Keegan’s Story (Part I)
[WARNING: This is a long post. I can’t help that. There’s a lot to tell. I tried to break it up into easy-to-chew paragraphs. If you can’t read the whole post in one sitting, you can come back later to finish.]
This time two years ago, I was speeding down I-75 headed to Florida and Jen was already down there waiting for my arrival. We were only hours away from seeing K-Man for the very first time. But before we get to that part of the story, there’s much prologue to cover.
Sometime in 2000 – it doesn’t matter when at this point – Jen and I decided to start a family. No, that’s not right. We were already a family. We’d been married almost 7 years by that time and been through 2 advanced degree programs for me. We decided to try to have a baby – the traditional way. Well long story short – we were unsuccessful in that department. Not for a lack of trying I can assure you. They say that practice makes perfect. They are lying.
Come 2005 – and way too much unsuccess for anyone’s psyche – we decided to go the adoption route. We decided rather than spend $10,000+ for the privilege of me giving Jen shots all the time and trying in vitro, we would spend that money (and then some) on an adoption. We, of course, looked into the costs for such a thing. They are many. There’s a fee for the adoption itself. There’s a fee for the lawyers involved in making it legal. In some cases there are fees for the birth mother’s medical expenses and living expenses. There’s a fee for the home study – to be evaluated by a social worker to get a report that says you’re fit to be parents. There may be travel expenses depending on where the birth mother is. And there’s a fee if you use an adoption consultant. That’s a $%&#-load of fees. It’s a racket really when you look at the grand total and consider what some of the fees are actually for. It’s tragic to let costs be an obstacle when there are so many couples who would love to adopt the hundreds of kids out there waiting to be adopted. (But that’s for another post.)
Now that we’d decided to adopt, we needed to figure out how to do it. My sister had a friend whose aunt (I think) had used an adoption consultant to walk them through the process. So we checked her out. She has two children, and she adopted both of them. After working herself through those processes, she decided that there was a need to help other couples navigate the adoption waters. When we met her, she had been helping couples for about 15 years. We started by visiting an informational meeting. We liked what we heard. She provided example after example of adoptions that only took 3 to 12 months to complete. We know people who waited years from the beginning of the process to when they picked up their babies. We wanted to move as quickly as possible. She was no-nonsense. She was a little animated for me, but I appreciated her passion for helping couples. Now that we knew that we wanted to adopt and we had a consultant to use, we had to figure out how to pay for the adoption.
We bought our house in the summer of 2004. Twelve months later, the prices in our neighborhood had risen about 20%. This allowed us to refinance and use our second mortgage to cover the expenses. I had always doubted that we would be able to pay for an adoption. Thankfully, the Lord had other plans for us. Armed with the means to cover an adoption, we moved forward.
In the second week of November 2005, we had our first meeting with the consultant. She runs her agency out of the basement of her house. Normally, I would be skeptical of such things, but oddly enough, I wasn’t in this case. Before we met with Marcia, she gave us some paperwork to complete. One of the items was a tolerance inventory. This was not a measure of how many adult beverages it took to make us tipsy. The inventory asked us what aspects of the birth parents’ history would we tolerate. Black? White? Hispanic? Asian? Mixed? Heart disease? Drug use? Marijuana? Cocaine? Heroin? Cancer? Smoker? Alcohol use/abuse? Sickle cell trait? HIV+? The inventory went on and on. Tough issues to consider. Makes you think hard about how much you want a child and how bigoted you really are. The kicker is that the more you tolerate, the quicker you’ll get matched with a birth mother. Before we left that first meeting, we scheduled the second meeting with her for the first week of December. Oh yea, and I wrote a check for the first half of her fee.
When we left Marcia after the first meeting, we had a couple of assignments. First, we had to get moving on our home study. Second, we had to get our “profile” done. Marcia gave us the name of a social worker that she had just started working with. Jen called her to get that ball rolling. Next, we called Mike Moon and asked him if he could help us put together our profile. What is a “profile?” I know you’re asking yourself that question. Glad you asked. A profile is really a set of marketing materials about you as a couple. Here’s Bill and Jen. The way Marcia explained it to us, when a birth mother reaches the point of deciding which couple to give the baby to, she uses these profiles to decide which couple(s) to consider. We collected pictures of us and our families to use. We wrote copy for the profile about each of us as individuals and as a couple; about our interests; and about our families and friends. We gave Mike the pictures and copy, and he and Sabrina (his wife) put together the best profile – bar none – that we could ask for.
At the second meeting with Marcia in early December, we showed her our profile and let her know that we were moving forward with our home study. She gave us a binder chock full of information about five or six adoption agencies that she thought would fit us best. One of our goals was to adopt in a state that had a very short revocation period . . . or none at all. Our homework was to choose one or two agencies to apply with. [The idea was that we would select an agency and apply with them. That agency would work with Marcia if they had a birth mother who matched with us and wanted to talk to us. At some point, we might meet with her and a match would be made. We would then wait for her to complete the pregnancy, and we would get a call when the baby was coming. That was the “usual” way this process works. As it turned out, there was nothing “usual” about the process we would follow.]
Over the next couple of weeks that December, we finished our three meetings with the social worker for the home study. We would need that done to move forward with the agency we would decide to work with. On Christmas Day, we spent the bulk of the day at my parents’ house with all of the other relatives. It was a fun day, but it was long. We came home that night and crashed. We slept late on the morning of the 26th with plans for a very lazy day. [Again our plans would be thwarted.]
Some time after lunch on the 26th, Jen decided to check her email. She had received an email from Marcia shortly around 11:00 p.m. or midnight the night before. Marcia was forwarding an email that she had received earlier Christmas Day from an adoption agency out west. The email said that there was a baby in a hospital in Florida who was going to be placed in that state’s version of DFCS if he was not picked up by 6:00 p.m. that night. I was in the living room reading the paper. Jen called me from the study with an understated tone like the tone that Donald Quinelle might use after discovering that he’d brought the wrong bullets to a survivalist exercise. (“Hey Bill, you’re not gonna believe this…”). I read the email and stared back at Jen with a look of disbelief I’m sure. She broke the silence.
“What do you think?”
“Call her and see what she says.”
So Jen called.
Tomorrow, you can read the end of the beginning of Keegan’s Story.