This is part of a series of posts about our most recent failed adoption. The first post is here and the second post is here, in case you want to start from the beginning.
Around the one-month mark of our email exchange, B brought up the idea of having a phone call with us. This was a huge and exciting development because it meant real progress in our relationship. We even thought that possibly she felt good enough about us to want to involve us in the ultrasound experience for determining gender or at least to talk to us and tell us over the phone what the baby's gender was when she finally found out.
So we started trying to arrange a phone call - first we talked about doing a call on a weekend since that was the most straightforward time for Paul with work and B with school. But she always had plans (so weird because what college sophmore packs their weekends so full that they can't prioritize a 30 minute phone call in there somewhere?). So we talked about early morning before Paul left for work or evening after he got home (and we accounted for the 3 hour time difference and were planning on getting up super early just to make sure a call could happen before she had classes or a job to get to). But again, there was always a reason why that couldn't work either. So then we switched to a strategy of just saying, "hey, you just name a time - ANYTIME AT ALL - and we will make it work. Don't worry about time zones or our obligations or work schedules. Just tell us when you can make a call happen."
All this happened over multiple emails over the course of a few weeks. Finally, 3 weeks after her bringing up the idea of a phone call, she started giving us windows (like the delivery guys - between the hours of 2 and 4 in the afternoon on Thursday) when she would call us.
Then she didn't call.
My hand was literally cramped from holding my stupid phone that first day she had given us a window of time because I kept thinking, "she'll call. and if something comes up she would text. right? of course. I hope." I had Clara all set with books and snacks and was even ready to resort to letting her watch tv (even though we were going through a television purge during that time) so that I could talk to B without distractions. The plan was to dial Paul in on a conference call and he would talk from work with his door shut. All that preparation and the weeks of trying to finally schedule this and she just left us hanging. And didn't email for a full 24 hours to "explain" what happened.
This happened at least 3 or 4 more times over the next couple of weeks. By the end, I knew she was a scammer. There was no way somebody could have so many excuses for not calling. Excuses like "I got stuck volunteering at Relay for Life" or "I was Facetiming with my mom for the longest time and then had to pack for Spring Break" or "A class got cancelled but I was still so busy and had to stay on campus" or "I'm part of a disciplinary council and had emergency stuff come up because some people were stealing from other people in the dorms and it was my responsibility to deal with it".
There was no way a real birthmom who claimed to care about us so much would continue to leave us hanging and never even text to say "you know what, this is crazy but I had something come up again". Every single time. We were as understanding and patient as humanly possible in our emails. But I gave up even believing that she would follow through with the calls and just played along and humored her every time she said she would call. But a little part of me - this niggling, hopeful part - thought maybe she was intimidated, maybe she just kept backing out and getting nervous to go through with it. I mean, it made sense and I might do the same thing if I were her. Not 4 or 5 times, but still... Her emails remained very newsy and friendly and we were making progress in our relationship so I didn't want to cut it off completely when I honestly felt in my heart that it wasn't a scam. But I didn't bother keeping my phone right by my side or arranging distractions for Clara on the days where B set up call windows. Instead I took an "I'll believe it when I see it" approach.
Except...she had a Twitter feed. If there was anything I withheld from B, it was that I googled her first thing when she started emailing us and found her Facebook page, Twitter account, and an old blog that she had written a few posts on the year before. The thing is, she found us through Facebook and didn't have a caseworker. I worried from the start that this could be a scam and had to verify her identity as much as I could. Adoption scams (and not just ones that are about money - there are people who scam purely to mess with the emotions of vulnerable couples like us) happen ALL. THE. TIME. So I checked her twitter feed every single day to see whether the things she posted matched the things she emailed us. She had loads of friends and was always having conversations with other people from school and a lot of the stuff she posted seemed to confirm what she told us in her emails, (like the disciplinary council stuff and the relay for life stuff), which made me feel like maybe she wasn't a scammer after all. And we liked her a lot and wanted to trust her so we didn't want to believe she was a scammer.
There was one other big reason why we held out so long for the promised phone call. B finally scheduled her ultrasound appointment for March 30th (a month and a half after she first emailed us when she was already 18 weeks along). Only when she emailed back the day after her appointment, she didn't even mention it other than to say "it went well". We asked a little bit more about who was there and what it was like, but I didn't pressure for the gender because revealing gender to the adoptive couple can be a big moment for a lot of birthmoms and I thought that maybe she wanted to tell us over the phone (we were still pretty early on in the scheduling phone calls phase) so we could be patient.
Finally after numerous phone call attempts, I sent B the following email:
"Hey B! We hope everything is okay since we didn't hear from you yesterday or today. We were really hoping that we might actually get to talk this weekend, especially since we have been talking about doing a phone call for quite a few weeks now and we have been emailing for two months (crazy, huh?!). So if you have any time at all tomorrow, please give us a call or at least send us a text. Don't even worry about what time it is because we would take your call even if you called us at 5:00 a.m. Seriously. :) Or if you have gone to call us and changed your mind because of any second thoughts or anything, we understand that too, but please just let us know. We hope this doesn't sound like us pressuring you into a phone call or anything - we don't want to do that and we know that you are super busy (way busier than most people) so we know that you have tons of other obligations and responsibilities - we just want you to know that we understand how difficult this must all be for you. We know that lots of birthmoms often start feeling pressure from a lot of different people at this point in their pregnancy, especially now that you know the baby's gender (which we are sort of dying to know ourselves but have held off on asking about because we thought that was maybe something you might be waiting to tell us over the phone) and things are starting to get more "real" and will likely get progressively more difficult. We hope that you still have people you can talk these things through with, but we would love to be a part of that, if you want us to be."
Reading that again makes me think that it sounded desperate, but the phone call was B's idea in the first place! What we were was frustrated.
She apologized profusely and promised to call the next day. She also promised to send a pic of her baby bump. We didn't ask for that although we had been wanting some sort of confirmation - an ultrasound pic or a belly pic or even better, for her to go into our agency's office just 30 minutes away and talk with a caseworker - to be able to provide at least some proof that she was actually pregnant and actually a potential birthmom and not some scammer.
She didn't call. Instead, she apologized (again) and promised (again) that she would absolutely, for sure, call the next day. It was nothing we hadn't heard from her before.
But finally, FINALLY, she followed through and called us 5 weeks after first suggesting a phone call....