The call from our adoption worker at the Department of Human Resources (DHHS) about Thorin came on January 6, 2009. It was in the form of a voice mail. She said something like “We have this beautiful boy who is two years old and..(insert long pause here) he has Down syndrome.”
The following exchange between my husband and I was like a chant.
“Ok, Down syndrome.”
“Did she say Down syndrome? Play the message again.” We both pressed our ears against Ward’s cell phone to listen one more time.
Her message cast a spell on both of us. It became, “Down syndrome?” Yeah, we could do Down syndrome.” Just like that. It was a 30 second conversation between my husband and I done in couple shorthand. She also said in the call, “You won’t likely meet him for a month or so.” What transpired between that call and the photo we received of him almost a month later was about trying to break the spell.
It seemed too easy after months fraught with close calls, almost calls and near misses of other children we had heard might be, but turned out weren’t, available for adoption. Were we so beaten down by the process of adoption we were jumping at any possibility of parenthood? Well, I aimed to make sure I put us both through a serious vetting process. I made a choice to not just break the spell, but to shatter the dream. I told a few people about what we were thinking – no one said, “This is the one! Wow, sounds great.” I got permission to drop the whole idea. I got horror stories. I got grieving stories. Most of this I tried to impart to my husband. Clearly it is someone special who considers such a thing. I tried to remind him of just how flawed we were – how typical we were.
For a few weeks every day I had some new tidbit of information about what to expect when you’re expecting your Down syndrome adoption. The last straw was when I told him that I had talked to a woman who said she and her husband had still been changing their son’s diapers when he was 13 years old. “So, do you think you could change a 13-year-old’s diaper? I mean really could you?” My husband said, “If it was our son yes. If it was just any 13 year old boy no because it kind of creeps me out.” And then he said, “You have been trying to get me to question something you and I both agreed was right. If you are trying to scare me it isn’t working but it is pissing me off. Veto this or knock it off – no hard feelings.”
For you post-Boomers there was a show in the 1970’s called Maude. Bea Arthur played the title character who was this big bossy boots that wore long vests. Her husband Arthur was very accepting of her and also the only person who would stand up to her. If she went off kilter he would yell, “Maude, sit!” This was his signal for her to rein in the crazy and to literally sit down. My husband is my Arthur.
After we saw Thorin’s photo we knew again this was the one. My husband never faltered from who would become our son and never blamed me for slipping. The night before I called DHHS to tell them, “Yes”, my Arthur sat me down and said, “You were born to raise a momma’s boy –and you might get your chance with this kid. He will never drive, he will never knock some girl up and he will never leave you.”
Of course we found out kids with Down syndrome could have jobs, go to college, go on dates, get married, and drive cars. Maybe we’ll luck out and our next kid will be a typical child who lives in our basement doing bong hits.