Author’s note: This is my entry for the weekly Writer’s Hangout challenge on LinkedIn. Find the group over there and join in if you’d like to play along. This week the prompt was “It’s a long road.”
“Parenthood is a long road.” How many times had Laurie heard her mother say that?
When Laurie was a little girl, her mom uttered those words repeatedly. Occasionally, she spoke them in exasperation. Usually, however, Mom would recite the adage while lecturing her oldest daughter on life and the joys of parenthood.
From her earliest memories, Laurie wanted nothing more than to be a mom. The way her own mom talked about parenthood sowed seeds of expectation made Laurie all the more eager to give birth to her own offspring.
In adulthood, Laurie found becoming a parent more difficult than it appeared. The primary problem lay in finding a father for her children. Her first fiancé called off the wedding less than three weeks before the big day. Laurie spent the next decade nursing a broken heart.
Laurie’s professional life roamed from promising opportunity to tragic disaster. She could hold down a job and always received stellar reviews from supervisors and peers, but nothing she did filled the hole in her life. Her younger brother and sister married and had their own children while Laurie remained single and childless.
Requited love finally found Laurie at age 36. Cautious by nature, she took the courtship slowly and finally walked down the aisle the year she turned 38.
Although Laurie now had someone to father her children, conception proved challenging. Two years ticked by. Despite her happy marriage, the inability to have children of her own remained a constant source of sorrow. The pain deepened as she and her husband said goodbye to aging family members—a favorite aunt, an uncle, her husband’s father. Laurie’s circle of life remained incomplete as no children came to fill the voids these losses created.
One Sunday afternoon, Laurie received an unexpected call. Her 65-year-old mother had been rushed to the ER. Undiagnosed heart disease killed her before Laurie or her siblings could get to the hospital.
At the wake, Laurie sobbed uncontrollably. “I’m so sorry, Mom. I’m so sorry.” Only her husband understood the barren sorrow that tore at her soul.
A week after the funeral, Laurie’s husband calls her over lunch. “Honey, I just received a call from the Department of Family Services.” Laurie’s mind reels. The couple had applied with several adoption agencies only to be denied because of their age, and foster parenting always seemed to Laurie like nothing more than another series of heartbreaks.
“Wade, you know I can’t deal with having to say goodbye to foster children. I cried for weeks after each semester when I taught school.”
“They want us to adopt.”
Laurie’s heart leaped into her throat. Tears began to stream down her cheeks as Wade explained that a second cousin of his had been arrested for drug use. “Her child has severe emotional problems, suffers from radical attachment disorder. DFS can’t find a foster family to take her, and they’re reaching out to family members as a last resort.” Wade paused, “Honey, I can’t think of anyone who could love this little girl any better than you. It won’t be easy, but we’re a team. We’ll do it together.”
Laurie swallowed hard. It had been such a long road to parenthood. “You know what my mom would say,” she finally managed.
“Parenthood is a long road,” the couple said in unison.
Click HERE for more information about Radical Attachment Disorder.