5. Adopt a child.
When we first decided to go forward with adopting a child, things were very clear and simple in our minds. We had three great little boys and wanted to add one sweet little baby girl. We talked for days about how incredible it would be to have a daughter to love and raise as our own. It had been a topic of conversation on and off for several years and finally, it was going to be a reality.
I remember how, early on that Monday morning, I called adoption services in our state and informed them of our desire to adopt a baby girl. I'm sure I sounded positively giddy. Our lives would never be the same from that moment on. The social worker took a little information from me and then kindly but firmly let me know we would never be given a baby girl. We already had three children and baby girls rarely went up for adoption anyway. If we were interested in older boys she could help us out right away. Of course, she let me know the children would be delivered with lots of baggage and not the kind that come in pretty colors. I hung up feeling shell-shocked.
Not one to quickly surrender, I began looking into international adoption. Two years later, all we had to show for all our efforts were two adoptions that never materialized and a loss of thousands of dollars. As I allowed the sadness to go deep within me, it began to bring up thoughts and feelings from when I was small. I remembered something! I had wanted to adopt a little girl. She was always Mexican in my mind and her name was always Rachel.
That night when I sat down with my husband, I told him of my memory. Surely this must be God's way of telling us to go to Mexico and find our baby girl. Bob was tired from the last two years and less than enthusiastic. He wanted to wait a bit before we spent any more time, money or emotion on the whole adoption thing. The sadness hit me harder than before.
Several weeks later, a friend of mine called. Jean was a birth mother, a foster mother and an adoptive mother. She said she had just come from a meeting and had seen a picture of three little girls the agency was trying to place for adoption. They were sisters, all under six years old and of Mexican descent. She had thought of us immediately and really thought I should call and ask about them. I thanked her but told her there was no way we were going to adopt three older children. I never mentioned it to Bob.
That next week, I was miserable. I couldn't eat or sleep. I was having trouble concentrating on anything but those three little girls. I began to dream about "Rachel" just as I had when I was ten years old. I finally explained the whole thing to Bob and his first response was "Call!" I was shocked by his change of heart but didn't wait around to ask questions.
I called the agency and explained who I was and told them we were interested in the girls. The social worker was friendly and talkative asking questions about our family for almost an hour. Finally I heard her say, "Well, those three little girls have been placed for adoption." I immediately began to cry. She then continued, "However, I have two other little girls that I think would fit perfectly in your family." I felt as if my heart had stopped and I wasn't breathing.
Arraignments were made for Bob and I to take our three boys to the agency the following Monday. It would be a two hour drive for a one hour meeting. We went with more excitement than could be contained, literally. The meeting was a nightmare. Our boys, who were normally fairly well-behaved in public, had lost their little minds. They were noisy and wild, fighting over toys and acting sillier than we had ever seen before. We left there knowing this was probably the end of the adoption trail for us.
The next day the social worker called to ask if just Bob and I would come back up the next afternoon. She wanted to spend some one-on-one time with us. Being thankful for another chance, I told her we would be there. That meeting was much quieter to say the least. We learned the girls were four years old and ten years old. The younger was of Mexican/African American heritage and the older was of Mexican heritage. She gave us their records to read. It was brutal reading what these two little ones had been through. She warned us of all the typical things you hear about with older children. They may not bond with you ever. They may have serious emotional issues. There could be hidden health problems. On and on she went until our heads were swimming with what ifs. Finally she handed their pictures to us. As Bob and I sat next to each other holding those photos, we both began to sob. Something entered the room at that moment. It was the same something that had been there when each of our boys was born. I don't know what to call it other than it is that thing that happens when you first see your child. That overwhelming, all encompassing emotion of your past, present and future being laid in your arms. These girls were our babies. Though we had never held them in our arms, our hearts had held them for years.
Sylvia, the social worker, asked us to come back again the next afternoon. She wanted us to meet the girls and they wanted to meet us. The next day we arrived almost an hour early. When the girls walked into the room the feeling was overwhelming. We spent thirty minutes in the office talking before Sylvia suggested we take the girls out for a few hours. As Bob and I helped buckle the girls into the car, our oldest daughter looked at me and asked, "When you adopt me can I change my name?"
That was twenty years ago. Her name today? Rachel.
Me and my girl, Rachel Patrice Hansen-Gerber
and the story continues......