Adoption Journey. That’s what our esteemed P.R.I.D.E leaders called the adventure that we were all about to embark on. A room full of attentive couples, wide-eyed and eager to begin their journey. Journey. It’s a gentle word, passive and quiet. It conjured up images of running through a peaceful meadow of wild flowers in bloom with my future child’s hand clasped in mine. It brought to mind playing in a gentle ocean surf with my future daughter, building sand castles fit for a princess. It painted pictures of laying in the tall grass on a hillside beside my future son, discovering all the elephants, ice cream cones and angels erupting in the cottony clouds above.
Yeah. Journey’s not the right word.
On Your Mark…
At the end of an intense P.R.I.D.E weekend, my husband and I skipped home, arms full of reading material, completed assignments, and the encouragement of our course leaders and fellow students. Our green P.R.I.D.E certificate was more than a check-marked necessity, it was the green light we’d been waiting for to embark on our very own adoption … you know.
The outset wasn’t bad. We signed up with an adoption practitioner in Toronto; a seasoned, no-frills veteran in the game who sits at a desk in a 200 square-foot room overcome with paperwork. We willingly opened up our past lives, our relationship, our medical records and our home to all the authorities whose job it was to deem us as suitable parents. We registered with four agencies in Ontario and got approval to register with agencies in the United States. Everything, and everyone, was working for us. Or so it seemed.
The agencies in Ontario were open and welcoming when it came to accepting our registration fee, charging us twice that for an hour consultation, and demanding that they needed five more profile books, in soft-cover, if you don’t mind.
The real trick was to get them to keep us posted, answer our emails and return our phone calls. Have we been presented to anyone? Has anyone expressed any interest in us? Have you given us a second thought since we signed that last cheque?
We decided to focus our attentions on the agency we had registered with in Miami, Florida. After looking at our profile, they decided to take us on, despite having limited space for Canadian couples. They spent an informative, two-hour consultation on the phone with us, and assured us that, if we were patient with them, finding us a newborn baby was only a matter of time. That was in July, 2013. On November 15th, we got a call.
We’d been chosen by a young woman in Panama City, Florida, to adopt her baby boy, due on the 6th of December. We arrived a week before the birth to meet her and spend some time getting to know each other. She was shy, but soon came out of her shell to show us a sweet, witty side that endeared her to us. She was happy for us, thrilled that she could make our dream come true, and vowed that she was firm in her decision, that the biological father wanted nothing to do with the baby, and that we would be heading home to Canada with a newborn son for Christmas.
The day finally arrived, a little early, on December 3rd, 2013. We were invited into the delivery room. My husband cut the umbilical cord. We settled into the hospital room right next to the birth mother to spend the required 48 hours post-birth time requirement until the papers were signed and the baby was discharged from the hospital into our wanting arms. We took the night shifts, more than willing to let our dream-maker sleep and recover. She visited with the baby during the day and seemed to be committed to the adoption plan.
We had the baby – and loved him with all our hearts – for about 45 hours. As we were packing our things and discussing what we would do our first night at the rented condo with our son, the director of adoption from the agency came in and told us the bad news.
Apparently, the birth father had taken a renewed interest in the baby, despite the fact that he could not be found for the previous six months.
He arrived with a support group for young, black fathers, all sporting red t-shirts and angry scowls.
We never saw the baby again and were completely devastated… and actually sad for this lost child. The last update we received was that children’s services swooped in and placed him in the foster care system, where he remains today.
Journey? Not quite.
Back to Your Marks…
As we packed up the truck and hit the long road home to Toronto, I started to think of all the amusement park rides I’ve ever been on that may lend a more appropriate title to what we had just been through.
The Zumba Flume log ride? No. Too slow, too peaceful, and only one sudden drop that only threatens to soak you through-and-through but never lives up to its promise.
The Ferris wheel? No. Too consistent, reaching heights that evoke nothing more than a few butterflies dancing gaily in your belly.
The Loop-to-Loop? Hmm. Getting closer. A wild roller coaster that whips you around at dangerous speeds, dangling you upside-down for eternal seconds, threatening to steal your pocket change and the Beaver Tail you just ate.
The Tilt-a-Whirl? Relentless. Nauseating. You’re trapped in a big strawberry or tea cup which spins individually in dizzying circles, while the base of the ride spins mercilessly around and around and around…
… yep. That’s it. The Adoption Tilt-a-Whirl; a sickening, cruel, spinning ride that leaves you with weak knees, indigestion and the overpowering desire to pull down the blinds, lay in bed and wait for it all to pass.
It’s a distant memory now, as I sit here, listening to my two-month old son sleeping, cooing like a pigeon until he starts to growl for one of his eight meals of the day, which should be soon.
The second call came on December 17th, 2013. We had been chosen by a young birth mother in Ft. Lauderdale, who wanted to see the profiles of couples who had been through a difficult – ahem — journey.
Quinn Isaac was born on January 16th, 2014. We arrived home in Toronto with our son mid-February and have spent the past few weeks introducing him to our family and friends. It is heart-warming to watch him being passed around from one set of loving arms to another, never complaining, happy to be enveloped by such a warm, welcoming village in which he’ll grow, learn and thrive.
So, here we are, at the beginning. The real beginning of our adoption journey.