By Lesa Quale Ferguson
10:30am Meet Missy at Adoption Star
The staff at Adoption Star surrounded us with hugs and congratulations. I had gotten to know so many of them during our wait. I looked for Lynnlee the intern who had brought our profile to the hospital. The mother had asked for childless families. Lynnlee had insisted on bringing ours “just in case”. I wanted to find her, give her 10,000 hugs, and run back to these smiling faces. The director Michele stepped forward to shake our hands, she said, “I’m superstitious so I’ll save my congratulations for when the adoption is complete.”
Minds might still change.
My heart sank but before I could dwell there, Missy ushered us into her office. She had stacks of legal documents on each bore the name Caleb Zion. We had named him and yet he wasn’t yet ours. It suddenly felt like we were making him up as if this were all a dream. I kept thinking if I sign those papers, maybe he’ll materialize. Too little sleep. Too much stress. Standing on the brink of transformation, events become surreal.
We signed the papers and handed over the cashier’s checks. The fairy tale Rumplestiltskin came to mind. All I could remember of it was the princess made a pact with a hobgoblin to spin straw into gold so she could meet her prince and have her baby. If a hobgoblin had appeared to me in those 18 months of waiting and said, “You must spin straw into gold for all eternity”, I would have agreed. The desire for a child to love and raise is profound. And for some of us, making children appear is a crazy-making challenge. I felt at times that I would do just about anything.
The last group I marshaled into the posse was my answer to pacts with hobgoblins. Rather than give in to despair, I began to seek connections. I grew up in Oregon. I contacted many of my classmates on Facebook. One of my old friends, Deb, had “liked” the Adoption Star Facebook page. She now lives in Brooklyn and adopted her daughter from Adoption Star nine years ago. Her daughter was born in Buffalo and they were coming for a visit to introduce her to her birthplace. We set up a date to have lunch and later, Sam and her daughter played in the park. Deb was the first person to tell me an adoption story that happened on a moment’s notice with all the accompanying panic and challenges. At the time, I thought “Oh that won’t happen to us. We live here.” Now, I was relieved to have her story in my archive of adoption stories. Our mutual friend, Lisa, who now lives in Hawaii had also adopted. During the past several months, Lisa and I spent hours on the phone and email. She told me about her two failed adoption attempts. From her, I learned to be wary. In high school, Lisa, Deb and I would cross Main St. to have the fifty-cent hot lunch at Lincoln Elementary School. Sometimes I imagine time travel: I meet up with the younger me, Deb and Lisa. I tell them that we will meet and connect again and will share something more than a cheap meal. I wonder if we are drawn to people because of some unconscious understanding of the future. I don’t usually fall into the trap of “meant to be”. Life, it seems to me, is a series of choices. However, if physicists are correct and time isn’t as linear as we perceive it to be, wouldn’t choices forge a path into the future that winds back into the past? Maybe I started rounding up my posse back in high school.
As we were leaving Adoption Star, Missy asked if we had spoken to our lawyer. Financially, I hadn’t wanted to retain a lawyer until an adoption seemed possible. I started to feel that panic and then I remembered my old suite-mate from college Kelly had thought to email me the name of a good attorney. The number was still on my phone. The posse had our back once again.
The paperwork at Adoption Star had gone so smoothly, we had time to go to the mall and buy the necklace with the birthstone as Megan had suggested. Then, we were on our way to meet the birthmom at Denny’s.
I thought that might be the end of our need for a posse. But for a long time after, a friend or a family member or a complete stranger who knew someone we knew would appear with support, advice, a helping hand or a gift for our new baby. I was astounded by the outpouring of kindness. I’ve surrendered to the outlay of generosity. Dave and I believe the best pay-back is to be a gun for hire. We posse up for other hopeful adoptive parents.