Labor of Love

It was about 9:30 PM on Friday, February 10th. We frantically drove to St. Francis Hospital, just outside of Memphis. We were both so nervous. We became even more flustered in the parking lot because our birthmother (who will be referred to as T going forward) sent a text to Scott saying that her mother was dropping her off and that she had not told her she was giving the baby up for adoption. She told her that she was our surrogate. She asked us not to mention anything in front of her.

We raced into the ER, checked in with security and walked up to the registration desk. We had seen pictures of T before, but never met her in person. While we were standing in line, there was a woman in front of us checking in. It was her. Scott tapped her on her shoulder and called her name. She turned around and opened her arms inviting us in for a group hug. We were all so full of emotion. We just stood there, the three of us clutching on to one another and crying like babies. This just became completely real. It wasn’t just a fantasy anymore.

We all calmed down and sat waiting for her to be taken in the back. We met her mother, who walked right up to us and gave us both hugs. She treated us like we were a part of her family. She waited around with us for a little while before going back home. Once she left, someone came out to get T. None of us knew exactly how to proceed. I think it was Scott who asked if we were allowed to be with her in the examination room. He explained the situation and they let us go with her.

It wasn’t very long before a doctor came to check on T. After a while, they finally decided to admit her, we were told that she would be moving to a room in the maternity ward. We went up with her and stopped at the nurse’s station to let them know that we had arrived. Scott and I kind of thought that they would have rolled out the proverbial red carpet for us and have our room ready next to T’s. Boy, were we wrong! Hospital management had received our birth plan from our attorney, but never shared it with the nursing staff. They had no idea that we were coming or how to accommodate us. They were pretty cold to Scott and I, and treated us as if we were there to steal T’s baby. I will just leave it at they were not friendly!

T had previously told us that she wanted us in the delivery room and with her beforehand for support. So, that’s what we did. We sat there in her room and tried to keep her occupied. We chatted and got to know each other better, played games, and watched trashy reality shows. We actually binge watched every season of “Flavor of Love” and “I Love New York.” Those two television shows will forever hold a special place in our hearts. One hiccup was that each time the nurses would come in to examine T, they would ask us to leave. At one point when Scott went out on a coffee run, a nurse came in and said to T, “If they are bothering you, I can have them removed.” T replied, “They are not bothering me. I want them here and they don’t have to leave every time you all come in.” When Scott got back, I told him what had happened. He marched right out to the nurse’s station and let them have it. He said, “I don’t care which one of you said it, but don’t any of you dare say anything like that to her again. You obviously have no idea how sensitive this situation is. We have a legal right to be in that room with her.” The guilty nurse followed Scott back into the room, even though he asked her not to, and apologized to T for being insensitive. We never saw that nurse again the entire time we were in the hospital. Soon after, they finally got a room for us ready across the hall from T’s. We just put our bags in there and went right back to stay with her.

At about 6 AM Saturday morning, a staff change happened. All of the nurses coming in were young and were obviously briefed about our situation. It became pretty apparent that a same-sex adoption probably had never occurred in this hospital. I am not entirely sure that they had ever seen gay men in their natural habitat, either. When they would come in to check on T, they would give us these coy little smiles like the young nuns gave to Delores Van Cartier in “Sister Act.” They were clearly very curious about us. They were very friendly and made an effort to learn our story. Half of the time, they would just come in to chat with us during their down time. They put us at ease and made us feel very comfortable.

Labor became pretty intense Saturday night. T was in so much pain. The epidurals weren’t giving her enough relief. One of the nurses taught me how to massage her lower back in order to alleviate her discomfort. We were approaching 26 hours of labor. T was dilating, but our baby wasn’t dropping. There was a point where our son’s heartbeat became very abnormal. It caused some major concern to the staff and was very scary for Scott and I. I learned to track his heartbeat on the monitor, which I constantly did. I saw that it was irregular and immediately ran to get a nurse. I wasn’t aware that they already knew and were on their way. They asked us leave the room, which we vehemently declined to do. They gave T something medicinal and did some adjusting of her and the baby’s positions and everything came back to normal. It now became something that needed to be continuously monitored.

