It was a crappy June day and I was sipping vodka to numb the depression I had cornered myself into. My spouse and I had been together for more than 10 years, and moved cross-country to Connecticut from Chicago a year and a half prior. I spent that year and a half “nesting” into our rather large home, but nesting became very boring. I wanted our child. We had made it all the way to the adoption list in Chicago, a lengthy process, only to find that when you move states, you have to start over. Naturally, we needed to settle into Connecticut first, and make our house a home and all of that bullshit, before a child — an infant — would join our family. By April of 2009, we had completed all of the tedious paperwork and videos and FBI checks necessary to be on the list. Again.
Then the phone rang.
I sashayed over to the phone and saw it was the adoption agency. I quickly composed myself and answered. Our social worker told me, “Well, we have a match for you, and she only wants you guys, and guess what? She’s due in two weeks.”
What. The. Fuck. I think I dropped my glass of vodka for the first time in my life. I was smart enough to grab a notepad and write down everything she told me because I knew I would forget. “19? OK, she’s young. No drugs? That’s perfect. The father? Wants nothing to do with this (also perfect.) She really wants only us?! Yes. When can we meet? Two days. We’ll be there.”
Two nerve-wracking days went by. I had to buy like eight billion things to get the nursery complete. We didn’t know the baby’s gender, so I painted the room a tasteful Shrek green — leave me alone, it exists and I found it. That way, if it was a boy, I’d pepper it with navy accents. A girl? Powder pink for days. I felt somewhat confident, but then that all got blown to shit when we were sitting in the parking lot outside of a roadside café to meet the birthmother: What if she doesn’t like us? Wait, what if we don’t like her? What if she changes her mind? This is terrible, but what if she’s hideous?
There were so many questions to be answered within a short span of time. We picked our balls up off the ground and proceeded to enter the café.
As it turned out, she was lovely. Beautiful and a bit soft-spoken, which is fine. I have no problem filling in silence with my loud mouth. We asked a lot of questions, all of which are forgotten, but the gist was that she was young and couldn’t support the baby and the father was sort of a one-night thing. My spouse asked her, “What made you decide to choose gay parents?” Her response was unexpected and perfect: “I didn’t really think much of it, it’s not a big deal to me.”
Wow. That was so profound, it blew our minds. We left really excited and eager to attend her next ultrasound, which was the following day.
The ultrasound took place at the hospital where she would be giving birth. Connecticut is full of backwoods roads, and reaching the hospital would have required a compass and luck before navigation systems were ubiquitous. When we were about 10 minutes out, we found ourselves behind a painfully slow vehicle. My spouse was driving, and I started nagging at him because I suddenly realized we would be late. “You need to pass this person,” I said about a hundred times.
“I can’t pass them — we are in the woods and the roads are too curvy,” he replied a hundred times. This eventually became screaming match, and before we knew it, we were tailgating that driver within a couple inches of an accident. I assumed the driver was pushing 90 and this was somehow all meant to be. We would arrive to the hospital late and the birthmother would be pissed and that would be the end of that.
An eternity later, we pulled into the hospital parking lot, still behind the 90-year-old. We meandered into a parking space, and quickly exited the vehicle. We caught a glimpse of the despicable person who caused us to be so late. It was her. We had tailgated the pregnant birthmother of our child for miles. And not just harmless tailgating, full-on, aggressive, “up your ass,” city tailgating. She didn’t say a word about it.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank @GayAtHomeDad