Andrew, Eli and I drive 20 minutes to the County Adoptions building for our visit with Paige. Nervous and dancing with anticipation, I chatter like a Magpie. Andrew, on the other hand, is silent as he maneuvers the car through traffic.
“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” I ask, maniac and slurring my words. I’ve asked Andrew this a hundred times since I arranged the visit. As much as I want to visit Paige and move forward with things, I don’t want to force Andrew into something he doesn’t want.
Andrew doesn’t answer.
Eli is strapped in the backseat. He clutches a soft Pooh Bear with a rattle inside. It was his as a baby and he wants to give it to Paige.
We’ve talked with Eli about the possibility of a new baby sister. Eli is extremely mature for his age; he’s able to express himself eloquently and carry on adult-like conversations. Despite this, he is still only four years old and his feelings vacillate back and forth. One day he is excited to have a baby sister and the next he wants a brother his age so they can be playmates. (We explain that an older sibling is different than a playmate but Eli, ignorant about sibling dynamics as an only child, doesn’t believe us.)
Andrew pulls into a parking spot across the street from the County Adoptions Building. My racing thoughts abruptly stop and the nickname ‘Paigalicious’ (Paige-a-licious) pops into my head. I tell Andrew my creative masterpiece and he stares at me blankly, unimpressed. We cross the street holding hands, Eli between us. The large glass doors open automatically and gesture warmly for us to come inside. Andrew asks the receptionist if Theodora has arrived yet.
“All visits take place in the room to your right,” she explains. “If you don’t see her, she hasn’t arrived yet.”
I peer into the visiting area; we’re the only ones here. It’s a depressing room with brick walls painted a sickly green color. The nauseating color is accented by threadbare, dull brown carpet. There are a couple of tables made from particleboard, and the chairs have matching wooden arms and foam green fabric. The saddest part of the room is the worn, chipped table with a car design and random toy cars scattered on top; these are the only playthings. I cannot imagine any child having a fun visit in this sickly, barren room.