About four hours later, the doctor decided that they were going to prep for a C-Section. Since T continued dilating and the baby still wasn’t dropping, he thought it was best to get him out. He came in to talk to T about the procedure. She was not happy about it because it meant she would have to stay in the hospital longer than she had hoped. But, she understood that it was necessary for the health of the baby. He then turned to me and asked what it would be like for an African-American baby growing up with two white, gay fathers in Rhode Island. He totally put me on the spot and I was not pleased because he did it right in front of T. I sarcastically replied, “It will not be an issue because up north, we are literate and progressive people.”

After 30 hours of labor, bonding with T, growing our dad bods by eating fast food, and not sleeping; a nurse came with one of those sterile hospital jumpsuits, gloves, cap, and mask. She asked us to decide which one of us would be going in the delivery room because it could only be one of us. Scott volunteered me. He knows how into medical procedures I am and thought I would appreciate seeing it. Then, another nurse came with a second getup and told us that we could both go in and to get ready quickly because it was about to happen. We put them on and sat outside the delivery room waiting to be called in.

hosp1

Just about five minutes later, a nurse came to get us and brought us into the delivery room. They had two seats for us set up behind T’s bed. I couldn’t believe this was actually going to happen. It’s the first time this entire adoption journey became reality to me. It was surreal. We were about to witness the birth of our son. By this time, both of us were so tired, but running on adrenaline. Neither of us could sit. We just stood there crying and holding hands, eagerly anticipating our son’s arrival.

At 6:10 AM on Sunday, February 12th, we welcomed Taylor Benjamin Jaworski into the world.

hosp2

We looked at Taylor once and he instantly became the love of our lives. We had waited for him for a long time! I am sure I can speak for my husband by saying that neither of us has ever loved a single living thing more than him at that very moment. Our family was now complete. The nurses cleaned him up, weighed and measured him and then told us to go wait in our room and they would bring him to us.

We waited for Taylor for no more than ten minutes, but it felt like an hour had passed. We both could not wait to hold him for the first time. There was a knock at our door and two nurses came in with him on a portable bassinet. They gave us formula and diapers, some instructions, and left us alone with or son for the first time to bond. I could easily re-live that day over and over again. We were officially fathers. It was the best day of my entire life.

hosp3

He was the cutest 7 pound 2 ounce bundle of joy I had ever seen. While sitting there staring at him, absorbing reality, I made a promise to my son. I promised him that I would never hurt him, always make him feel safe, encourage him, and forever give him the kind of love that I never received growing up. I wanted him to know right from day one that he was a blessing and that he mattered. I can only hope that he heard me.

hosp4

Scott and I looked at each other and he said to me, “I can’t believe this is really happening. We are parents. But, now what do we do?” All I could answer was, “I have no clue!”

Now, we had to figure out how to be parents…………………….

 

 

 

 

He Guided Me to Tennessee

It was a beautiful morning on February 8th. The sun was shining and it hit 60 degrees. If you know anything about Rhode Islanders, 60 degrees in February is considered a beach day. We excitedly rolled out of bed and went downstairs to start loading up the car for our drive to Tennessee. Inside our back door was a care package with a card left by one of our neighbors. It was the sweetest thing, literally and figuratively.

We had made a list of the baby supplies that we thought we should bring with us. Little did we know that we would end up only needing half the amount of stuff that we lugged 1,275 miles. We packed a portable bassinet, car seat, bath products, clothes, diapers, feeding supplies, burp cloths, receiving blankets, and pacifiers. You name it, we packed it! Plus, we had to pack for ourselves expecting to be there for upwards of a month.

After packing, we just had to wait for Scott’s sister to arrive. She offered to house sit for us and take care of our dogs while we were away. That was incredibly generous of her and very much appreciated! She arrived around 11 AM and we decided to depart shortly after. Even though it was gorgeous out, we were expecting a blizzard that night so we wanted to get south of Maryland before it hit the east coast.

Originally, we had discussed flying to Memphis. It would have been a direct flight from Providence, but we were concerned about having a newborn on an airplane. Some airlines will not allow babies under 2 weeks old to fly and we had that cloud of uncertainty as to the length of time it would take to finalize the adoption. Plus, I had a fear of our baby getting sick from being on a plane with potentially ill passengers and recirculated air. Driving back and forth became the solution. When I look back on it, we totally should have flown! Scott and I have been known to bicker quite a bit. We can squabble over how blue the sky is. Just imagine the two of us alone in a car for 19 hours.

