Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There Are Many Kinds of Hunger

Thanks to Amy Cornell and the lovely Tessa, I've been thinking a lot about adoption lately. This takes me back almost 38 years ago when my son came into our lives. My husband Gary and I had a rough few roller coaster years of trying to start a family. These were pre-fertility expert years, so we didn't get much support from the medical community. We decided to adopt. We went to the Children's Bureau in Indianapolis. Gary wanted a boy and we were told that could extend our waiting time. I didn't care if we had a boy or a girl; I just wanted a baby. We requested a newborn boy and began what turned out to be a two year process. We jumped through all of the hoops, had our last in home inspection and tried to distract ourselves with busyness while waiting. It's kind of like when someone tells you not to think about elephants. What else can you think about? His room was ready and we were ready. (Well, as much as any parent can be "ready" when you really have no clue what it's like to be a mom or a dad.) We had been married seven years; it was time.
He was born October 3, 1972, nine months to the day after our final home review. I got the call on Monday, October 9th from a social worker who was filling in at the Children's Bureau for our social worker who was on vacation at the time. He said we could come up and "take a look" at the baby the next day. Take a look? Was he kidding? Had other prospective adoptive parents rejected babies because their ears weren't just right or their hair was too light? Please.

So now I've received THE CALL and I'm home alone. I wanted Gary to be the first one I told; so I was in for three hours of pacing before he got home from work. When he finally came through the door, all I could do was jump up and down. I couldn't even speak. Of course, he knew what all of the jumping was about. We hugged and laughed and cried. Then we called our parents and friends. Gary was sitting with his back to me when he was on the phone with his mom. All of a sudden he just raised his hand with the phone in it and handed it back to me. He was crying and couldn't talk at the moment. So I finished the conversation with his mom, who was crying also.

After we had called everyone, we decided to go shopping and get a few last minute baby things. The discount store of choice was Ayr-Way at the time. It was where Bed, Bad & Beyond is now. So we made our purchases and decided to get a bite to eat. Arby's on Third Street was close so that's where we ended up. I think I waited in the car and Gary brought the food out. I just remember us both unwrapping the roast beef sandwiches, taking one look at them, then each other, and wrapping them back up. We only hungered to hold our son. We were too excited to eat. We were almost as excited as our dogs who benefitted from our lack of appetite.
We didn't sleep that night either. I sat in the baby's room in the old rocker I had painted a dusty blue and imagined myself rocking him the very next day. We headed for Indianapolis the next morning. Gary was so nervous he ran a red light at a major intersection on Meridian Street. When we arrived at the Children's Bureau, our substitute social worker announced that they couldn't find our baby. WHAT????

He was exactly one week old and had been placed with a foster mother and they couldn't reach her on the phone. (This was all before answering machines and cell phones were invented.) Probably out of desperation, our social worker took us to lunch. We SO didn't care about lunch. I don't even know where he took us; I just remember watching the Jell-O melt on my plate. He kept excusing himself to go use the phone. Between phone calls he tried to make small talk. I think we both wanted to tape his mouth shut. After about the third or fourth call, he returned to the table and said that by the time we got back to the Bureau our son would be there. He explained that the foster mother was at her church bazaar for the day and had left him with her mother. She had left that information with someone at the Bureau, but it hadn't been passed along. It didn't matter. We nearly had him in our grasp!

When they brought him out to us, Gary held him first. I could tell he was going to be good at this. Then he handed him over to me. And there he was. Casey. Our son. The moment I saw him everything became clear to me. Why we didn't conceive, all of the waiting, all of the tears were because this was the baby we were meant to have. Here was someone I knew. A very old soul. A kindred spirit I already had a bond with. That bond has stayed strong and deep. My life with him so far has been an amazing journey. He has such a strong inner core, he is not afraid to be himself. He is a firefighter. It is a wonderful gift to admire your child. And I have been given such a gift. This is just the beginning of my adventures with Casey. I will write more about him on future blogs. In the meantime, I have included a poem I wrote about him, many years after he came into our lives.

For Casey:
The Oldest Soul I Know

I wasn't born to be a mother.
I was meant to be your mom.
No fertile seed inside my womb.
You grew inside my heart.

They say we look alike.
An optical allusion
to the matching twinkle
in our eyes.

Some days I dream you small again,
watch you running in the yard.
See the momma bluebird
let you pet her baby's head.

At times I'm Retroactive Mom.
All mistakes erased.
Am all that you deserve.

But, no regrets for us.
Our gypsy souls
will meet again.

Maybe next time,
you can be the Mom.
Rebekah for the Polpar Grove Muse


  1. Thanks rebekah, this is so beautiful. I know that feeling.

  2. I loved reading this, Rebekah. Tissue, please!

    Great picture of the lucky son.

  3. Thanks for starting my day off with a lovely reality.

  4. Beautiful, beautiful piece Beck, thanks for sharing it.

  5. Rebekah,
    I am just now reading this. The piece is so beautiful. The poem is...well...I just love it so much.