May I ask what drew you to them in the first place? Maybe you’ve covered this here and I’ve forgotten.
I’ve talked about why I chose Ruth and Nora before, but of course I continue to understand that period of my life slightly differently and slightly differently. This time I’m going to divide my thinking into two sections.
- Ruth and Nora said that they wanted us all to be like family. I now think that it is important to define what that means for each of you before anyone signs anything—I talk to my sister Kate once a week, and Tammy and I wish that we could talk that often but do check in warmly and as often as we can manage. Ruth has cut off contact with most of her family, even skipping her sister’s wedding. Our different experiences have left us with different expectations.
- Ruth and Nora lived near to the city that we were going to move to—but not in the same city. It seemed important to me to have a little distance, but to close enough to visit without it being a major production. I also wanted Cricket to grow up in a city, since Mr. Book and I, having lived in several places of varying sizes, agree that a city is the place to be.
- I liked it that they were Jewish; I wanted Cricket to grow up in a household that valued religiosity, but wasn’t conservative or overly concerned with hellfire and damnation. Liberal Jewish lesbian mothers seemed like a safe bet, whereas I dreaded the idea of wading through Christian couples and finding that people were anti-choice (for example). I’m Catholic, but didn’t see any couples describing themselves as, say, Catholic and big fans of liberation theology. But that would have been great.
- Ruth and Nora looked genuinely happy in their profile picture. That was much rarer than you’d think—and I looked at a whooole lot of “Dear Birthmother” letters.
- Ruth and Nora wanted to adopt more than one child. Not that only children can’t be perfectly happy—a couple of my favorite people were only children—but I treasure my siblings, and want my own kids to have that experience, too.
- They liked to travel. And this one, I should say, has totally panned out; Cricket has been around the country more than once. Not the most important reason, but a reason.
- Ruth and Nora expressed a commitment to open adoption. They talked about how much they wanted a connection with us, and said that we were and would always be important to Cricket.
- Ruth in particular was very clear in her understanding that I could change my mind and parent, and that that would be my right. I did not understand that for them, this ended with “. . . but after you place, he’s ours, full stop. You had your chance.” Don’t get me wrong, I never expected to coparent. But I did expect more respect, and more information. I don’t expect input into parenting decisions, but I’d like to hear about his life much more than I do.
- Ruth is in some ways like my mother. Not good ways, either. I wasn’t able to see this at the time—going through a crisis pregnancy really did nothing for my critical thinking and objectivity—but in hindsight it is embarrassingly clear.
- I wanted a gay or lesbian couple because I wanted Democrats (and knew that that upped the odds massively), but also, stupidly, because I wanted a couple who weren’t experiencing infertility grief and hadn’t had ART as their first choice. I was reading adoptive parent message boards, and the number of hopeful adoptive mothers who felt rage and hate directed at women like me—who got called sluts, and stupid, and easy—because we fell pregnant. I didn’t know how to pick those women out in real life, since obviously they could not be saying these things to the expectant mothers whose children they wanted . . . so I wanted not to choose a straight couple. When Cricket was a year and a half old, I found out that Ruth and Nora actually did try ART before adoption, and I kind of freaked out. And now I understand that you can go through ART and still come to adoption with joy and excitement and no venom for the first parents—but too late, alas.
- Ruth and Nora were incredibly dishonest with us. Their relationship, I now know, was already in bad shape; they withheld some things from us that while personal were definitely pertinent. Of course they put their best face on things—we all did—but I am rather bitter now about how far their presentation ended up being from the truth. So the bad reason here, I guess, is the picture of their relationship.