When we left, both of us were filled with excitement. We were on our way to becoming fathers. It was surreal. I think I probably pinched myself a hundred times on the way just to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

Before we knew it, we had been through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and were about to hit Pennsylvania. I remember saying to Scott, “Wow! This drive is going to be a piece of cake!” Nope! You tend to forget just how small the states are in the Northeast. PA was the first state that we felt like we were driving forever and getting nowhere. It is freaking huge! Well, every state is compared to RI. By the time we got to Amish/Dutch Country, it was close to getting dark. We stopped for some coffee before we were to cross into Maryland. Once we got to Maryland, we felt like we were far enough south from the impending blizzard, so we stopped for “dinner” at a McDonald’s off the highway. It was like the “Twilight Zone.” It appeared to be a nightclub for old Donald Trump supporters who were dancing to the sounds of the DJ spinning Fox News’ greatest hits. We could not get out of there fast enough!

We hopped back in the car and ended up in West Virginia. I had never been to WV, nor had I ever planned to. It was only the Eastern Panhandle, so it went by very quickly, even though “Dueling Banjos” played on repeat in my mind. I know, I know….sorry if that offends anyone. I know the panhandle is an exurb of DC, but it still reminds me of “Deliverance.” Some day I will return and give it a chance.

Then, we entered Virginia. Mammoth VA! The state that never ends and where there were torrential downpours the entire way through. We did not see one sight while we were there. For the most part, we never saw more than 10 feet in front of us.

Our plan was to drive straight through, only stopping for gas, restrooms and food. By this point, I kept trying to talk Scott into getting a hotel room for the evening. He insisted on plowing ahead. He didn’t let me drive one mile the whole way. He claims that I am a terrible driver. I wholeheartedly disagree, but will admit to driving like an old man.

We were so tired and second guessing our decision to drive. But, once we reached the Tennessee border, our excitement returned. That is, until we realized it was still another 7 hours before we would get to Memphis. Tennessee is very long! I did my best to keep Scott awake by playing “Heads Up” with him on my phone. We just needed the sun to come up and we would be fine.

We were just about an hour outside of Memphis when we ended up getting pulled over by the highway patrol. The officer stopped us for not moving over while another officer had a car pulled over. He was nice at first. He looked over the car and asked if we were really from Rhode Island or if we had a rental car. We told him that we were bonafide Rhode Islanders and then he quipped, “You boys are a long way from home.” He went back to his cruiser, ran his checks and came back with a $200 ticket. He told us to have a wonderful vacation and then Scott yelled at him, “We are not on vacation, we are adopting a baby!” He apologized and walked away. I had to remind Scott that it’s not appropriate to yell at police officers. Hahaha!

We finally reached our hotel on February 9th, after what seemed like an eternity. We could not wait to get to our suite for a shower and much needed nap! Scott texted our birthmother to let her know that we arrived safely. After we woke up around 4 PM, we decided to go out for a drink and a bite to eat. That’s when I fell in love with Nashville hot deviled eggs. Try them! You will thank me later.

eggs

We were pretty low key and crashed early that first night. The next day (Friday, February 10th) we both slept late then woke up and decided to explore Memphis and have some BBQ.

bbq

We also had to go clothes shopping because it was close to 85 degrees and all we had packed for ourselves were winter clothes.  Throughout the day I discovered that I really couldn’t understand anything that anyone was saying. There is a very distinct accent in Western Tennessee that is completely different from the East. Someone could simply say “Hello” to me and after trying to translate, my mind wanted to respond, “What? Timmy fell in the well?” After a good nap, it was time to go out for drinks and some more Nashville hot deviled eggs! We were both on high alert because it was our son’s actual due date. We ended up back at the hotel to call it an early night.

I fell asleep and then the next thing I remember is Scott frantically waking me up at 9 PM because our birthmother was going into labor and was on her way to the hospital. It was time! This was really happening! We found ourselves in a frenzy trying to get composed and packed up. We hopped in the car and off we went…………..

