Every month I find my toilet paper stained pink. I have no need to wait for it, let alone hope it will finally not come. It arrives with timing so precise I wonder that the same body seems incapable of so much else. For the past year we have received emails and phone calls and texts from our rotating cast of caseworkers telling us there is this situation and then nothing until the possibilities have dwindled into nonexistence. The birth families do not want to look at an adoptive family with a biological child.
Most days I forget we are waiting. I have Ben and Leila and Wrigley and the store and yoga and all of the other things that fill in the cracks of my time. How could I even fit the sweet, long days of newborn life into these days? I sometimes wonder this to myself, more as a consolation than a question. I keep my parameters to help me continue to forget. You cannot want what you do not see. Like longing for a unicorn. It’s just foolish. My imagination is dulled by these habituated unconscious protections.
Then one Sunday I have a conversation with a friend and we discuss our only children and her definitiveness of their family situation is intoxicating after years of unknown. And after class a friend and student marvels at my daughter and declares how much she loves only children. She shares about her status as one and her unwavering decision to continue the pattern.
I start to wonder if this is a whisper I should listen to, to wonder if it could possibly be an accident. When I think about it, my heart cannot grasp at accepting our family’s completeness. At what point do I acknowledge that and quietly shutter up these windows we have kept open for over three years?
But I have wondered if that is what the birth families are seeing in us. Something already finished.
Leila’s heart is still open. When I share news of her classmate’s adopted brother or gather her baby things for the upcoming birth of her cousin’s little sister or as I prepare a meal to take to friends that just welcomed a son through adoption, her face lights up and she asks, “When will we get our baby?” And my heart breaks. Because she is saying the words I’m not brave enough to ask. And I tell her that we just don’t know. And maybe we will get a baby and maybe we won’t.
And then a friend with tenderness and empathy gently shares about being an only child. And how nice it is. And I tell her about these whispers. And I wonder again at what we are doing.
I question how long is too long to wait, because I am still not pregnant, and our crib is still littered with all the discarded things from our home. And I wonder if the universe is whispering. Because they tell us to wait, that it will happen in God’s timing. I don’t quite grasp how a human can dilute and diminish God into timing and certainty of things to come.
And so I sit with the discomfort and grief and emptiness in a house that is full.