different. The birth mother is not just someone we’re paying to take care of something. She’s a person who is, truth be told, going through something a lot more difficult than we are in this transaction. In the 24 hours since The Call, the agency has made it crystal clear that if we don’t do our best to make her feel comfortable, to honor her decisions, to communicate genuine empathy for what she’s going through…well, we’ll be shit out of luck.

Which is painting the picture in a bit too dire a hue. Really, we’re still a little team—it’s just that we’re the visiting squad this time. It’s incumbent upon my wife and me to prove to her that we’re on her team, and that we respect this incredibly generous, brave and (frankly) mindbending thing she’s doing. Given the levels of generous/brave/mindbending that are in play here, I’m not anticipating too much difficulty in expressing how awestruck and grateful we are to be invited to join the birth mother’s team.

December 28, 2009

28 Days Later

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Paperwork — adoptation @ 8:14 pm

The call came today. I wasn’t ready for it, but it came anyway.

I’ll bet that no one is ever really ready for this call, the one that says, “A birth mother has picked you.” (Translation: “You will have a baby soon, for real.”) But if there was any one thematic element that had run through all of the stories we’d heard from the agency, from other adoptive families, from adoption-themed blogs, from Lifetime Original Movies, or really from any source that troubled itself with adoption, that theme is: Wait. You will have to wait.

We waited 28 days, and then the call came. This is a full lunar phase, or how long it takes to go through rehab. Noah hadn’t yet seen a ray of sunshine 28 days after the flood began, Obama hadn’t yet become president 28 days after being elected. They told us it would take, on average, 6 – 9 months, but it took fewer days than there are in any month on the calendar, except for our friend February (and in a leap year, not even then).

And that’s not all. The call said that our baby is due in 11 weeks. But, everyone told us: Wait. You will have to wait, even after you get the call. Because humans gestate for 9 months—OK, 10 lunar months, but let’s not get too technical—not for 10 weeks. Imagine getting a call that said, “Hi. You’re now 5 months pregnant.” No one gets that call. But we just did.

Now, after nearly 3 years of nothing (or at least nothing good) when it comes to baby making, there are only 11 weeks left. And that could be 10, gestation being what it is. It’s like being shot out of a slingshot that has been drawn back for months and years, potential energy getting all kinetic with one phone call.

It’s 28 days later, and now there are 11 weeks, followed by 48 hours for the consent forms, then 5 business days for paperwork, then 6 months for more paperwork. And then the rest of our lives. Better get busy, because the waiting is over.

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