 

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The Call That Changed It All

Every time we received any news about our adoption progress, I seemed to have the day off. It was just an ordinary Friday, December 2, 2016 to be exact. Scott was the main contact for the adoption agency, and they had some wonderful news to share with him. It just so happened that he was in a meeting and couldn’t answer their call. Much to my surprise, my phone rang and it was the agency on the other end! Once I saw the name and number in my caller ID, goosebumps took over my entire body. It was obvious what the purpose of the call was. I had to calm myself down before answering. I didn’t want to seem too eager or excited. So, I put on my best “phone voice” for the occasion. I felt so important. They were calling me to deliver the news that a birthmother had selected us. She lived just outside of Memphis, was pregnant with a boy and was due on February 10th! Holy crap! February 10th! My mind immediately began to race. We had a lot to prepare for in a very short amount of time. I could not contain my excitement any longer and turned into a giddy schoolgirl on the phone. Of course, I told the woman from the agency that I thought I had psychic powers because we had just discussed having a boy the night before. She explained that our next step was to contact the mother via email and that she was expecting to hear from us that night. My first reaction was to call Scott. He answered and I told him what had happened. Guess what? He had already listened to his voicemail and called the agency back. He was still on the other line with them being told the same things that I was. And, here I was thinking I was special because of the whole knowing first thing. Nope.

That night, we sat down and typed an introduction email. We kept it short and simple:

Hi ___________,

How are you?  Do people call you ________?  We are very happy to introduce ourselves to you. First we want to say how brave you are for considering adoption and how honored we are that you have chosen to communicate with us.

Our profile has a little bit of information, however, if you have any questions, we are open books and will answer anything that can help you to get to know us and get to feel comfortable with us.  

We are very excited about this possibility and hope to hear from you soon.

P.S.  Since it’s our first email, it’s hard to sound fun and witty. But trust us that will come with time.

Scott and Mike

She wrote back to us right away. She thanked us and explained that she was drawn to our profile because she and I had similar degrees and she shared Scott’s art background. She also relayed to us that she was sexually assaulted and this pregnancy was the result. After a lot of therapy and introspection, she decided that adoption was the best option for her and the baby and asked that it be closed. She stated, “I don’t think I could deal with the guilt of still being in the baby’s life while not actually having him, plus, I’m also concerned with the baby bringing back memories of the rape, as selfish as that may sound. I’m not sure how you guys feel about a closed adoption, though.” When we first started the journey, I wanted a closed adoption and Scott wanted the adoption to remain open. So, we compromised and chose to list semi-open as the preference in our profile. We were totally fine with whatever decision she made. We just wanted her to be comfortable.

We now found ourselves in a bit of an overwhelming situation. We had just written a check the week prior to a contractor so he could begin a complete kitchen gut and remodel. This was something that we knew had to be complete before a baby came along or it would never get done. We joked that since we just paid for the kitchen, we would be getting THE call, and that’s exactly what happened. We had to hire a lawyer and social worker in Memphis. We had to get ready for Christmas, which was literally 3 weeks away. We had to completely redesign and paint the nursery because it was still pink. The running joke was that our son wouldn’t know the difference if we just left it that way. I mean, seriously, color has no gender anyway. And, most importantly, we had to concentrate on building a strong connection with our birthmother.

Scott is a worrier by nature. He had major concerns about the potential for a third failed adoption and about the financial aspects since we had to shell out a lot of money at this point. Our life savings was pretty much tied up in the adoption and kitchen. I did my best to stay positive and ease his fears. We also had to accept the unknown which was having zero information about the birthfather. Our birthmother never saw his face during the assault and had no idea what his race was. Without having any medical history, it would definitely be something that would need to be addressed in the future.

We contacted the adoption agency hoping to get a referral for a lawyer. They reached out to the only one they had in Memphis. Sadly, he refused to take us on as clients because we are gay. Our lawyer in Rhode Island ended up referring us to another attorney, Susan Mackenzie (http://www.susanmackenzielaw.com/), who we retained right away. She found us a social worker and before we knew it, we were under contract with them both.

Meanwhile, we were both texting with our birthmother multiple times per day. It was great because she would initiate the contact most of the time. We ended up getting very close in a very short period of time. We got to know her very well. She was 29 and a Cornell graduate originally from Atlanta who was now living on a military base in Tennessee with her five year old son. Her mother was deployed so she temporarily moved there so she could care for her younger brother. We felt like she was now a part of our family and suggested to her that if she wanted to change her mind about a closed adoption, we were all for it. She told us that she would think about it.

