It was a busy afternoon… I was running around the house bouncing between phone interviews and working on several aspects of the adoption paperwork and our profile. I was multitasking in overdrive as the downstairs telephone rang. The caller ID flashed and the numbers didn’t have a chance to register before I hurriedly clicked the answer button and said, “Hello?”
(Please note: I am doing my best to recall the details of all the conversations, and chose not to directly identify the participants as we are still in our adoption process and want to respect the privacy of all involved… It doesn’t change the story in any way, so keep reading! )
“Hello, Darin? This is Father _______ of _______ parish… Good to be speaking to you!” The energy, warmth, and compassion in the voice on the other line is not only infectious, but immediately set me at ease.
“Father! So great to hear from you too! Thanks for the call!”
“So Darin, I would like to get on the calendar with you and Natalie as I would like to meet with you and our other expectant parents and better understand your preparations and anticipation of your pregnancy! What an amazing gift from God, isn’t it? How does tomorrow afternoon look?”
To be completely honest, in the span of the moment my brain wrapped around the word “pregnancy”, I think my jaw dropped, my blood pressure bottomed out, and I broke out in a cold sweat.
Father thinks that Natalie is pregnant? Oh no…
The words stammered out in a disjointed pattern. “Tomorrow… Afternoon… looks good, Father. What time would you like to meet?”
“Make it 5 o’clock here at the parish office. Looking forward to seeing you then and conversing with you both!” The energy, warmth, and compassion that make him a extremely well-liked priest and parish leader hadn’t waned one bit as we closed out the short phone conversation.
As I hung up the phone, I was conflicted. We were excited to meet with Father as he was one of the references for our adoption process. Getting a chance to speak with him 1 on 1 about our journey would be a great opportunity before he needed to complete the required paperwork. At the same time, a pit formed in my stomach — how can I tell this exceptionally well-respected man of the cloth and of our parish that he was wrong? We were adopting and Natalie wasn’t pregnant — after 7 rounds of infertility and the loss of our daughter, the “P” word still has its impact… and to us, it wasn’t a terribly positive one.
When Natalie got home, I briefed her on the call, and explained the situation. As we had learned countless times in our grief and loss process, we both decided that if the conversation ended up on the topic of pregnancy (how far along was Natalie, etc), that I would politely correct the mistaken assumption, remind Father that we were, in fact, adopting and quickly allow us to get back to the focus of the discussion. We had our game plan and prepped the needed information for tomorrow’s meeting.
The next afternoon, as we arrived into the foyer of the Parish Office, we were lead into a small, but newly renovated meeting room and waited just a few moments before Father arrived for our scheduled meeting. If his voice carried genuine warmth, compassion, and energy, his physical presence only ramps this up even further. Smiling, he welcomed both of us and took a seat around the small meeting table.
“So, Darin and Natalie… I received your paperwork from the adoption agency, and am so excited to know that you are looking to grow your family through adoption. You know we had another couple from our parish that worked with the same agency… They had a positive experience and certainly hoping that you do too!”
A rush of relief rolled over me… Father had read the paperwork, he was aware that we were adopting and we could focus on this and avoid the awkward “pregnancy” discussion. We began to discuss a number of topics about us, our family, our spirituality, and we found Father’s personality easily guiding us through the conversation, free-flowing, and enjoyable. This wasn’t an interview — it was a conversation between close friends. Throw in some coffee, and you might have thought that we were all at a Starbucks on any given afternoon.
“So, how are the two of you doing with the pregnancy?” Whoa. What? Where in the world did this come from?
The looks on our faces must have answered the question in an instant. We were confused, thrown, and though I had carefully rehearsed my response, none came out of my mouth. He continued, “You do know that you’re pregnant, right?”
A huge smile came onto his face and he grabbed Natalie’s hand. “As a family prepares to be made, by God, the wait, the anticipation, the excitement… That is pregnancy. For many, that wait is nine months. For others it may be shorter, for some, it is longer, but it is still pregnancy, nonetheless. You are pregnant. You should be excited, you should be waiting in anticipation, and when that call comes, your life will change in ways you have never thought possible, but still in the most amazing ways.”
In that moment, the light bulb went on above both of our heads, and in the next, the tension, the hurt, and the assumptions melted away. For the first time, we had an understanding far beyond the literal, one that required more than the head to comprehend, but simply required the heart.
He continued to share his view on how all expectant parents, biological and adoptive, need to prepare for all of the amazing gifts that are to come in the future, not only for the child, but for the adults, too. We continued our talk for nearly an hour, walking through the topics of impending parenthood, careers, life, the Church, making sure that we take time for ourselves with a date night once a week (we’re still doing good on that one, Father!), and much more. Near the end of the meeting, he invited us to a special mass for expectant parents (biologic and adoptive), held a few times a year to bless soon-to-be moms and dads and wish them well on all that is to come in their journeys to become parents. Father had reminded us that although the path may be different for each of us, what truly matters is that there are families that are about to get a little bit bigger and that gift is one that is to be treasured.
Walking out of our meeting the skies were blue, the clouds were drifting along, a refreshing breeze was pushing against the trees in the parking lot, and we were walking hand in hand back to our car.
Our eternal thanks to Father for the opportunity to meet and reminding us of all of the joy to come. We may not know how long our individual wait will be, but look forward to all of the excitement, anticipation, and amazing things this time will bring. We are truly blessed to have such an amazing spiritual mentor and supporter in this process.