I drive through the city streets and search for the house numbers, seeking my way to the our biggest blessing this year. I take in the boarded up windows, broken down cars and barred windows in the neighborhood. I find the numbers I seek and climb out of my car, opening the chain link gate that guards the front yard.
I take in these surroundings without judgement, but not without pain. As I stand on the crumbling porch waiting for the mother our child to answer the door, my heart pinches with the familiar pain of wishing I could do more, BE more for her.
She answers the door with a big smile. The duplex is old, yes, but it is warm. There are ceiling tiles missing, yes, but there is a Christmas tree set up in the corner and there are wrapped gifts waiting for her two year old to enjoy. I have come bearing some of the few things I am allowed to give at this point - hugs and food. Orange juice per her request (she had texted me that she's been craving it) and home made candy for the holiday.
She is busy with lunch preparations because she has to get going to her job as the restaurant. We make small talk. I ask her if she gets time off when she delivers (we are only about two weeks from her due date). She tells me that she doesn't want any time off, laughs that she told her manager she might give birth on the counter. I tell her how tiny her belly still looks - she's tall and lanky - and she pulls up her shirt to show me how she is growing. As always, I chicken out and can't ask her if I can feel the baby, though I am sure she would say yes. I give them some love and, before I know it, I am back out on that lonely street, driving away.
I surprise myself by crying. I don't know how our relationship will look once the baby is born - this baby who is still hers, who we hope will be ours (hers plus ours). I find myself wishing that I were wealthy and that once the adoption is final, we could give her more than our love but money too. I wish we could send her to beauty school like she says she wants, I wish we could help her move to a nicer, safer neighborhood. I wish so much, but I know that we will never, ever be able to pay back the gift she is giving us. I know that our love, our hearts laid bare, are the only things we have to offer.
I wish I could know the thing that I can't: that that will be enough.