Jane and Will sat on the living room floor, game controllers in hand. Maura had long ago given up trying to keep up with him. Jane was still trying though. His fingers worked the buttons and thumb sticks furiously while she fumbled along as best as she could. They were playing a racing game where they got to pick and modify their cars before going head to head on various courses. He always won, with whatever video game they played, but Jane didn’t mind because it meant she never felt like she needed to go easy on him when they played chess.
“Jane?” Will said in the midst of a race.
“Yeah?” Jane said as tried to not crash her car.
“I don’t think I want you to call me Billy anymore,” he said.
Jane’s attention was thrown long enough that she did actually crash the car. “Oh. Okay. Any particular reason why?” she asked out of curiosity.
“I think Billy is more of a little kid’s name,” he responded. “I’m turning twelve so I’m older now.”
“Alright,” Jane said to his answer, despite its questionable logic. “So should I call you Will now?”
“Yes,” he answered firmly.
“Well, I might forget sometimes and still call you Billy since I’m so used to it, but I’ll try to remember and you can remind me if I mess up. Are you going to tell your friends to call you Will too?” Jane asked.
Will’s birthday was coming up and it was important to both Maura and Jane that they celebrated with whatever he wanted. It had been a year full of change and there had been a lot going on in the past few months with the wedding and now the focus on adopting another child, so they wanted to make sure he didn’t feel overlooked. With that in mind, Jane asked, “Have you had any thoughts on what you want to do for your birthday?”
After a moment he answered, “I was thinking about laser tag.”
“Hmm. Have you mentioned that to your mom?”
“Not yet,” Will said.
Jane was aware that laser tag could be a hard sell. Maura wasn’t a fan of any activities that were violent or mimicked shooting guns. She didn’t let him have any of the popular video games that involved any violence. Jane didn’t necessarily disagree with that position, but she was also aware that because of her career she had a more complicated relationship with guns. Will knew that Jane had a gun but discussion of it was kept to a minimum and at home the gun was locked up in a gun safe in her dresser in the bedroom, a location that was kept secret from him. “You know she might not like that idea?” she said cautiously to him.
“I know, but it’s not real shooting or anything. It’s not like paintball or other shooting games. It’s more like a computer game. Can you ask her for me?” Will said.
Jane snorted a laugh. “Are you sure that’s your first choice?”
“Yes,” he answered.
“Alright. I’ll talk to your mom, but I can’t make any promises, so you better have a backup plan too. How many friends do you want to invite?”
“Maybe six or seven,” he answered.
Jane nodded. “Okay, we’ll see.”
That night when Jane and Maura were alone in the living room after Will went to bed, Jane said, “So, remember when you were hoping that the name Billy would be a phase?”
“Yes,” Maura answered warily.
“Your wish may be coming true,” Jane said teasingly.
“What do you mean?”
“He told me to call him Will. He said Billy is more of a little kid’s name.”
“Oh, that’s sweet, but maybe also a little frightening. I don’t really need any reminder that he’s growing up. I think he’s grown two inches since the start of the school year. We’re going to have to get him new clothes again over Christmas break.”
“He also had an idea for his birthday party,” Jane said. “But I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
“What is it?” Maura asked warily.
“Laser tag,” Jane answered.
“Did he ask you to talk to me about it?”
“Well…yes. But I did ask him first if he knew what he wanted to do.”
Maura sighed and asked, “What do you think about it?”
“I think that he had a good point about laser tag. It’s not like paintball where you actually shoot things at each other. It’s more like a video game.”
“I don’t let him play video games that involve shooting.”
“You don’t let him have those video games. He could be playing them with his friends,” Jane pointed out.
“So you think that I should let him do this?”
Jane grimaced, not liking being put between Maura and Will on any issue, before answering, “I understand your position. I think there’s too much violence in entertainment for kids. I think movies and video games can trivialize killing and that can be bad for kids to watch. But I also know that boys can turn anything into a pretend gun or other weapon. Frankie and Tommy pretended to shoot each other pretty much non-stop when we were kids. I don’t know what that means, but to me laser tag seems on the low end of the violent games scale.”
“What if his friends’ parents think we’re awful people for inviting their kids to play laser tag?” Maura asked.
“I have no idea,” Jane said. “But wouldn’t you let him go to a friend’s birthday party even it wasn’t your first choice of activity?”
“As long as it wasn’t dangerous, I wouldn’t say no,” Maura acknowledged. She thought for a moment before saying, “Okay, tell him we can do laser tag.”
“I think you should tell him,” Jane said. “He knows how you feel about shooting games and I don’t want him to think you’re upset about this.”
“I wish he wanted to do something else, but I’m not upset. You’re right though, I don’t want him to think I’m not on board with his birthday plans. I’ll let him know we can do laser tag.”
On the Saturday after his birthday, Will and seven friends plus Maura, Jane, Frankie, Tommy, and Angela went to the laser tag center. Frankie and Tommy predictably wanted to come so they could play. Angela, who decided she had twelve years of grandmother duties to catch up on, took over as many planning duties as Maura would let her, including making food and a cake for the party.
