Monday, October 5, 2015

1st conversation with Anne

     Wednesday was one of the most nerve wracking days of this whole process: we had our first phone call with Anne. I guess that I can't say "we"-- hubby was supposed to be available for the call, but he got called into a last minute emergency surgery that was a life or death situation for one of his patients. That isn't exactly the type of thing that he is able to just opt out of, so it ended up being just me talking to Anne. She was very understanding, and said that it had actually worked out well that she and I got a chance to talk one-on-one and it helped her to be a bit less nervous.

     But I'm going to back up a little bit and talk about how the phone call was set up. There were 4 people on the line: our case worker, Anne's case worker, Anne, and myself. The caseworkers were on the line together, and then called me. They gave me a bit of a head's up for the day: how Anne was feeling that day, was she emotional, was she nervous, etc. One thing that I appreciated was that they told me that she had created a long list of questions for me so that she would remember to ask everything that she wanted to ask. At times it did kind of feel like we made pretty big jumps from one topic to another, but I was able to know that it was because she had a list she was following and not just that we were having a very awkward conversation! Another thing that was helpful is that they said that what seemed to be most important to Anne right now was to hear that we were excited about the baby. This might seem like an obvious thing, but there are so many who advise PAPs to keep their excitement in check when talking to the biomom (or even just within themselves during the waiting period between the match and the signing of TPR after birth) in order to maintain a tone of respect that you understand that this is still her child and she has every right to decide to parent. Knowing that Anne wanted to hear excitement from us helped me feel much less nervous for this first conversation. So, after they had filled me in about all of this, they put me on hold and called Anne. Then they connected both lines and pretty much stayed quiet so we could talk. There were only two instances where her case worker said anything: Anne got emotional at one point when talking about a family member who had passed away and the caseworker helped to redirect the conversation, and then towards the end of the call her caseworker remembered a question that Anne had apparently told her that she wanted to ask but hadn't come up yet.
      Anne pretty much led the conversation with her list of questions. They ranged from casual topics (when our birthdays are,  what a typical day looks like for us) to pretty serious ones (specifics about our religious beliefs, why we thought an open adoption was a good idea). There were a couple of places where I used her question as a jumping off point to ask her a question, in saying something like "You just asked me about how we celebrate Christmas, what do you usually do?" or "You've asked me several questions about our religious beliefs, would it be okay if I ask you if you follow any type of religious faith?" If there was a lull in the conversation, I tried to ask light-hearted questions like what kinds of foods she liked, her favorite movies, how she had been feeling this week, and what some of her hobbies were. I didn't want to ask anything that would be too serious and put her on the spot or lead towards an emotional topic unless she had already introduced that topic. There were actually two different topics from the list that her case worker had given me about subjects to avoid that Anne brought up, herself, and freely volunteered information about, but I was glad that they were things that I let her get to in the conversation when she was comfortable. The only serious thing that I asked without her having brought up something similar was why she picked us out of the dozens and dozens of profiles she had looked at. I also told her the name that we were thinking of to see if she liked it or if there was anything that was important to her to include (I asked her first if she would like to know so that I wouldn't be starting a discussion that she wasn't ready for yet). We ended up talking for about an hour, and I gave her my email address at the end of the call so that she would have a way to get in touch with me if she thought of anything else she wanted to ask, or just if she had a day that she was in the mood to chat and our next scheduled call was still several days away. Overall, the conversation wasn't near as awkward as I had envisioned it being. There were some spots where it was obvious that neither of us really knew what to say next or how to respond to something the other had said, but those few moments were overshadowed by how frequently we were able to find similarities and just have a casual conversation. I honestly don't think it was any more awkward or uncomfortable than when you are trying to form a new friendship with someone you have met and sometimes have difficulty knowing what to talk about.
      Her case worker disconnected the call, and then called her to get her impressions and make sure she was still comfortable with her choice. After that, the case worker called me to fill me in on how that conversation had gone, and to make sure that I was still comfortable. She said that Anne was very excited after the phone call and felt a connection to me, and was enthusiastic about wanting to get to know us better. Apparently, Anne would like to ask some more in-depth questions about our beliefs about some specific morals and ethics the next time we talk, so I got a head's up to be prepared for the next conversation to take that turn at some point. She also gave me some very touching information about some of the reasons that Anne had picked us that she hadn't really been comfortable telling me personally. But, the best part about all of it is that the phone call went so well that Anne changed her mind about not wanting to meet us before the baby is born! She had originally said that she didn't want anything other than an occasional phone call, but she felt so comfortable with me after the conversation that she reconsidered and thought it would be nice for us to have a chance to meet in person.
       We are having another phone call this week, and fingers crossed that no one else decides to have an emergency at an inconvenient time!

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