In May of 2010 we had just signed on with our second adoption agency. Our profile had been showing for a little less than two weeks when our phone rang on a Saturday. It was our agency, asking if we were willing to have our profile shown for the possible placement of an 18-month-old little girl. We had always envisioned an infant, but we told them to absolutely show our profile. They gave me the mom’s phone number and asked me to go ahead and call. We spent just two days talking, but were on the phone for hours each time. I heard all about their life, how unstable things were, how unsafe life had been for both of them, and about the mother’s desperate need to keep her daughter safe. We had hours-long conversations, cried together, and I even talked to the little girl many times as well. Photos were texted to us and I would lie in my bed long after my husband had fallen asleep, just staring into her little eyes, knowing we’d soon have her safe with us. On Sunday evening, my husband talked to the mother and she asked him if he’d be willing to be her daughter’s new dad. We were expecting paperwork on the following Monday to officially match us with the little girl, and then we’d need to get right on the road. I rushed to buy baby clothes and pack everything we’d need before the 12-hour drive to Texas.
That paperwork never came. The agency told us they hadn’t been able to contact her. She didn’t answer my texts. I spent the next two weeks crying. I’d seen that little girl’s eyes, I’d imagined her as my daughter, and I’d made promises to her mother. I found myself crying at work, just staring blankly at the computer screen, unable to focus on anything else. Just as I was starting to come back around, two weeks after the first incident, I got a message from our agency that they’d heard from the mom again. She was really ready this time. She was taking a bus from Houston to San Antonio and was bringing the little girl with her. I left work and ran to Target and was hurriedly throwing things into my basket, yet again preparing to make that long drive to get our daughter. My phone rang and it was the mom, calling from our agency’s office in San Antonio, asking me to please come to Texas as quickly as possible to get my new daughter. She cried and apologized for dropping out of our lives so quickly the last time. She asked if I wanted to talk to the little girl again, and I said yes. I talked to that little girl as I heard her mom say, “Melissa is coming to Texas to be your new mommy. She’ll be here when we wake up.” My heart broke for the loss that little girl was experiencing that she couldn’t possibly understand. Her mom told me she loved me and we hung up.
My husband and I dropped everything, packed the car again, and waited to hear from our agency regarding the match paperwork. They called to let me know they were faxing everything and it would be ready at a nearby copy store for us to sign. This was really happening. They had found a hotel room for the mom and her daughter so we could drive through the night and meet them in the morning to sign paperwork. We were getting into our already-packed car to make that drive to Texas, just stopping by the copy store on our way out of town, when our phone rang again. It was the agency telling us it was over. In a sudden change of heart, the mom had told the front desk clerk she was leaving, then asked a stranger in the parking lot for a ride. We had no answers, no closure, and for months, I believed we would get another phone call from the mother. I held onto the clothes I’d bought until the very last day I could get my money back, and my husband stood at the counter and returned them, because my heart couldn’t take it.
We never heard from that mother again. I never got an update on her baby girl. I have no idea if they’re okay or if she’s still homeless and sleeping in the apartments of strange men, or what her daughter may have witnessed all these years. I don’t know if the almost-adoption was a wake-up call for family members who might have stepped up to raise that sweet girl. I don’t know if her mom is alive or if she’s had more children. That sweet little girl with the sad eyes is approaching her 6th birthday, and all I know is that I probably won’t ever know.
I think about that little girl often, especially when I am looking into the eyes of my two children. Had we become her parents, I wouldn’t have my son or my daughter because life would have unfolded completely differently. My kids are a constant reminder that there is a greater purpose for everything and that things unfolded just as they were intended. It doesn’t mean the people who impact us along our adoption journey–even if they don’t result in the placement of our children–don’t matter. These people either touch our lives, or we touch their lives, in exactly the way we’re intended to. We were just a fleeting second in the story of that family’s life, but the little girl who was almost ours has become a much larger part of mine. I no longer grieve because of empty arms; I pray because I hope she is okay, and I know I’ll never stop praying for the little girl who was almost mine.