02 August 2013

Meeting Alice

This post is from a series I wrote between January and July of this year. You can click HERE to start from the first post of the series.

“I’m ready to meet!”

Hooray! The next step! She knew she liked us enough that she wanted to move to the next step and meet us in person. We had been messaging back and forth several times a day for about a week. We left for Mexico a few days after we started messaging so we set the meeting to be the day after we returned from our trip, and arranged things with our caseworker. Now the day is finally here.

I started planning my outfit right after she said she wanted to meet and now the entire thing is together and out of Aurelia’s reach. There’ll be no frantic rummaging or searching for a missing piece of the outfit today. I’ve planned the morning out for the three of us to make sure we're all ready with time to spare. I’m so nervous I think I might throw up. Deep breaths, deep breaths. Aurelia will be with us for about the first ten minutes.  I’ve coordinated with Ally to have her pick Aurelia up ten minutes in for a play date with her girls so we can have undistracted talk time with Alice. I can’t eat anything, I’m so anxious!

We park in a parking lot across the street from the LDSFS office we’re meeting at. The building parking lot is empty and I worry “what if she doesn’t like something about our car? Or what if she sees how messy it is right now and thinks ‘I don’t want messy people being parents of this baby!’?” Bleh, yeah, better park in the other lot. In our defense we JUST got home the night before from a road trip from where Aurelia had been staying while we were in Mexico, a little mess is understandable.

The three of us walk across the street and into the building, Aurelia carrying the picture she drew for Alice. Our caseworker greets us in the lobby and walks us down the long hall where Alice and her friend are already waiting. I take a deep breath…and in we go.

Alice and her friend are sitting on a couch along the far wall and they are SO CUTE! Both of them look fabulous with cute scarves and their hair done all nicely. Hugs are passed around and we take our spot on the couch opposite them. Our caseworker, K, sits to our left, and a second caseworker sits to our right.

I always forget how awkwardly I fit into these couches! They’re really deep which means for a short person like me I have to choose between having my feet on the floor and sitting up straight, not leaning against the back of the couch, OR sitting with my back against the couch and having my legs stick straight off the edge like a little child. I don’t want to look like a child but I don’t want to look like I’m uncomfortable and uptight, sitting on the edge of the couch. I know Alice is short like me, what is she doing? She’s got her feet curled under her on the couch! Dang it, I have a hole in the toe of my tights and brightly painted toes…I don’t want to take my shoes off and show my brightly advertised, holed tights. Alright, shift back and forth between edge of the couch and looking like a child it is. O-ver-thinking it.

We carry on chit chatting and every now and then the second caseworker pipes in with a question. Alice’s caseworker wasn’t able to make it, so neither of us know the second worker.  I keep forgetting she’s there until she reminds me by asking a question a few steps behind where Alice and I already are in our friendship. This second caseworker is a sweet girl but it’s weird having someone none of us know.

Thankfully, K (our caseworker) asks perfect questions to get things up to speed and keep it relevant. “So how much do you guys know about Alice?” she asks us. I start spouting off all the things we’ve learned about Alice over the last week. “she has this many siblings, grew up here, now lives there, works doing this, is this old, went to college there, we both love the same guilty pleasure tv series and watched it on Netflix, she likes SmartWater, she and Daniel have a mutual friend…” and on and on, things I’m obviously not going to post on here to protect her privacy. I think that helped K get a better idea of how much we had been in contact.

Meeting is tricky because both caseworkers know all sorts of details about each of us but they have to be careful never to say last names or identifying information. All personal details are up to each of us to decide what we want to share.

So we chit chat and basically catch everyone else up to where we are. Alice’s sweet friend came prepared. She asked us all sorts of questions about ourselves and our thoughts about different aspects of adoption and parenting. What a good friend. Really. Think about it. This friend not only took the time to come with Alice to meet us but took a legitimate interest in helping her learn about us and really check us out. She didn’t just come along for moral support, she took an active role. I was pretty impressed.

Alice was wearing owl earrings similar to some Daniel’s mom and I made. Sweet! :)

While we were all talking I thought, “Alice is barely talking. I wish we could have met just the three of us. We’ve hardly actually gotten to speak to each other because there are so many other people in the room!” There were six people in this face to face meeting. Two caseworkers, Alice and her friend, and Daniel and I. Alice and I were the ones who had been emailing a ton and yet we were barely talking to each other.

Every time something weird was asked or said I looked at Alice to see if she thought it was weird or too and I thought maybe one time we made eye contact and had the same thought. Most of the time though she wasn’t even looking at us. She seemed uncomfortable. She was quiet…and wasn’t looking at us…and then the meeting ended. K wrapped up the conversations, we all gave our goodbyes, and our caseworker walked Daniel and I out of the room and back to the lobby. Just like that it was over.

My heart sunk. It was over. We briefly talked to K and I explained that we were still guarding our hearts and didn’t want to be disappointed again. We hadn’t been able to fully embrace our relationship with her because we didn’t want the heartbreak of getting attached to something that might not happen. We had wanted to make sure Alice knew once she picked us we would be committed to her. We would all be in this together. I wanted her to know we really loved her and thought she was one of the coolest and most fantastic people we knew. We wanted her to know she could trust us. Each of us had been a little broken by past adoption related experiences so we each had issues trusting each other. I wanted to reassure her! I wanted her to really know us! I wanted her to know and believe how awesome we thought she was! I wanted her to know we care about her and would be more than just this baby’s parents, we would be her friends, her family! I wanted her to know all of this, and I felt like not a single one of those things had gotten across during our meeting. Not a single one.

We left K and walked outside. Daniel put his arm around me…and I cried. “It’s over” I thought to myself. We blew it.

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