Journey to Judah: Part i - The Call
December 12, 2017
I’ll never forget the day we FINALLY got THE call. The one we had been waiting on for over 4 years. We had been approved to adopt by the Indian government for just shy of 2 weeks. Every day, I woke up thinking “today could be the day,” even though we were told that it could take up to 6 months to be matched with a child.
We were ready. We had been anticipating this moment since March of 2013. We talked about it. We dreamed of it. We prayed for it. We believed it would happen soon.
So when the phone FINALLY rang, naturally, I missed the call. I was at work, and I didn’t even look at my phone to notice that I had a missed call for almost an hour! But there it was, a missed call from our adoption agency. I listened to the voicemail with anticipation only to hear the generic, “Hi. This is Elise. Please call me back.” Still, my heart started pounding. What if this was IT!?
Hands shaking, butterflies in my stomach, I called back. It rang...and rang...and rang..and went to her voicemail. Ugh, I couldn’t believe it! I left a brief message and turned my phone on RING instead of vibrate so that I wouldn’t miss the next call. Then I had to go pick up my students from PE and pretend like it was any other day because, for all I knew, it was.
30 minutes later, when my students were working independently, I picked up my phone, willing it to ring....only to discover that I had ANOTHER missed call from our adoption agency and another voicemail from 5 minutes ago. Who accidentally switches their phone to SILENT instead of ring when they think they maybe could possibly be expecting one of the most important phone calls of their life!?! Me. I do that.
I didn’t even listen to the voicemail....I just ran into the hallway and asked the teacher next door to watch my class and dismiss them to science if I didn’t come back in time. I had already warned her that I’d missed a call from our adoption agency and needed to talk once they called me back so she was good to go.
I stepped into her classroom and called Elise back, praying she would answer this time. Thankfully, she answered after only a couple of rings.
Her next words were, “Hey Kayla. I have some news. Are you with Marcus?”
“No,” I say. (But I’m really thinking, “No, I’m not, but I could totally just fill him in later, right!? Just go ahead and tell me whatever you’re going to tell me.”)
“Do you think he will be available if we call him? I can conference him in.”
“Yes, he should be,” I say. (But I’m really thinking, “He BETTER answer his phone because the anticipation is killing me!”)
“Hold on, let me try”..............
As it was ringing, I was thinking, “This HAS to be THE CALL, right!? I mean why else would she need to talk to both of us? Wait.....what if it’s bad news? Could it be bad news?”
“Hello?” (I breathed a sign of relief as Marcus answered the phone and interrupted my thoughts. I don’t think I could have handled much more anticipation.)
“Hi, Marcus, this is Elise. Kayla is on the phone too. Do you have a minute? I have some exciting news!”
“Yeah, sure.” (Right answer, Marcus, right answer. Also, she said “exciting news” and not bad news! This HAS to be it!)
“Well...I have a referral for you to review. But before I send it to you, let me tell you about this little guy. He’s in Hyderabad. Are you familiar with that area?”
“No,” Marcus replied.
I was familiar with Hyderabad, but I kept silent. From everything I’d read in the adoption groups, Hyderabad was the ONE region I was hoping to avoid.
“Well that area of India is known for difficult and lengthy adoptions. The average time from match to home in India is about 12-18 months, but we’ve seen people in Hyderabad wait longer than those average time frames. Also, Hyderabad is one of the only areas of India that requires you to make two trips. You would have to appear in court, which is an added cost to your adoption process.”
My heart sank, even though it was exactly what I’d already heard about Hyderabad.
“Do you want me to tell you more about him? I know you’ve been waiting over 4 years already so the idea of a longer wait and a difficult adoption process could seem very disheartening. I know the added financial side of 2 trips might seem frustrating at this point too. I did want to offer you the choice to review his file though, because he does fall within your referral parameters as far as age and medical information, even though he’s in this more difficult area.”
I blinked back tears. This is not how I envisioned THE CALL would go. I wanted to hear, “Hey guys, I know you’ve been waiting for 4 years and thanks for being patient. I have the perfect child for you who just so happens to be in the fastest moving region in India, congrats!”
I’m glad Marcus could speak because I couldn’t. “I mean, yeah, we definitely still want to hear more about him,” he said.
“Great! Well, he’s 8 months old. Like I said, he’s in Hyderabad at [a government run orphanage]. [This is what we know about his birth family.] He has big brown eyes and is so adorable. We have 5 photos and 3 videos, which is more than I’ve ever seen this orphanage give to a family. Usually they are lacking in communication and responsiveness. He has [discusses medical needs], which is something you said you were open to on your medical needs checklist for your home study. You’re actually the only family in our program who is currently open to a boy with this medical need. Do you want to talk to each other about it and call me back, or would you like me to go ahead and e-mail you his file?”
Before I could say anything, Marcus announces, “Go ahead and e-mail us his file.”
“Alright, I’ll send that right now with some instructions for you. In the most recent photos, he has a rash on his face. The orphanage let us know that it was from an allergic reaction, but it’s hard to tell. Even with the rash, he’s one of the cutest little boys I’ve ever seen. Call me if you have any questions. This is an exciting time for your family, and we will be praying for you!” Then she hung up.
“So....should we wait and look at it together?” I ask Marcus.
“Definitely,” he said, as my phone buzzed to let me know that I had received this super important e-mail already. “I won’t be home for an hour, though,” he said. I have a meeting in just a few minutes.”
“Well, I can leave in 15 minutes. I’ll meet you at home,” I said.
“Don’t look at it without me!” Marcus said, laughing. Although I’m sure he was slightly afraid that I might actually look at it without him. I mean, I was slightly afraid that I would look at it without him too.
I got my stuff together in a daze, went and got Eliza from her class, and knew that I still had a lot of time to kill. So, naturally, I drove to the store to buy dog food. Then we drove across town to pick up Hattie. All the while, that little red circle with a 1 in it was taunting me from just above the e-mail icon on my phone’s dashboard.
I pulled into the driveway, and thankfully, Marcus pulled in right behind me. My errands had killed just enough time so that I didn’t have to wait on him to get home while willing myself not to look at that e-mail.
We stared at each other in disbelief, but with smiles spread across our faces. Could this really be happening? We didn’t want to tell the girls until we were sure, so we got them inside and turned on the tv. If Princess Sofia the First was on, we hoped that they wouldn’t need us for a few minutes.
Marcus grabbed his laptop, opened it up, and began typing in his password.
“Hold on,” I said, “I can’t do this yet.”
He was pretty confused because this might be the moment that we had been talking about for 4.5 years. Puzzled, Marcus followed me as I went up the stairs. I went into the bathroom, opened the cabinet under the sink, and pulled out a pregnancy test. “I’m just a couple days late....and I’m probably not pregnant....but I don’t want to open that file and see that face if we won’t be able to complete this process.”
Knowing that a pregnancy would put us on hold in the India adoption process for at least 2 years, Marcus nodded his head and gave me a minute alone in the bathroom. I opened the door and we waited - for what seemed like hours - for the results of that test. My hands were shaking, and I wasn’t even sure how to pray in this situation, so I just waited with tears in my eyes. Marcus leaned in to me and said with a smile, “Either way, we could be expecting a baby today.”
Finally, words appeared on the screen: not pregnant. Marcus and I hugged, but I felt a little ashamed for wanting to celebrate those 2 words when those were the same 2 words that brought a stabbing pain each month to so many women I knew.
We walked back downstairs, and prepared to open the e-mail that could change our lives forever.
(To read the rest of this story, check out the post “The E-mail” on our blog.)