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The Long Road To Finding A Family

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it's been an absolute pleasure to speak with you both this evening! It is with my full confidence I can say that we feel here at [XYZ Agency] that you both would be excellent candidates and we would like to extend to you a 45 day grace period to considering contracting with us.

You are approved as candidate adoptive parents."

I didn't even realize I was holding my breath until that moment. Someone thinks we can be parents. Not only that, but someone thinks we would be excellent parents. Someone who isn't contractually obligated (yet) to say so, or is bound by the polite lying that comes with all friends or family. We are APPROVED. I think I deserve a t-shirt that says so. I guess the Captain can have one, too.


It Is Midnight In The House

After a few minutes, our eyes adjust to the darkness. While light fades, our eyes lose the ability to discern colors, and eventually we are left with a dim, black, and whitish impression of what our world looks like. Take away enough light and we are left with nothing. A never ending, inky blackness that seems to both press in on us from all directions and expand into infinity.

I've been in this black pit since January.

Somewhere, in my subconscious, I think I knew something was wrong. Well, no, if I'm being fair, the dread always actively bobbed to the surface before I drowned it under a sea of tasks, pretensions at hope, and blind will. I didn't want to think about the problems. I knew we'd have trouble conceiving. I'm damn adept at NFP and the Catholic Church even gave me a certificate saying so, but no one's that good at it.


I used applying to grad school as an excuse to stop trying for awhile. I didn't want to be pregnant during my first semester (because, oh yeah, so much easier being pregnant then, or during the second semester, or having a new born). Did I feel bad about lying about my reasons to my husband? No, because I knew he'd believe me without question. He is the eternal optimist. He didn't want to believe I was slipping into the dark and away from him.

It is midnight in the house, and I am alone in the dark.

"Mrs. Smith, I wanted to call you right away…"

You would think, after so many years, doctors, hospitals, surgeries, and all over again and again on the medical merry-go-round, I would have thought to sit down when I heard that from my gynecologist. Then I heard the worst thing anyone could hear from a doctor:

"I'm so sorry, but we have a serious problem…"

He tried to be optimistic, he really did, I'll give him that. But his opinion was clear: he was going to send us to the absolutely best fertility specialist he knew. He was sure he would come up with something. The problem was beyond his scope, but surely…? Then his voice faltered and cracked, and that's when I started to the break. My doctor was crying for me. My doctor. Because there was something more:

"He will be able to assess you better than me, but…but I'm so sorry, Mrs. Smith. I don't know if there's going to be anything we can do. Just go see him. Just go see him."


I don't remember much of the rest of that day, except for my husband, calling me absolutely elated because he'd been offered a job! A great job! A job with benefits! A job with such an income that we would be completely financially stable for the first time in our relationship! We were absolutely ready to start our family!

What was I supposed to say?

I drove to my parents that night to tell them the good news, although I mentioned I had a little bad news, too. I tucked my bad news away, shut in a little box. Now was not the time to deal with it. I had good news! Good news about the Captain! Hooray! I made it all the way through telling them about the job, managing to sound excited, proud, elated even. They had absolutely no idea. I considered not saying anything at that point. Why ruin the moment?


Then my mom asked, "So what's the bad news?"

I looked right at her with a huge smile on my face and announced loudly, "So it turns out that I probably can't ever get pregnant!"


I held out on that smile for a full half second in the ringing silence afterward. Then I crumbled to my knees, my mom pulled me onto the couch beside her, and she and my dad put their arms around me while, for the first time in my adult life, I sobbed in front of my parents with pure, unadulterated grief, and nothing else.

It is midnight in the house, and I am alone in the dark.

"It may just be a little thing! Don't give up hope! We're going to have a baby!"

That was my husband's reaction to the news. I felt like the worst wife ever telling him this news on the same day he managed to cadge such an unbelievable offer. I wasn't even the rain on the parade. I was the police who came to stop the parade because the parade givers didn't have the proper permits, and then delighted in popping children's balloons and telling them the Easter Bunny didn't exist.


But his balloon just. Would. Not. Pop. The was no amount of realism that I tried to discuss with him, or what was said on the phone that could reach him. He was Sure we would be a family, and with the magical fertility specialist, all of our problems would be solved, even if I had to have surgery! Plus, we could just go back to having sex for fun and not worry about anything! Yippee! Buck up, honey dude!

I hated him so much that night.

I hated his optimism. I hated him trying to cheer me up. I hated him hugging me and telling me it would all be okay and to not be sad. All I wanted to do was scream at him, "Why can't you fucking cry with me? Why can't you just face that this is the fucking worst news I have ever gotten in my life and I want to die right now? JUST. FUCKING. CRY. WITH. ME."


Now I can't remember the last time we had sex, and the last time we did, it was only because I was drunk and numb enough to not feel like screaming about how it was pointless, all pointless, and why would I want to sleep with someone who refuses to look at the night and see it for what it is?

It is midnight in the house, and I am alone in the dark.


