There are about 20 of of us; eight couples, and three single women. I recognize some of them from the orientation session a couple weeks ago. This group has taken the first step of commitment; most of us will go through these next four months together, gathering bearings, getting fingerprinted, taking infant CPR classes, tackling mountains of paperwork, learning how to be adoptive parents. The boy-band couple is back, as are the late-arriving lesbians from orientation, who turn out to be LA City cops. They are hilarious and I love them instantly. Two Indian women with their husbands, who can no longer adopt from India. (Apparently it has become a racket and people are getting fabulously rich out of keeping orphans in homes forever.) Some suburban types.
There's a couple I'll just call RenFair. They both wear purple. He's got a salt-and-pepper 1977 Kenny Rogers 'do and goatee; she has long, straight Crystal Gayle hair and big round glasses. She's teary and quiet. He keeps talking about the "opportunities" he can offer a child due to their extensive experience abroad, with music, architecture, special ed, and "healing" classes for children. I stop counting after the tenth time he says "opportunity."
Our social worker tells us the most successful adoptive parents are the ones who "aren't bound by negatives."
My first thought is, "Nobody here is like me."
However, there are two other single women. One of them has already found her birth mother, a 31-year-old truck driver who keeps crossing the country and getting pregnant. This is the sixth time she's given up a baby; she's also very difficult, apparently, and has a hard time finding someone who can deal with her. The other woman I'll call May. She plays with her iPhone most of the time, makes to-do lists and instead of sharing her story of why she's here, she asks how much in-vitro costs. I have a feeling I won't see her again.
We break into groups of men and women. The dark-eyed Armenian in a white dress can't keep her flood of tears back as she tells us her story: She was going to the Octomom's doctor for infertility treatments. He kept hoarding her eggs and taking her money. His nurse "misplaced" a payment and he took her to collection. She and her husband finally arrived at the adoption agency broke, out of ideas, out of eggs. "Everyone in the world is pregnant," she lamented, and blew her nose again.
We are supposed to share our feelings, but it turns more into an information-sharing session. I feel great appreciation for one of the Indian woman, who has a 5-year-old she adopted from Guatemala. She turns us all on to adoptionscams.net. And the Armenian keeps crying into tissues. A solid, pretty blonde tells the group she still wants a piece of herself in her child.
I share that I just know the child I end up with is the child I'm supposed to get. But in reality, I probably don't know shit.
But I do know after the three successful couples came in to share their experience -- one with a tiny drooling 10-month-old -- I have a new appreciation for all the variations that can happen. That this impressionist painting of an idea is starting to get edges and focus.
And that we are actually all more alike than not. We all want to expand our family, and there is something about this place that binds us.