Maura heard the sound of the doorbell downstairs and then Will's quick footsteps as he ran to get the door. A moment later she heard him call out, "Mom, she's here." She knew that Jane was already downstairs—she and Will had been playing football in the backyard—so Maura took an extra moment to look herself over in the mirror before going downstairs herself.
It was the Monday before Thanksgiving and today would be the real first step in making their intention to adopt official. Two months of discussions and planning since their wedding had led up to this day. There was a long discussion about whether to use an adoption agency or go the foster parenting and adoption route with the Department of Children and Families. That was the most difficult decision to make, but ultimately they decided they were not prepared to go through the foster parenting process knowing that any child placed with them might not stay. Then they investigated adoption agencies in Massachusetts until they found the one that they felt most comfortable with.
Maura smoothed her dress out one more time, took a deep breath, and then went downstairs where she found everyone already sitting in the living room. Jane and their guest stood up when she entered. She extended her hand to the woman from the adoption agency and said, "Hello, I'm Maura. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Nice to meet you, Maura. I'm Jennifer. I was just saying to Jane that you have a lovely home."
"Thank you. Can I get you coffee or something else to drink?" Maura asked.
"No, thank you. Jane already offered but I'm fine."
Jane sat back down on the couch and patted the spot next to her for Maura while saying, "We were just chatting about football."
Maura sat down between Jane and Will and laughed and said, "I'm not surprised. It's a popular topic in our house."
"I understand from Will that loyalties are divided in the house between the Patriots and the 49ers. Do have a favorite team, Maura?"
"No, I just enjoy watching with both of them," Maura answered.
"Very diplomatic answer," Jennifer said and then she got down to business. "Well, I know this can be a nerve-wracking experience so the first thing I want to say is that there's no need to be nervous. I'm here to get to know you and explain the steps of the process. I'm not here to judge you. I'm here because you want to adopt a child and I want to make that happen for you. I've read your initial informational statement but I would like to hear from you right now a little about you and your family and why you want to adopt."
Maura looked at Jane and Jane nodded at her to begin. She told the story of her and Will moving to Boston and then meeting Jane and how they began spending time together. She talked about how Jane and Will formed an immediate bond and how her and Jane's friendship evolved into a relationship. She finished by saying, "This past summer we moved into this house and then we got married."
"Some people may say that your relationship has moved pretty fast," Jennifer pointed out.
"I understand why someone might think that, but we've done what has made sense for us," Jane responded. "We've been very careful and deliberate with every decision we've made, especially because our decisions didn't just affect me and Maura, but when we knew we wanted to be together, to be a family, there didn't seem to be any reason to wait."
"Why do you want to adopt a child?" Jennifer asked.
"We want to have another child, to expand our family," Maura answered. "It's something we've been talking about for a while, since our respective ages meant that we would have to make some decisions sooner rather than later. We've discussed and investigated the various possibilities and think adoption makes sense for us."
"So you considered pregnancy using a donor?"
"We did," Maura responded. "It was a viable option but we decided we wanted to go the adoption route."
"We could have tried to have a baby with a donor, but we want to give a kid who needs a home a loving, happy home," Jane said. "When we talked about all of the options for us to have another child, this one felt right for both of us."
"What about you, Will?" Jennifer asked. "What do you think about having a brother or sister?"
"Um…" he said, looking at his Maura for guidance.
"You can be honest, sweetie," Maura said encouragingly.
"I don't know," he said with a shrug. "It might be fun sometimes but it sounds kind of boring to have a baby around. They don't really do anything."
"Fair enough," Jennifer said and smiled at Maura.
"But I want to be a good big brother, and teach them stuff and look out for them," he added.
"That's great," Jennifer said to him. Then to Maura she said, "I have a few more questions that might be more delicate."
"Oh, okay," Maura said. "Will, why don't you go up to your room. I'll let you know when we're done down here, sweetheart."
Once he was out of the room, Jennifer said, "Thanks, I just want to clarify two things and I wasn't sure if they would be appropriate to discuss in front of him. I understand, Jane, that you're going to adopt Will?"
"Yes. As soon as we can file the paperwork in January, we'll make it official," Jane answered.
"What about Will's birth father? Is he in the picture?"
