I didn't sleep well on Thursday night. I kept thinking about what I wanted to say to Allan and how frustrated I was that things weren't going in the (picture perfect) way I'd imagined. I thought the stressful part was GETTING Kelly and Sophie here. But now that they were here, it turns out they were miserable. Not good.
So Ryan and I carpooled to work (because of the pesky car situation from the day before...and I'm just gonna say one last time: I like plans. I like when people make plans with me and I like making plans with other people. I like when I KNOW about the plans ahead of time. I'm not saying I can't be spontaneous, but if you KNOW that something is happening on a certain night at a certain time, just give me a head's up. Especially if I've been calling you saying, "Hey...what's the plan?" Chances are, I'm gonna need some time to 1. plan the right outfit, 2. coordinate the car situation, 3. purchase the appropriate card or gift, 4. write the appropriate message in the appropriate card, and 4. I really just like to plan my outfits. That's the main thing.
So Ryan and I were carpooling, still discussing what our plan of action might be. I asked if we should call him while we were sitting in the car together. Ryan didn't think so. Just then, my phone rang. It was Allan.
"Hi Ashley, is Ryan with you?"
"He is...we are actually in the car together."
"Okay, well do you mind putting me on speaker phone?"
"Not at all...what's up?"
"Well...I just don't want you guys to lose sight of the big picture. My job is to make sure that everything goes well for you in this adoption so the moment I present those papers to Kelly, she has absolutely no hesitation about signing them."
"We want the same thing."
"And if you guys start bringing her towels and blankets and pillows, answering to her every need, you are essentially breaking the relationship I am trying to form with her. I need her to trust me. I need her to understand that I am looking out for her and everything she could possibly need, she doesn't have to go through you guys - she can come to me. I'm right here. You guys created that account so whatever she needs, she can buy it for herself and I am here to manage that account on your behalf."
"Well, we were thinking that it's silly to use money out of the account when we have those things at home - we can just give them to her."
"And I understand what you're saying, but it's really important that she feels empowered in this situation. We intentionally take our birthmothers to the store so they can pick out their own blankets and pillows. We want them to feel like they have some control over their lives - that they're not just getting 'hand-me-down' stuff, and they don't have to ask anyone for help. It's the same reason we give them a bus pass and a map. We want them to feel pride in their independence, rather than this feeling of helplessness or dependence - waiting around for someone to come pick them up and take them where they want to go. We want them to feel like they've been making decisions this whole time about what's best so they don't feel manipulated in any way - all the way up to the moment when it's time to sign those papers."
"I understand what you're saying, we were just really horrified at the sight of that apartment and we immediately wanted to do something to fix it."
"I can assure you that she will not be living in that room much longer. There is another room available on Saturday and it's much bigger. It's much nicer. And we will take her to get some fresh linens and everything will be fine. I promise. But I don't want you to worry about the room. That's what you hired me for. You guys just need to be her friend. You are simply there to listen and support her, not to be manipulated in to spending more money or feeling guilty. She was sleeping on someone's couch for heaven's sake."
"Well...just because she was sleeping on a couch doesn't mean she doesn't deserve a nice place to sleep now. We don't care about being manipulated out of some towels and blankets, but we didn't think about how that was effecting the big picture. We don't want to step on any toes and we don't want to destroy the thing we're working toward."
"And please trust me...I know what you're going through. When I first started out, I was the same way. I wanted to personally fix every single bad situation I saw. I've ordered pizza on the living room floor with a birthmom who was living in a completely empty apartment. I wanted to take her back to our house and give her a room. I've seen it all. And I know you guys are new to this and Kelly didn't directly ask you for anything, but this is exactly what I said about being manipulated. The minute we left, she started complaining about every single thing that was wrong. And I didn't think she would be one of those birthmoms who caused trouble, but it's possible she's just not going to be happy with anything. If you noticed during dinner, she didn't have a nice thing to say about anyone - even her friend (I will call her) Amanda - who she's been living with for the last 11 years. Amanda has been calling me non-stop since Kelly left Georgia and Kelly wants nothing to do with her. Amanda's been taking care of Sophie and helping her out, and Kelly doesn't even want to talk to her - saying she doesn't really care about her, she just wants Sophie back."
"I honestly didn't listen to much of the conversation at dinner, I was pretty focused on Sophie to be totally honest."
"Well...she went on and on, complaining about the flight and about the airport and how they wouldn't let Sophie in the gate until she said the full name on her boarding pass - which is different from what they call her. She complained about Sophie and about how rotten she can be. She complained about ANLC and how they've treated her...she says the people in her apartment complex are creepy and strange, but when I drive past the apartment complex, she's sitting outside at 10:00 at night - Sophie is playing with another girl in the building and Kelly is laughing, having a great old time. I just want you guys to be careful about stepping in and getting too involved. Let me handle this stuff because I think she's just one of those people who is not going to be happy with anything."
"That just worries me. I don't want her to walk away from her experience just hating every minute of it. I want her to feel really good about it. "
"And that's what I'm trying to say. I don't think she's as miserable as she's letting on. I think we just need to move her in to the new room, take her to the store, let her pick out some pillows and towels, then see how things go. If she's still miserable, we can figure something else out. But please know that I've seen this all before and it can go really, really bad. I don't want that for you. I am simply working toward that moment when I can give her those papers and she has zero hesitation signing them."
"Alright, well please keep us updated about the room change thing and thank you for calling. We understand what you're saying and I don't think we looked at it that way. We thought it was just a simple solution, but we understand it effects the bigger picture. We don't want to destroy everything we've been working for."
"Well you guys have a good day and I'll talk to you soon."
I looked at Ryan and shrugged. It was all clearly out of our hands. Talking to Allan made us both feel so much better, and I was really glad we were both on that phonecall to hear everything at the same time. He was taking care of it. That's all we needed to know. He's the expert. He's the one ANLC recommended. He's the one we kept hearing about in Topeka. He's the adoption attorney with 20 years of experience. And as hard as it was, and as angry as I was - it all made sense. I was not about to go eff up the one thing that truly mattered in all of this.
I want to be a mommy - that's true. But I'm not supposed to be Kelly's mom. I'm not supposed to be Sophie's mom. I'm supposed to be this baby's mom. And in order for that to happen, I have to let go and trust that everyone is working toward the same goal.
We called and updated our families with Allan's great mantra: "Focus on the big picture" and I sent pictures from our dinner over e-mail (sorry bloggy friends - I'm keeping her identity a secret) and I called off the search for the new apartment (thank you Lindsay!). I felt good.
Until Saturday morning...
I checked my phone as Ryan made breakfast. I had a message from Allan.
"Hey guys. This is Allan Hazlett. I'm just calling to give you an update. Ummm...give me a call back when you get a chance."
I immediately jumped to a conversation we had in Allan's office when he said, "if I get a sense that anything is going wrong with your adoption, I will call you. The most I'll wait is a few minutes while I walk to my door and think about how I'm going to tell you."
Oh, crap. Something is wrong.
I told Ryan that I had a message from Allan and I pushed the button to replay the message for him. I eagerly hovered as he listened to the message and set my phone down. "He's just calling to give us an update. That could be anything. Don't freak out."
"I'm FREAKING OUT!"
"I know...I can tell. But don't. We'll just call him back and find out what it is."
We called his home number. Peggy answered.
"Hi Peggy, this is Ryan. We had a message from Allan and we were just wondering what was going on."
"Oh...he's on his way to pick up Kelly. He'll call you when he gets to her apartment."
Oh, crap. Something is wrong. Why is he picking up Kelly? I thought she was moving today. Where is Allan taking her?
While we waited around for the phone to ring, I decided to bust open the cardboard box that arrived on our doorstep the day before - containing the huge chandelier we'd ordered for the kitchen. It was a good distraction. Get the pieces out. Look at the instructions. Gather up all of the little pieces of styrofoam that were flying everywhe - WHY HASN'T HE CALLED US BACK YET!!!!! Are they going to the HOSPITAL? Is he picking her up to take her to the EMERGENCY ROOM? Is something wrong with SOPHIE? Is something wrong with THE BABY? I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!! Just then, I heard Ryan in the other room,
"Hi Allan. This is Ryan."
dude...he just called Allan. On his own.
"Yeah...we were just wondering what was going on. We called Peggy and she said you — yeah — so...what now?"
I picked up the other phone.
"— so now they're convinced that there are bugs in that other room."
"I'm sorry...what's going on? I just jumped on."
"Hi Ashley. Well...I've been calling Kelly all morning to take her to the store and I've left her...what is it now...6 messages? So I just went over to the apartment to knock on the door and there's a note up that says, 'my daughter was sick all night. please do not disturb. we are sleeping.' so I didn't disturb. But she is not interested in moving to that other room today because Stacy told her there are no-seeums all over the place."
"What are no-seeums?"
"They're just an annoying, flying bug that feels like a lit match when they sting you. Sort of like a mosquito."
"And they're in the bigger, cleaner, nicer room?"
"Well...she's convinced they are - but no-seeums don't exist in Kansas."
"So I tried to tell her that but she's scared to move over to the other room."
"Can you SPRAY for no-seeums?"
"Well...I don't think that's what they are. Stacy had dogs in that apartment a few days ago and I think it's fleas."
"No...I mean...whatever they are, is there something that exists to spray them...can you just spray for fleas and no-seeums at the same time?"
"oh...I think I see what you mean - like if we tell her we sprayed 'such and such' and killed them all?"
"I think you're understand how to deal with these women now."
Then we talked about the posibility of moving her to a different apartment building altogether. If she did not want to go to that other room (which we hadn't seen so we had no way of knowing if it was any better) and Allan seemed open to looking around. We said, "Even if it's an empty apartment, we have plenty of furniture to fill it before she ever moves in. She doesn't have to know it came from us."
We ended the conversation and didn't hear anything back the rest of the day. Or Sunday. Or Monday. We just assumed Allan was taking care of things.
Then TUESDAY morning happened...