That barest minimum rung on the ladder of the professional middle class,
That most pathetic, and yet most powerful, gatekeeper in our collective social garden of good and evil,
That simpering angel with the flaming sword, who can, with the flick of her wrist, bless you with a fruitful family or banish you to everlasting barrenness,
The social worker.
To wit: Da Partner and I have now been waiting, patiently, for 3 years, to adopt.
Three years in which, at the beginning, we received semi-regular enquiries from women in various situations wondering as to our fitness to take on a burden they were contemplating passing on to someone else.
These enquires came steadily at first, but have lately declined in frequency and seriousness. We do not count as serious those enquiries that come to us from persons purporting to be born in the U.S. but lately living in, say, the Central African Republic, and who found us “through His grace” and who have a “powerful feeling” that we are the “chosen one’s of God” (note the usage error).
I wonder which particular circle in hell is reserved for people who try to scam adoptive parents? Is it the circle of the avaricious (not so bad, if you read Inferno closely)? Or the circle of liars? (somewhat worse, if I recall correctly).
Anywho. Where was I? Oh, yes, talking about what bitchez social workers are.
So Da Partner and I have been waiting for three years (did I mention it was three years?) to adopt. During which time we operated under the assumption that in order to have the good opinion of our adoption agency, we should act as the kind of clients we would want.
Smart. Self-assured. Capable. Worry-free.
This was, in the words of some nameless wit, a Big Fucking Mistake.
It turns out that if you want to get a social worker’s attention, you need to be dumb, naggy, needy, and neurotic.
You need, in other words, to squeak as loud as you fucking can in order to get a quick shot of baby to shut you the fuck up.
Silent, hard-working, nice people don’t get shit. They are expected to keep on rolling, rolling along. It’s the needy, naggy barren suburban soccer moms who get the grease.
This was brought powerfully home to me about a month ago when Da Partner enquired with our agency as to how many of our shiny nice profile letters had been sent out to prospective birth parents.
The agency replied with statistics that belonged to someone else with the initials “D.P.”
This did not encourage confidence in us that our agency had any blessed idea who the hell we were, after we had been waiting three fucking years to adopt.
Did I mention we’ve been at this since I was 36? And now I’m 39? That my parents will likely be DEAD before they see their grandchildren graduate from college?
Anywho. So we called the agency up and said, in so many words, “no, we’re not that D.P. We’re the OTHER D.P. You know, the ones who’ve been on your books for THREE YEARS, and still no baby. So let’s talk, shall we? Let’s sit down with this glossy 8 page pamphlet you had us develop, and re-work it.”
That meeting occurred this week. And boy howdy was that a Waste of My Fucking Time.
Shall we start with the bit where the social worker told us that we had to include more “pictures with women?”
Or shall we start with the bit where she told us that we should drop every picture that included my mother and grandmother?
Or shall we start with the bit where she told us that we should include more pictures of us, with each other, and/or with our dog?
Or shall we start with the bit where she told that it would be really helpful if we had more pictures with children?
Or shall we start with the bit where she told us to take out all of the pictures of our extended families — which is to say, all of the pictures that actually have kids in them — because, and I quote, “you need more people of color.”
So, let’s see: more girls, but not these old hags who clearly shouldn’t be in the picture literally or figuratively. Because, you know, it’s not important to have women in your life, just “girls.” But really, you shouldn’t have more pictures of girls at all because actually what you need are more pictures of two dudes and a dog. Oh, and pictures of kids — because, well, it’s not clear why — but certainly not pictures of those pasty-faced tykes you clearly spend too much time with already.
Or maybe we should take a different tack, and focus on the text. This despite the fact that a (different, younger, and clearly not schooled in the professional methods of Blowing Smoke Up The Asses of Clients) social worker lifted the green curtain on the whole “Dear BirthParent” letter thing by stating pretty bluntly that most birthmothers are functionally illiterate. However, leaving all that aside, clearly we needed to rewrite the text, because it was “cold” and “didn’t show our humor.” So, in repairing that deficiency, we were told that that we needed to include more text about what we would do with our child.
Following which we then told that, no, actually what we really needed to do was eliminate all of the bits where we talked about how excited we were to discover new activities with our child because — and I quote — “birthmothers aren’t thinking about childhood, they’re thinking about infants.”
Okay. Sure, honey. I’ll talk about vomit and shit. Because that’s what infants do. I’m excited about changing diapers, and cleaning up vomit. Because that’s what “doing things” with an infant involves — at least that’s what every parent I’ve ever known has told me. So sure — I’ll write up some text that somehow states in convincing terms, how excited I am to change diapers and clean up vomit.
Or did you mean something else? Because really, I’ll write Whatever the Fuck It Will Take to Get Me a Baby. So just tell me what to write, and I’ll write it. Sweetie.
Because I forgot, long long ago — maybe 2 years ago, maybe less, I forget — that this whole “Dear Birthparent” letter was actually supposed to be about us, me and Da Partner, who we are and what we hope our family to be. I’ve forgotten that, because it has since become ever so painfully fucking clear that this letter is about someone else’s fantasy, not mine. And you, Ms. social worker, are just the person to help me write this particular piece of self-contradicting psychornographic nonsense that no one will ever read except you, me, and Da Partner.
But once we’ve written it, and you’ve approved it according to whatever criteria you’ve decided matter on this particular moment of this particular day of this particular week, then please can it be over?
Please can I have a baby?
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