It’s awkward and uncomfortable. You get there first. Each person to walk in makes you wonder, is that them? No, she’s too old, he’s too big. Then there are hesitant smiles. “Are you…? I’m… Nice to…” They’re not exactly what you pictured, but not in a bad way necessarily. There’s some conversation. “The weather’s nice today.” For a long time no one mentions the elephant in the room. Then when someone does the tension only rises.
Meeting a potential birth mom (and in this case, potential birth dad as well) for the first time is just another form of first date. It’s full of the same anticipation, the same uncertainty, the same hesitation. Instead of two people at the table there were four. Instead of a future romantic relationship, we were considering a future, well, none of us really knows what our relationship would be, but we know we would have one. So we spend a few hours trying to deepen our understanding of each other, all the while sizing each other up to see if that future could work.
Talking on the phone, exchanging texts and e-mails, it all can seem so surreal. For us, but more importantly for her. But when someone is there, physically in front of you, you are forced to face what is happening. We spent 5 hours together. We chatted, laughed, enjoyed lunch, ice cream, and a nice walk, in the end hopefully coming away with a better understanding of what a future together might mean, and weather a match could work.
When we were safely back in the car, driving away from the afternoon, my husband and I shared our thoughts, and both kept returning to the same question. Why are they placing this child for adoption? Yes they are young, financially unstable, and emotionally immature. However they are also strong, surrounded by family and community support, and full of love. We remain convinced that they will at some point wake up and decide to parent their child. The added reality of our “first date” will undoubtedly push them further in their decision-making process. But which decision will it push them towards?
The problem with deepening the reality of the present is it also can lend itself towards increased dreams of the future. I find myself visualizing a life as this child’s mother. I can picture all our faces at his birth, can imagine our future roles in his life. And I like what I see. If I could pick the birthparents of our child, I would be very happy to choose them.
But that’s not how this works. We don’t get that kind of control, not at any point in this process. We are at the mercy of their choices, which are so much harder to make. While we’re hoping to grow a family, they’re contemplating breaking one apart. When we’re dreaming of forming a bond, they’re considering the strain of separation. And so we wait, as patiently as we can, for the to make the most difficult decision of their lives, and one of the most exciting decisions of ours. We stare at the phone, willing it to ring. And as each day passes without it, we accept that this situation very well may not work out.