So here’s where I write about how I had a baby in Wal-Mart and I didn’t even know it. I mean, I know it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Natalie Portman’s portrayal, but, for real. Not only was I not expecting “the call” any time soon, I certainly didn’t anticipate it coming while I was on my first bread and milk run of the winter. It was December 5th, a Thursday afternoon, and I was, after all, standing in a pre-snowstorm line at Wal-Mart, praying for a speedy exit in order to meet the school bus. The first snowstorm of the season was upon us, and the frenzy was tangible. "The call" was pretty much the last thing on my mind. Little did we all know we’d be bored with the threat of an impending snowpocalypse by the end of this crazy winter. I was scanning the items in my cart to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I glanced to see my Lifeline social worker’s name on the screen. Considering my circumstances, it took a split second to make the decision to send the call to voice mail.
“I’ll call her back later.”
If I’m honest, there was a little more to my avoidance of the call than just the ice and snow heading our way. After years of impatiently waiting to officially start the adoption process again, I was a little dumbfounded by my own lack of initiative. Maybe it was the time of year. Maybe it was my innate gift of procrastination. For whatever reason, I’d been sitting on a blank pile of papers since we submitted our application to Lifeline back in October.
That evening I went about my business. Ran my groceries home, scooped my second grader off the bus and into the car, carpooled kids from after school activities and even took advantage of a lull in the storm to cram in a planned post-season dinner with some of my beloved marching band moms. Jon was out of town on business, and by the time I got home and tucked kids into bed, that phone call was far beyond my scope of consciousness. I was all about my flannel pjs and curling up in bed with the pups and my electric blanket. Despite a two-hour weather delay the next morning, though, the dogs had me up before the crack of dawn. I swear our labradoodle smelled the flakes falling and woke me up. Which meant the whole darned bunch of them had to go out, too. Delilah (the doodle) was having a grand old time romping around the others in the fresh snow and ignored my pleas to come in so I could go back to bed and enjoy a rare day of sleeping in. As I waited rather impatiently, I clicked the button on the answering machine, mostly to stifle its annoying beep. I heard the familiar voice of our Lifeline caseworker, and I thought, “Here it comes. She’s going to politely tell me we need to get it in gear and get going on this adoption thing before we’re ancient.”
Obviously my head started spinning when that is not at all what she had to say. I only managed to retain a few words the first time around.
“I have a file for you…”
“…the sweetest eight month old baby girl…”
“…repaired heart defect…”
“…If I don’t hear from you by the end of the day…”
I’d already blown it??!! Full panic seized me as I played the message again. I chased the dogs down in the snow in my slippers and managed to get them into the house. Now they were excited and raced with me up the stairs to my computer so that I could rip out an excessively apologetic letter to Elyse at Lifeline, with a teeny tiny hope that we still might have a chance to view that file!
Something to the effect of “TRUST ME. I will answer your next phone call if it's in the middle of a surgery!!!”
Do I really need to say that going back to sleep was completely out of the question?
Did I mention the fact that my email was sent at 4:11 am, Eastern Standard Time?
Or that Elyse is on PACIFIC STANDARD TIME??
Three HOURS behind our time??
I’m not sure how exactly I passed the next few hours. With the exception of knowing that I clicked the refresh button on my email at least 7,432 times.
FINALLY. Exactly six hours and twenty minutes later. What must have been an early morning email check on her end provided sweet relief for the holes being worn in my carpet. Sweet as in the file was attached.
My heart went from pounding to stopped. This was new ground for me. I’d never had the opportunity to view a file in this circumstance. Our non-special needs adoption of Caroline was such a starkly different experience. The match was made in China, and the referral call was the highly anticipated part of the process. We knew it was coming. I never doubted for a second Caroline was chosen, not by China, but by God specifically for our family. When the call came, it was a formality by which we discovered her name, her age, and all the details that came in her file surrounding her existence. All those details, along with her photos, would be sent by FedEx the following day. Old school.
"This is your baby, cool?"
"We'll send you a picture. "
Not exactly as simple as all that, but you get the drift. Admittedly, I was a nervous wreck the first time around. This time? How would I possibly know if this was my kid? I mean, what were the odds that the first file we looked at would be her? What if we made a mistake? What if I didn't know when I looked at her photo? Why would we already get a call to even look at a file when I hadn't made the first effort to start the home study or anything? Should I even be doing this without Jon?
But here it was right in front of me. And all I had to do was click a button.
...to be continued.