We made it through Christmas without a functioning kitchen. We spent the actual holiday at Scott’s parents’ house on Cape Cod. It is his favorite holiday because his birthday is on Christmas Eve. When he was a kid, his parents used to tell him that people put up lights to celebrate his birthday. Christmas is not my favorite time of year. I do not have a relationship with my family, so the season is a real struggle for me emotionally. I have been warming up to it the past few years because of Scott and his family. I see the joy and the love that they all have for one another. It is contagious. Plus, we were both full of excitement with the pending adoption and knowing that this time the following year, we would have a little one of our own to celebrate with.

We did not tell many people about our new connection right away. We had only told Scott’s family and our closest friends. We waited until January 9th before we officially announced that we were expecting. We had an outpouring of love and support from everyone. It was almost as if they all knew that this was the one that was actually going to happen.

Our plan was to drive down to Memphis on February 8th, which was two days before the due date; unless she went into labor earlier, of course. Friends of ours offered to repaint the nursery for us while we were gone, but, it was something that we wanted to do ourselves. Scott loves to paint and insisted on doing it himself. He worked all day on a Saturday and got it all done. He certainly has a keen eye and designed the space himself.

We had no plans to have a baby shower, but we really didn’t have much baby stuff and people were asking us what we needed. We decided to put an Amazon registry together so people who wanted to get us gifts could. All of our friends and family purchased everything on that registry. We were getting packages delivered to the house on a daily basis. I can’t stress adequately how having that much love and support touched us and truly can’t thank them enough! Then, Scott’s coworkers ended up throwing him a surprise baby shower which was very sweet and much appreciated.

With everything else that was going on, we also had to mentally prepare ourselves for becoming parents. We knew our lives were going to change in a major way, which was welcomed. We also knew that we may end up facing some challenges along the way as two white, gay fathers of an African-American baby. We did a lot of reading and soul searching. We spoke to friends about how they dealt with racism in their own lives and, basically, how we should handle it if it were to happen to us. The best piece of advice was to not sweat it. Why worry about something that may never happen? Cross that bridge if it should ever be thrown out in front of you. Follow your instincts and just be great role models to your son. Pretty solid, if you ask me. As our departure date grew closer, we had to start thinking about accommodations in Memphis. Our birthmother let us know her birth plan in advance, so we were able to find a hotel that was pretty close to the hospital. Luckily, I am a travel agent and able to get very deep discounts at Marriott properties. We booked the hotel with an open-ended reservation, checking in on February 9th and staying for upwards of a month. I am actually very grateful to Marriott for being so accommodating. Then, before we knew it, it was February 8th and time for us to hit the road……………

The Road to Adoption: Part 2

I had the day off on Friday, March 11, 2016. I followed my normal routine which was to begin the day by drinking coffee and stalking our birthmother’s Facebook page. Much to my surprise, I discovered that she had “unfriended” us. Alarm bells went off in my head. I knew right then it was over. I was in disbelief. I was confused. I was devastated.

After taking a few moments to shed some tears and grab my composure, I decided to text Scott. My exact text to him was, “Honey…..(——-) deleted us on Facebook.” I look back on that decision today and realize how insensitive it was. I should have called him like a normal, caring, decent person. You don’t drop a bombshell like that via text message. What the hell was I thinking? And, now that I think about it, I have never apologized to him for that.

Scott did not know what to say or how to react. We both ended up emailing the birthmother to ask her what happened and if everything was alright. We never received replies.

I thought it was best to contact the lawyer that we had in Missouri to let her know what was going on and to ask for our money back. Scott contacted the adoption agency. Both were very supportive, encouraging and apologetic.

Scott wanted to come home from work to be with me so we could console each other. I really wanted him to, but I thought it was best that he stay and be around his work family for support. He was also scheduled to play tennis that evening, which he wanted to cancel. I told him not to. Hitting tennis balls is a great way to let off steam and get your mind off of your troubles. That’s probably what he needed. If he came home, we would have ended up crying and being depressed all day. I am sure that neither one of us would have done a great job of making the other feel better about the situation.

What I really wanted was to be alone. When something bad happens in my life, I prefer to retreat into my shell like a turtle until I feel better about it. That didn’t quite happen.

I told a friend, who told another friend. Before I knew it, I was hosting a game night with these friends sitting around the dining room table eating Chinese food and getting drunk. It was fine, I guess. It didn’t take my mind off of things because it’s all everyone wanted to talk about.

