"Hi Ashley, this is Mary. I just talked to Kelly. Actually, I was on the phone with her for almost 2 hours. She's incredibly upset. She's done with Allan. She's done with Peggy. She's done with this place in Topeka..."
(my heart stopped)
"...I want to know, from your perspective, how bad is that apartment in Topeka? I mean, you saw it, right?"
"Oh...it's disgusting. Yeah. It's really, really bad."
"Okay. That's all I need to know. I need to talk to Allan. We have got to move her out of there. That's all there is to it. Kelly is about to lose it. She has no reservations about you guys. In fact, she's worried that all of this drama is going to cause you two to back out. But she can't relax. She can't focus. All she wants is a nice place to stay and from what you're telling me and from what she's telling me, this place is a dump."
"It is. It really, really is. After we met with her last Thursday, we called Allan immediately after we dropped her off and told him how unacceptable that place was. He told us to stay out of it."
"That's just an excuse. He should know better. I need to talk to him...he knows that's not what ANLC represents. He's been to our website. He knows what we provide to our birthmothers as far as housing goes. They live in a condo on the beach. They have internet hook-ups, computers, washers and dryers...I mean, I want to live there."
"Yeah, this place is gross. And he told us he'd move her to another unit once that other birthmother moved out but then that place was infested with bed-bugs or fleas so she was too scared to move in there. He mentioned on Saturday that we might be able to find her another apartment. We even offered to furnish it ourselves so she'd never know it was from us."
"Well...I want her out of that building. She told me this morning that the maintenance man comes in whenever he wants. He has a key."
(my heart sank)
"Are you SERIOUS?"
"Yes. She said he just walks in whenever he wants. She's been leaving her phone off the hook and not answering her door because the people downstairs just want her to come outside and hang out in the parking lot with them. And the other birthmom who just left was on drugs the whole time."
"Oh my gosh. This is not good."
Our conversation went on for a while and I agreed that she needed to sort it out with Allan.
I cried all through my 10:00 meeting.
Our poor birthmom. Here she was in a strange apartment, in a strange town with strange people who were not treating her with the respect she deserved.
The phone rang all day. Every time, it was just a heightened version of "Kelly is not happy" and "Kelly wants to send Sophie back to Georgia because she just can't handle how gross it is and how unhealthy this place is for a child". Ryan mentioned that Mary was concerned about the number of child molesters in Topeka and she did a search on watchdog.com to see if the maintenance man was listed. Topeka had one of the highest concentrations of reported child molesters in the country. There was nothing listed at the Taber Arms address so the maintenance man seemed "not guilty". Either way, Mary wanted us to start looking for other apartments in Topeka while she talked to Allan. Mary wanted Allan to work on the way he spoke to Kelly and she had hopes that she could mend their relationship. Kelly said she would sign papers with Allan so we didn't need to hire a different attorney, but she didn't want him driving her around anymore or coming over. I asked Mary if we could focus on getting Kelly to the doctor - because all of this seemed REALLY irrelevant if that baby wasn't healthy. She hadn't been to the doctor since March (simply to confirm the pregnancy) and she certainly hadn't been getting any prenatal care. Could we please focus on why we're all here in the first place??
The next day, we had an email from Peggy (Allan's wife):
Mary and Ryan:
I just got back from the grocery store with [Kelly]. She was just fine. She had been speaking with [Amanda]. Don't know what transpired, but [Kelly] did apologize for being so complaining. We strolled the market and I helped her pick out things that would be easy for her to "heat up" as she does not seem to know how to cook. I gave her the application for the medical card and told her that she would be able to get [Sophie] a medical card. She gave me no indication that [Sophie] was not going to stay with her. The maintenance man is putting up the "safety catch" this afternoon.
I spoke with the manager, Paula. She told me that [Kelly] seeks out the maintenance man. Also that the story she was telling us about the other birth mother just weren't true.
I did not push her about the doctor's appointment. She was cheerful and I didn't want to spoil the mood. We will follow up with that though.
As a follow up to Allan's discussion with Mary, she mentioned another birth mother who complained about the facility. Perspective is everything. That same birth mother, well after she had the baby, called the apartment complex and asked the manager if she could come back and work and stay there so that she could continue studying at the local university. The lobby now has a new coat of paint and the carpet has been torn up and is being replaced, just since Ryan and Ashley were there.
Later that day, we heard from Mary that she talked to Allan and he was VERY upset with her for getting involved and she needed to just butt out. Mary told me, "The only reason Kelly was nice to Allan was because I told her to. I told her we were working on getting her out of there so just play along."
Later that day, I decided to call Kelly. I was sick of this "he said/she said" crap and I wanted to talk to her myself. I told her I was really sorry about everything that was going on and I asked how she was holding up.
