Pick Me: an Adoption Story

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Pick me! Pick me! As a child, I hoped to get picked to play kickball, or at least hoped that I wasn't picked last. Standing nervously in the crowd or line-up, captains scrutinized the available players. They carefully weighed in their minds whether they should pick their friends first or the best players first. Being last picked, the throw-in, was always a source of silent humiliation. Pick me, please. Pretty please with sugar on it.

In the classroom, I volunteered to answer the easy question the teacher asked because I would receive praise. Even though the question was easy, being chosen to answer it validated me, created a tiny brick of that enigmatic thing called self esteem. If I was not volunteering to answer a question, perhaps I was hoping to run some errand for the teacher. Being chosen to leave the classroom was another tiny ego boost, a trivial taste of freedom. A few moments walking the silent, school's-in-session halls meant I was different, special, chosen.

By the time I reached high school, I'd learned not to say it aloud; but during dances as I held up the cafeteria walls with my back, my silent "pick me's" came through like specters echoing off the tile floors and dimmed fluorescent lights. The wallflowers posed casually and tried to look cool, as if we didn't care, as member of the opposite sex chose dance partners, kissing partners or maybe partners to do something seductively dangerous in a secret hideaway or steamy car. I always wondered how to communicate my desire without looking desperate and pathetic. Pick me, pretty please. I'll be your best friend.

Whenever I tried out for sports or teams, I always had to make that Fearful walk to see if my name was on the posted list. I remember attaching so much importance to that flimsy sheet of paper. If my name was on it, it was a scroll of honor; if my name was not on it, it was an evil, unfair edict. During those terrible hall crossings, I repeated the silent chant -- pick me, pick me. How can looking at a list make you sweat? How can you be afraid of a piece of paper? Pick me and I'll go to church every Sunday until I'm 30.

When people saw the list, their reactions varied. Some exulted and cheered for themselves, others walked away silently satisfied, others cried and beat their chests sobbing why, why, why, and still others maintained a stoic appearance despite the roiling emotions within them. What began as a collective pick me ended with as many different reactions as there are human beings.

As an adult, I have continued to use this useless mantra whether exiting from job interviews or while sitting at a bar or the beach watching the females that passed me by, the fish that got away. Using the rational part of my mind, I know that repeating this mantra is foolish, but I employ it anyway, as a just in case lifeline that might make that tiny bit of difference. Pick me becomes a prayer which might, which could, which has a minute possibility of carrying some psychic power that would sway a decision maker into choosing me.

Why do we hang onto these childish ideas?

I am now approaching middle age, and still hoping for someone to pick me. Now instead of hoping to get picked for kick ball or a date, I am hoping for a woman or an agency to choose a profile describing my wife and me; I am hoping to become a parent. Because biology and genetics dealt me some bad cards, I am in this powerless circumstance where I have to hope that someone will think we are worthy to raise a child. I know that we'll probably have to wait for a year or more, but I hate it. I hate the wondering. I hate the helplessness of not being able to do anything beyond praying, pick me, pick me, pick me.

That's not exactly true. We can help expedite the process by being willing to accept a child of any or mixed race, or a child with physical, mental or emotional problems, or a child with an unknown history, or a child whose birthparents insist on visiting them once or twice a year, and require monthly pictures and updates on the child's development. Being open to all of these situations makes the waiting harder because we are told that if we are more open, we will, most likely, get picked much sooner than a couple who will accept only a healthy, white, well documented, unencumbered child. We have agreed to whatever stipulations a birthparent or agency requests, yet we wait. I didn't understand waiting to get picked for kick ball, and I don't understand it any better now.

What do you do while waiting for the next part of your life to begin?

Good things come to those who wait.

Patience is a virtue.

Credits: Lars Thorson

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