From the pay phone attached to the coral stucco wall of the La Jolla Resort, I could see the Chinese lanterns lit over the shuffleboard court, a couple sitting in lawn chairs holding hands and looking out on to the Florida Bay, a rented fishing boat with a Bimini top rocking, the sound of its sweet tapping carrying across the yard of sand and palm trees, softened by the bougainvillea draped at every turn, every corner.
It was 1988.
The trip to Islamorada was to celebrate my 40th birthday and the fact that we were finally out from under the expense and difficulty of having adopted a little boy from Nicaragua with a heart defect 18 months before. He had had surgery, was in day care, and was bright and happy. The four of us, my husband and I, our 15-year old daughter, and our mended boy were in love with ourselves. Us with him, him with us, each of us admiring our own pluck. Lucky to be alive all around.
Every night around dinner time I would call home for messages. That night there were several messages from Christina, the person who was the communication link between us and the Nicaraguan authorities. Her calling meant something had happened with the application we’d sent requesting to adopt a second boy.
I called her even though I didn’t want news. I didn’t want movement on a second adoption. I wanted to be pending, to be lounging in the hammock of good intentions and generosity, expectant and for a long time. I liked our adoring selves, our aligned cocoons, the boy we had and the girl who had moved over to make room for him. It was already too much cake. I knew that.
I listened to Christina for a long while. The hand-holding couple went inside and the boat owner came out to collapse his Bimini top since the wind was picking up. My husband opened the door to our cabin and looked over at me standing at the pay phone, shrugging his shoulders at me in a question. What was taking so long?
“So, what did she say?” he asked when I came back.
“She said they have a little boy for us.”
“She said he’s fourteen months old and was abandoned at birth.”
“She said he seems healthy but he can’t sit up.”
“She said he doesn’t have a name.”
“She said we can’t change our minds because they’ve already done the paperwork.”
“She said we got what we asked for and we should be happy.”
“She said we can bring him home in three or four months.”
“She said she’d ask for a picture.”
“She said they want to know his name, they need to know his name to make everything final.”
“That’s what she said? It’s done? It’s official? They’re just waiting to fill in his name? What else did she say?”
“She said not to worry, it will all work out.”
“She said all he needs is a name.”