This is part two of a two-part blog post on the waiting period one prospective adoptive mother, Lesa Quale Ferguson, has gone through with her family. To read part one, which was published yesterday (Thursday, 12/19), please click here.
By Lesa Quale Ferguson
There was a time when I was 26 that I believed I was pregnant. I was in what I thought was a long term, committed relationship. I went to school; he was in a band. We lived in an apartment that befit our circumstances. The pregnancy scare changed us. As we factored in a baby and all that goes with it, the lights went out on my relationship. My once fun, affectionate, loving boyfriend began to ignore and mistrust me as if I were trying to tug his dreams out from under him. I reacted to him poorly with moodiness and resentment. This was my profile:
Her name is Lesa; she’s 26, Caucasian; due at the end of October; she’s 5’5, brown hair, brown eyes; she’s a waitress; she attends college and studies writing and theater; she’s not married; she and the birth father recently broke up; he questions paternity; she lists no other possible fathers; he agrees to adoption; he is Caucasian; she drinks one latte a day; she drank three beers before she knew she was pregnant and three or four times afterward but no more than two drinks at a time; She has been experiencing depression and anxiety and has so in the past but, has never been medicated for it; she has been receiving prenatal care since May; her parents are divorced; she has a younger brother with allergies and eczema; each of her grandfathers had heart attacks, her paternal grandmother had breast cancer, all of her grandparents are still alive; she is interested in a semi open adoption (photos, updates, emails through the agency); she is willing to meet the adoptive family one time.
The social worker’s impressions are that this birthmother is very emotional at this time but committed to the plan since she has no means of supporting the child on her own.
I felt my life was unraveling. We were no longer the young couple committed to their artistic pursuits, believing in each other and putting aside our dreams of a family until a more realistic time. The scare made me realize how much I wanted to have a family; it made him realize he was nowhere near ready.
As parents for my baby, I know I would have resented any supposedly well adjusted, happy, stable, hetero couple who would have at their disposal the raw details of my unhappy, troubled life while all I got to see of them were their vacation and wedding photos. I would have felt competitive with any woman my child would call “Mommy”. I don’t know if I could have sat through a meeting with her. I probably would have picked a gay male couple because I wouldn’t feel so threatened and their beneficence would be easier to receive. I picture myself looking through profile books and focusing on backgrounds to see where these couples lived. It would calm me to envision my child growing up in a clean, well-lit, tolerant place. This mattered to me because my apartment since the pregnancy scare had begun to look shabby, lonely and ill-fitting the needs of a baby.
I also know that once my family found out about my situation, if one person had come forward with financial help, I would have given up the adoption plan without a look back. I would not have considered who might be hurt by my decision—sometimes life presses so hard on you that it’s difficult to think of others.
When the pregnancy scare was over, my relationship was over. I moved out and in with my mother, started therapy to figure out was next. And then I waited for a man who couldn’t be scared away by a pregnancy. And I found one who couldn’t even be scared away by fertility issues. Oh, how I’ve learned to wait.
I did consider using other times in my life where a pregnancy would have been difficult. If I had been 16 and pregnant, I might have chosen someone like me and Dave ~ people who like bright colors, wear hats, and play in the snow. At age 32, I might have chosen a happy suburban couple to give my child the supposed ideal. At any age, given the option, I would have chosen a couple with a kid. I would want my child to have a sibling. I want my son to have a sibling now.
What did I learn from doing this exercise? The choices birthmothers make are probably circumstantial just as it would have been for me. I was surprised to discover that a painful episode that happened (and ironically didn’t happen) so long ago could come so quickly to the surface. Real and sometimes even imagined babies can rock worlds. I can try to sympathize with a birthmother but I’d have to live in the midst of her circumstances: in her home, inside her dreams, with whomever it was that impregnated her to truly understand. At least now after doing this exercise, I see more clearly my part. All those laments to Missy about my age, our income, and the offended social worker represent the mental and emotional tax on an expectant-adoptive mother in waiting mode which is what I truly am.
All I can say to a birthmother is, “Dave and I are a devoted couple. We’ll provide a loving home for your baby. We don’t judge because we’ve led imperfect lives. Please choose us.” And then we wait for one birthmother whose circumstances meet ours: Maybe she’ll choose us for the hats, or our son, but more than likely she’ll choose us for something I can’t possibly foretell.
I kiss my sleeping son’s cheek. I waited such a long time for him to arrive and I hate waiting. But by now, I am a pro. I know about the shadows that creep out from under the bed, the tricks of light and dark, the way my imagination takes off into the unknown, scary territory regardless of whether it’s fiction, fact, or recreation. Such are the challenges of waiting. But after many, long, difficult years of waiting, I gave birth to my boy. And if Sam has taught me anything, it is that nothing in pretend life measures up to real life. The years of despair and worry pale with the reality of my little family. Life with Sam has surpassed our imagination and life with our next child will do the same.
I steal out of Sam’s room and tiptoe down the stairs. My husband has fallen asleep on the couch. I take my notes and stick them into a journal I have tucked away in the sideboard. Next time the social worker calls, I hope I remember to use it.