I made the appointment with the fertility specialist, but went out of my way to pay bills, buy groceries, buy anything, just so we wouldn't have the $420 for the consultation. That's around the time my dad was diagnosed with cancer, anyway, so that ended up being a convenient reason to put it off indefinitely, and besides, we didn't have the money, anyway. Case closed.


I started drinking more. I only watched sad movies. I reveled in blacking out to old episodes of Supernatural, the more violent, the better, never mind how triggering it was to hear the screaming and see the blood that usually induced one of my PTSD flashbacks. I was drunk enough that it didn't matter and I almost welcomed the fear and panic, just to feel my heart beat loud enough to know that I wasn't already dead and in hell.

It all happened in the night, in the dark, the only place where I felt I could release a little bit of the pain and sadness and sheer bloody anger at God, the Universe, and Everything for making me so broken that I could not give my husband the one goddamn gift I had wanted to give him for years, and the only gift he has ever wanted since he was 12: to be a dad.


I pushed him further and further away, begging to be left alone, telling him to just give me space, that I needed to be by myself, that I just couldn't be around people all the time, and no, I didn't want to talk about it. No, everything's fine. I just need some time alone. No, I'll be fine. Please, just go away.

I still couldn't say what I wanted to say: "Why won't you cry with me?"

It is midnight in the house, and I am alone in the dark.

Turning Point

My husband dragged me to a new church on the Second Sunday of Lent and I was hungover as shit. He would not take no for an answer. It was easier to shut up and go along with it.


This church happens to be near the beach, and you all can have whatever the fuck you think is beautiful, but there is nothing on Earth comparable to the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Just driving along the road near the sand, it was enough to lift the darkness for me to see the blue of the water, the white of the cresting waves. For the first time in more than three months, I felt a little lighter, sort of.

Mass on Sunday wasn't something I had done on a regular basis for at least six months. I didn't mind that; actually I welcomed it, because it meant I didn't have to go out into the light with my inevitable hangover. During Lent, it's even worse. Of course, of all days my husband would insist on Mass, it would be during Lent. The melancholy psalms, the admonishments to obey God. Fuck God. That's all I was thinking during the opening readings. Fuck God and all this Trials of Job bullshit.


But God talks to me. God helps me. It's bizarre, but when I truly, truly need it, He comes through, in glaring technicolor and as glorious as the biggest, baddest diva you ever met. I'm not ashamed to admit that; it's odd, funny, and holy hell, does it make an immediate and instant impression.

The Gospel that day was Matthew 17:1-9. I won't bore you with the passage, because, to be honest, I didn't wake up myself until I heard one particular line, in which Jesus says to his disciples, "Get up, and do not be afraid."


Like I said, God speaks to me.

Just a little bit of light as the house leans away from midnight, and once again I see the shadows of my bedroom.


I am subdued for the rest of the day, but I am not as afraid of the light.

The house moves from the dark, one daring step toward dawn, and I see my husband sleeping beside me. Snoring. Really, really, loudly snoring.


And I love him for that. I love him again for all the ridiculous bullshit he puts me through, because it's another day that he puts up with all the ridiculous bullshit I put him through. I love him for finally realizing that him telling me to hold fast, to have Hope, is his way of crying with me. I love that he does see how deeply the dark pierces me and will still hold out hope for me, my light in the darkness. He will always hold out hope, so that it is always there, whenever I'm ready to grab hold of it and not be afraid.

Darkest Before The Dawn

I finally told him what I was feeling. I did my best to not be afraid and told him that I couldn't face going to a fertility specialist. That I couldn't face more disappointment, or even worse, a tiny spark of hope that might flame out at any moment. That I was too afraid to ever contemplate any surgical options so that we could conceive. That I would be extremely high risk if I did get knocked up. That I might die, or the baby might die. That I was too afraid to be pregnant. Ever.


He wrapped me in his arms and cried.

"I know, honey. I know. But we're still going to have a family."

Dawn On The Horizon

My default mode for dealing with anything is through research and sarcasm. Sarcasm does not work well when initially contacting adoption agencies, though, so I stuck with research.


There is so much information and complications and financial arrangements and grants and programs and options that I'm surprised I haven't drowned in it all yet. But I clutch it all close and read everything I can find. I already have enough for a dozen posts about it, it seems. I plunged ahead and filled out pre-approval questionnaires with the Captain and wrote away for information packets, and email newsletters, and agreed to two consultations before I had a chance to second-guess myself.

I thought I was going to be nervous talking to these consultants. These gatekeepers that told us whether we could proceed or that we would have to look elsewhere.


They were the most natural conversations I've ever had in my life. Everything felt right, and with every answer, I was filled more and more with the sense of conviction I've always known when someone tells me I can't do something, and my response is, "Yes I can. AND FUCK YOU."

And we're going to have a family. Two adoption agencies just told us so.

It is dawn on the horizon, and I can see the light seeping into our bedroom once again, and the brilliant colors of our bedspread, my squalorous clothes on the floor, and my cute brunette husband snoring away.


Light and color has never looked so good.

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