Spoiler: No matter what you may read at the beginning of this story or what pictures I happen to post, this story does NOT have a happy ending.
Wednesday, January 18...I received a phone call from a woman named Takisha. She said she was living in New Jersey, 37 and pregnant with her 4th child. She was scheduled for a C-section on February 6, which happens to be Babe Ruth's birthday -- a good sign, I thought.
She knew she couldn't take care of this child, she has been intent on an adoption plan through the majority of her pregnancy. She told me that she considered abortion but couldn't afford it. We talked for about a half hour, and then I asked her if she would be willing to talk with my attorney. She said yes. We made plans to meet for lunch on Saturday, as long as my attorney OK'd it.
I immediately called Debbie, who stopped me before I couldn't start to tell her. "You talked to Takisha." It was a statement, not a question. She then went on to explain that she had been working with Takisha for the past two months, that she was her client. And because Debbie was Takisha's attorney, she couldn't be my attorney. She had another attorney lined up for me, here was her phone number and email address.
Debbie was very confident in working with Takisha that this was a done deal. And because I had trust in Debbie, because she knew the vision I had for my family, I felt like this was a good situation. I immediately emailed Rebecca (soon to be my new attorney) and we set up a time the next day to speak.
Thursday, January 19....Rebecca was having a family emergency so we could only speak for a few minutes, but she told me what she knew from Debbie about Takisha and her circumstances. I felt a little adrift with a new lawyer suddenly, and especially one who didn't have much time for me in the middle of something that was happening really quickly, but I trusted Debbie, so I went with it.
I spoke with Takisha few times, and because of iffy weather on Saturday, we decided that I would go down on Friday for lunch.
Friday, January 20...It was an easy three hour drive to her house. I picked her and her 20-month-old up. I wasn't expecting the baby to come with us, but I guess I should have, because who else would have looked after her? We stopped at Rite Aid so she could get a prescription filled (she doesn't own a car or know how to drive) and then drove, at her request, about 30 miles to go to Cheesecake Factory.
Sometimes the conversations were easy, sometimes they felt like an interrogation, and she would become very direct -- almost hostile -- at uncomfortable silences. I had seen the adoption plan and the money attached to it that morning, and it was weighing on my mind. And so after giving her a small gift and paying for lunch (two entrees and two desserts for her!) and not getting as much as a thank you, I was starting to feel a little annoyed. When she suggested we go over to the mall and walk around, I got downright resentful when we had to go into the Apple store so she could look at the iPad and iPhone 4S that she was "getting after I have this baby" and then into the Coach store so she could start to look for a new purse.
She was rude to the waitress and the woman at the customer service desk at the mall. I was completely embarrassed to be with her. She kept saying that I got quiet all of a sudden. I told her I was emotionally drained, that I hadn't slept much the night before, etc. I got through the afternoon and dropped her off and hit the road.
I talked to a few people who knew where I was that day, and they reminded me that I didn't have to like her. I only had to get through the next two weeks with her, think of the end result.
We talked a little more over the weekend, and she was better on the phone than in person. Softer, less harsh. She asked if I would go down to see her again, that she was deciding between me and one other single woman. We agreed that I would go back on Tuesday.
Tuesday, January 24...When I picked her up, she said she felt like she was leaking. She called her doctor and we immediately headed for the hospital. Again more interrogation, more "why you so quiet?" when there was an uncomfortable silence. The next six hours were the longest of my life. She was hooked up to monitors trying to figure out if she was in labor, and I was a by-stander trying to figure the right thing to do and to say. Her daughter was a holy terror and the nurses kept looking to me to keep her out of the way. And when I pulled her away from pulling plugs out of the wall, she kicked me. I said, "no, we don't kick." She kicked me again. "Don't kick me." I didn't raise my hand or my voice.
And then Takisha said, "you are crossing a boundary. Don't discipline my child."
At that moment, I wanted to walk away. I wanted to tell her she was rude and disrespectful to people, that she was selfish and immature. But I didn't. I sucked it up and kissed her ass.
We went down for an ultrasound and I got to see the baby. I started to cry. She told the tech that I was adopting the baby. That statement helped me take a deep breath and keep forging ahead with her. From that moment on, chaos broke out. They were taking her in for a C-section. I was on the phone with Rebecca, she was on the phone with Debbie, and her social worker (who arrived during the U/S) was on the phone with the adoption agency who would be finalizing the whole thing.