"No," Maura answered. "He gave up his parental rights before Will was born."
"Okay, that answers those questions. There's one factor that I could see coming up as you go through the process. You're a high profile couple," Jennifer said.
"We are?" Jane said with a chuckle.
"Yes. Maura is the Chief Medical Examiner, frequently quoted in newspapers, and she testifies in high profile murder cases. And Jane, you've been honored by the city for your bravery and have worked on a number of cases that have made front page news. Maybe high profile wasn't the right term, but you are public figures."
"And you think that will make a difference in being able to adopt?" Jane asked.
"It's hard to say," Jennifer answered. "Ultimately it is the birth parents who make decisions, not me, but it is something that you should think about and I think be prepared to talk about. My final is question is whether you have thought about whether you would want an open or closed adoption or what degree of openness you would want?"
"As you know from our initial application, I was adopted in a private adoption. I'm not saying that would make me any better than anyone else at being a mother to an adopted child, but I do know what it feels like to wonder about who my birth parents are and why they gave me up for adoption and to not have any way of answering those questions. We discussed this question and we would prefer to have at least some level of openness, but we would also defer to the birth parents wishes."
"Jane, is that your position as well?"
"Yes, definitely," Jane answered. "I think an open adoption would be in the best interest of everyone, but if the birth parents wanted a closed adoption I would respect that decision."
Jennifer made a few notes on the forms she was holding and then said, "Okay, so the next step is for you to write a profile that talks about you and your family and why you want to adopt. This profile will be your introduction to prospective birth parents. I'll leave you some examples to look at, but you can include things like typical family outings and traditions, how you plan on handling a baby with your jobs, and extended family who will be part of the child's life, as well as anything else you think would be relevant about your family. We'll also want pictures. You should gather photos that you want to provide and if needed we will send a photographer to take pictures for you. Any questions about that?"
Both Maura and Jane shook their heads.
"We'll meet again in a couple of weeks and go over what you've prepared, and at that meeting we'll talk more about the specifics of children who are adopted and the things you should be prepared for once a birth mother picks you. In the meantime, the agency will do a background check, which given your jobs shouldn't be an issue, and I will write up what we talked about today. The last thing I would like to do today, unless you have any more questions, is get a tour of your home."
Both Maura and Jane stood, and having no questions, they took Jennifer on a tour of the house. Then when she left, they started talking about what should be in their profile.
Thanksgiving was held at Angela's house again. This year both Tommy and Frankie invited the women they were dating and the house was fuller and livelier than it had been the year before when Maura and Will made their first trip to Angela's house and Tommy had just returned home.
Maura noticed over the course of the afternoon and dinner that Jane was so much more relaxed this year. Eventually she came to the conclusion that it was because this year she wasn't there just as Jane's friend and they weren't in the awkward period before they started dating. They were married and happy and working on plans to expand their family, although they were keeping that detail to themselves for now.
Maura watched Angela corner Tommy and Frankie with whispered questions and listened to her grill their girlfriends about their families and jobs over dinner and realized that Jane must have been subjected to the same treatment at last year's meal, before they were even dating, and she thought she understood why Jane would have been more reserved last Thanksgiving.
After the meal, everyone moved to the living room for dessert and to watch the football game on television. When Will and Tommy got involved in playing a chess rematch, Maura slipped away from her seat on the couch next to Will and made her way to the foot of the stairs. Jane was drinking a beer and watching the game, but it wasn't long before she looked around for Maura. Maura gave her a flirtatious grin and pointed upstairs before heading up, knowing Jane would be following behind her.
"What do you think you're doing?" Jane asked playfully when she caught up to Maura in her old bedroom and Maura closed the door behind them.
"Sneaking off from a family meal with my beautiful wife. I have some unfinished business in here," Maura said, dropping her voice into a sultry tone as she backed Jane up to the bed until Jane sat down on it.
Jane's hands circled Maura's waist and she pulled her in between her legs. She looked up at Maura's smiling face and said, "I love you. Are we going to sneak off like this when we're at your parents' condo for Christmas too?"
"Absolutely." Maura bent down and pressed her lips to Jane's. She tipped Jane's head back, sliding her fingers into her hair, as they finally shared the kiss that had been interrupted a year ago.