"Oh ah'm fa'hn. Ah'm sorry...this is all jus suh crazy. Ah keep tryin' to tell Mary ah'm suh mis'rabul an she tells me to keep preten-in' like ever-thin's fine and ah jus don wanna be here no-more. Ah got this maintenance man knockin' on mah door an these people callin' me tuh come downstairs and Ah...Ah jus cain't do it no-more. Ah can't get a moment's peace."
"I know. I'm so sorry. I just want you to know that we're working on it. I swear. Something is going to change. Either Allan will change or the apartment will change. But something will. Please just hang on and we will get this all sorted out."
"Ah'm sorry...ah mean....this is all jus suh crazy. Ah'm suh mis'rabul an Sophie's mis'rabul...Ah don' wan y'all tuh have tuh go to any truh-buhl on mah'ccount. Ah jus don wanna be here no-more. Ah got Sophie in this horrible place and ah feel suh bad that ah brought her up here and ah have tuh keep socks an shoes on her all the time or her feet are black as tar. An Allan's jus suh darn mean to her. He yelled at her the other day cuz she had a sucker in his car. Ah mean. She's a chi-old."
"An ah jus don' feel cumf-turble round him ya know? He told me the other day that ah complain too much and ah'm so ungrateful and how a fren a'his stayed n this place n they're millionaires an if it wus good nuf fur his millionaire frens then s'good nuf fur me."
"I'm so sorry...I promise it's going to get better. Mary and Allan are working on a solution right now and something is going to change. I promise. We'll either move you out or we'll find a different attorney."
"Well ah got smart with him the other day when we went to the store. Did he tell you what ah said?"
"No. We haven't heard from Allan since Saturday."
"Well, we wur drivin to the store an he tol me ah was complaynin too much an how ah shud be more grateful - that he has millionaire frens who've stayed in that place. An ah told him - there's girls on drugs in that place! And that his millionaire friends must have been high too if they cud stan one minut in that place. Ah mean. Ah don't usually get smart with people. He jus got me all wurked up and ah jus snapped, ya know? He di'n't like that too much. He jus started yellin' an shakin his stearin' wheel an yellin' at me about how nobody's on drugs and ah need to jus stop complainin' so much."
"Oh dear. Well, I know you mentioned that you weren't comfortable with Peggy taking you to the doctor, so I was mostly calling to let you know that I have a completely open schedule next week if you want to go. I can take you."
"Yeah, well...ummm...Peggy gave me the number ah was supposed to call but ah haven't...ah mean...ah've jus been so stressed an...ah think...ah mean...ah've avoided it somewhat. Ah jus don' wanna hear the heartbeat, ya know?"
"I understand that."
"Maybe ah jus soun crazy, but ah jus don' wanna know it's in there. Ah mean...ah can feel it kick an ever-thing, but ah jus don' wanna see it on a screen or nothin'. This is y'alls baby and you should be makin plans and paintin a nursery an stuff. Ah jus don' wanna see it or hear it."
"I understand that. I just want to make sure you're in a good, healthy state of mind and you're taken care of. If you need anything, you can call us. I want to be there with you to take you to that appointment and support you in any way I can."
"Well...ah-presh-iate that, ah jus din't wanna bother you, ah know yur suh far away n'stuff."
"Not at all! I want to be there! You have no idea. I would love nothing more than to come pick you up and take you to the doctor's office. You just call that number and make the appointment. Whenever it is. I will BE there."
"Alright, well...ah don' wanna take up any more of your time - ah jus don' wanna bother y'all."
"No...don't worry about that. You can call us whenever you need to. That's why we gave you those phone numbers. And I promise. It's going to get better. Just call the doctor's office and I will take you to that appointment."
"Well...ah-presh-iate that...yeah...I'll call this numbur an call you back. They say ah need tuh call an leave uh message an then they jus call back with mah'pointment time. ah jus don' wanna bother y'all. Ah know yur at wurk and you got a lot goin on. You gotta get the nurs-ry painted and you prolly wanna know whus in here, right?"
"Yes. Very much."
I decided to call the attorney's office, just to tell them that I'd contacted Kelly. I got Peggy on the phone and she basically told me, "yeah...I know you called her...she told me...she called the doctor and she's just waiting on them to call her back with an appointment time."
We didn't hear anything the rest of the day, but Ryan got an email saying Mary would call us on Wednesday night with an update. We just assumed Mary and Allan were duking it out.
Thursday morning, the phone rang. It was Ryan. He'd been on the phone with Mary.
"Basically, Mary has been talking with the other agents in her office and nobody has ever had this much trouble with Allan. She is gathering information from other birthmoms he's worked with, she's gathering information from other agents and she's finding us a different lawyer in Topeka."
Just then, I remembered an email we got from our HomeStudy people. When Ryan told them we'd been matched and we were using Allan Hazlett, they sent us an email back saying, "we are well aware of Mr. Hazlett. We would have recommended someone else, but he'll probably be fine."
