Even some professionals who said they specialized in older child adoption tried to steer us away from adopting an older child. This gave me the impression that the term "older children" was used more as a loss leader, like in an advertisement, to try and show that their expertise was broad yet specialized.

There was the adoption facilitator, whose office was perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A photo montage of newborn babies in hospital delivery rooms and sunny nurseries, stretched across every wall of the suite. The pictures were of smiling new moms and dads, the baby cocooned in a blanket, and the adoption facilitator, her face round like a pumpkin, her teeth like tiny cutouts. She posed with the families, but she wore scrubs and surgical mask, as if she had single-handedly delivered each infant into the waiting arms of their new families.

In her office she waved polished nails at all these photos. She called the new parents her "her mommies and daddies." She looked genuinely confused when I told her my husband and I made the appointment to discuss someone a little older.

"I would encourage you to think twice," she said, gritting her little teeth like railroad tracks. "Older children are hard to place." Out the window I watched for a moment, the blue-green October waves moving out-or were they rolling in?-making their way to--or from--a distant land I couldn't yet fathom.

She sighed, told us more people wanted babies, that statistics proved couples "desired" newborns. It sounded like: more people should want newborns, or at the very least, we should.

She wasn't unkind. She filled our hands with color photographs of fresh-faced teenage birthmothers, implored us to attend her workshops on how to write successful parent letters and use her template to draft our own resumes. Resumes? Yes, she said, and that she would show us how to market ourselves to birthmoms to ensure our desirability, which would enhance our chances of getting picked.

And even after the appointment was finished she called down to us as we were about to get into the car. She hollered from the balcony that we could save a child's life.

My arms were heavy with the sample packets of adoptive parents, the wonderful mothers and fathers who had apparently done that. It was then I realized, shocked, that I had never thought about adopting a child to save her. Was I missing something?

Save the children. Wasn't that a charity?


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