As I was standing at the carryout counter, I looked up and above the door to the manager's office, and in plain sight for those making pizzas there was a large sign that said "Do what is right when nobody's looking."
A little back story for this post, it is important to know that I have been thinking for a couple of weeks about whether or not to post about the following story. Up until today (actually until I saw the sign) I felt like I would continue to hold the story close to my chest. It was just very personal to me.
You see, after my interview for the Open Adoption Bloggers project, a reader posted the following question to me on my blog.
Just read the interview you gave on the other side. Made me wonder...and I know I am probably asking an impossible question: When you look back now, are you able to identify any moments where you had a gut feeling that the A-parents would not continue in a fully open manner with you? Do you think it is possible to warn other potential birth mothers of certain behaviors, etc.? Or do you think there is no way to know in advance?
I know in my story--as lies and manipulation became clear to me (the attorney), I am able to look back and I know that I FELT she was untrustworthy--though I denied my intuition, obviously. I couldn't make an exact case for it, but I just felt it in my heart that I should not trust this person.
Just wondering if you are now able to identify any doubts you may have had prior--or if you felt totally secure.
My short answer to her would be this, I did not have any serious doubts in advance. I felt a little twinge of insecurity when I mentioned the family bbq idea sometime that summer and they said nothing in return. But I attributed that to us just not knowing what our relationship would look like. I am certain that I was so convinced that what we were doing was the very best for this little girl that I was blinded by my good intentions to recognize any warning signs. And let's be honest, we were all on our best behavior in our relationship at that time. They would have never done or said anything to jeopardize their potential adoption at that point. So to answer your question Jennifer, it's hard to tell how things are REALLY going to be when everyone is walking on eggshells, making sure they do not offend.
Now that I just typed that, I also remember one other thing that was just a little thing at the time, but should have been a big indicator. I tried to friend the adoptive mom on FB after we had met and decided that they would be the parents of our child. She declined my friend request. I re-requested again later, also being declined. Again, I attributed that to wanting to keep her personal life private, thinking that she was probably posting about how excited they were to be chosen to adopt. I never asked her about it. I probably should have...
So, that being said, what HAS happened since the adoption that significantly made me contemplate my relationship with Brit's adoptive parents is something that just happened a couple of months ago. I did not post about it at the time, because I thought it would make me sound vindictive or whiny since I have been told that Brit's parents read my blog. But now that the question has been posed and I just read the strange sign that speaks directly to this situation, I have decided that I will relay the story, because it was a very profound moment for me (and BF).
I needed to pick up something in my office one Saturday morning. I work in an office located behind the door of a large community fitness center. So when I walk from my office down to the main office of the building, I walk through the fitness center. That Saturday morning I was distracted as I walked through the fitness center, with my head down looking at my phone. I don't even remember making eye contact with anyone working out.
I walked down the stairs in into the main office which was dark (because it was not a normal work day). I stood behind the desk and continued to try to read a text message on my phone. Now mind you, I am standing in the dark (not easily visible to a passerby), but I can see out past the front office counter which just had a pull down gate (similar to what you would see in a mall when a store is closed).
I happened to look up, and low and behold, who was coming down the stairs from the fitness center but Brit's adoptive dad. However, he was not just walking down the stairs, he was sneaking down the stairs. Looking left and right like a panicked man. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and peeked around the corner to make sure no one was there and he BOOKED it out the front door. You would have sworn he saw a ghost, or maybe a hit man. Either way, he was on the run, and it was obvious. His workout had been cut short and he needed to get the heck out of there.
Yes, Brit's dad was running from me. That panicked look on his face was because he was afraid I might have seen him lifting weights in the fitness center and I might possibly come back and talk to him.
It took me a minute to fully process what had just happened.
The man who I trusted to adopt my daughter was doing everything in his power to avoid me.
I had a few of reactions all within a matter of seconds. The first was to be horrified. The second was to cry at the betrayal. The third was to chase after him and REALLY make him uncomfortable. But I went with my final, most reasonable reaction and I called BF.
As I relayed the story to BF, I actually started to chuckle. It was just so preposterous to me that this physically huge man was terrified of a 5' 5" woman who didn't really even know he was there. I can't remember the exact words I used with BF, but I know his response to me was along the lines of he was glad that Brit's dad reacted like that, because at least it acknowledges that he must recognize that they way they treat us is not OK and engaging in conversation with me is probably a very horrifying thought.
But COME ON, what did he think I was going to do in a public place like a community fitness center? Especially the place I WORK? Was he afraid I would create a scene? (I never have.) Was he afraid I might bring up anything personal about our relationship? (I never have any other time we have crossed paths at the grocery store.) Every interaction he has ever had with me in public has been cool and non-threatening. I don't cry, or focus on Brit. I simply ask him how their family is doing and I share what we have been up to. Nothing different than I would say to any other acquaintance I might run into at the same store.
That moment made a huge impact on me. It spoke volumes about how Brit's parents perceive us. We are a threat. And we are to be avoided at all costs.
Makes you wonder what will happen someday when they are walking down the grocery aisle with Brit and they spot us on the other end.