Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meeting Day

I was surprised by my own nervousness.  After all, I was the one holding all of the cards, wasn't I?  I wanted them to like me, why I don't know.  In my own mind, I needed them to not look on me like some poor screwed up mess. I wanted them to realize that they weren't doing me and this child a favor by taking her off of my hands.  It was more than that.  They needed to understand.  How I thought all of that would get across in an hour long meeting, I have no idea.  Blame it on the hormones.  I went out to Ross to find the nicest prego-sized top and shorts that my now gargantuan frame could pull off.  I knew one thing going in, they would know exactly who I was as soon as they saw my belly come in the door five minutes before me. 

My friend Angel came with me for support and to help watch Carli while I was at the meeting.  Actually, Angel very graciously booked a swanky condo through her timeshare for us to stay in for two nights.  I felt like I was treated to a mini-vacation at the Four Seasons with an en suite bathroom and lap pool for a bathtub in the master bedroom.  It had a water park that Angel could keep Carli entertained at for however long I'd be gone.  She was apologetic that the condo was a bit of a ride from Miami where I was supposed to meet Brett and Kayla but I was grateful for the ride there with some time to clear my head and settle my nerves.  I knew I'd be hyped up in the morning, first encounter and all, so I warned her that I might come across as sharp.  That's usually what happens when I have high expectations of an outstanding outcome and low expectations of my pulling that off.  She nodded in agreement and told me that she'd take care of Carli in the morning and my job was to just get myself ready and head out the door. 

I slept very little that night.  As if on cue, the baby's father started texting me at 1:00AM.  He was overtly communicating his sorrow over how he'd treated me, repeating "I'm sorry" over and over.  He was trying to express himself but the extensive typos on my screen let me know that in person, he'd be slurring his words.  He is oft a sobbing, emotional wreck when he's drunk.   He called and I, for better lack of judgement, answered the phone.  His soggy sentiments turned to rage when I informed him of where I was and what I'd be doing the next morning.  As if scripted, his anger escalated when I showed no sign of being able to bend to his manipulations so I terminated the call without a final word.  I tried to put it all out of my mind but with my anticipation and the phone call, not to mention the discomfort of sleeping while 'baby's on board', made for a restless night.

I headed out early as I could, with extra time to get lost, or so I thought.  Responsibly, I put my GPS on for the destination but the closer I got to the coffee shop, the more it added on minutes to my arrival time.  Morning traffic in Miami was nothing to tangle with unbeknownst to me.  I frantically called my adoption counselor to let her know we'd be late.  She simply answered "we'll be here" and ended the call.  I know that there was no major issue with my being a few minutes late but in the business world where I came from just months ago, showing up late to a meeting was a sign of disrespect and a lack of interest. I didn't want to leave either of those as a first impression.  I had hoped to seem eager to meet them. 

I was praying as I drove that they wouldn't be too nervous.  I could only imagine what it would be like, particularly for Kayla, to get this far in the process.  The anxiety of the possibility of meeting me, only to be turned down.  I don't know if I could take it had the situation been in reverse.  I had to admire their courage.  To be told that I was going to be late had to add to that.  Them counting down the minutes on their watches, only hear that the countdown had to start again, for another fifteen.  I could only hope that God could squelch the pangs. 

In I came, waddling with a big smile over to the table.  I saw Kayla first.  I will never forget her face.  She looked like someone told her she'd won a million dollars but she wasn't sure if what they were telling her was real yet.  Brett looked desperate for this to be a good experience, I am sure for her sake and his.  You could tell by his face that this had been a long road and he was eager for it to end.  We did our best to make small talk, discussing sports teams and my home town while we ordered.  The emotion surged through the air like an electrical current.  The faint smell of sweat was evident. The noisy buzz of the coffee shop almost made me laugh at the idea that something so important was happening right in this very room and no one but us had any idea there was anything more than coffee and breakfast.

We settled and my adoption counselor broke the ice for the actual conversation by asking me to share my story of the box of books.  I quickly got out tissues and recounted my encounter with their picture book and how we got to this stage in the process.  Not a dry eye around the table, I was glad that they got to hear how much care went into them sharing breakfast with me.  They asked questions about me but that ended when I said to Kayla, "So what are you going to name her?"  I don't have words to express the non-verbal exchange between Alex's mothers.  I don't think we spoke. Tears flowed heavily with sighs of joy and relief.  I looked at her face for what seemed like a long time.  She now understood that I was carrying her daughter.  I felt so honored that God picked me to deliver to Kayla and Brett such a precious gift. 

I took out a plastic sandwich bag of Alex's ultrasound photos and we poured over each picture.  It is at that moment that I could see the emotional transition taking place between me and Alex, watching her mother smile and cry over the images.  I let her take them home.  I kept one from myself, just because.  We left each other with big hugs, more tears and a promise to see each other one more time before her birth.  I got into my car and drove off, smiling from ear to ear thinking about what it would be like to be a fly on the wall in theirs.  

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