“So, what is this account for?” he asked.
I was sitting across the desk from the man at the bank, opening a new account. Is there anything worse than sitting in a chair at the bank on a sunny summer afternoon? Seriously. If I ever start to suffer from insomnia I’m going to decorate my bedroom like a bank- that’ll put me right to sleep.
“Getting my writing career going,” I said. “I need a separate account to keep track of everything- separate from my day job stuff.”
“Oh really? That’s so cool. What are you planning to write about?”
“It’s already written. In fact, it’s already out. It’s a book about open adoption. It’s our story.”
“Oh, really? That’s great. It’s the best thing to ever happen to my wife and me.”
“Yeah. We had our first kid a few months ago and my wife said she just hated to be pregnant, so we’ll probably adopt next time- avoid that whole pregnancy thing.”
Wait. What? Did he really just say what I think he said? Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt and not assume he meant what I think he just said.
“Was your wife super sick or something? Was the pregnancy dangerous for her or your baby?”
“No. She just couldn’t do all the things she’s used to doing- tennis, jogging, less sleep- you know. Pregnancy stuff.”
Okay. He did say what I thought he said. He was thinking what I thought he was thinking. And, of course, that’s when I took it upon myself to help point him in the right direction.
“My wife and I were one couple out of about 950 on a waiting list,” I said. “Most agencies aren’t nearly as big as that, but because there are so many people waiting to adopt, some couples have to wait a long time. We were lucky. We got chosen after just 4 months, but that was when the stress really began.”
“Adoptions aren’t just filling out some papers, writing a check, and hurrying to buy a new crib before the agency can pick you out a baby. No. We got picked by a potential birth mom, but there ended up being lots of complications with the legal stuff. The birthfather was not on board for a long time, so we were picked- then we weren’t- then yes, then no, yadda yadda. It went like that the whole time- 4 months, actually, waiting for the child to be born. Not knowing every single day, and obsessing over the thought, about whether or not that adoption was going to go through. The birthmom wanted desperately to choose us, but it just wasn’t that easy.”
“I can’t imagine.”
“Then the big day came. The birthmother allowed us to be there at the hospital with her, which was the most wonderful gift anyone has ever given us, but at the same time we saw the pain of separation in her eyes. It broke our hearts to see her cry, even though she knew she was doing the right thing for her situation. Add onto that all the worry about whether or not she’d go through with signing the release papers.”
“I didn’t think of that.”
“Then we took our new baby boy home, but he wasn’t legally ours yet. Birthmother was still questioning her decision, and it wasn’t too late for her to change her mind. Having a child in your home that you already love more than anything, picturing in your mind what it’s going to be like to teach him to throw a ball or drive a car, but you don’t even know if that baby will be still in your home tomorrow- that’s what stress is.”
“I guess I didn’t think about all those kinds of things.”
Yup. He thought like a lot of people. Go talk to someone; fill out some papers; write a check; hurry to get a crib before the baby comes home. It aint like that. Nope nope nope.
That was an actual conversation I had with my banker, and I may sound like a jerk, but I rather enjoyed the look on his face as I corrected him about what a modern day open adoption is actually like. Don’t get me wrong- adoption wasn’t all worry and stress without the joy. Quite the opposite, really. All the worry and stress made it taste that much sweeter! Hooray for adoption. Hooray for what it has done for my home.
By Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey