Tuesday, August 3, 2010

we're done

Like the start of every effed-ed up day, it started with a phonecall. I saw her name on caller I.D. and it was the first time I didn't jump to answer. We knew Tony and Amanda were in town and we were going to try our best not to see them at all. Their plan was to take Sophie back to Georgia so we figured they had to be leaving soon. It was noon. Maybe they'd already gone and Kelly just needed some more ice or something? I answered.


"Hay...ummmm...yeah...this is Kelly."

"How are you?"

"Well...ummmm...do you an Ryan have plans for tu-day, by any chance?"

"We were actually going to go look at apartments for you. We have several listings that my friend found and we were gonna go check them out."

"Well...ummm...mah frens Tony an'Amanda are here in town an they wanna meech y'all."


"Well.  (looking to Ryan for some sort of brilliant lie)  Ryan and I thought it might be best if we just keep our relationship professional. That we just keep our relationship with you and not extend it any further."



"Does that make sense?"

(clearly flustered)  "Well...uh...I mean...I guess if y'all don'wanna meet'um."

"It's not that we don't want to meet them. (it was) We just want to try and follow the rules as much as possible. Just to keep working on our relationship with you."  (I could feel my palms start to sweat and I kept looking at Ryan who was looking more and more frustrated with me.)

"Well...a'right...I mean...he's thu father uv this bay-bee..."

"I know.  (pause)  Let me talk to Ryan and we'll call you right back, okay?"

(annoyed) "O'kay."


"Why didn't you say we had family stuff going on?" 

"I said we were looking at apartments! I thought that was good enough! I'm a TERRIBLE liar! I'm SORRY!!!!!"

"I know. CRAP!"

"Should we call Mary?"


I dialed the hotline and explained to the receptionist that our birthfather just drove in to town last night, showed up out of the blue and now he wants to meet us. She sounded a little shocked and said something to the effect of "oh dear", which only made me more nervous and freaked out. I asked if she could please get in touch with Mary right away and she told me, "I'll have Mary call you."

Mary never called.

Ryan and I frantically ran around the house, trying to figure out what the eff to do. If we didn't go, our birthfather could really screw things up for us. If we did go, we ran the risk of crossing the line and allowing these crazy people in to our lives whenever they wanted. 

What the faaaaaaaaaaaaack!? 

We decided to go.

I asked Ryan to call Kelly since "clearly, I suck at it." and make plans to meet. We decided to meet them somewhere on Johnson Drive where there were several restaurants and fast food places. I'd driven her up and down Johnson Drive on Friday, so I know she remembered seeing the old-fashioned McDonald's, and Sophie pointed out the Burger King with the playland. 

"How about the Burger King...Sophie can play while we talk."

Sounded good. They were just leaving the hotel.

I can honestly say that this was the most scared I've been in my entire life. We were flying blind. We had no idea what our agency would say. We had no idea what these people wanted from us. We had no idea what to expect. I have been nervous before, but this was a whole different kind of stomach turned inside out nausea that didn't stop from the moment we drove in to that parking lot until the moment we left. 

Ryan and I got some drinks and found a table. It wasn't big enough for 5 adults, but we figured we could just move in to the playland once they arrived and let Sophie run around. I twirled the wrapper from my straw and tapped my foot until we saw them pull up.  Of course. It was a big, white Buick with a handicapped tag. "Who is handicapped?" I asked Ryan.  "All of them." 

We watched them get out of the car, one-by-one.  Tony was really skinny and he had white hair with a big bald spot on top - really thin in the front. He was wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt tucked in to some jean shorts (yup...jorts), white socks and white sneakers. Clearly not handicapped. "He's old." I don't know why I was so shocked. Then Amanda got out. "Oh boy".  She had short, white hair too and she carried about 100 extra pounds on her thighs. I decided she probably has a desk job and she doesn't take care of herself. Then we saw Kelly. She was wearing a green and blue striped polo shirt and some jeans - the nicest I've seen her look since we met.  I saw the top of Sophie's head and immediately felt sorry for that little girl.  This is her "family"...the messed up love triangle from Georgia. Amanda was clearly their mom. Tony was their dad. Kelly was their daughter. And poor little Sophie was the pawn in every scheme they've ever pulled. 

They took their time getting out of the car. I think they wanted to feel really special and important, walking in to meet us. Tony reached out his hand and introduced himself to me. I purposely didn't say my last name. Ryan didn't either. Meeting these people was the last thing either of us wanted to do and they probably knew it. But they thought we owed it to them. They made that very clear. 

"We drove all this way. We cudn' believe Mary thought we shudn' meet."

(yeah...it was all Mary's fault)

"We wuz jus worried SICK about Kelly and li'l Sophie! An we cudn' git anyone to call us back!"

(probably because you're completely irrelevant to this process and you shouldn't even be here.)

Tony and Amanda went on and on for a good 15 minutes about how worried they were that "sum'thin terr'bl was goin' on" and they couldn't do anything to help their dear friend, Kelly.  (meanwhile, the whole time Kelly was in Kansas, all she talked about was how she didn't want to talk to Tony or Amanda. She just wanted to be away from them for a while. But of course, she didn't say that. And neither did we.)  We just listened. And smiled. And waved at little Sophie as she climbed through the tunnels with the new friends she made.

At one point, Tony told us some story about how he has brittle bone disease and he was all prepped for surgery when the surgeon told him there was nothing he could do to help him. His only option was to take pain meds for the rest of his life. Amanda shared, "Yeah...they wuz killin' him in more ways than one." Tony went on and on about how he was on these pain meds when Kelly first started her process with ANLC but he's off 'em now. ("Clean an sober for three munths, thank you ver'much".) He explained those pain meds were the reason Kelly left him - that she didn't like the way he acted on pain meds..."an Mary duddn' know that, jussa you know." And they all agreed, "Yeah...Mary duddn' need ta know ever-thin' 'bout us."  (ummm...yes, she does!  We picked you based on the information you gave Mary. YOU LIED TO US!  YOU WITHHELD INFORMATION!  WHAT ELSE ARE YOU LYING ABOUT...you freaks?)   

Tony's medical information was left completely blank on all of the forms Kelly filled out for ANLC, but clearly she knew about this brittle bone disease if that's the reason she left Georgia. It seemed like a huge red flag to me. If she lied about that, what else did she lie about? Was she really smoking the whole time she was pregnant? Was that smoke I smelled the other night? Is this baby inheriting a genetic disease that she knew about the whole time? 

We endured the rest of the meeting, trying to understand exactly what they wanted from us. I asked directly, "So...do you guys feel good about going forward with us?"  Kelly answered "yes" and Tony and Amanda both answered at the same time, sharing their personal opinions of Mary and the way she didn't call them back. I heard Tony say that he had the power to really screw things up for us, so he didn't understand why everyone wasn't trying harder to make him happy. I heard Amanda mention how they drove all night to rescue their good friend but had to stop in St. Louis because they didn't want to "look high" when they got here. I told them Ryan and I were looking at apartments with swimming pools because we just wanted the next 3 months to feel like vacation for Kelly. They stopped talking and looked at her like they'd forgotten she was pregnant.

We used the apartment search as an excuse to get going - claiming we had an appointment to get to. Sophie decided she needed a soda before they got going, and for some reason I was compelled to ask Sophie if she needed to use the bathroom first (call it a motherly instinct). Amanda said, "Oh, thas a gud i-deha!" and took her to the bathroom. Tony and Kelly walked outside with us and said goodbye, mentioning something random about how Tony doesn't drink. He doesn't even like the taste of beer and how Kelly wasn't on drugs because "you can jus look at my arms n tell ah don' shoot up." (ummm...okay) See ya later!  

Ryan and I searched for the next 2 hours to find an apartment we could rent for 3 months. We searched in Johnson County - several apartment buildings next to our old house within walking distance of Wal-Mart. We searched in KCK, eliminating the complex across from the graveyard and anything without a pool. Then we found 2 apartments we really liked in Wyandotte County and we made appointments to see them on Monday after work. I even thought, "I should call Kelly and tell her!  Maybe she could go see them with us?" when I got the following text message:

Don't be scared but if I went back to ga. would yall still want to work with me? i think yall are awesome. i just need to be around people that can mentally support me." 4:58 pm 

Please don't think im changing my mind...i just didnt anticipate the loneliness i would feel by myself. with or without [sophie].    4:59 pm

Please think about working with us from ga. ill understand if you do not wish to continue.  5:01 pm

The text messages came faster than I could process them. 

What was she talking about?

Why did she want to go back to Georgia?  Why did she suddenly care about these people again? I asked her if she would miss Sophie after a couple of weeks and she said she just needed a break. She needed time to relax and be by herself. 

I tried to call her. 

It went right to voicemail.

I texted her:

Can you give me a call? It goes to your voice mail when i try to call you


I called Amanda's number.


I called Tony's number.

It rang and rang.

Something was wrong.  I told Ryan I didn't really care if she went back to Georgia. I just wanted to take her to the doctor first. I wanted to know what we were having. I wanted to make sure that baby was healthy. If I could just get ahold of her, maybe I could take her to the emergency room? Take her to a free clinic? Something? Anything!!!  

Plus, this was the first time she'd ever texted me. And for as much as Tony and Amanda complained about Mary not getting back with them, I found it strange they weren't answering EITHER of their phones. I was going over there. 

Ryan drove about 80 mph and we barely spoke. We were both thinking the same exact thing but we weren't going to say it out loud. I held the key and Ryan marched down the hall ahead of me. We knocked on the door. Ryan held his face up to the peep-hole. "Do you see anything?"  "No."  We knocked again.  We could hear the TV. Maybe she was in the shower?   We knocked again.  Nothing. Finally, I held the key out and paused for a second. I took a deep breath and opened the door.  She was gone.

The TV was on, the light over the stove was on, the light in the bathroom was on, the window was open (so the room was about 90 degrees) and there was trash everywhere. It wreaked of smoke. There was a frying pan on the stove - full of grease. There was a half-eaten banana on the nightstand - rotting. There were empty Coke cans and cups and plates all over the room and tiny pieces of play-doh ground in to the carpet. The room was trashed and she was gone. 

I sat down on a chair and surveyed the damage.

"I really don't want to chase her back to Georgia."

"I don't either."

"I think we're done."

"I think so too."

Ryan called ANLC and I called my mom  He told them it was an emergency. I told my mom I was devastated. Seconds later, Ryan's phone rang and he talked to Mary as he paced the room. I just kept hearing him say, "She's gone, Mary.  She's gone."

And that's when I cried. 

Ryan came over to hold me and we sat there for quite a while.  All of this effort. All of this work. All for nothing. 

We decided to clean the room using the trash bags she left on the table. First thing we noticed was a pack of cigarettes in the trash. Ryan pulled the trash bag out to tie it up and noticed a 16 oz. can of Budweiser. "Well...somebody was drinking."  It was either the pregnant lady, the guy who adamantly swore that he hated the taste of beer, or the 60 year-old handicapped lady who was currently driving them back to Georgia. We found ash in the nightstand and ash in the bathroom sink so somebody was also smoking (in the non-smoking building). For all of the complaining Kelly did about that room in Topeka, we're not sure this room would have looked much different after a whole week in there. It only took her 48 hours to trash this room and it's possibly the only 48 hours of her pregnancy she's spent not breathing in second-hand smoke. Unless she's been smoking the whole time. 

Suddenly, all of the relief I felt about Kelly not feeling emotionally connected to this baby turned to horror at all of the things she's been exposing herself to, knowing she's not scared about the consequences. 

Maybe we dodged a bullet? 

Maybe this baby is really sick?

Maybe Kelly's been smoking and drinking and doing drugs this whole time because she knew she was placing this baby with someone else???

We took pictures of the "evidence" but weren't even sure that was necessary. We knew we'd have to come back with a vacuum to get all of the mashed-in gunk off the carpet. We took one last look under the bed and found three of the Little People that Troy brought over for Sophie. Seeing those truly broke our hearts. That poor little girl. Then I found some scissors on the bed with black, burnt tips. Strange. I showed them to Ryan.  "Is that a ROACH?  Did they use that thing to smoke something???"  Ryan sniffed it.  "I don't think so. I have no idea.  It doesn't smell.  And I've never heard of anyone using scissors, but who knows.  Let's just get out of here." 

We took all of the trash down to the dumpster and got back in the car. All of the moments from the last few weeks just went flying through my head like I was still trying to believe it was all real.   We stuck our necks out for Kelly. I felt like she'd gained our trust. I felt like she really wanted to place her baby with us. I just don't think she had the capacity to make decisions on her own. She was (obviously) heavily influenced by Tony and Amanda and it should not have surprised us that they convinced her to go back to Georgia. 

Ryan and I talked about "what if" - like if we heard from Kelly or Mary in the next few days. We decided we would only work with Kelly on a "baby born" situation. If her friends have the resources to rent a car, drive to Kansas, stay in a hotel and are SO concerned about her well-being, then they can support her for the rest of her pregnancy. She can call us when the baby is born. We want the baby to get checked by a doctor. We want the papers signed and ready to go. And then we will hop on a plane to Georgia and bring that baby home with us. 

We took Monday and Tuesday off to consider our next steps and grieve our loss. We called ANLC and asked if they would put us back up on the website right away.  We want to start all over again as soon as possible - clean slate.  A little less drama next time. 


Krissondra said...

My heart aches for you and Ryan. I have no words to say that could make this okay, but know that you have so many family & friends to support you. Hugs to you & Ryan!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is an amazing testament to the desire to be parents. Ashley, I hope nothing but the best for you both in your quest to add to your family. I hope the next time equates to less drama & ends with a healthy baby. I'll keep you in my thoughts & prayers!

~Christie McMahon Malchow

cathy said...

you guys are an amazing parental team.


Neuty and Trish said...

Wow, thank you so much for keeping all who love you guys updated on all these crazy events. Thank you for sharing this with us. Eric and I have read the blog everyday and you're constantly in our thoughts. There is a beautiful healthy baby in the works for you guys and it will happen. I'm praying for soon.