I’ve mostly been talking about movies, comics, TV, etc on this blog. When I was looking back on my favorite things from the last decade, though, the one thing that kept coming up in my mind didn’t have anything to do with those.
In the 200s, I became a dad. I know it’s hardly original to talk about how becoming a parent changed your life, but it’s the straight truth. Plus, it was a windy road for us to get there.
For medical reasons on both sides, Beth and I aren’t likely to have biological children. I remember getting that news and the quiet ride away from the doctor’s office after we received it. The “best” option presented to us included a week of shots, Beth being bedridden, and a procedure that only had a 30% success rate. Beth had already been through a lot and I didn’t want to see her go through more. Also, the biological part of being a parent was never that important for me. I had often thought I might like to adopt, even if I hadn’t been in this spot.
As we rode quietly in the car, I was trying to think of how to tell this to Beth. I didn’t know what was going through her head and I was nervous about touching a raw nerve. As I was contemplating how to get the adoption conversation going, she turned to me and said “Screw this. Let’s just adopt.”
Have I ever mentioned why I’m glad I married her?
So that week we started collecting info on overseas and domestic adoption. In the process of looking at domestic adoptions, I wound up talking to someone at Norserv who would send me info on local options. She asked me a series of questions, one of which was “Are you open to biracial or other race adoptions?”. I said yes.
It turns out most people say no, even in this day and age. Before I even got the information she was supposed to send she called again to tell me there may be a possibility for us. A pregnant woman was getting counseling from them and had decided to give the baby up for adoption. She was going through Catholic Social Services and no parents on their waiting list were open to biracial children, which this baby was. The baby was going to be born in three months and did we want to meet with her?
This was a bit quicker than we had planned but we said yes and met her later that week. I had jury duty that day and my number had been called, but the judge let me out to make sure I wouldn’t miss it. The meeting went well despite some of the awkardness that probably occurs at the beginning of anything like this. The bottom line was she had been taking care of herself, couldn’t handle having another child, and wanted the baby to have the best possible shot at life. She just wanted to make sure he’d be going into a family that would accept and love him.
Fast forward to three months later and we’re sitting in a room in Port Huron Hospital two days after the baby was born. Ben was brought in to us by his birth mother in the most emotionally overwhelming moment of my life. We spent part of that day and the next with her and her other children before taking my new son home. With that, we were off into the land of parenthood.
A couple years later, we decided Ben needed a sibling (him rolling a ball to his Little Bill doll instead of a real brother was our biggest hint). So we got our names into the system at CSS again. Unlike last time, though, things didn’t happen so fast. We waited for two years with only one possibility coming our way (we decided not to pursue it). CSS was not doing many adoptions anymore so we decided to start looking into other options.
At just after 3pm on November 26th, 2007 I was in my office with Mary Sue sitting across from me when Stephanie from CSS called. A baby had been born that day at Port Huron Hospital, the mother was giving it up for adoption, and she had chosen us as the parents. She was waiting to be checked out of the hospital so were we interested and if so, how soon could we be up there? I’m still not sure what Mary Sue thought when she first saw the look on my face. I told Stephanie I’d have to check with Beth and would call her right back.
I called Beth, hoping that she was on her prep time or involved in something where she wouldn’t be surrounded by six-year olds when I gave her the news. No such luck. She was helping students with their work when I called. Barely able to hold herself together, she agreed with me that we should go up and check it out. I called Stephanie back and we were on our way.
We dropped Ben off at Beth’s mom’s, not saying anything to him yet in the event that things didn’t go right. From there we went straight up, realizing on the way that we didn’t even know if the baby was a boy or a girl.
It was a boy. Like last time, we had a birth mother that knew she couldn’t care for him, but wanted to make sure he was going with someone who would accept and love him (he was also biracial). After talking things through, we all agreed that this would be the right thing to do. She left and we were in the room with our new son who didn’t even have a name yet. The nurse said, “He looks like an Evan or maybe a Michael.” Those two names together struck a chord with us and that’s how our second boy became Evan Michael.
That wasn’t even the most exciting part for me. The best part was when we introduced him to his older brother. Beth went ahead of me into MiMi’s house to tell Ben what was happening. By the time I got through the door, he was sitting on the couch grinning ear to ear. I’ll never forget the way he nodded his head when I said, “Hey, Ben. Do you want to meet your little brother?”
Now the boys are six and two. Despite the chaos at the beginning of both of their lives (and thanks to my mom for taking care of Evan for the first two days of his life while Beth and I got work straightened out), we’ve now settled into a life that is, well, still chaotic but less so. We’re now the Trudeau Family and it’s all thanks to two women who gave us the benefit of the doubt. They turned potentially bad situations into true gifts and we will always be grateful to them for the two most important things in our lives.
Now about that daughter Beth keeps talking about…