There’s Something Missing

5 Mar

Photo courtesy of hellofath
Empty Stroller
courtesy of hellofath

Now that our family profile information and pictures are in the hands of the media specialist at our placement agency, we’re in the pre-waiting stage. The real waiting – the waiting for our match – comes next … but for right now we’re waiting to see our final profile.

In a random e-mail from the agency, our adoption specialist suggested that some waiting parents found comfort in the chat boards on their website. So while waiting around in the Miami airport over the weekend, I checked it out.

There’s some really encouraging content there, but there’s also a lot of sad stuff.

In particular, it’s where parents turn after they’ve had a disruption. A disruption is the term applied to situations that happen after a match when the birth mother changes her mind. Sometimes the disruption happens a day or two after match, but sometimes it doesn’t happen until after the baby is born.

One couple travelled out state to pick up their baby and learned after they arrived that the birth mother had changed her mind. They rushed back to the airport to get on the first flight home and not prolong their heartache in a strange town, when a man looked at their empty car seat and joked, “I think you’re missing something.”

It’s a joke that any number of us may have made a handful of times. Seeing a man pushing a stroller without a child through the mall, you might casually say, “I think you forgot someone,” expecting to see a wobbly-footed toddler lurching a few feet behind him holding mom’s hand.

But read in the context of a disrupted adoption, it took on all new significance for me. Of course, the man was joking – and the woman who posted to the chat room knew he was. But it didn’t make the comment sting any less.

I was reminded immediately of a meme that went around Facebook last fall, one that I found both ridiculous and hurtful all at the same time.

Women were instructed to use the month of their birth to announce how many weeks along they were and the day of their birth to announce something they were craving. So, for example, someone born in December, like me, would be 12 weeks. Every0ne born on the first of the month of the month might crave Snickers, and everyone born the second might crave Reese’s cups. Then you would post this statement as your status update without explanation.

I am 12 weeks and craving Oreos, for example.

When I saw the first one, I was surprised. And then I almost immediately saw a few more so I knew that it was a joke. Well, joke might be the wrong word. The goal, a subsequent e-mail I received informed me, was to raise awareness of breast cancer screening and research. Noble, I guess, though since we were instructed to keep it quiet – especially from men – I’m not really sure how it raised awareness for anything.

Anyway, as the day went on more and more of these fake pregnancy announcements showed up in my feed. Eventually, I tuned out for a few days. I don’t like mass status updates to begin with and this one particularly bugged me. Why? Well, I was at the time – and still am – zero weeks and craving motherhood.  So, it’s not especially a thing I want to joke about. Combined with the fact that this stupid meme did absolutely nothing to bring attention to the very real issue of breast cancer awareness and research, it was completely pointless.

Back to the woman on the plane and the comment that hurt her so. It’s true that her immediate heartache was that empty baby seat, but I suspect something had been missing for a very long time.

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