Thursday, December 28, 2006

A fun night

We had a few friends over for dinner tonight. I made chili and biscuits and drank waaaaay too much red wine. I hope I didn't embarrass myself.

I think I should drink more red wine.

That's all.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Catching up

I've spent the last 2 days cleaning, organizing, and getting ready for some hardcore crafting. Also thrift shopping, but that's beginning to be par for the course. I'm so thankful to have this time away from work!

We had a v. nice time in Charlotte, and it was great to see my family. They all spoiled us; even baby Hester-to-be picked up some choice gifts! It was sort of a whirlwind trip since we left early Saturday morning and returned Monday night. While we were down there, my brother and his GF introduced the rest of us to Jack in the Box milkshakes, and all I can say is that it's a good thing we don't have Jacks in the Box up here in the Northland. I'd be screwed!


And in other news, we haven't heard a peep from the adoption agency. Today I'm taking that as a good sign.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy holidays from our house to yours

Reuben enjoys his new catnip toy while resting on the washing machine. Sweet!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Gratefulness displaces anger

After writing several nasty letters to folks who deserved them, I rallied late yesterday afternoon. By the time Petunia's and my Christmas celebration rolled around at 7:30pm, I was ready to party.

Petunia and I always have a private Christmas together. In fact, we got engaged 6 years ago at our personal Christmas celebration. The whole tradition means a lot to both of us, and we love sitting on the floor by the tree and opening the gifts we chose for each other. This year, like every year, I got seriously spoiled! Petunia has a knack for thoughtfulness and generosity, and I am always grateful to be the recipient of her kindness. She's the best!

Today I'm taking it easy; I'm having a much better day than yesterday. Ms. Stork called last night to say that the agency thinks we should go ahead with our travel plans, that there's no official indication that Ariana will go into labor early. She also said that the agency should be receiving updated prenatal records early next week. I'm very relieved; I've been so worried that we'd be in Charlotte when the baby is born. Since Ariana wants us at the hospital for the birth, I've been really scared that it would give her the wrong message (i.e., that we're not committed to her daughter) if we went off gallivanting around the country at such a precarious time. There's still a chance of early delivery, but it sounds like bed rest is doing the trick. Knock wood.

In other news, I just have one kid today, though 2 others stopped by briefly. One child came bearing wonderful gifts: homemade cookies, a perfectly splendid coffee mug he made at a paint-your-own-pottery studio, and a very generous tip from his parents! Lovely.

Happy holidays, y'all!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

I hate you and I hate your ass face.

I'm in a TERRIBLE mood today. I'm so angry! Red hot angry, with mad PMS to boot. I'm taking names and kicking ass, and these people/things are officially on notice:

--The adoption agency staff. Those fuckers need to do their goddamned jobs.
--Staff at Ariana's OB's office. Ditto.
--The woman who sold us a car care policy that she swore would be transferable to any dealership. She LIED.**
--Christmas in general. Christmas can bite me.
--Dunkin' Donuts. I finally heard that commercial J. wrote about, and it makes me furious. They're getting a letter from me, too.

That's all for the moment, but I'm sure there's more. Stay tuned to find out whether I lose my sanity in a fit of anxiety-fueled PMS rage!

*Thanks to Waiting for Guffman for title inspiration.
**She's cancelling it for us, but still.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mr. Baby

To keep myself busy last weekend, I thrift shopped like crazy! I got several great children's books plus a gazillion tiny outfits, all of which are absolutely adorable. I also found a Baby Papasan for $20, down from its normal $60 price tag. I bought it, brought it home, washed the cover, and set it inside the baby's crib for safekeeping. Yesterday I went into the nursery to change the kids' diapers, and this is what I saw:

Reuben loves the Baby Papasan! For the record, he likes the music and vibrate features as well.

I love that silly cat.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Meltdown city

I'm on my way to a meltdown, friends. Since we got the call about this Situation on November 29, I've held it together. I haven't cried or carried on once, and I've put one foot in front of the other to accomplish all the things that need to be accomplished if this baby is going to become our daughter. I sorted photos, wrote captions, made endless phone calls to doctors, stuck it out with Ms. Scary, leaned on Ms. Stork, didn't go berserk on Petunia, got too little sleep, found, applied for, and signed for a loan, and waited. And waited some more. And I did some of this all by myself, since Petunia has been away since last Thursday.

