Pass the Baby on the Left-Hand Side

My home answering machine blinked a bright, red “F,” it’s message tape full. My cell was burned-out. So was I. For a week now messages had come at me heavy and hard from every communication device I held.

Beep: “Hey I haven’ t heard from you, are you in Haiti? Getting a baby? Hope so. Call me back!” Click.

Brutal images on the broadcast news, websites, and newsfeeds, had smashed my brain and those of every other human being for nearly two weeks. Brown skinned women, men and children lacquered in dust and terror, the lucky ones, who’d been excavated from the rumble of a country that exists now mostly in name.  The children, orphaned, homeless, dirt-covered, tragedy stamped on their faces.

“Can’t you get one of those kids?” everyone wants to know.

In truth, I hadn’t asked the adoption agency in fear of giving them the appearance my commitment to Ethiopian had faded. Turns out, there was more to it I learned from a pal in my waiting group.

“ All those kids that we saw on the news, except for eight, were spoken for claimed my social worker.” Arlene spoke as if she stood before a wall in her Brooklyn home, considering punching her fist through it.  She sighed nto the phone. “And she said, people in those communities have been protesting those Haitian kids. With so many black kids in foster care, they think American kids should be given homes first. We didn’t see that on the news.”

Everyone has ideas on how adoption should work, kind of like skiing. Trying to balance on two sticks and not end up bumping your butt down an ice-covered mountain looks way easier when you’re sitting on the sidelines sipping a cup of hot chocolate.

Domestic adoption is everyone default setting, at first. Then the agency hits you with the news that you must make contact with the birth parents four times in the first year of the child’s life. Twice the second year. Send photos. Write letters.

That was all I needed to hear. I knew myself too well. I’d wind-up not just with a kid, but a whole family.

So the wait continues.

Images of helpless kids continue to pepper newscasts. Gripping footage served up with your morning cup of Joe. The average waiting time for a Haitian adoption, prior to the devastation, was four years and counting. Now, instead of becoming easier, it’ll become a knife in the heart of every waiting adoptive parent, single or not.

“ My social worker said the government doesn’t want to let the kids go, a whole generation…who’ll rebuilt the country?” Arlene said.
“ I read they’re ten-years away from any normalcy,” I said.
Arlene sighed. “ And she said the agencies are worried about baby’s being sold on the black market.”
“Truth is, we’d get a kid faster,” I said.
Arlene and I laughed, the kind overdone bellows people employed to fight-off tears.

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