The Initial Extenuating Circumstances
In 2011, my husband (henceforth known as “my husband”) and I decided to adopt a child. That’s the short version. The slightly longer version is that the decision was made by a variety of my reproductive organs when they formed a rogue nation and attacked what was once a peaceful, if somewhat untoned, body.
Why a baby? We weren’t ruling out adopting an older child later but we figured we’d like to do one from the ground up.
So. That was 2011. In 2012 we found an agency, killed several trees filling out paperwork, cleaned our house on a molecular level, then invited a social worker in to judge every aspect of our lives. We also got fingerprinted, background checked, letters of recommendation, proof of income…all the things you do when you want to get Top Secret government clearance, or a baby.
It was so damn fun that we did it again in 2013. The much-hoped-for baby didn’t come. And didn’t come. We changed agencies. Spread the word on Facebook. Scoured the internet in case there was a country that we had missed that might let us adopt. We hadn’t. Lest you think we were somehow too picky, let me make this clear. Our requirements for a baby were as follows:
And still, the baby obstinately persisted in its absence. Things were quite desperate by now. The nursery we had cleared out had things in it again (an empty room was too depressing). The savings account we had made for the adoption went back to being the “household emergency” account (untouched dream money was too depressing). We began to shy away from family events like First Birthdays and baby showers (a guest sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom is, I have been told, too depressing).
In 2014 we filed again, although my husband said he was “going through the motions.” The social worker flat-out told us my husband was “too old” and some people were put off by the fact that I couldn’t have children. That’s turning people away from the buffet because they’re starving, but short of putting all that on a bumper sticker I’m not sure how I would get that word out. The worst, though, was the paperwork asking me to fill out (I am not making this up) my height, weight and “build.” Somewhere out there, a birth parent was judging if I was right to raise a child based on the same criteria as choosing Miss USA. If I have to make it past the swimsuit parade to get to the interview portion, I’m fucked.
By the holidays of 2014 we are dreading every single family/baby/present/party cliche. We bury ourselves in our work. We put up holiday decorations in a haphazard, nihilist kind of pattern. We greet each friend’s new baby with the Happiness Credit Card; we tell them we are happy for them now, trusting someday there will be happiness in the emotional bank and that statement will then be true. And so we march to the end of 2014.
On December 22, 2014, my husband wakes me up with these words:
“Wanna go to Iowa to get a baby for Christmas?”
And thus begins a series of most extraordinary Extenuating Circumstances.