There were moments this week when I thought I might be sitting down to write a very different kind of blog post. But it turns out that I am writing this post with a pretty heavy heart.
Let me back up. Last Friday, I happened to check my cell phone when my students went off to lunch. There were multiple texts from Carla telling me to call her right away. As two coworkers sat next to me, I called Carla and was told that our adoption counselor had called Carla and told her about a situation that we had to make a decision about. Each time our profile is going to be seen by a birth family, we are contacted to see if we want to be presented or not. So that was the decision before us.
The situation seemed pretty wonderful and stressful all at the same time. The baby had already been born. He was a week old and was at the nursery inside of our adoption agency. The baby was a healthy baby boy, both of the parents were involved in the process, and for whatever reason, the birth family was requesting same-sex couples without children as potential adoptive families. So that is how we were brought up. The only difficult part in saying yes was knowing that if we were chosen, this baby was coming home right away. After only a few minutes, Carla and I knew our answer. Carla called our adoption counselor and told her to go ahead and present our profile to the family.
That moment began the longest week of our lives. We had been well prepared by our adoption agency for this moment. But no amount of preparation really prepares you for what it feels like. We knew we weren't supposed to tell too many people, because all of those people would then have to be told that we weren't chosen if that was the case. We knew we weren't supposed to get excited, because it would only be that much harder to hear if the answer was eventually no. We knew all these things, but they were impossible for us to do.
And just like we were told not to do, I immediately called my mom and sister to tell them both the good news. We were going to be presented. There was a possibility that we were going to be chosen. As soon as I told them, they were excited. There was now this excitement building around me. A few of my co-workers knew, my family knew, and I knew. The thoughts became consuming. We knew that they were not giving the birth family the profiles until Monday, but after that we had no idea how long we would be waiting.
Can I just tell you that the "not knowing" is almost unbearable. Looking back, I don't know how I made it through. It was hard to sleep, it was hard to eat. The only time I really was able to not think about the whole thing was when I was teaching the kids. I started to dread when the kids would leave the room to go to art or music because then I was left alone with my thoughts. As soon as I started thinking, then things were bad.
As the days went on, I completely understood why we were told to be careful of who we told when we were being presented to a birth family. Every time I saw someone who knew, I knew that they were hoping for good news. Every time I talked to someone who knew, I knew that they wanted to hear what we had found out. It was hard to go the whole week with no information to share. At the same time, I don't know how I would have made it through the week if these people didn't know what was going on. I drew so much strength from my family and friends. I drew so much comfort from my coworkers who truly got me through the week. My teaching assistant even resorted to tap dancing for me to help me get my mind off of everything. Talk about true friends! I needed these people to know and though it was hard, I am glad that they were there.
Yesterday was when we found out. I was sitting in a meeting when I felt my phone buzz. Carla told me to call her. I ran outside of the building and called right away. We weren't chosen. None of the families who were presented were chosen. It turns out the birth mother had more to think about then it first seemed.
I was heartbroken.
I didn't think it was going to be that hard to hear the news. I thought I had kept myself realistic. I thought I had prepared myself for a no. But hearing the no was much harder than I thought. Immediately, the tears started. Once they started, they were hard to stop. Here I was, standing outside of my school, in the rain, crying on the phone. A good friend came out to check on me. I asked her to go to my classroom and tell my teaching assistant to just keep teaching. I just needed some time. I told Carla I would call her back. One of the challenges about working in an elementary school is that there are few private places to go. I ended up in our conference room where it quickly became clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to go back into my classroom and teach. I was so unprepared for the emotions that I felt.
Luckily, I work at this really amazing place with these really amazing people. I was able to lean on those around me and figure out how I could just go home. The people who helped me figure it out will never know how thankful I am for them in my life. To know that I could just go home and be sad and not worry about what would happen in my classroom was such an amazing feeling. And so, that is what I did. I left work and just went home.
The rest of the day passed with a lot of tears and a lot of food. We ate our feelings. We cried when we needed to. We told our families. We received a wonderful delivery of wine and ice cream from a very good friend. And we were okay. We are okay. We are sad and we are also okay.
And most importantly, now we know what it feels like. Now we know what to expect.
And now we carry on. It has been an incredibly difficult week. I am drained in a way that I never really thought I would be. I have gone from picturing a baby in our house to knowing that it isn't going to happen, at least not right now. That's a really hard mental shift to make and I am still struggling to settle back into the reality. A big part of me knew it couldn't possibly have been that easy. It couldn't possibly have worked out that nicely. But none of that rational stuff really mattered this week. My heart started thinking of the possibilities and I am glad that I allowed myself to hope.
So now we are really in it. Now I know why this process is so grueling. Now I know why adoption is so very hard. But I also hold on to the knowledge that I know one day it will all be worth it. I know that when it is supposed to work out, it will. It's not that those things make it any easier, it's not that those things make me any less sad about this situation, but those are the things that keep me going. Those are the things that make Carla and I want to regroup and be ready for the next situation that comes along. So a sad week ends and we will allow ourselves to be sad. And we will also know that one day there will be a baby in this house. One day all those people who are waiting and hoping along with us will be able to celebrate instead of comfort. And one day all of this truly will be worth it.