Scott came home around 8:30. He was not pleased that there were people at the house. I understood that our friends didn’t want me to be alone. It was definitely appreciated. I also understood that Scott didn’t feel like having company. He just wanted to be alone with me so we could grieve in peace.

I was now at a point where I did not want to continue with the adoption process. I didn’t have it in me to go through another failed adoption. If you haven’t gone through one, let me just tell you that it stings. It sucks, actually. Scott was very good at encouraging me to keep going. He kept telling me that everything will work out in the end and that this happened for a reason. Scott is definitely a better man than I am. He is very forgiving and actually wrote a very nice email to the birthmother wishing her well and letting her know that there were no hard feelings. I, on the other hand, could not echo his sentiment. Unfortunately, I tend to take things personally.

The birthmother never responded to either of us, the lawyer, social worker, or the agency. We were just left with unanswered questions, hurt feelings, and sadness. She never completely blocked us from Facebook and her page was public, so Scott checked daily to see if she had given birth. I had no desire to see or hear anything about her.

A couple of weeks later, she did give birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl.

The adoption agency had put us back up live on their website. Now, we just had to wait again to be picked by another birthmother. We left the nursery alone. It stayed pink as a reminder of what could have been. For a while, I just left the door closed so I didn’t have to look in there. Time really does heal all wounds, though. I have never told Scott this, but as time went by, I would go up to the nursery and just sit in the rocking chair and stair at the crib and gallery that we had put up. It started with me wondering what our lives would be like if that adoption had succeeded. Then, it turned into me using the time I spent in there as inspiration to hang in there and never give up on my dream of becoming a parent.

nursery

Fast forward to summer 2016. We were still waiting. One day after work, we went to our local neighborhood bar to have a few drinks. While sitting there at the bar, Scott received a phone call from his cousin in California. He went outside to talk. I just sat there with a big smile on my face because I immediately knew what the call was about. He came back in and told me that his cousin knew a woman that was pregnant, due around Christmas, was having a boy, and was considering adoption. The short version of the story is that this poor woman ended up having an affair with a man she did not know was married. The father didn’t want anything to do with her because he already had a wife and kids who did not know that he got another woman pregnant.

We sent her an introduction letter along with a hard copy of our adoption profile. She, along with her family, loved our profile and decided to move forward with us as the adoptive parents. We were very excited, to say the least. We didn’t want to get our hopes up and make the same mistakes that we had made with our previous connection. We told only our family and closest friends. We didn’t buy or paint anything. We definitely learned our lesson and pretty much kept it quiet.

This was now a private adoption and did not have anything to do with our agency. So, we decided not to tell them about it so we could remain on the website just in case it were to fall through.

A few weeks went by and everything was going smoothly. We had begun to look for a lawyer and social worker in California. Then, out of the blue, we were notified that the birthfather had filed an injunction to not allow the birthmother to put the baby up for adoption. He had also filed for custody of the unborn child. And that was all she wrote.

Dealing with a failed adoption isn’t easy and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, we handled this one much better than the last. We only had feelings of disappointment. We weren’t emotional at all. We knew, again, that this one wasn’t meant to be. Our perfect match was out there somewhere. So, we waited.

On December 1, 2016, we were sitting in the living room watching TV. I turned to Scott and asked him if we had a boy, could his middle name be Benjamin? He asked why, and I explained that because his best friend Ben had died when they were kids, I thought it would be a nice way of paying homage to him. Scott was touched and he agreed. I remember him asking me, “You really think we’re going to have a boy, don’t you?” I did. I had a dream about it. The very next day, we received the call that would change our lives forever…….

 

 

 

 

The Road to Adoption: Part 1

Our adoption journey pretty much began the day that we met. It was the summer of 2009, and a mutual friend of ours invited both of us to play tennis after work. Scott and I both showed up at the busy park and just stood around waiting. Then, we both received texts saying that our friend was cancelling because he fell ill. “Okay,” I thought to myself. “I am already here, so let me find this other guy.” I found him alright; to the tune of a 6-0, 6-0 embarrassing loss to this jerk I had never seen before. The match lasted for what seemed like an eternity; however, it was probably more like twenty excruciating minutes. We ended up standing outside of my car for about two hours after. There was a mutual attraction from the get go. We just talked and talked and talked. We talked about each of us wanting to have a child and wanting to be fathers. We just didn’t know it yet that it would end up being with each other.

