Apparently my Facebook ads or multiple listing on adoption websites is working. On Tuesday morning, I received a phone call from a young girl. "K" said she was 18, due on October 29, and looking for an adoptive mother for her baby girl. Her voice sounded babyish, almost "fake young," but I went with it. I have to, right?
We talked for about 15 minutes and then got cut off. I immediately called my attorney and gave her the play-by-play. I didn't have her phone number -- it showed up as restricted on my phone. My attorney told me what I did right and what I did wrong on the phone call, and what to do if she called me back.
K called back in the afternoon. We talked about our families. She has three brothers and three sisters (I have three and four, respectively). She has a niece, who's 2. She's from Georgia but was in Long Island. She said she had another couple lined up to adopt her baby but their home study didn't get approved.
I wasn't to question her, this was not an interrogation. I was to listen, to talk about her, to build trust and help her feel comfortable with me. We set a time for later that evening for her to call me, sometime between 7 and 10pm. She called about 8:30 and we talked for about an hour. Looking back, I can now see so many more red flags that I overlooked at the time, but I was hopeful even as I was slightly suspicious.
She asked me if I was on instant messenger, so we started IM'ing each other. She said she felt like I was the person who was supposed to be the mother of her baby. She said she wanted to meet me, could she come to Ithaca. It was 11pm.
I told her yes, let me look into a hotel tomorrow from work and we'll figure out logistics. She insisted on starting to drive now. I tried every practical reason I could think of that it was a bad idea. I told her I wanted to talk to my attorney to make sure we were doing everything right before she made the drive. She said she was leaving, could she call me in the morning? And she didn't want to talk to my attorney without me. "Can't we do it together?"
She called me about 2am from a rest stop, but she wasn't sure exactly where she was. We talked for a few minutes and then she started driving again. She called again at 4am. She was having Braxton Hicks, and oh did she mention that her mucus plug fell out earlier that day and she was 3cm dilated. We talked for about an hour and then she felt better to drive again.
I don't think I slept more than three hours total that night. Was this a scam? Or was there a pregnant teenager driving six hours in the middle of the night? Would she be safe?
I woke up at 5:50 when my alarm went off. I was worried that I hadn't heard from her since 5am. And I had no way of getting in touch with her. I got ready for work, carrying my phone everywhere with me. From the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen. As I was driving to work at 7am, she called. She said she made it as far as Binghamton and got tired.
I told her to get a hotel and I would come to her, and then we got cut off. A few minutes later, my attorney called me. I told her everything that had happened since she and I talked last. So much had happened over night. I kept cutting her off, finally she said in a firm voice, "you are exhausted. I need you to listen to me, to take notes and then you can ask me questions."
She was right. I was exhausted. And my emotions were fragile. She told me I needed to find out where K was, and to go to her. We had to assume she was on the up and up, but she was probably not legitimate. "If you pay for her hotel room, pay in cash. Do not give her any access to your credit card. Do not give her any money. That all needs to come through me."
The day went on, with no calls. I was ready to crash. I was ready to cry. I left work after a meeting, about 3pm and headed to the grocery story. Halfway there, she called. The connection was horrible. She said she slept all day in the car and was getting something to eat. Again we got cut off, but she called back right away. I told her I would come to her. That I was worried about her, that I needed to know how to be in touch with her. And then we got cut off again.
I called my attorney and drove home without going to the grocery story. I called Jill, and ended up meeting her and Geoff out for dinner. When Jill hugged me, I felt myself start to lose it. When Geoff hugged me, I did. I started crying but tried to stop. I knew if I let go, there would be no stopping me. "I don't know if I can do this?" Jill hugged me and said, "of course you can do this, look at all you've been through."
K called several times. The connection was horrible, we kept getting cut off and she wouldn't tell me where she was. I IM'd her from my phone and told her to call me from a land line. She called again. The connection again was awful.
I walked outside and tried to get her to tell me where she was. She realized by the sudden lack of background noise that I was out. "you never had any intention of coming to see you. I thought you cared about me." And she hung up.
I called my attorney on my other phone. She told me it was time to abort the mission. K started IM'ing me. We went back and forth. "where are you? I'm in the car and coming to you"
"You don't care about me."
And then I did what my attorney told me to do. "If you don't let me help you, then I'm hurting you. You need to tell me where you are so I can come help you. I don't want to hurt you, so if you don't let me come to you, then we shouldn't talk anymore.
She continued with how hurt she was, that she didn't want me to come to her, to turn the car around and go home. So I turned instant messenger off and turned my phone off. At this point, even if this girl was legit, she was going to be drama and probably not serious about giving up her baby.
My attorney gave me one more bit of advice. "Go home and eat ice cream in the bathtub. This girl has tortured you for the last 36 hours and you need some sleep. Turn the phone off and go home." And I did just that.
A hot bath and a pint of chocolate peanut butter chunk. But even as exhausted as I was, her voice haunted me. I couldn't stop hearing it in my head as I tried to sleep. Was she real? If she wasn't, why would someone do this? I replayed the last two days in my head. And could come up with no answers. Nothing that made sense.
The next morning, I waited until I got to work to turn my phone on. There was a voice mail from her. She couldn't believe that I would turn my phone off and not allow her any way to get in touch with me. She told me she didn't want to talk last night, but that didn't mean she didn't want to never talk to me again, that she needed me. She had started to drive home and went into labor and didn't know what to do.
I just shook my head. I was done. I haven't heard from her since.