Read Part I here
We sat down at the end of a looooong conference table, across from the lawyer. I didn't think about this at the time (I wasn't thinking about much other than trying to keep my lunch down), but it was actually quite symbolic. Here we were, staring down a sterile, long, and empty table... about to stir up and re-hash our painful past which was likewise sterile, long, and empty. The windows illuminated the room from behind the lawyer, reminding us continuously that this day was a beautiful one, despite all the storms we had weathered to get to it.
The lawyer motioned to my thick envelope of unpleasant papers, and said, "It looks like you came prepared with quite a lot!" to which I responded, "Well, we do have a very involved case..."
"Tell me about that," she naively suggested, not realizing what she'd be in for.
And so, we told the "condensed" yet thorough story which lead us to her office. Some things I've written about on my blog. Other things I've only shared with a few people. All things I haven't discussed, thought about, or allowed myself to feel for almost a year.
She listened. Patiently, without interrupting. She nodded. She asked questions when we paused. And when we finally finished, she said,
"I'm not sure if you've considered surrogacy, but with that, you would not be under the intense scrutiny of a home study, and all of this would not even matter."
Our hearts sunk into our pelvic floors. (I've just picked up yoga, again. Therefore, I have picked up using the term "pelvic floor" whenever humanly possible, again. Kinda like mittleschmertz. Can you find an occasion when it's not fantastically opportune to use the word mittleschmertz?)
Two hours of driving. Three and a half years since the arrest. Four and a half years since we began our adoption journey. Nearly seven years since we were married and began trying to build our family through any means.
All to be brought back to a question to which we've always known the answer in our hearts?
"No," I politely responded. "We do not feel comfortable with that option, for both personal and religious reasons." And we held our breath for what was sure to follow...
Except, her next statement caught us by surprise.
"Okay!" she cheerfully and non-judgementally exclaimed. "Then... let's talk about adoption!"
And without further delay, she asked more questions, took a look at our pack of unpleasant papers, heard us talk about the Hague Convention and our contacts (yes, plural) who were willing to help us pursue an adoption in Mexico, which we saw as our only viable option for any time in our future, and declared,
"Well, actually, I think a domestic adoption is your best bet. And, after hearing everything, gathering all the facts... I know the probation is over in October, but I see no reason why you wouldn't be able to go through the home study process..."
Our hearts skipped a beat... too soon, because, her sentence wasn't finished:
Hearts froze in their chests, as did the lungs. Was I hallucinating?? Or maybe this was a scam... was she about to ask us to fork over $100,000 for the baby she had hidden in a safe in the back? No, wait, maybe she just hadn't really been listening... she must have misunderstood us... she had to have misunderstood... right???
And as I opened my mouth to begin to discreetly ascertain whether any or all of the above were the case here, my heart unfroze, finding itself in my voice box. My voice wavered. And before I had a chance to let my mind force my heart back into submission and do the talking, it had moved up to my eyeballs. And out. The flood gates had opened.
I apologized and quickly (though not as quickly as I would have liked) composed myself. Where did that come from? I'm not that girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, if I were, it would have been mangled and destroyed long ago.
Our lawyer picked up on this, and talked to us about how counseling for our infertility could be something we would benefit from, because our emotions still seemed very "raw."
My husband explained, "Well, actually, our infertility lead Amy into her current career, where she helps women and couples achieve their family goals every day. We also lead an Infertility Support Group in our Diocese. We feel pretty good about our infertility... it's the 'inadoption' that still feels raw."
I elaborated, "For us, adoption was never a Plan B, it was Plan A. I never really cared if I experienced pregnancy or not... while I recognize that it would be nice, of course... it's not something I mourn the loss of. For me... it's always been about being a mother."
And she nodded and said, "I know. I feel exactly the same way." (She adopted her daughter.)
She went on to tell us more about this center for counseling on both infertility and adoption, and that they would be a good resource for us since they've dealt with clients with all kinds of history in both. After checking out the center, I have to agree that it will serve us well. Clearly, inadoption has been a wound that never healed the way our infertility has. It was, rather, hidden, ignored, and never tended to, in the hopes that it would just go away on its own.
We began to discuss particulars about the next steps to take...
Stay tuned for Part III