Before they took her in, Takisha asked/told me to take her daughter for something toeat, that she hadn't eaten all day. She also hadn't been changed, but there was no diaper bag. I took Brooklyn to McDonald's and she fell asleep in the car. I called my sister-in-law, crying. I had been through hell, but was about to have a baby.
He was born at 3:51pm, and the plan was that I would head home that night, pack up my stuff and go back to the NJ the next day. Takisha wanted me to feed him before I left. I was exhausted but thrilled. I can't even describe the feeling when I held him for the first time. I didn't want to give him up, but knew the sooner I left, the sooner I would be back to him.
I left NJ about 5:45 and made it home about 8:30. In the car, I called my mother, who knew nothing of the events of the past four days, and she was so thrilled. My friend Kris met me at my house to help me pack. She left about 10:30 and I tried to sleep. I had a million things going on in my head.
Wednesday, January 25....Jill came over in the morning, with half of the Target baby department that she purchased the night before while I was driving home. We packed the car, and then I headed up to the office to wrap some things up, write some really big checks to be FedExed out, and hit the road, back to NJ, about 12:30. I checked into the hotel and called Takisha. We had agreed the night before that she would have that day with him and I would go over the next day. It was just as well, I was exhausted and felt like I was getting sick.
I ran to Target to get some Airborn and dinner, and as I was pulling back into the hotel, Rebecca called. She said not to worry, that all was still moving forward, but that because the C-section didn't go the way Takisha had thought it would, she was feeling a little out of sorts and didn't want me at the hospital the next day.
The first icky feeling in the pit of my stomach hit, but I pushed it away. I kept holding onto the fact that she had wanted me to feed him the night before.
Thursday, January 26....That morning, Takisha texted me to say good morning. She also said that she would call me later about coming up to the hospital later that day. A good sign! I ran errands, worked about five hours, and waited and waited and waited. Finally I heard from her and she said to come up about 6:00.
Our conversation while I was at the hospital was good, easy almost. I held the baby and stared at his face. I stayed for about 90 minutes and then left so she could get comfortable for bed. There was a little confusion on her part about how the weekend was going to go. She thought she was taking the baby home for the weekend and then giving him over when she signed the surrender papers on Tuesday. I immediately called Rebecca who told me, no I was getting physical custody of him at discharge, not to worry. Debbie was going up the next day and would make sure she understood.
The icky feeling got bigger. But I held onto a) she wanted me to feed him b) she had me up to the hospital tonight and c) Debbie was good at screening birth mothers, she had told me that all along.
Friday, January 27...It was a long day. And the longer I went without hearing from someone, anyone, the more worried I got. I was an emotional wreck. I cried every time I talked to someone in my family. I knew from Rebecca that Debbie was going up about 11:30 and planning to stay a few hours. Lesley was coming from West Virginia and should be arriving about 4:30.
About 4:00, Rebecca called with the news, that Takisha had changed her mind. She wanted to parent him. Debbie immediately called the social worker -- who I met on Tuesday and who also told me that this adoption was a done deal. Thankfully, Lesley arrived not long after and let me cry and cry and cry.
We opened Christmas presents -- I made her a quilt. It made me happy to give it to her. We went to the mall and got manicures. We shopped a little. And we went to dinner and drank beer and flirted with the bartender who was all of 22.
This morning, we met Debbie at her office to pick up the car seat (I was going to get custody of the baby at her office after they were both discharged from the hospital). We cried, we hugged, she told me how sorry she was. We stayed at Debbie's for about an hour and then it was time to move on.
And then onto the Yogi Berra Museum, because when in Montclair, I can't think of a better way to spend the day trying to forget the worst week of my life.
The day was a good distraction, but I know that I need to think about this. I need to process it all and I can't move forward until I do that.
What do I do now? I've had a good relationship with Debbie but I went into this, put up with all of that crazy bitch's rudeness because I knew that Debbie was good at vetting birth mothers, wouldn't have put me in this position if she wasn't 100% sure that Takisha was going to place. She had been working with her since November. How can I move forward with her, how can I trust her opinion? But at the same time, do I want to start a new relationship with another attorney?
Rebecca and I certainly had the immediate, intense start and I feel like we've built something, but on the other hand, when I was worried about the contract prices, she told me she always advises her clients to budget $45K. My absolute ceiling for this is half of that.
I also gave myself a deadline of June. June will be five years. I've lived in limbo too long. I've put my heart through more than it can take. And maybe this is the universe telling me I'm not supposed to be a mother. At this point, it has bitch-slapped me and yet I'm still not quite ready to hear it.
I need time to mourn, to heal, to think. Can I really put myself in this position again?