David nervously humored me while gently insisting (the way you do when you talk to crazy people) that we get some medical advice. And as we did, the outlook just got worse. The baby—a boy—would be born addicted, and the withdrawal he would experience could last anywhere from three days to a month. Because of the mother’s age, there was a risk of Down syndrome. And the long-term effects of the drugs she’d used were completely unknown. He could be perfectly fine. Or he could be born with a tail.
Luckily my insanity was temporary. After agonizing for a few days, I finally admitted to myself that I was doing this for all the wrong reasons—out of desperation, fear, frustration. That baby deserved parents who were in it for the right reasons. So we called it off. After hanging up with Fran, I went to the nursery and, for the fourth and last time, shut the door.
People who believe in fate have a field day with adoption. I can’t remember how many times people told me that “it just wasn’t meant to be” or “when the time is right, your baby will find you.” I know they meant well, but the abject cluelessness of these comments infuriated me. What the hell did they know about it?
More than I did, apparently.
Two hours after we declined to adopt the heroin baby, Fran called back. “You’re not going to believe this,” she said. A baby boy had just been born across town. The birthmother was young and healthy, didn’t drink or smoke and had never touched drugs. But here was the kicker: She had no desire to meet us. In fact, she wanted a closed adoption.
Fran met us in the maternity lobby. “Don’t do this to us,” I pleaded. “Don’t show us this baby if he’s not ours.” She just smiled and led us down the hallway.
When the nurse wheeled the baby into the room, swaddled tightly in a pink and blue flannel hospital blanket, I looked down at him and knew he was my son.
“What took you so long?” I asked him.
They say there’s a hormone that makes women forget the pain of childbirth. I might not have experienced a physical birth, but I had a hell of a hard labor. And while I doubt I’ll ever forget the pain, some of the sharper edges have been softened by time and 12 months of motherhood. More and more, I’ve found myself hoping that my son’s birthmother changes her mind and wants to see him. Because even after all the drama, and despite the fact that we ended up with a closed adoption, I still believe that knowing his birthmother would help make my son’s life more complete. Maybe hers, too. I have no idea how his birthmother found the strength to do what she did, but I’d really like to thank her in person for this amazing little boy we named Xander.