Dear Someday Baby,

We had an eye-opening experience this week.  We met our new social worker, here at home, for what we thought would be a short, get-to-know-you session.  Boy were we ill prepared.

As we were reviewing – for what seemed like the 80th time – what we would and wouldn’t consider (diseases, birthmother behaviour/illness, etc) the worker rather abruptly pulled some papers out of her file folder and said, “Well, I want to tell you about a few children right now.”

My heart skipped a beat.  Your daddy froze.  We didn’t expect to be having this kind of talk!  It was the first time actual children have ever been discussed with us!   We have become so accustomed to talking about ourselves, our hopes, our lives…it almost seemed surreal.

So, the social worker talked.  We listened.  We learned about 5 children – two sibling groups and one “single” child…all of whom have come into this world under heartbreaking circumstances.  

While I can’t go into a lot of detail, I can say without exaggerating, the “birthparents” in 2 of the 3 scenarios should never have been permitted the priviledge of having children in the first place.   In each sibling pair, one of the two children was severely ill, while the other child was “healthy”….this was so devastating…and so difficult to process, because naturally the hope is to have a healthy child, but it’s almost as though we were hearing “you could have a healthy child if you also accept a sick child.”  

But we can’t do it.  We have already pushed our considerations to the limit in an attempt to be as open as possible to as many scenarios as possible…and these were way beyond those thresholds.  In one case it’s been recommended at least one parent have a medical background- which we don’t have.

In the case of the single baby, bless his heart, he is also high needs.  Accompanying his file was a fairly damning letter from a specialist who painted a bleak picture of what this child’s future holds.   Unfortunately, we don’t think we are the right parents for him…although we did ask for some time to consider.

I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up when I imagined what these children have experienced.  I sat there, trying to picture any of these precious children becoming part of our lives.  What was worse – imagining how we were going to find the words to say no, not this time around.  Our child(ren) weren’t part of these stories.  We both knew it without saying a word.  We don’t have what it takes, or what these children need, at this time in our lives.

Hearing the stories changed me.  I think my logical mind knew these types of things really happened in the world, but hearing them out loud, AND having them presented to us as potential children, hurt a lot. 

The social worker said several times we shouldn’t feel guilty for saying no – but we do.  How can we not, after so many years of wishing for this opportunity…this honour?

When she left, we talked for a long time.  We wondered if we were being tested – was the worker trying to determine our limits?   Personally, I felt that she likely reviewed our file, read what our considerations were, but mentioned these scenarios because they didn’t fit into any one category – for example, we discussed rare illnesses not listed on the adoption form; we also discussed horrifying external influences not mentioned anywhere before.

But we also know this process is a bit of a gamble.  Children who enter the system end up there because of terrible circumstances, but it doesn’t mean they are destined for an equally terrible life.  There are many, many stories of children who enter adoptive families with challenges, but those challenges stem from neglect, lack of structure and the absense of love.  These things can all be reversed.  Some things, however, cannnot.

So for now, at least, I will wonder if we should have taken the risk and made the gamble that you were one of those babies…particularly the single child.  Something about his story called out to me, despite claims of a life of hardship ahead.  How can a child’s whole life be mapped out before he reaches a year?

This is not easy, little one, but we’ll get there, I promise.