Single Mom Diaries: And Baby Makes Two
I WANTED A BABY MORE THAN A HUSBAND continued...
My husband and I had been college sweethearts, married at 25. My baby lust
started up suddenly when I was 27 or 28. In the city in spring, taunting
cherubs show up everywhere — in the cafés and parks, on the sidewalks jammed
with strollers. One weekend, we took care of a friend's 9-month-old, face round
as a ball, coffee-colored skin, crimson lips and cheeks — like a child in a
picture book. How happy we were, carrying her around town in the backpack,
singing to her, bathing her. When her parents returned, we were grief-stricken.
"Let's get the hell out of here," my husband said, grabbing our
suitcase. He knew we had to tear ourselves away before the startling sadness
Still, he wasn't ready for children of his own. He said, "Not yet,"
and "Not at this point, honey," and "You, of all people, know I'm
not ready." We talked and talked, but "now" stayed a far-off,
unnameable date. Meanwhile, friends old and new were sending out birth
announcements. I once received three of those 4-by-8 baby-photo postcards in
one day. On and on the babies were coming, none of them mine.
Then one night, I dreamed that I was a single mother, and happy. The next
day, when I told my therapist about it, she surprised me by saying, "Have
you thought of raising a child on your own before?" Before? I'd never
thought of it at all. It was only a dream.
Nevertheless, I almost skipped down the sidewalk after that session. Until
she'd mentioned single motherhood, I had never considered it. Now the idea was
planted in me, germinating. And this idea, too: that whatever I wanted didn't
require my husband. So I left him. I wasn't thinking, I'll leave, then have
children. I was thinking, At least this way, I'll have a chance.
Four years later, when I was 34 and still single, I read an article in the
paper about families adopting baby girls from China. In those days, China
allowed single women and men 35 and older to adopt. By the time I finished the
mounds of paperwork that were apparently required, I would be 35.
I did not make a lot of money. I did not have a trust fund or any sort of
inheritance. I was an adjunct professor, a freelancer. But I had enough. I was
"Shouldn't a baby have a father?" my mother said. "She doesn't
have any parents right now," I replied.
I dove into the adoption process. In many ways, it was an advantage to be
self-employed and single. I ran adoption-processing errands by day and worked
by night; I didn't have to coordinate my efforts with a partner. I sent away
for my birth certificate, retrieved statements from my accountant, dropped by
my local police precinct to be fingerprinted, had a social worker to my home.
Every document had to be notarized. I made a will. Who would take the baby if
something happened to me? My friend Steve, I decided. He was someone a baby
could count on. He appeared at the door with soup when I had pneumonia, stayed
late to take out the garbage after dinner parties, called me every day and made
me laugh. Throughout my single days, he was my steadiest friend.