Petunia is coming home tonight, and it looks like I'll be driving out to Boston to pick her up. And I'm so tired, emotionally and physically. The closer she gets to being here, the more I feel the tears well behind my eyes.

Our friends and family have been so kind and caring, which adds to the feeling of impending meltdown. I was talking with Orca recently; he said that he and Beluga bought the baby a rattle in Target. Then yesterday we received the first gifts for the baby (though of course we told folks not to shop yet!). Seeing those things and knowing that our friends picked them out just for our Hester-to-be made me want to curl up in a ball and sob. Also yesterday, my mom said that she and my dad were out looking at infant clothes. And then today one of my kids' families gave Petunia and me some holiday gifts. Last year they gave us a very generous bookstore gift certificate and some funny post-it notes, so I was expecting something in the same vein. But when I opened the first box, I pulled out a wonderful, brightly-colored infant toy. I almost lost it again. And then when I opened the second box, I saw a whole little layette: 5 onesies, 2 pajamas, and a sweet little outfit. The accompanying note read: "We hope that you will be able to use these in the new year!" That time the tears did come, but I was able to stop them before the kids noticed anything wrong.

Of course, this is a stressful time of year anyway. Hello, holidays are a wee bit nutsy. And it's made worse by the fact that today is the last full-time day for one of my kids; I've known him since he was 3 months old and he's been with me full-time since he was 10 months old. He's leaving full-time care because his mom is having her 2nd baby and will be staying home, but he'll still come here once a week in the new year. I'm so glad I'll be able to see him then, but I'll miss having him around day in and day out. I've been frantic over creating a goodbye book for him, organizing a celebration day today, and getting his portfolio together for his leave-taking. It's a very sad thing, saying goodbye to him.

Now we have the stress of not knowing what to do for Christmas. I want to go to Charlotte, but if there's any indication that Ariana will deliver over the weekend, we'll be staying here. I wish that damned agency would get back to us with the OB's info so we can make our decision.

So. To sum up: tired, weepy, excited, scared, sad, joyful. Meltdown city.

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Maybe she'll be a Capricorn?

Still no news, though now our social worker is on the case. I'll write more when I know more.

On a different note, a friend of ours with psychic powers told us that this baby will be born Saturday, December 23 at 11:17pm.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

No news is good news, right?

No one from the agency has called back, which scared the crap out of me yesterday. Now that it's been over 24 hours since the original call, I'm doing a lot better re: worrying. Many, many thanks to all of our friends who called me to check in. Thanks also to the kind folks who commented on my last post. I really am okay, and I'm hopeful that Ariana and her daughter are, too.

So. Waiting again. I'll let you know when there are new developments. Thanks again for your well wishes and support.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Worry and waiting

I'm freaking out. Ariana's adoption agency called to say that her placenta abrupted and that she's being treated with steroids. I'm so worried for her health, and for the baby's health as well. I understand that she could deliver via emergency C-section at any time if her health and/or her baby's health starts to suffer.

The agency wants me to be available via phone at all times.

Did I mention that Petunia's in Colorado right now?

I don't like not knowing what's going on. I'm so worried.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

The phone call

The only thing that prepared me for making this call is years of experience as a hotline rape crisis counselor. Because of that, I'm pretty good at cold-calling total strangers and talking about very personal things. But aside from the initial chatty hi-how-are-you stuff, this was all unchartered waters for me. I think for Ariana as well.

Our phone call was surreal but very very good. We had lots of eerie little things in common, odd things like the waterfall on the Smith campus that we both used to sit beside when we lived out that way. We "clicked," just like our social workers hoped we would. But even better, we respected each other's decisions, families, and circumstances. It felt honest and right.

This was the first conversation in what I hope will be a lifetime of conversations.

I don't want to talk too much about what we said to each other. Tonight I will take some time to put all that in a letter for the baby; I want her to be able to read it later on if she does become our daughter. But there were a couple of things of great significance to me that I can share with you: Ariana wants us to be at the hospital when the baby is born. And she has been requesting doubles of her ultrasound photos all along, which she wants to give to us for our photo album.