Fast forward to 2015. We had been living together for six years and we were engaged to be married. During that time, we had countless conversations about starting a family together. We didn’t know how we would go about it. We just knew that we wanted to be legally married beforehand. Same-sex marriage had been legal in Rhode Island since 2013; but, Scott and I didn’t think it was right to get married until it was legal nationwide. That glorious day came on June 26, 2015. Once we heard the ruling that morning, we giddily headed straight to city hall to get our marriage license.

We really wanted to have one of those pretentious, over the top, fairytale weddings. You know, the kind you would see on a Bravo TV show. That didn’t happen. We didn’t know if we wanted to hire a surrogate, foster or adopt; so we opted to be responsible adults and save our money. Instead, we had a rather large barbeque at our home on August 8th and surprised our family and friends by getting married in our backyard. It ended up being perfect!

Ultimately, we chose the route of adoption for various reasons. We liked the idea of fostering; but, we both would have been devastated if we had a child in our custody that was suddenly taken away from us to be reunited with his or her family. We really liked the idea of a surrogate until we saw the price tag. Seriously; I enjoy tattoos, wine and vacations too much to pay that kind of money for anything.

We began researching various agencies within Rhode Island and throughout the country. Scott found one in Chicago that ended up being the perfect fit for us. It was Angel Adoption (https://www.angeladoptioninc.com/), and we chose them because they only facilitate newborn adoptions. Some of our friends thought we were crazy. We kept getting asked the same question, “Why would you want a newborn?” Why? Because we felt that we had every right to start a family the same way that heterosexual couples do. We wanted the same experiences, or, at least as close to them as we could get. We wanted to be there to witness our child being born. We wanted to endure sleepless nights with around the clock feedings and diaper changes. We wanted the start of our family to be as normal and organic as it could be, without actually giving birth ourselves, of course. We felt that we deserved that magic as much as anyone else.

We sped through our home study with our social worker from Adoption Options (http://adoptionoptions.org/). Once we were approved, we signed a two year contract with Angel in November of 2015. By Thanksgiving, we had our adoption profile live on their website and were eagerly awaiting a call telling us that a birthmother had selected us.

We received that call pretty quickly; on January 11, 2016 to be exact. We had been under contract for less than two months and were officially connected with a birthmother in Missouri. She was pregnant with a girl and she was due in March! Since she was due so soon, we had to act fast and hired a lawyer and a social worker in Missouri. We thought we were the greatest things since squeezable ketchup. We were so excited to be expecting a daughter. We were so excited that we did everything that the agency and social worker told us not to do. We told anyone and everyone who would listen. Strangers at the grocery store, local bar, mall, you name it; they all knew about our adoption whether they wanted to or not. We turned one of our spare bedrooms into a full fledged pink walled nursery with all of the unnecessary pink, fluffy accoutrements. We even dusted all of the woodwork with pink glitter. No, we really didn’t do that, but we certainly thought about it! We began buying all sorts of baby girl clothing. We posted about it all over Facebook, and we even accepted the friend request from our birthmother. We were actually planning our own baby shower. In our minds, we were already fabulous fathers to Taylor Jennifer.

The connection we had with our birthmother was not the most solid. It was more like that one drawer in your kitchen that always has a loose knob no matter how often you tighten it. She was young and obviously had some issues. In the beginning, everything was wonderful. We were drinking life out of champagne flutes. We would email her and she would respond right away. We obviously had a bunch of questions for her about medical and family history, the birthfather, and just attempting to get to know her in general. Everything was perfect! After the first couple of weeks, her communication efforts began to dwindle. She would sometimes go three days or more without responding to our emails. She did things like tell us she was going to get a sonogram and would send us pictures and then never follow through. It became apparent that she was not very reliable. We started to second guess ourselves. Were we coming on too strong? Were we overwhelming her with questions? Were we just too much for her? Regardless, we continued to view our connection through rose colored glasses and bombard her with daily emails asking frivolous questions about the weather in Missouri (like we couldn’t just ask Google), what she ate for breakfast, what her favorite color was, etc. At this point, I think we were in denial even though deep down, we probably knew that we were trying way too hard. We gave her the benefit of the doubt even though her communication with us was sporadic, to say the least. Then, out of nowhere, two weeks before the due date; our bubble was completely burst, resulting in the first of two failed adoptions. But, I will get into that next time!