Prospective Adoptive Parent Profile #8
Finally, after turning down at least the first half-dozen profiles of prospective adoptive parents I had been shown, I received a profile from Mary of a couple who seemed kind of interesting. He was a child psychologist and she was a teacher’s aide at a Montessori school. The fact that both of their careers revolved around children appeared to be a plus. When we read through their profile, though, there was a very brief mention that the husband had started down the seminary path toward becoming a priest, but abruptly changed his mind and left the seminary.
That intrigued me, because my father had been a Catholic priest who left the priesthood to marry my mom. Unimaginably scandalous, as far as his family was concerned. His oldest brother was a priest and his oldest sister was in the convent. To have a third child who had chosen the Church over marriage must have been an absolute coup in the Catholic one-upmanship game. His leaving must have destroyed his parents’ pride of ownership. Then there was my mom’s family. My mother was first generation Mexican-American, and all of her siblings had married other Latinos – the vast majority of them also Mexican. So not only was my mom marrying a white man, but she was marrying a priest – they never saw him as gone from the priesthood and continued to refer to him as El Sacerdote (The Priest) for the rest of his life.
So when this man mentioned his brief dalliance with the priesthood as a toss-off comment, I wanted to know more about that. I asked my social worker if it would be possible to get more information from them about this, and other aspects of their profile that struck me as a bit sketchy. Had it been permissible, I think Mary would have driven to their home to get the details herself if it meant that I was finally settling on a family. Within a few days, she called to tell me that the couple had expanded their profile and invited me for an unscheduled visit to the agency to review it.
The husband had apparently thought better about a life of celibacy and decided to skip the priesthood in favor of dating and the possibility of marriage. Who could argue with that? Satisfied by that explanation and the other additional information, I agreed to a phone call with the couple. This was the first time we’d made it this far into the process, and I was quite nervous about the call. We did it from Mary’s office, and I honestly don’t remember if Tony was there or not. I rather suspect not – but my memory about that detail is foggy. Mary left me alone in her office for some privacy, and I had a 10- or 15-minute chat with the woman.
At one point, she asked me how my parents had taken the news about the baby and the adoption, and I told her the truth: I had not told them – nor did I have any plans to tell them. That did not go over well with the woman. “What do you mean you’re not going to tell them? They are the grandparents – they deserve to know. You have to tell them!” Um, no, I didn’t. They were conservative Catholics – it wasn’t the pregnancy that would freak them out; it was the sex I’d had to have to get pregnant that would have been the bigger problem.
In spite of this blip, the woman and I made it through the rest of the conversation before hanging up. Mary waited, probably pacing the hallway like an expectant father. Her face fell when I shook my head no. It wasn’t the pestering me about telling my folks about the baby – although that didn’t help. I’ve never been able to put my finger on the specifics of it, but the woman was cold. Not maternal at all. So much so that it was difficult to believe that she worked with children. She was just so distant and ridiculously difficult to talk with. So I told Mary I would pass.
By this time, she was starting to become agitated with every profile I would turn down. “I think you should have one more phone call with them,” she suggested. “Maybe you caught them at a bad time.”
“No, Mary,” I said with the patience of a mother explaining something simple to a child. “I didn’t like her. She was cold and distant and not at all maternal. Another phone call is not going to fix that.”
Mary was nothing if not persistent – she kept trying for another week or more to coax me into giving this family another call “just to see.” I insisted that I wasn’t interested. Finally, she let it go, and we moved on to the next couple of profiles.
Strangely, I was traveling to a seminar with Judy Greene, the birthparent coordinator, not long before I left the NYC area to move back to Phoenix – so Eric was almost 5 at the time – and Judy told me that this couple I had rejected had never been chosen by any birthmother. It wasn’t just me: there was something about them that rubbed me – and apparently everyone else – the wrong way. Eventually they removed themselves from consideration as parents through Spence-Chapin. I’ve no idea whether they pursued a private adoption, whether they stayed married and childless, or if they might have gone their separate ways. I couldn’t exactly put it into words then, and I still can’t do much better today. All I knew was that they weren’t the right parents for my son.
So we plodded on. Stick around for a day or two to hear about the couple behind Profile #10!