1.pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.
Imagine your life streamlined and fitted to a tri-fold pamphlet, now add charming pictures of your life with loved ones, friends and pets. Essentially a sales brochure of your life, tailored towards selling your values and obvious qualifications to be a parent. With the trouble I have filling in an application for a knitting group that asks for my “other interests”, I have to believe putting one of these things together is an incredibly stressful and bizarre experience.
As the person on the other end, my thoughts were along the line of, “what is the REAL story, what are these happy shiny people hiding??”. I have a real hard time believing the hype. Like a first date, you put your best foot forward and avoid mentioning your gas problems, love of unicorn figurines or penchant for human flesh, sauteed. I came from both homes that looked like dumps on the outside but held hard working hearts of gold and lovely over-sized homes with well manicured lawns that held cold vicious custodians. There were plenty in between and I spent a lot of time devising a strategy to get beyond the glossy puff pieces. Horseback riding, sailing, family sing-a-longs, perfect fluffy puppies and traveling frequently around the world..I mean, really?? I hated all of them and obsessed over their fold-outs with sick fascination.
I decided to come up with a list of questions, and to ask any prospective parents, to both be on the line for my calls. I figured it was easier to hear hesitation and thwart collaboration if both of them were on the line, easier to hear who was in charge and who worked together, easier to know when they had differing answers. Every couple I looked at was looking for their first child and I knew that parenting was one of those things that people thought they were on the same about but found out later that wasn’t remotely true, opening up a whole new avenue of possible discontent. I further shrunk the pool by discarding anyone too close too or too far from me geographically. I knew I had it in me to stalk out my child on playground and didn’t want to give myself that option, yet I needed to be able to easily get there to visit. I narrowed my pool down to about 30 couples and notebook in hand, I started calling them.
“ Why do you want to adopt?, Why do you want a mixed race child? How did you get together, and how long have you been together? How did you end up in your current location? The father is black, and I am mixed race, do you know how to deal with kinky hair? If not, how will you deal with that?, What makes you angry?, How do each of you express your anger? What’s a fight like between you? What does your support system look like?, Do you have a plan in place for the eventuality of a break-up? What would happen to the kid? What are the legal avenues you have explored for protecting him or her?”
On and on the questions went. Some eventually got annoyed with me, and really, I understood. I was a 16 year old kid asking all kinds of prying personal questions about their lives, and even if you think you are prepared for a conversation with a potential mother, I doubt any of them were envisioning my long list of detailed inquiry. I was okay with their annoyance, it was better for me to see them with their ruffs up. Some of my questions were things I wanted actual answers for, and some were questions I had no preconceived answer I preferred, I just wanted to see how they got to their answers. As a foster kid, I knew it was the small things, like unkempt hair that were the outward signs of neglect and I tried to get a feeling for how they thought, how they worked or didn’t work together. Every couple I looked at was mixed in it’s racial composition, so that was a common reason for wanting a mixed race child that reflected their own make-up. Well, every couple except one.
That exception was also the oldest couple in the whole bunch. From what I understood that made it harder to adopt, but as it turned out the conversations I had with them were the most natural and despite their whiteness and age, I pretty quickly added them to the top three left in the running.
Of the top three, one couple was male and the other two female. After a week of deliberation and debate I asked about meeting up with the men and found out they had been picked by another birth mother, and then there were two. Two women in Long Island, which was a little close for me but pretty good and the other couple was located in Portland, Maine. I had a couple more conversations with them and decided to meet up with the white ladies from Maine first. I was really curious about them and I liked the way they bounced between each other with thoughtful answers, no annoyance and the kind of grace that comes from stability and love. Plus they asked me interesting questions and didn’t let me be the only interrogator. I appreciated that.