Just like the ketchup song. The next five months went by both unbelievably quickly, and agonizingly slowly. When Blaine and I got settled in Los Angeles, we had a 1-800 line installed in the house so M could call us whenever she wanted. Sounds a little silly now, but back then, e-mail was a brand-new thing and none of us had cell phones or text-message capabilities, so an 800-line in the house was considered pretty high-tech, believe it or not. We talked regularly, and got better acquainted. I flew back to Oklahoma several times to spend time with her.
On the one hand, I can understand why adoption agencies normally encourage birthmoms to be in their third trimester before meeting the prospective family. Nine months is a long time to wait, for everyone involved, and obviously she had lots of time to consider her decision, and worst case scenario (for us) change her mind. Blaine and I were friends with a couple (the couple who wound up successfully suing this agency for their money back) who had gone through five birthmoms. FIVE. Five times they had met a birthmom, five times they thought they were getting a baby, five times it fell through. Once, they were standing at the hospital, camcorder and car seat in hand, when they got the news she had changed her mind. I was realistic enough to know that could be us, too.
But hopeful enough to think it wouldn’t be. M never wavered. Not once did she indicate to us that she had reconsidered, or was having second thoughts. I felt confident that she would go through with her decision to place her baby with us. On the flip side, you don’t ever, ever, EVER want a birth-mom to feel pressured or obligated to go through with a decision that she’ll regret later. It’s a fine line to walk. Being supportive, without being pushy.
The more we got to know her, the more we liked her. The more we discovered we had in common. I worried sometimes, when I would call her, that she would think I was checking up because I only cared about the baby. That wasn’t the case at all. I felt like we had become friends, and I cared about her and what was going on in her life besides the pregnancy. Of course, I couldn’t *not* ask about the pregnancy, because then what if she thought I didn’t care about the baby? As it was, we had a great, healthy, respectful relationship with a birthmom we liked and trusted … and I was still stressed out half the time. If ever I needed a crystal ball, so I could peer in the future and just relax, this was it.
About a month before her due date, we had friends back home getting married. Blaine and I flew home for the wedding, and then I stayed, while Blaine returned to LA to work a few more weeks. It gave me more time to spend with M, and I also got to spend time with her family, which was a wonderful opportunity. They were kind, and gracious, and welcomed me into their home. But there was a part of me, I must confess, that felt guilty. Here I was, excited and hopeful and thinking about what a wonderful day the birth was going to be for us, and how our whole life was about to change in such a fabulous way, yet remembering that this entire situation had come about because M had the courage to make the hardest, gut-wrenching, most selfless decision ever. For her and her family, it was going to be a day of loss. I felt very conflicted, because I had grown to care about her so much and I hated to think about the hurt she would go through, which would result in my happiness. I felt happy, I felt sad, I felt frightened, I felt hopeful … seriously. It’s a miracle I wasn’t on Prozac.
Then, a few weeks before the birth, we got a call from the social worker again. There was a problem.
In the state of Oklahoma, a birthmom can relinquish her rights at the time of birth, and the baby can go home with her adoptive parents. But if the birthmom is part Native American, which M was (technically, of course, she still is, although it just cracks me up to realize it because she is a fair-skinned blonde if ever there was one) then by state law, she is not allowed to relinquish her birth rights for ten days. “The Tribe” wants to maintain its integrity by ensuring babies are not placed for adoption “outside the tribe” without the birth-mom having plenty of time to make sure her decision is the right one. In theory, I understand it, but as it pertained to our case, it just seemed silly. We wanted the baby to go home with us … M wanted the baby to go home with us. We had discussed it, involved the social worker, made our plans …. And now, the baby was going to have to go into foster care for those ten days.***
Uh, no. Not MY baby!
***Let me just say, this is how things were for us, when *we* went through it. Laws might have changed since then, things are done differently in different states, and invoking the name of James Frey, I admit some of the details might have gone fuzzy in the past ten years. But this is how I remember it happening.
The adoption agency pushed through some paperwork which allowed Blaine and I to quickly become foster parents for their agency, which meant the baby could be placed with us. Technically, we weren’t the “adoptive” parents. We were only the foster parents, and we did this with the complete understanding that if at any time during those ten days, M were to change her mind, we would have to give the baby back.
We never hesitated. She never gave us a reason to.
The due date was getting close. Blaine flew back to Oklahoma. We were starting to get really excited. We were starting to get really nervous. And anxious. And a million other things. We planned to stay with my mom and dad for those ten days until we could file the paperwork to legally adopt the baby, (which we didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl), complete with the Inter-State Compact Agreement, since we no longer lived in Oklahoma, and then we planned to fly back to California and begin our new life together, the three of us. We rented a car so we could get around in the meantime, and waited.
Finally, her doctor set a date for induction: February 13th.
The night before, Blaine and I stayed in a hotel across the street from the hospital. Not because we needed to be close, but because it was such a momentous night … our last night JUST THE TWO OF US, that we wanted to be alone, and not stay in the spare room at my parent’s house. I don’t remember what we did that night. You’d think I would remember … did we go out to eat? To a movie? Go to bed early since it would be the last night of decent rest we would get for awhile??? The final night before we became parents, and yet, I don’t have a clue what we did.
But I do remember getting up the next morning, and thinking, “Today is the day! Today is the day I finally become a Mom!”