Staring at the phone, my heart was racing. My stomach was doing flip-flops. My mouth felt like it was full of cotton balls.
Was this really happening?
After months of waiting, writing and rewriting “Dear Birth Mother” letters, preparing for a home study — all followed by even more waiting — a woman had chosen my husband Michael and me to possibly adopt her baby. Before we committed to moving forward, however, we first had to talk to each other on the phone.
So it was a big deal. And as someone who almost always prefers texting to calling it was even more anxiety-inducing.
I wanted to be funny and engaging (natch), answer any questions she may have about us, and generally make her feel like choosing us was the best decision she would ever make.
But mostly I just didn’t want to royally screw it up.
Waiting for the phone to ring felt like waiting for a blind date to show up at a restaurant. (In fact, we joked that that initial phone call felt a lot like a first date.) And like a first date, you have all these questions you hope to ask or things you want to blurt out … but you try and hold off, lest you come off as an unhinged sociopath.
Time had slowed to a crawl. The wait was excruciating and with it, lots of thoughts started swirling in my head. So as I watched the seconds tick away, I ran through a list of things I should try to avoid saying during that first call. Things like:
“Do I seem nervous? Because I’m so nervous. Are you nervous too? I bet you are. I mean, I assume you are. But you know what they say about assumptions. I’m gonna shut up now.”
When I get nervous I tend to talk really fast. While I tried to convince myself it was charming when I was dating (it’s not, by the way) I figured this was the kind of verbal diarrhea no one wants to hear. Plus it would’ve kept me from listening to what the birthmother was saying. So take a deep breath and try listening …
“You’re definitely gonna give up this baby, right?”
This is probably a fear that’s familiar to any adoptive parent: you’ve been waiting for so long to be chosen that the last thing in the world you want to happen is to have a birth mother change her mind or have “your” child taken from you after birth. Because she can change her mind at any point (even for a specified period after the baby is born). Needless to say, you can feel like you’re trying to impress someone on the longest first date ever.
“Wow, this is so weird!”
I went on a date once where the guy felt the need to yell “awkward silence!” whenever there was a short gap in our conversation. Needless to say, he didn’t get a second date. Calling attention to awkward moments only makes them more awkward.
“Are we what you thought we’d be like?”
She picked us for a reason and I wanted to make sure we lived up to whatever idea of us she had in her head. Typing that now I realize how crazy that sounds. You can only be yourself — so wear who you are proudly. As an adoptive parent, you spend weeks agonizing over every word and photo you want to include in your “Dear Birth Mother” profile (the packet you write about who you are that is sent out to potential birth mothers) — so you can’t help but be interested in how closely the “real” you matches up with the “profile” you.
“Let’s trash talk some of the other adoptive parents you considered!”
This is kind of corollary to the last one — but unless you started your “Dear Birth Mother” letter by saying: “If you love gossiping — pick me and let’s dish!” you’re probably better off sticking to any other topic. Like the weather. Or your hobbies (unless your only hobby is gossiping; if so, see above.)
“Hillary or Trump?”
Let’s. Just. Not. Go. There.
There were more thoughts swirling around in my head, sure, but my attention was drawn back to the clock on my iPhone.
I took a deep breath knowing the clock would change to 9:00 AM any second now …
8:59 AM — How is it still 8:59??
8:59 AM — This clock must be broken, right?
8:59 AM — Definitely a broken clock.
8:59 AM — Seriously? How is it not 9 AM?!
9:00 AM — Finally!! Now I just have to wait another hour until she calls.
Come on, 9:01 …More On