Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working really hard on being as prepared as possible. I’ve studied magazines and books, highlighting and circling relevant passages, searching out helpful blogs, organizing my work in spreadsheets, and just doing some real heavy soul-searching to figure out what’s important to me. They say you can never really be prepared, but for every day that passes, I feel more and more comfortable with my decision – that drafting a top tier wide receiver is a priority in this year’s fantasy football draft due to positional scarcity and a relative parity in running backs after the top eight.

Meanwhile, our “what eelfang needs” list remains untouched…

For whatever reason, our enthusiasm and momentum fell off shortly after getting in the pool. I guess it felt almost like we had reached the finish line of a long, long voyage, and now we got to take a break. The odds of getting a call in the first few weeks are so small that it felt like we could take an evening off to watch a movie, or work on projects around the house, or study fantasy football stuff, or whatever it is we wanted to do to return to a “normal” life after a busy past few months. But then one evening led into the next, and the next…

It’s not like we haven’t done anything, per se – Betsy sewed a baby sling for us, we’ve started to gather together some furniture, and we have a few supplies gathered. We’re slowly making our way down the path towards preparedness – but at the pace we’ve been going, we’d be ready for The Call some time early next decade.

Which is why the call we got on Friday evening set our hearts racing.

We were out with some friends, hanging out and talking in a loud and busy bar when Betsy’s phone rang. She took it outside to talk to whoever was calling, and I just kept socializing and having fun. She returned back to the table, grabbed her purse, and whispered in my ear, “We’re getting a screening call right now.”

A bit of terminology – a screening call is very different from The Call. With a screening call, a counselor at the agency is determining what families would be open to having their profiles shown to a potential birthmother. This call is usually triggered by some sort of extraordinary circumstances – health issues, difficult birthfather situation, substance use during pregnancy, etc. The screening call goes out to everyone who expressed openness for similar situations (you express that openness on the Screening Tool, which deserves a post of its own) – if your openness range roughly matches up with the intensity level of these circumstances, you get a call to see if you are open for the specifics of this particular case. Depending on the situation, a screening call could go out to 50 families and they’ll all say yes, or it’ll go out to 5 families and only two of them say yes. The call itself really means little about whether or not you’ll be getting The Call soon – if the 50 other families also say yes, you’re at only a 2% chance of getting The Call as a result of the screening. Of course, you never know the numbers of the people who also said yes, and it’s hard to remember those when emotions are running high, but that’s the way it is.

I mumbled some sort of excuse to leave the table, and rushed outside to sit next to Betsy while she talked to the counselor. Fortunately, Betsy had paper and a pen in her purse, and I was able to follow a lot of the conversation from the notes she was scribbling down. The baby had been born on Thursday, and was ready to be released from the hospital on Sunday or Monday. There were a few (seemingly minor) health complications, and the birthmother had her own set of requests about the adoption process that would have been an adjustment to our expectations.

But it wasn’t our baby. After hanging up (and excitedly hugging), we talked to each other briefly, and both of us felt and quickly agreed that this was not our baby – not our time to say yes, not our time to be chosen. The baby will be going to another family (the right family) who will love them deeply and raise them, and I wish all the best for them. Even as I write this post, I know the new parents are holding their child and filled with love and amazement, and it’s awesome for them. Our turn will come soon enough, but it felt very clear that night that it wasn’t the time for us.

The counselor wanted to hear back the next morning, so we agreed to sleep on it just in case we were rushing to a judgment. “Sleeping on it” always seems like a weird way to think through an issue, as I rarely get good thinking done while unconscious, but I guess just the fact that I slept soundly with no nervousness proved that I felt really comfortable with our decision.

(Since I’m between jobs, the insurance situation was also extremely dicey, and it could have been financially ruinous to have said yes. (The counselor had overlooked the note on our account saying we were not open to children born before July 1st). But that wasn’t what made our decision – it just made it a little easier to help keep wild emotions in check and make the right decision.)

But for as much as I felt comfortable saying that this was not our baby, I feel equally comfortable saying that this was our message baby. I think God arranged for the counselor to overlook the note on our account and give us that call, and to help wake us up that we really are in the pool and that we need to get ready. That it’s more important right now for me to compare pediatricians than it is for me to compare quarterbacks, and that it’s better for us to be working on setting up the nursery than it is to work on setting up summer parties.

Because next time we get that call, it might just be our baby on the other end of the line…

(Note: This will probably be the last time we write about getting a screening call – we’ll probably keep those private, if for our own sanity more than anything else. And yes, I realize that some people might scoff at the idea that it will be our baby at the other end of the line, but you haven’t met Eelfang yet – he/she is going to be so smart, he/she’ll be calling us up from the hospital to make his/her own screening calls.)