Even the windshield wipers know this meeting is going to be a useless disaster. They swipe back and forth, creaking as they go. The two of them settle back down, the rain pounds the window, and then they tiredly rise to wipe it away once more. Whatever visibility they create will just be covered by more rain, but they rise again and again, just like we go to meeting after meeting.
We pull into the parking lot, and my husband sighs in relief. This relentless thunderstorm forced us to drive 20 mph on the freeway for an hour. I tried convincing my husband multiple times to turn around. The sky is telling us today is doomed. If we were going to receive good news, then there would be clear skies with the sun shining down. I know there won’t be any sun today.
We walk into the office and sign in. All of the closer parking spots were filled, so we had to walk in the downpour. I swipe away the drops of water tickling my forehead as they slip to my cheeks. I want to think that today can’t get any worse, but I know it will. It always does.
We step into the agent’s office, and my heart misses a beat. In this office, we were assigned us our last child. Her office brings back all the memories of paperwork and long phone calls filled with desperate pleading.
We’ve been trying to adopt a child for five years. After the first few failures, you learn to harden your heart and shove hope down the drain. This last time, our stubborn doubt wasn’t quite stubborn enough. We were cynical the entire time during the pregnancy. We were skeptical when we heard the baby had been born.
But then… we actually held the baby. Little Andrew even came home with us. He lived with us for a whole week. He was our little boy; we were sure of it. Some legal things still needed to be finalized, and we were aware of the laws in California that gave the mother time to
revoke the adoption, but those things were far from our minds. We were parents! We happily lost entire nights of sleep for that boy. Our friends and family met Andrew. He had his room set up in our house. We became a family of three.
Forever is a stupid hope. Forgiving Andrew’s mother is a goal I won’t ever achieve. She ripped him from our home. She willingly gave Andrew away for a whole week. She left a room in our home empty and depressing. She stole my baby away from me.
“Mrs. Torrin?” I look up. “Are you alright?”
I shake my head to clear my thoughts. My husband is squeezing my hand over these firm, uncomfortable chairs. I look up at the desk where our new adoption agent sits. She looks terrified, and rightly so. Our last agent quit after the trauma of our last fiasco. We are pitied in this office, and I have not missed the murmurs of people who are questioning why we haven’t given up yet. I pretend to not hear them, because I don’t have an answer myself.
“I’m sorry… Angelica,” I reply, noting the name standing on her desk. Richard squeezes my hand and looks at me with concern. I turn away. “What were you saying?”
She shuffles her papers nervously. “I was merely expressing my sympathies for your last case.”
I nod. I hate that Andrew is referred to as our last “case.” He didn’t feel much like a case when he was crying in my arms.
“I understand that you are both probably hesitant to put your names on the adoption list again.” I roll my eyes in response. “In saying this, I do have a potential child for you.”
Richard finally shows his aggravation. “Of course there is a potential child! There’s almost always a potential child. This means nothing.”
“How far along is she?” I ask, my voice surprising me with its calmness.
“Well that’s the thing…” Angelica draws out. “The child has already been born.” Richard and I look at each other. “The original adoptive family decided against the adoption in her ninth month, and the mother is desperately trying to keep her child from having to go into the foster care system long-term. She’s signed over her rights to revocation, and the child has been staying with different foster families every night since he was born four days ago.”
My hand clasps Richard’s so tight that it begins to slightly shake the chair. “Let me get this straight. You’re saying there’s no chance of the mother taking the boy back into her care?”
Angelica shakes her head. “The mother had already been deemed incapable of providing sufficient care for the child, and she signed over her rights completely. The child is a ward of the state.” “And the father?” Richard questions.
Angelica shrugs. “Signed over rights months ago.”
I narrow my eyes. “There’s something you’re not telling us.”
She sighs. “There is one small thing.”
I sink further into my chair. I knew it. This was way too good to be true. I knew it was, but stupid hope doesn’t tend to listen when the brain tells it to pipe down.
Angelica looks at our file. “You are listed as unwilling to provide care for a child with severe special needs.” My eyes widen. “The little boy has Down Syndrome.”
I exchange a look with Richard. We had talked years ago about how we weren’t sure we were capable of adopting a child with special needs. It’s a huge undertaking. But…
“While I understand how much of a commitment this is, I have never seen such perfect circumstances. The little boy could be in your home within 48 hours, and he could be legally yours within days. So long as you prove to be a suitable home within those first few days, and once the legal documents are processed, he would be legally and officially yours.”
“What’s his name?” I ask.
“Emily…” Richard warns.
“No. I want to know his name.”
Angelica smiles warily. “Richard,” she whispers. My shoulders tremble and my breath catches. Tears immediately blossom in Richard’s eyes. “His name is Richard.”
Richard Jr.’s 10th birthday is a huge success. His smile is as large as it always is, and his family watches him with a palpable fondness. He’s not an easy kid, but he sure is joyful. Emily wipes tears from her eyes as she watches him from the corner. Those five years of being denied a child still weigh heavy on her soul, and she still misses Andrew every now and again, but she now knows that God crafted that storm. Without a season of storms, the sun is ignored and forgotten. Looking around the room at R.J.’s laughing cousins and beaming grandparents, she is overwhelmed with gratitude for her storm, because her son will never be forgotten or ignored.