Jane tried to pull Maura onto her lap but she slipped out of her grasp and went over to the set of shelves along the wall to look at the pictures she had seen the previous year. "Are you sure you don't want to tell your family about the adoption plans?"
"We can tell them soon. I'd prefer to get a little further along in the process. And why not let Ma focus on Tommy and Frankie for a little while? We don't need to steal all of the attention," Jane said with a grin.
Maura picked up a picture of Jane from a high school field hockey game and held it up towards Jane. "Do you think we could take a few of these pictures home with us? I'd like to put them in our house, maybe in our bedroom."
"I guess. I'm sure Ma has doubles of all of them anyway. Why do you want them?" Jane asked.
"It's silly," Maura said with a shy smile. "But it makes me feel closer to you. I didn't get to know you as a kid or as a teenager, but part of me wishes I had. Do you know what I mean?"
Jane looked at her thoughtfully and after a moment said softly, "Yeah. I think so. Like the pictures of you when you were pregnant. I liked being able to see those. Do your parents' have pictures of you from your childhood?"
For a brief moment, Maura remembered the pictures of her as a child that Paddy Doyle had shown her, but nodding, she said, "I think there should be at least a few somewhere. I went to boarding school remember, so my parents weren't there to take pictures as much, but there should be some. I can ask my mother to send us what she has," she suggested.
"Yeah, I'd like that," Jane said. Jane grabbed the picture that was still in Maura's hands and looked at it before saying, "Do you think teenage you would have been in to teenage me?"
"Absolutely," Maura answered. She moved onto the bed next to Jane and lay down on her back, bending one arm behind her head.
Jane laughed at Maura's decisive answer, but then frowned as she lay down next to Maura, folding her hands over her stomach. "I'm not sure if I could have handled you in high school."
"What does that mean?" Maura said incredulously.
"It's just that back then, with you being so smart and I'm sure just as beautiful as you are now, I would have been very self-conscious around you," Jane explained. "Then add your family's wealth on top of that and I probably would have been super intimidated."
Maura swallowed, looking up at the ceiling and feeling ridiculous that she could feel tears threatening to form in her eyes.
Jane turned to look at her when she didn't respond and reached out to take Maura's hand. "Hey, I totally would have had a huge crush on you. I just would have been too nervous to actually talk to you." When Maura still didn't respond, Jane asked, "What are you upset about?"
Maura shook her head. "I'm being silly again. But it makes me sad to think you would have seen me the way the other kids and my classmates always did. I was smart but I was very shy and I think other kids must have read that shyness as me being, I don't know, stuck-up or a snob. I don't want to think that we could have missed out on each other for that reason if we had met at a different time."
Now Jane shook her head and said, "We wouldn't have missed out. I'm sure of it."
"No, something would have happened to bring us together," Jane said firmly.
"Well…um," Jane said while thinking. She picked up the picture of her playing field hockey again and looked at it. "So, obviously if we were in high school together I would have been the star field hockey player. But I wouldn't do well in all of my classes and I'd be in danger of failing my, um…biology test before the big game."
Maura smiled at Jane's proposed scenario. "Of course with my expertise in biology I would offer to tutor you so you wouldn't miss the big game."
"And you'd discover that I'm more of a hands-on learner," Jane said, dropping her voice seductively.
"Oh, is that true Jane Rizzoli?" Maura asked playfully.
Jane rolled on to her side so she could look at Maura. "Yeah, you would be trying to teach me the material and I just wouldn't be getting it, so you would have to try a different approach."
"I would be the one to decide that we should try a different approach?" Maura said.
"Well, yeah. I would be nervous and awkward and not grasping anything you were telling me. And I think you'd realized that you would have to be the one to make a move. So you would suggest a more practical lesson."
"Mmmm, I like this scenario," Maura said, rolling over to face Jane. "Human anatomy is my area of expertise you know. Is that the subject we're studying?"
"Of course it is."
"Here's your first lesson." Maura took one of Jane's hands and put it on her breast over her shirt and then arched her back into the touch.
"But Maura, we're in my house. My mother is right downstairs," Jane said in a mock serious voice.
Maura wanted to laugh but she managed to maintain a mostly straight face and said, "Shut up and kiss me, Jane."