"I can email Adoption and Beyond...see who they would have recommended."
"Yeah...I guess we could do that. Just see what they say. But don't make it too detailed or suspicious."
"I know. And I still feel like we don't have to keep working with Allan if we don't want to. He's not the only lawyer in Topeka. And if we're paying him a fee to manage this case - take her to the store and to the doctor - and that part of their relationship is just stressing her out even more, then we shouldn't be using him. Or at least take that part out of the contract and tell him we don't need him to do that anymore. Or we can just use somebody who can finalize the adoption. That's a huge amount of money that's not worth it in the end. It was great of him to provide that service, but if she's saying 'I don't want him near me' then it doesn't make any financial sense to go through him."
"I know what you're saying and I feel like Mary is going to talk to Allan and see if they can improve that relationship. Just give him some tips on dealing with Kelly?"
"But the thing is, he's not showing us that he respects Kelly. He's been really judgmental and I just don't feel like he's going to change the way he feels about birthmoms in general. Maybe he had a passion for this job 20 years ago, but I feel like he's become really jaded. We need an attorney who interacts with our birthmom in a really positive way. I mean...we hired our agency because we liked how well they treat the birthmoms. That entire agency is founded on birthmother support and following their dreams - having goals to achieve after their babies are born. He's treating her like trash."
"So...do you feel like we for sure don't want to work with Allan anymore?"
"I don't see him changing his attitude or his tone with her anytime soon."
"Alright, well I'll call Mary back and let her know."
"And if we moved her to Kansas City, I could be the one who takes her to the store and gives her what she needs. We wouldn't need to pay somebody to do that for us. We could sort of follow our gut and provide for her the way we wanted to in the first place."
"Yeah. I don't know how much interaction we really need with her, but I feel like a real dick for not doing this sooner."
So by 1:00, we had sorted out that we were firing Allan and moving Kelly out of Topeka. Ryan called the new lawyer (our HomeStudy people wrote back to us right away with the name of a new lawyer in Topeka - the same one that Mary found) and we determined that Mary needed to let Allan know before we could hire this new guy.
I went to lunch and when I came back, I had two messages on my cell phone. First one was the birthfather:
"Ha Ashley - how are you? This is [Tony] ah'm [Kelly's full name] boyfren. ah sophie's father. um yes. if you cud please, cud you contact mah gud fren [Amanda]. at...um...(then he gave me her phone number) i's jus imperitive that you get in contact with uhs....umm..umm...ah hear great things about you gahs by the way - ah just wanna put that in there...ummm...ah'm very upseht and over-whe-olmd with the way this situation is goin own...to the point where ah can'even talk about it. ah would prefer that you talk with my fren. ah think that she can explaiiin the situation a little bit bettur. ummm. ummm. ah do 'pologize for that but ah'm a tad upse-uht...but please, please, uh...do contact her. ah'd really 'preciate it. we need to tawlk. is'very impordant...ummm. thank you. sorry to disturb you an ah hope you have a great day."
Holy shit balls.
She gave him my phone number.
I started shaking.
The very next message was from her friend "Amanda" (who Kelly had been avoiding since she arrived, according to Allan).
"Ashley? Hai. My name is [Amanda]. Ah'm frens with [Kelly] an lil [Sophie]. If you have a few minuts, ah wud really preciate a return phonecawl. you can reach me at (complete phone number).
thank you ma'am."
What the faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahk??????
Who ARE these people?? Why are they calling me??? HOW DID THEY GET MY PHONE NUMBER if she's not even talking to them? Last we heard, Tony was DATING Amanda and Kelly was super pissed about it. Allan kept saying, "Kelly doesn't even want to talk to Amanda. Amanda calls me once a day to see how they're doing."
I immediately called Ryan.
"I JUST GOT TWO URGENT MESSAGES FROM TONY AND AMANDA SAYING THAT THEY WERE VERY UPSET ABOUT THE WAY THINGS WERE GOING AND COULD YOU PLEASE CALL BACK - IT IS IMPERITIVE!"
"Oh my gawd. What the faaaaahk? Are you serious?"
"YES! I am SHAKING right now."
"Did you call Mary?"
"Not yet. I didn't even know what to do. (silence) SHE GAVE THEM MY PHONE NUMBER!"
"I know. (silence) Dammit! I knew it was a bad idea to - crap. Alright, well...call Mary, I guess. They should not be calling you."
I called Mary. I told the receptionist it was an emergency. I told Mary that I was shaking and scared and upset. I told Mary that Kelly gave them my phone number and can you please call them back and tell them we are doing everything we can? Tell them that we are unhappy with the situation too? That we totally respect and admire her and we are so frustrated that Allan is not treating her with the decency she deserves?
Mary was going to take care of it.
(to be continued to part four...already in progress)