Jenn, as usual, got me thinking with her post. Thanks Jenn! I started a book a couple of years ago about the call that changed my life. Writing fiction is my first love, but this story is just one I felt I needed to tell, not because the world needed it, but because I needed to write it. It's a bit rough, so forgive my typos, but I thought I'd share my first chapter.
The working title is, Born to be Loved.
The phone rang, and my heart, for the hundredth time, began pounding ferociously in my chest. I ran toward the kitchen, frantic. I couldn’t help it. My mind instantly posed the question, “Is this THE call?” immediately followed by the thought, “Do I want this to be THE call?” I looked at the empty phone cradle in the kitchen and wondered wear I’d misplaced the cordless.
Of course I wanted it to be THE call, but I was scared and excited, and I didn’t know if I could handle the news. How would I react? What do you say to someone who has just informed you that you have been chosen. That in a month, a week, or a few days you’re going to be a parent. You’re going to have a baby! Do you scream and cry and shout for joy? Do you politely say “Well that’s great news, thanks for letting us know.” I didn’t know what one said when given that news, and I was afraid that I would say nothing at all, or that I would mumble something incoherent and then in a daze hang up the phone.
“I need a red phone,” I mumbled to myself as I frantically scanned each counter. You know the kind in the movies that only rings when the President or Chief of Police is calling. Surely something so important warranted a special red phone. Then I would know it was THE call and I wouldn’t have a cardiac episode every time a telemarketer called to sell me something.
Finally, I found it laying on the kitchen counter under a bill. Papers fluttered across the counter and to the floor as I pushed them out of the way. The caller I.D. clearly displayed the name of the adoption agency we were working with, and I yelled to my husband across the house, “Hurry Neal, it’s the agency.” My hand shook as I picked it up the receiver, but a surprisingly calm and pleasant voice said, “Hello, this is Candice.”
It was Brian our social worker. For the past several months he had been a counselor and guide through the intricate and sometimes overwhelming adoption process. As the parent of two adopted children, he too understood what we were feeling, and I found some comfort in that. I knew that if he were calling at this point in the process it must be for a good reason. I listened intently as he told us that we had been chosen by a birth mother and that she wanted to meet face to face.
The world blurred and became sharper all the same time. I do not remember the words that came out of my mouth only the surge of emotion that filled my body, anticipation mixed with the most profound hope, a hope so big it seemed to fill up my body until my skin felt like it fit too tight. Yet all that was tempered with a sense of disbelief that was also larger than life. It pushed back from outside of me and held me together, protecting me from the swelling hope before it got out of control.
I couldn’t help thinking, Could it really be true? Is there really a woman out there with enough faith and selfless love that she would be capable of going through with this adoption?
I looked over to the face of my husband of six years as we listened on the phone--the smile lines that were etched deep in his face were fully exposed in that moment-- and I thought about the emotional journey that had brought us to this point.
The first year of our marriage it never would have crossed our minds that we wouldn’t be able to have biological children. We were young, and I was still in college when we decided it was time to start our family. It wasn’t until after a year that we started to wonder if maybe something was wrong, but even then my doctor said, “You’re so young and it’s only been a year, we don’t start worrying until it’s been at least two.” So another year passed and another.
Life was full and busy. We had purchased our first home, and it was a “fixer upper.” We spent our evenings painting, sanding wood floors, and working in the yard. We volunteered at our church and spent time travelling. We both worked full time and had promising careers. To the outside world I imagine our lives looked picture perfect. And in so many ways they were, but underneath it all we struggled to understand what we should do. What was God’s plan for our family?
At first the struggle was private. A question between me and my husband, but after a while people began to notice and ask questions or rather a series of questions. It went a little something like this:
Acquaintance: “How long have you two been married?”
Me: “(three, four, five, six) years.”
Acquaintance: “Are you planning on having a family?”
Me: “Um, yes.”
Acquaintance: “How many kids do you want?”
Acquaintance: “Are you planning on starting soon?” or “Time to get started.”
None of their inquiries bothered me at first. I knew that most were well meaning and innocently asked, but it didn’t change the awkwardness I felt at times as I tried to think of what to say. I’d always been an open book, happy to tell anyone what was happening in my life, but somehow this was different, personal. Explaining the truth inevitably led to more questions, questions about why we couldn’t get pregnant and what methods we’d tried. Questions about my body and my sex life. As if I were a third party medical specimen and not the person standing right there.
The truth also led to unsolicited advice. That was the worst. I cringed every time I heard someone start a sentence with, “I heard that if you…” So I avoided the subject and learned how to answer people’s questions in a way that didn’t invite further inquiry.
But now, with one phone call, that was all about to change or at least that was the hope that was swelling inside of me. I pushed it back again, reminding myself of every procedure, and previous adoption opportunity. But hope is a funny thing, like a stray cat with nine lives, just when you think it’s dead, that it can’t possible take one more hit or one more fall, it miraculously resurrects before your eyes and saunters down the pavement and around the corner just out of your sight. And you know it’s alive, at least for now. But you can’t help but wonder, is it just heading for disaster again?