We couldn't be more blessed.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The mind boggles

Tonight we will talk on the phone with Ariana and Bobby. I can hardly believe it!

I'm reeling.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thinking too much

I keep waiting for a call from Ms. Stork that's all, "April Fools! Sorry, suckahs!"

The phrase "too good to be true" flits through my mind a lot, too.

I keep putting one foot in front of the other, hoping like crazy that this baby girl will become our daughter. Example: This morning I applied for a loan so we can finance the adoption expenses. We were approved right away. I tried hard not to take that as a sign.

I think about the baby's parents all the time. About her brother. About what they'll tell him, about whether he understands what's happening. About whether we'll be able to know him in person rather than just in letters and photos. I'm so eager to meet him, to meet his parents. To hear what they hope for the future, which might well become our combined future.

I know a little about the family's situation, about why they made an adoption plan for their daughter. About why they're so certain they can't parent this baby. I have not yet met Ariana and Bobby, but I imagine myself in Ariana's shoes, then Bobby's and Tyler's. Their social worker says that Ariana and Bobby are completely committed to placing their baby for adoption. When I hear that, I feel grief-stricken and matter-of-fact all at once. I am learning in practice that adoption is loss, and that joy and sadness are flip sides of the same coin.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Good news!

We heard from Ms. Stork this morning that Ariana and Bobby loved our photo album and letter. Based on what they've seen of us, they think we'd be great parents for their daughter! We will speak with Ariana on the phone sometime this week, and either this Wednesday or next Wednesday we'll meet Ariana, her 4-y.o. son "Tyler," and maybe Bobby as well. Ms. Stork says it's all going v. well from her perspective; Ariana and Bobby are very enthusiastic about us, and we feel the same way about them. Things can change at any point, of course, but at least for now we're moving forward together.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dying to party

We had such a nice little holiday cookie party last night until the stunning finale: At the very end of the night, our betta fish jumped out of his (lidded) tank and landed on our living room floor. No one has any idea how it happened, but everyone saw it.

Lesson learned: When your fish tries to kill himself, the party's over.

Boris the Fish after his brush with death.


Friday, December 08, 2006

With optimism this time!

So. We just heard back from Ms. Stork: So far, so good. Ariana likes the sound of us (!!!), and she'll receive our letter and photo album today from a social worker with her agency. FYI, we learned that it's Ariana calling the shots, not Bobby, though Bobby's definitely involved. We also learned we're the only family that Ariana and Bobby are considering. Furthermore, Ms. Scary told Ms. Stork that she thinks we're a "perfect match" for Ariana and Bobby in terms of openness and attitudes about adoption. She must have read our letter to them, huh?

I feel like a great big boulder was just removed from my shoulders.

Now we can relax again, at least a little. Ariana and Bobby will take the weekend to look at our materials, and sometime early next week Ms. Stork will tell us whether they want to move forward with us. Until then, at least we know we're being considered.

I'm so glad.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Still waiting (and a dash of moo juice)

Yesterday the stress of waiting to hear from Ms. Scary got to me and I totally freaked. I still haven't cried or carried on yet, but yesterday I was absolutely convinced that this Situation would fall apart at any moment. It was a v. tough day.

But today I'm hanging in there. [An aside: When you see the words "Hanging in there," don't you always think of that poster with the kitten from your 3rd grade classroom? I do.] I woke up in a vicious mood, but it's been steadily improving. Now that I know Ms. Stork will call Ms. Scary tomorrow if we don't hear from Ms. Scary today, I can be more patient. Y'all know I like to have a plan.

And also! ALSO! Last night Petunia and I bought a secondhand Medela Pump in Style from the Craigslist. And guess who got some milk droplets this morning and this afternoon? No, not Clara, though she was v. curious about the whole affair. ME! That's right, friends, just call me Bessie. I hand pumped for 26 days and got a big fat nothing, but 2 sessions with the fancy double electric pump got me several droplets. It's a start, anyway. I'm pretty proud of myself.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A special request

If you know anything about signs of Asperger's in 24-month olds, would you please email me?



