The news that they were pregnant was still looming over me. I couldn’t turn a corner without thinking things like, “I thought they were the right family,” or “They can’t have two kids that close in age, it just isn’t possible.” My heart was shattered. However, when I thought of relinquishing The Kiddo to them, despite the fact that they would have their own biological child months later, I felt sick.
“Marci, what if they don’t love him the same way? Am I crazy for thinking that they couldn’t?” I had whispered into the phone earlier that day. I stared at the backyard, the sun glistening off the fresh snow, and I shivered.
There was silence on her end. Silence that I knew, since we’d been friends long enough, meant she was going to say something I didn’t necessarily like or want to hear, but it would be truthful.
“You aren’t crazy. I would wonder too. Are they capable of loving two babies, so close in age, one that came from themselves, and the other from a stranger?”
Tears stung my eyes.
“But…I was so sure they were the family. I mean, I have no other option.”
“You do have other options Danielle. You just don’t see them anymore.” At the time, I knew that she was struggling with this so-called decision of mine to relinquish The Kiddo. She had her own issues, fertility ones that she learned about long before most of us were thinking about having kids. She was disappointed in the way this scenario was playing out; I just never told her that I was too. Brave face, fake smile.
She was the only one who was honest with me about the fact that The Kiddo would be going to a home just months before the adoptive family would experience birth “naturally”. She was the only one who validated my fear that they would struggle to love him because it was, and would be so entirely different. She was the only one who didn’t buy into the whole idea that this entire incident was foreordained by god.
“My roommate says that they, their baby, and Kiddo, must have planned this together. That they wanted to be a family,” I admitted.
I heard her snicker, “You are telling me that god purposely got you pregnant, made you decide to do adoption, picked a family who is supposedly infertile (they aren’t, Danielle), gives them a child of their own, and yours, while you get nothing?”
I stumbled to find the right words, “It’s not that simple, and you know it.”
“But it is. Is this the kind of garbage they are telling you? That god planned for your birth control to stop working? I don’t know, I’m religious, and my god isn’t a vindictive manipulator.”
I sighed and changed the subject. We’d never seen eye to eye religiously, but this new topic, the idea that certain events in our lives are foreordained was obviously a topic we’d have to avoid in the future. I added it to my mental list of other topics we couldn’t discuss because our opinions were far too different. However, a twinge of regret went through my body as I knew I was writing her off for reasons that didn’t have anything to do with the subject matter. What did religion have to do with the fact that this couple, a supposed infertile couple, was now pregnant, and wanting to still adopt my child, have to do with anything?
* * * * * * * * * *
“It happens all the time, Danielle” my volunteer worker told me as she navigated the icy evening streets. I watched the lights pass by, and I shrugged my shoulders.
“I just have my doubts about their ability to properly handle it. The emotions will be much different. The experience will be much different. They’ll love their own child much differently, and so soon. What about bonding?” More tears were on the verge of falling, something that seemed to be happening more often that not, lately.
“Talk to them tonight. See how you feel. If you don’t want to go through with it, we’ll find another couple.”
“That’s the thing, I already looked. No one else felt right. I didn’t like anyone else.”
” Then perhaps you need to consider that this was meant to be.”
Another person who was telling me that this situation was meant to be. I was beginning to resent the idea. First, it was foreordained that I would become pregnant. My Bishop told me that in a blessing. I became pregnant so another family who was unable to have their own child, could have my child. The child that was not meant to be in my life. Now, repeatedly in the short 24 hours since I had found out that they were expecting their own child, I had more than a handful of people tell me that this situation was planned by god. My faith in this so-called God was beginning to waver, and Marci’s description of him being a vindictive manipulator was beginning to seem more and more accurate.
“It’s luck.” I blurted out.
“What?” she replied, as she turned a corner to lead us to the agency building. In less than an hour we would be speaking to the “perfect” couple in the profile, over the phone. I didn’t see the point, really. I had already decided that I didn’t want them to have my child. I hadn’t honestly told a single soul that I was going to tell them this over the phone tonight.
“It’s just luck. They were probably told that they would spend years in the adoption pool, and wouldn’t be picked so quickly. They were only in it for a handful of months. If I had waited until January, like you and Brad had wanted, they wouldn’t be in the pool of candidates any longer. It’s not an act of God.”
She smiled at me and said, “Or, those two babies, are up in heaven right now, watching this all unfold. They were such good friends that they had to go to the same family, and this was the only way they could make it happen.
I wanted to throw up.
* * * * * * * * * *
Their voices rang through on the phone, and I sat back in the uncomfortable church chair that I was accustomed to sitting in at least twice a month. They were happy to talk, and I was happy to listen.
