I have to start out here giving props to our caseworker, Mary, who spent part of her weekend trying to get through to anyone who might know what happened Friday at court. She finally got through Sunday morning and let us know that a court date has been assigned to us on March 4.
Is this reason to celebrate? I'm not sure. I certainly feel glad to know there's a concrete date, but this long, twisty tale has succeeded in shooting my naive optimism to smithereens. We now know all too well that a court date doesn't necessarily mean this the day you get to celebrate becoming parents. For some, it does mean this. For others, it means other things, sometimes sad things.
I'm not saying that the "half-empty" girl is back. She's not. But I can try explaining it this way: back in 2003, one of my best friends in Slovakia, Hena, was pregnant with her second child and her mother-in-law got angry with her for buying a stroller for the still unborn baby. Apparently, buying too much for the still unborn baby is bad luck: something could go wrong and then what do you do with all that baby stuff? My friend actually ended up putting an end to her grief by stashing the stroller at her mother's house and telling her mother-in-law that she'd returned the thing until she was closer to delivering.
At the time, I thought the whole thing was a little crazy. Now, I understand a bit better. Between December 18 (referral day) and January 4 (first court date), I was in a whirlwind of getting ready. I was even complaining about all I had to get done before leaving...stupid, stupid girl. January 4 put an end to all the preparations, and one of the hardest things for me was having to go into the room where all the baby stuff is. I didn't want to look at it, and I certainly wasn't buying anything else.
This is where the up-and-down nature of international adoption can do quite a number on one's psyche. After you get the referral and have a face to put to your dreams, it becomes thrilling to look through the baby sections in stores and in my case, to go to the scores of baby-gear consignment places in this eco-friendly town I live in. Life looks rosy when you're suddenly made a member of the mommy-club...
...until your membership is revoked.
This isn't just about buying baby stuff. I don't know how to answer people we meet for the first time who ask if we have children. One time, I actually said, "Sort of." Of course, I got a weird look and while I was trying to explain, the person was politely nodding, but I could almost hear the words being repeated in his head as I was speaking: who is this freak?
One day this week while in the shower (a place of frequent epiphanies for me), a thought settled itself into my brain, "Just get ready to travel." It was almost like a voice outside of myself said it to me. It made me excited and scared at the same time. Excited because it meant I could go back to the consignment places and scared because...well, you know: the voice of Hena's mother-in-law is a loud one.
I pulled out my list again of things we need for our trip, and yesterday I started checking things off. I can't say that it was fun the way it was before January 4th, but it wasn't torturous either. I wasn't pulling out my photos of Abe to show everyone like I was doing before. As I was picking out diaper cream and baby oil, I was almost doing it sneakily, hoping I didn't run into anyone I knew, like I was trying to get away with something I shouldn't be doing, like I was afraid the burly mommy-club bouncers were going to whip around the corner of the baby-aisle and turn their blaring sirens on, shouting through their bullhorns: "Mrs. Rooney! Did you forget about January 4th!? We said the answer was 'no'!"
As I paid for my things, successfully avoiding these scary men (uh, maybe I am a freak then), I drove home vaguely pleased to have gathered butt-paste and motrin, cautiously optimistic that I'll be able to actually use them eventually.
And there's one thought I can't get out of my mind through all this: Merlefest. For the last two years, I've been with my dad who is a volunteer coordinator who gets us back-stage passes to be able to sit on the stage with Emmylou Harris, The Duhks, and Allison Kraus. I love Merlefest. Love. It. At last year's festival, we were about two months into the adoption process, and I just knew we'd have our baby home by 2008's festival. I kept pointing out all the moms walking around with babies, telling my dad and sister, "That'll be me next year!"
The first thing I bought for Baby A was a "Half Full" t-shirt at Merlefest '07 because I've had the adult "Half Full" version for a while. I was scared buying it. The voice of Hena's mother-in-law almost kept me from getting it. Now '08's festival is coming up in a couple of months. One shirt is empty. One shirt is filled. Half Full. Ironic, no?