Unexpected VACATION!

Guess who heard today that SHE HAS NO KIDS AT ALL THE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS? You guessed correctly: It's me! This is especially exciting because I hadn't written it into my contract for this year, so I thought I'd have my normal full house. But today 2 of my families volunteered that they'd be away, and a third said she would keep her son home if he'd be the only child here. Another kid only comes on Mondays (and I'll be closed for both Christmas and New Year's Day anyway), a second child's family already told me he'd be away, and my last child is on vacation until January 2. Sweetness! This means I'll have to figure out a good plan. I don't want to waste the time, but I don't want to be crazy like I was last year. The thought of so much freedom makes me indecisive, though VEEEEERY happy!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holding steady

Still waiting. Petunia had a good exchange with Ms. Scary yesterday afternoon: Ms. Scary loved our photo album, and Petunia said she warmed up to us a lot after she saw it. That's good news, isn't it?

Now that the book and letter have been handed off, we're really just waiting to hear what's next. I feel a certain peace now; it's out of my hands, so all I can do is take it easy. Be kind to myself and Petunia, pet the kitties and pup, and watch a little 90210 to keep busy. Try not to obsess. You know, the usual.

I'm feeling strong right now.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Waiting on Bobby

Petunia just met with Ms. Stork, and we have a little news:

1. Ms. Stork really liked our photo album and letter. She didn't suggest any changes, so Petunia is driving them over to the baby's parents' agency right now. I'm really proud of us for working so hard this weekend and for being true to ourselves in all the materials we put together for Ariana and Bobby.

2. Ms. Stork got Ms. Scary to agree to a set fee in the event that we adopt Ariana and Bobby's child. Even if the agency's costs go over that amount, our portion would remain the same. It's a verbal agreement right now, but if Bobby's cool with us, Ms. Stork will get it in writing. Now we can start investigating loan possibilities.

3. A couple other families are looking over the baby's medical information. Right now, we're the only folks who have said that we feel able to meet the baby's medical needs.

4. Ms. Stork is pressuring Ms. Scary on the whole lezzie moms angle. Ms. Stork told Ms. Scary it's not fair to keep stringing us along; she wants Ms. Scary to find out from Bobby whether he'd consider 2 moms for his baby.

And that's pretty much it. One new wrinkle, but tons of advocacy from Ms. Stork. Still in the same place overall, though: We're waiting on Bobby. We've done all we can do at this end.


The goings-on

Let's forget the Situation stuff for a moment (AS IF, but let's make believe, okay?). Here's what else has been going on:

--Petunia and I are on a deadline to proofread papers for a sort of auxiliary project Petunia's working on for her job. That's vague, but it's big stuff. If we do a crappy job, there could be v. negative consequences. No pressure, though!

--Petunia is fixin' to fly to Colorado to visit her brother and many of her friends, including the lovely and talented PK and the lovely and talented Chica. I know that Petunia will have a wonderful time with her friends, but the fly in the ointment is this: she'll be seeing her parents for the 1st time since her brother Snapdragon's wedding last summer. Her parents are v. homophobic, which is lots of fun. Petunia's freaking out at the thought of having to deal with them at Snapdragon's graduation.

--Today I had a new child start in my child care program. He's a VERY high energy 2 y.o. who doesn't know much English. Unfortunately, I only know 2 words in his native language. It's good that the word for "dog" is one of them since Clary B. has turned out to be my Goodwill Ambassador. This new child will be with me on Monday mornings until January, and he'll switch to Monday and Friday mornings in the new year. Time to brush up on my language skills.

So that's that. We've been flat-out around the clock since Wednesday. Tonight we hope to catch up on our sleep. I also have more episodes of 90210 to watch, but sleep comes first.

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We're in a holding pattern. We have no new information from Ms. Scary, so we're taking it one day at a time until we hear from her. We finished our letter and photo album around 1:30 this morning, and Ms. Stork said she really liked the letter. Petunia is in Boston showing her the photo album right now. If all goes well, Ms. Scary will have both the letter and the album this afternoon. We're hopeful that she'll share the materials with Ariana and Bobby right away.

Fingers crossed.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Situation is still on.

