This guest blog is by Erin Paterson, an adoptive mother and author.
We had been carrying an empty infant car seat around with us all morning. At the check-in counter, through security, at the magazine shop. It was on the floor next to us as we anxiously sat at our gate waiting for our flight to board.
“Do you think people are wondering why we have a car seat and not a baby?” I asked my husband Daniel. What we were doing was such a big deal I felt like everyone must have noticed.
“They might be,” he replied, looking around at the people moving about the busy airport. We were so excited about becoming parents that if anyone had asked I gladly would have told them the whole story.
At the same time this felt like the scariest thing we had ever done. We had no idea what to expect. We boarded the plane not even knowing where we were going to sleep that night.
Once we were settled in and the airplane had levelled off, Daniel and I finally had a quiet moment to think about baby names. We each took a separate piece of paper and independently jotted down some ideas. While we were nervously munching on the in-flight breakfast and sipping hot coffee, we compared our lists to see if any matched.
Together we came up with a new list of potential names. Ava, Sophie, Avery, Emma, Hannah, Amy. None of them stood out over the others.
The short two-hour flight felt like a ten-hour journey. We were both excited and on edge. The mandatory PRIDE classes we had taken the year before were meant to prepare us for being adoptive parents, but they had also instilled in us a large dose of skepticism.
“Don’t give out identifying information, don’t tell them where you live, it’s against the law to buy them anything, even a cup of coffee,” we had been told. We had worked so hard to get this far, we weren’t going to let fear stop us now.
When we arrived at our destination, we came upon a large metal sign in the middle of the airport with the name of the city engraved on top. Daniel and I took turns standing in front of the sign, holding up the empty car seat, smiling.
With any luck we would be taking another picture on the way home, but with a baby in the car seat. After picking up our rental car, we drove in to the city to meet up with Cindy, the adoption lawyer. She had asked us to meet her at a breakfast place downtown.
It was a popular spot, packed even at eleven on a Thursday morning. Daniel and I ordered the same meal and were each served sausages and three large pancakes, so big they were hanging off the edges of the oval plates. Unlike any pancakes I had seen before, they were thin and rubbery, light brown, pock marked, and delicious.
Cindy managed to pick us out in the restaurant full of people and joined us at our table just as we were finishing up our breakfast. She had blond hair cut in a bob and was casually dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. She was as friendly in real life as she had been on the phone.
We took the opportunity to ask a few last-minute questions as we finished up our coffees, hardly believing we were going to meet the baby soon. She was now five days old.
We made a quick stop at the hotel to check in and drop off our bags. On Cindy’s suggestion, we all jumped into her car for the ride over to the foster home. I was sitting in the back seat of the car, nervously watching the trees zipping by along the highway. The black suitcase filled with the baby’s things was jostling around in the trunk.
Daniel was in the front making small talk with Cindy. There wasn’t much to see this far out of town. We had already passed the mall complex, several gas stations, a bank, and a pizza place. All I could see now were trees and a long row of hydro poles running alongside the highway, the wires rising and falling as we sped by.
Ten minutes later we turned down a narrow country road, a small subdivision appearing through the trees on the left-hand side. The houses sat on long lots, with groves of evergreens separating them. It almost felt as though we were at a cottage.
As we turned down the long dirt driveway, we got our first look at the foster home the baby had been staying in. A one-storey bungalow with white siding surrounded by a large burgundy deck, patio chairs scattered across it.
We were tired from lack of sleep but a fresh surge of adrenaline started pumping through our bodies, propelling us towards the scariest and happiest moment of our lives. A moment we had been waiting five and a half years for.
Toronto author and public speaker, Erin Paterson, tested gene positive for Huntington’s Disease (HD) in 2006. Shortly after she started suffering from depression, then received more crushing news, she was infertile. Despite those diagnoses she was determined to have a family and live a joyful life. She is the author of “All Good Things: A Memoir About Genetic Testing, Infertility and One Woman’s Relentless Search for Happiness,” an excerpt of which is included above. Find out more at erinpaterson.com