The dialogue kept on going back and forth between the four adults; the couple, my volunteer worker, and the psychologist who was acting as the mediator for this phone call.
I blurted out, “Have you thought of names?”
Before I could explain myself, they were answering that they weren’t sure about the adoption was going through and didn’t want to talk about it. I had wanted to know if they had thought of names for their own baby, the one they were pregnant with.
The adoptive father became emotional, and began to describe a similar scene to the one that my worker had painted outside in the car; two kids, who wanted these two people as their parents. As his tears became audibly apparent, I found myself crying with him. Then I heard myself tell them that we’d go ahead with the adoption, despite the circumstances. It’d be no different than having twins I told them.
* * * * * * * * * *
The week before, I had sat where they were now sitting, and I had sobbed as the agency director told me that The Kiddo had been diagnosed with an alcoholic related defect. As I remembered her condescending words, “You stopped drinking when you knew you were pregnant, I’m sure”, as I struggled to compose myself, to at least be able to fumble the words that the diagnosis was far-reaching, and inaccurate. I couldn’t do it because every time I opened my mouth to speak, I was met with more condescension about how I couldn’t have known.
They were wrong. They were so wrong. This whole situation was so wrong. Every bit of my body seemed to be growling in protest, but I couldn’t fight back. I felt too guilty about the what if- what if he was suffering from some defect as a result of my drinking when there was no way I would have known that I was even pregnant?
It happened again. They must have known that I was questioning them, because right after I asked them to tell me exactly how they went about getting the diagnosis, and how hard it had been for them, the adoptive father launched into the same speech he’d given over the phone, almost a decade ago.
This time though, they knew I wasn’t religious. This time they knew that I didn’t believe in such things, and yet, the speech about the foreordination of their biological child and my son, was playing out again. This time, I wasn’t swayed by the tears. This time, my stomach was far too tangled in knots to believe the nonsense. Somehow, it felt as though they were warning me that a denial in the rightfulness of this placement would be a sheer denial of god. They must have forgotten that I was atheist.
When the meeting was over, The Hubby, turning the key in the ignition, frowned and looked at me,
“They really believe that god sent them Kiddo, eh?”
I laughed, “I guess. I think it’s just their way of saying that he belongs to them, and not to me. A warning to not deny the rightfulness of him in their family, even though it seems as though they are struggling to find him a place within it.”
“It’s strange, Danielle. They believe that you got pregnant so they could have a kid that they barely talk about with the same light and love that they speak of their own biological children. Why talk about it? What does religion have to do with this? They went out and diagnosed him, not God. We were meeting to discuss that. Not the fact that god knocked you up so they could collect children for their family.”
I hadn’t heard someone speak this abrasively or honestly about the foreordination piece of my adoption since I’d had that phone call with Marci, so many years before.
“Collect children?” I stammered.
“God wanted them to have your son because he decided you weren’t good enough for him? Isn’t that messed up? Isn’t it messed up to repeat that to your face?”
I nodded silently.
“Sorry, it just made me want to laugh in their faces. They seem smarter than that. Or maybe that’s the point; manipulate you into feeling guilty for questioning whether The Kiddo should have gone to them in the first place.”
“I think that’s what’s coming next. If I don’t buy into the idea that this whole scenario was “planned”, then something went very wrong, at some point, and there are a lot of people who need to answer for the lack of ethics involved,” I ran my hand through my hair, and shook my head. The night before I had spent two hours with my mouse hovering over what most would call an anti-adoption website, only to find myself crying, and nodding along with the rhetoric found within each of the posts.
“You know what I think?” I shook my head, knowing I didn’t really need to answer my husband.
“I think that they didn’t bond with Kiddo properly. I think that he was a tough baby for obvious reasons; I think that three months later, their own easy baby came along, and suddenly, they were instantly bonded with a baby that looked like them and acted like they expected. I think that this has caused problems that they aren’t talking about with you because they don’t want you to know that they wanted to redact the adoption. And I think, that she, his adoptive mother? I think she still hasn’t bonded with him properly. Which is why they won’t let you meet him. She’s afraid of something.”
My mouth gaped open.
“I think she’s afraid of me.” I muttered.
“I’m sure that works into their little heaven plan, somehow,” he rolled his eyes as he continued to drive down the highway.
“Oh, I’m sure it does. It’s all part of some plan, or some higher lesson.” I agreed sarcastically, tears running down my cheeks.
Even ten years later, I was not respected as the woman who helped start their family, but as some pawn in their religious tirades about how they were meant to have the fruit of my womb, because god saw favor with them.