No news is good news from the agency, so Petunia and I have been working around the clock to create a photo album for Bobby and Ariana. It's mostly done now, and we're about to start our letter to them. We hope to get these materials to Ms. Scary tomorrow so that she can get them to Ariana and Bobby ASAP.

That's all from here.


Friday, December 01, 2006

The Situation: A Mega Post

Wednesday, November 29, afternoon

We have a "Situation" happening. That's what social workers call possible matches, I've learned. And the strangest part is that it's not a DSS Situation at all, but a private one.

A baby girl will be born in our state in February with some health concerns. They're things we were prepared for, though we'll be speaking with doctors to be sure we could meet her medical needs. The family's agency has had a tough time finding a family for this baby, but when our social worker heard about her, she thought we'd be a great match. So far, we agree.

Now money is a factor, and we didn't think it would be. So we didn't plan for it. This is causing me great anxiety, but Petunia and I will do our best to rise to the occasion if necessary. I'm looking into adoption grants and loans, and both of us feel strongly that if this child is meant to be our daughter, we will figure out the finances part of the equation. That's the least of it.

What will happen next: We'll read all of the information Ms. Stork sent to us from the baby's mother--health stuff, family stuff, etc. We'll talk with as many medical professionals as necessary to answer the questions we have about the baby's medical conditions. We'll decide whether we can potentially meet this baby's needs, if that's what her parents decide. If we choose to move forward, then we'll meet the baby's parents at their request.

I haven't written about Hester's parents before now, mainly because it's been hard to imagine what their situation would be. With DSS Situations, adoption isn't a plan most folks have for their babies--it's a plan that's made by the state, usually without their consent. I figured that all of the placement decisions in our Situation would be made by social workers, with just a little of our input. But now, we have an about-face.

Now we have real life parents before us who are scared and anxious and who love their daughter like crazy, but who are in some very dire straits themselves. And they have decided (or maybe others have decided for them--I don't know) that they can't parent their baby, and they have been trying like mad to find a family for her for the past several months. Their commitment to her is deep and real, and it hurts to think how they must be suffering now, waiting on our decision. We're trying to be quick, but thorough.

More later.

Thursday, November 30, afternoon

I've been on the phone all day. All. Day. The kids haven't been getting their usual amount of Clementine attention so they're nuttier than usual, which complicates things. However, their families know that there's a Situation on the horizon, so I'm not worrying about work today. The kids are safe and happy and if they play with playdough or Lego while I'm on the phone, so be it. A few more structured activities these days won't hurt them.

We went through all of the paperwork Ms. Stork sent us last night. It's all sorts of stuff, much of it written in the baby's mom's hand, and it's a blessing. I can't help but think of the Situation we thought we'd be facing right now, the kind of Situation where there's little to no information about the baby's mother, let alone notes she hand wrote about her hobbies and favorite subjects in grade school.

There's everything in that report, including data from the baby's most recent ultrasound. Who has an expected due date of February 5, by the way. She'll be an Aquarius. Petunia and I are both air signs, too. I'm trying hard not to take that as a sign. Um, so to speak. Heh!

We've talked about the money piece. We have 2 applications in for adoption grants, but we won't hear until ~2 months from now. We have agreed to make this work financially if this child is meant to be our daughter.

I've heard back from several medical professionals, all of whom confirm the info I found online, which is the same info Ms. Stork told us about the baby's medical conditions. So far, so good. It looks like we will be able to meet this child's medical needs, god willing.

And now we're just waiting to hear back from the baby's parents' adoption agency. (Why haven't they called yet?) I'm trying not to spiral into self-doubt, but to remain cautiously optimistic: This family is just one family in their busy caseload; It's only been 24 hours since we learned about this baby; They might not have been able to contact the baby's parents in such a short amount of time. But we need written permission from the baby's mom to speak with her doctor and her son's doctor; once we talk with them, we'll be ready to make our decision.

It's looking good so far. "Cautious optimism" is the phrase of the day.

And PS--Things on the family front might be improving. Thank you all for your kind words.

Thursday, November 30, evening

Now I have a call in to the baby's mother's agency myself. I'm starting to vacillate between utter calm and jittery low-level panic. It was all well and good to wait patiently when this was abstract, but now all bets are off.

