The counselor called me a few days later to tell me the couple was thrilled to get my profile and couldn’t wait to meet me. We set up a meeting for the next Saturday afternoon at the agency office in Maryland. OHMYGOSHTHISISREALLYAHPPENINGACK! Since Blaine and I had to get up at the butt crack of dawn to catch our flight, we had to make arrangements for a friend to watch our kids the night before, and ALL the next day while we were gone. Let me tell you, that is some serious pay-back babysitting time that I am going to owe someone later.
I was so nervous in the days leading up to the match meeting. A few months before, I had had a “moment” and cut off all my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. I hated my new biker-chick haircut. What if they hated my hair, too? What would I wear? What if I was so anxious that I got that weird blotchy chest thing? Or threw up? Would they think I was a goober? What would we talk about? What if I got there and forgot how to speak English?
Finally, the day arrived. Blaine and I flew to Baltimore, then rented a car and drove to the agency offices. Typically, a match meeting takes an hour or two, with the social worker making the initial introductions, then joining in the conversation to sort of lead the four of you through getting acquainted, and the process of what working together would entail. She asks a lot of pointed, personal questions, and it can be awkward, discussing things like your fertility issues with a total stranger, or *their* fertility issues, and how you feel about carrying someone else’s baby with them sitting right there in the room.
We sat and chatted, and I kept waiting for the “Click!” that I just knew was coming. And they were …. Nice. Perfectly lovely. But no click.
Then, after the “official” meeting with the social worker, she recommended the four of us go out to eat a late lunch and get better acquainted in a more casual environment. “Ah, good,” I thought, “this is when I’ll relax and feel the connection.”
So we walked around the Annapolis Harbor for a while, window-browsing and deciding on a restaurant, and trying to shrug off the big ole’ veil of AWKWARD that was crowding around us. We decided on a seafood restaurant and sat around the table, all four of us attempting valiantly to strike up a common chord, to keep the conversation flowing and smooth and interesting.
Yeah, big fat nothing.
And the harder we all tried, the more uncomfortable it became.
They were dyed-in-the-wool true-blue New Yorkers, who couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to live anywhere else in the world. I admitted that I liked suburbia, and thought living in a big city again would make me claustrophobic, like it did in Los Angeles. They didn’t seem too impressed with that. They thought the Clintons were the greatest thing since sliced bread (I think they might have made that exact statement – “The Clintons are the greatest thing since sliced bread”) and there sat Blaine and I --- active duty military, about as Republican as they come. Blaine’s favorite hobbies are hunting and fishing --- they were VEGETARIANS, for pete’s sake! I am pretty uptight when it comes to personal, emotional displays --- she was a theater major in college.
You can see how this was perhaps not going well.
We finished our meal and said our good-byes. We had been instructed by the social worker to absolutely, positively, NOT commit to one another that day. She wanted both couples to have plenty of time to go home and consider the decision, without any face to face pressure, before calling her with our answers. This was the time, all the girls at the support group meeting had confided, giggling, that they and their couples, their new best friends, had all agreed they were going to work together no matter what. That they didn’t need to go home and think about it before calling the social worker to tell her yes, hands down, without a doubt, yes.
I was quiet in the car on the way back to the airport. Blaine, bless his heart, was trying to put a positive spin on the situation. “Well,” he said, “I didn’t exactly feel a strong kinship or anything, but they seemed nice. Didn’t you think? That they were …. Uh …. Nice?”
“Yes,” I said slowly. “I just didn’t expect it to be so *hard*. I thought we would bond instantly and have tons of stuff in common. It was just so much more WORK than I thought it would be.”
“Well,” Blaine said, “You can’t expect an instant connection with total strangers.”
“But that’s just it,” I replied, “I DID expect an instant connection. But I never felt ANY connection. At all.”
“OK,” he asked, “Are you going to call the social worker and tell her you don’t want to work with them?’
And that’s when it hit me: NO! There was no way on the planet I could call the social worker and tell her I didn’t want to work with them. How unbelievably cold-hearted would that make me? They needed a surrogate, I wanted to be a surrogate – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. So what if we didn’t have tons of things in common? I had told the social worker in my initial interview that I wasn’t looking for new best friends, just a nice couple that I could help. And yes, this couple was nice. And I could help them. So what if they were big-city, Clinton-loving, theatrically-expressive vegetarians? I could still help them, by golly!
First thing Monday morning I called the social worker and told her I had decided to work with them. I felt good about my decision … strong and empowered. I had met my couple, and maybe they weren’t exactly like I thought they would be, but I was on my way now to being a surrogate. This was actually pretty exciting!
The next day my social worker called me back. Her tone sounded weird on the phone, sort of tight, and she paused, before just saying it: “The couple called. They don’t want to work with you.”