By Lesa Quale Ferguson
We spent eighteen months waiting to be chosen. We wanted to adopt a baby and no one had yet chosen our family. The wait proved to be long, frustrating and challenging. But during those difficult months, we gathered a posse. Early on, I wouldn’t have used that word, but ‘posse’ explains how it works. ‘Posse’ is the Medieval Latin word for manpower of the county; a search party. In our quest to adopt, we had deputized family, friends, friends of friends, acquaintances and strangers. At six o’clock on Monday, February 6, 2012, Missy, our social worker called to say that the birthmother of a baby boy, born just after midnight, had chosen us to be his parents. At that moment, our posse needed to be saddled up and ready to ride.
Missy also had a list of instructions. Dave and I were each on an extension. I had a pen and took notes on scraps of paper. Dave handed our six year old biological son Sam an IPOD to keep him busy. We squirreled ourselves away in the computer room. We heard a knock. Dave opened the door, Sam asked, “Are we adopting a baby today?”
At that moment, I realized how thoroughly unprepared I was for this adoption. After eighteen months of anticipation, all I saw was several pages of scribble and a series of treacherous steps to climb before we could claim our baby. I knew from listening to adoptive parents that between now and then, minds might change and funds might be unavailable. I wanted to have an answer for my son that would be confident and reassuring but not definite; something along the lines of, “We’re heading in that direction” or “We have a ways to go”. True to my husband’s steady and faithful hand, he bent down, looked Sam straight in the eye and said: “Yes”. He said it as much to himself as he did to Sam. We said, “Yes” to this baby, whatever we had to do. Sam returned to the living room and his IPOD.
After we got off the phone with Missy, Dave made phone calls to our family. I tried to organize the notes into a working agenda. How could we get all this done before tomorrow? I had written down what Missy said and added circles and punctuation in a lame attempt to highlight the important pieces. As I reviewed it, every step along the way seemed hazardous.
- Come up with fees tomorrow!!!!!
- Name the baby before 8pm. That name will appear on the adoption papers. The birthmom wants us to use the name Zion. Zion?!?
- Buy a birthmom present. Birth mom wants open adoption: 2 visits a year; letters and photos every month. Missy said maybe a picture frame? Photo album?
- Get a goodnight’s sleep 🙁
- 10:30am tomorrow go to Adoption Star. Bring Cashier’s checks. Sign the papers.
- 12:00pm go to the Denny’s near the hospital to meet birthmom. Google Maps?!?
- 1:00pm meet the baby at the hospital. Meet the baby. Meet the baby.
If we managed to get all this done and no one changed their mind, we would meet our baby boy. How many times had we been on the precipice of getting a baby? There had been seven miscarriages and maybe 20 profiling opportunities? Too many theoretical babies. But, this one was not theoretical. He was lying in a bassinet at the hospital and we had been chosen. We just needed to get all our ducks in a row and get to him by 1pm. I wanted to jump in the car, race to the nursery and scoop him up. Missy had emphatically told me that would jeopardize our chances. He seemed so close only an hour’s drive away but I had to remember, minds might change and funds might be unavailable.
The Zion Conundrum – Name the Baby
Our nieces who live across the street rushed through our front door with their mom, Dave’s sister, trailing behind. They waved scraps of paper. In such a short time, Caeley and Sophie, age thirteen and eleven, had compiled a list of names for their new baby cousin. They yelled out “Trevor” and “Mom likes Parker best”. Dave, who was on the phone with his brother trying to figure out how to get the money, tried to shush them. He was dealing with the inner sanctum of our posse. We had deputized a chosen few first. They had the greatest stake in our mission because the adoption meant a grandchild, nephew or cousin. The girls ignored their uncle Dave. “Christian”, Sophie suggested. Sam excited to finally be included put the kibosh on every one of the names on his cousins’ list. He proposed ZeeZee Zion. Dave tried again to quiet them. He needed to hear his brother’s advice on the money.
We are a working class family and keeping large sums of money available is unrealistic. In most adoptions, the adoptive parents meet the birthmother while she is still pregnant. Dave and I had falsely assumed it would be the same for us. It was our intention to borrow from his 401K and that takes a week to process. A week seemed a mere blip of time in the adoption game. Wrong.
Adoption agencies do not operate on credit. Unlike Popeye’s Wimpy who will gladly let you pay Tuesday for a hamburger today, adoption agencies want their money before you get the baby. Dave’s brother, who had the funds available, wanted to wire the money but the amount was too large to do via Western Union. He was willing to drive all night to meet Dave halfway between here and Virginia Beach to hand off the cash; we would pay him back when the money from the 401K came through. That strategy was proving impractical given our time constraints.
Dave hung up the phone and joined us. He said, “Henry”. And I said, “Only if we can call him Hank”. This is how it went with Sam’s name. He wanted something traditional and I wanted a nickname, but both of us had to agree on both names. It took 5 months to agree on Samuel/Sam. Now we had no time and the additional complication of fitting whatever name we liked around the name Zion. Because I am a history nut on Western Expansion, the name was intriguing. I suggested, “Utah” for Zion National Park. Dave rolled his eyes. He searched online to find out what Zion meant, “The World to Come”, so fitting. We decided to go with the Western theme and Dave came up with a real cowboy name, Caleb Zion. We’d call him Cal for short. Caeley loved it, “That’s what they call me at school.”