They'd better call back soon.

Friday, December 1, afternoon

I just spoke with the head of the parents' agency--let's call her Ms. Scary. Why? Because she scared the crap out of me, frankly.

But things are still looking okay, though not out-and-out good. Ms. Scary says that the baby's mother--let's call her Ariana--is down with The Gay, but that the baby's father--let's call him Bobby--isn't okay, at least in theory. But she also said that he might reconsider after seeing our materials and realizing that we're two women rather than two men. (Let's put sexism to work for us, shall we? My stomach positively lurches at the thought.) Bobby will decide whether he can stomach the thought of his daughter being raised by two moms; if he can, we'll move forward, and if not, they'll move forward. We will, too, just not with them.

So. Petunia's and my next step is to create all those things you create when you do a private adoption that the birth families in DSS never get the luxury of seeing, like a photo album, a letter to Bobby and Ariana, and a mini-autobiography of the two of us. We'll be doing all of this over the weekend. All I can say about that is: 1. It's a good thing we're organized; 2. It's a good thing we're crafty; and 3. It's a good thing we'd planned to be around this weekend. We have a party to attend on Sunday, but we might have to skip that in order to fret about which pictures to include. If you have any suggestions or tips for us, please don't hesitate to share.

I have so many thoughts and feelings about all of this "marketing," by the way, which I never thought I'd encounter personally. Like that it feels disingenuous, and coercive, and just plain old weird. Like we're supposed to put together this photo album that's all, "See our wonderful life! Aren't we just the nicest people!" and write a letter that's all, "We can give your child a life you never dreamed of!" It feels bad to me. Ugly, and slightly dishonest too. But I better get over it, because that's what Ariana and Bobby's agency wants from us. And I comfort myself with the thought that however pressured they might feel, at least Ariana and Bobby can always say no to us. The DSS family we thought we'd be facing wouldn't have that option.

If Bobby is down with The Gay, then Ariana will give us consent to talk with her doctor and her son's doctor, which is the last piece of information we need before we can move forward. We learned today that our insurance will cover the baby's hospitalization in full, which was another concern of ours. The obstacles are steadily falling on our end, so all we can do is wait for Bobby's decision. Which should happen sometime next week, by the way.

If Bobby and Ariana want to proceed and we want to proceed, then we'll meet up, probably over dinner, according to Ms. Stork. I have mixed feelings about this meeting, but since this is what Ariana and Bobby want, this is what we'll do (if it comes to that). I feel faint even thinking about that meeting, so let's move on.

We got more info about the money stuff. The costs keep ballooning. That shit is terrifying. And it's the main reason I'm so scared of Ms. Scary, because she told us a higher amount than she told our social worker. (Believe me, we're going to check that shit out fully.) It's also the biggest obstacle (from our end) to this adoption, which is Fucked. Up. Money shouldn't play a role in these kinds of decisions, but unfortunately, it does. As long as things stay in the same ballpark, we think we'll be okay. We don't know how high it'll have to go before we can't afford it. Hopefully, it won't come to that. Hopefully, we can get Ms. Scary to nail down a number. Should they choose us, the last thing we want to do is to leave Ariana and Bobby high and dry because we can't afford the fees associated with the adoption of their daughter.

And so I vacillate some more. I make lists of baby names one minute and convince myself that we'll be back in the DSS waiting pool the next. I'm sure that Bobby will say no to 2 moms, but the next minute I'm sure he'll give us a chance. I dream of touching this baby girl, of seeing her hooked up to all those monitors in the hospital, of loving her, but then I imagine her parents deciding to parent her and that I never get to meet her. I am patient and calm one minute, and frantic and frenzied the next.

My comforts right now: Information, as much as I can find on financing adoption as well as the baby's medical conditions. Kind, supportive emails and calls from friends. Talking it out to death, which is kind of a shame because that's certainly not one of Petunia's comforts, and she's the only one who knows all of the details. Reminding myself that this is all NORMAL. Reminding myself that this will work out the way it's supposed to work out, whether Ariana and Bobby decide to parent, whether they choose another family for their daughter, or whether they choose us.

I'll post more about this when I know more.