Maura had to admit that Will did have a good point, laser tag was like playing a video game in a lot of ways. It wasn’t just running around shooting people, there were all kinds of game modes that gave different players different abilities while they played and all of the kids were having fun figuring things out and playing and getting their scores.
While the kids played their second game, Jane decided she and Maura should team up against Frankie and Tommy. Maura protested at first that she should really watch the kids but Jane convinced her that she absolutely had to play at least one game. Plus, Angela was happy to keep watch, Jane argued.
The actual details of the game—shooting, scoring, winning—held little appeal for Maura. But when she started playing, Maura was swept up in Jane’s childlike excitement and did find herself getting into the strategy Jane laid out for going after Frankie and Tommy. Jane thought her brothers would split up and try to attack them from two sides and she suggested that they also split up. Jane would look like she was trying to wait for them to approach from an ineffective position and when the guys converged on her, Maura would appear from a more hidden location to surprise them.
The plan sort of worked, but in the end they all ended up basically in circle shooting at each other until they were all out of energy and the game reset. Maura, with only the lightest of protests, let Jane and Will talk her into playing another game with the whole group of kids. After a while, Maura let herself be cornered by a few of the kids until she was knocked out of the game, and she spent the remainder of the time watching Jane and Will play against each other
That night, after the full day of laser tag, birthday cake, and keeping up with eight eleven and twelve year old boys during the course of the day, Jane and Maura were finally able to sit down on the couch together after Will went to bed. Maura curled into Jane’s side and Jane asked, “Should I find something to watch on tv?”
“No,” Maura answered. “I’m ready for quiet.”
Jane laughed as she wrapped her arm around Maura’s shoulders.
“I did have fun today,” Maura said as she rested her head against Jane’s shoulder.
Jane looked down at Maura in confusion. “What are you thanking me for?”
“Making sure I had fun and didn’t just watch like I would have if you hadn’t been there,” Maura answered.
“Admit it, you liked playing laser tag,” Jane teased.
“I did like playing with you,” Maura said. “I liked seeing you come up with our strategy. It was kind of like when I get to really see you work, when you’re doing your detective thing and going after the bad guys.”
“My detective thing, huh? You like that?”
“I do. It’s very sexy. And…I have to admit, I kind of liked having you boss me around too.”
“I wasn’t bossing you around,” Jane protested. “I was just telling you the strategy I thought would work.”
Maura only chuckled softly in response.
They sat in peaceful silence for a few minutes, Jane absentmindedly running her fingers through Maura’s hair, until Maura got up and repositioned herself so she was straddling Jane’s lap.
“What are you doing? Jane asked.
Maura grinned and responded, “I have my own strategy now.”
Jane tried to say “You do?” but was stopped by Maura’s lips on her own and she gave in to the kiss while sliding her hands up Maura’s thighs. When Maura moved her lips to Jane’s neck and slipped her hands under Jane’s shirt she said, “So what’s your plan?”
In between wet kisses to Jane’s neck, Maura said, “We’re going to go upstairs to the bedroom where I’m going to kiss every inch of skin on your entire body. Then I’m going to do your favorite thing.”
Jane unconsciously licked her lips and asked honestly, “What’s my favorite thing?”
Maura pressed her cheek against Jane’s and whispered in her ear, “I’m going to make you come in my mouth.”
In response, Jane closed her eyes and her fingers dug into Maura’s legs. “Then what do I get to do to you?” she asked softly.
“Whatever you want,” Maura answered.
The next weekend was their final adoption meeting before they would officially be approved by the agency as possible adoptive parents. In the few weeks since the last meeting, Maura, Will, and Jane had together put together pictures they liked for their family album. Several pictures were from their wedding day and others were candids that Angela took at Thanksgiving and on Will’s birthday. Maura picked up a few pictures of her and Will when he was younger. Then there were pictures of Jane and Will that Maura had taken at various times on her phone. Many were taken surreptitiously when Jane and Will were doing something together like playing baseball and football. It was the first time Jane saw some of the pictures and she realized that some were taken before she and Maura even started dating.
Maura and Jane also spent time writing their letter to prospective birth mothers. The letter would introduce them to birth mothers who would be considering them as adoptive parents. Together they wrote about their backgrounds, their jobs, and how they met and started their relationship. They wrote about their own families and how their own experiences shaped their thoughts and plans for their family. Maura talked about being adopted herself and raising Will on her own and wanting to have another child with Jane.
They also each wrote briefly about each other.
About Jane, Maura wrote:
I think I initially fell in love with Jane because of how she treated my son. When Will and I moved across the country to Boston, Jane was one of the first people we met and she generously spent her free time playing with him whenever he asked. Jane always treats Will like a person, not a child, and I feel endlessly fortunate that she shows me the same love and care that she has given him.
Jane is my friend and partner in every sense of the word. She is kind and loyal and compassionate. Her family and friends know the strength of her commitment to not only them, but to the health and safety of everyone she comes into contact with in her job. Any child we are fortunate enough to adopt will be as lucky as Will and I have been to be on the receiving end of Jane’s love and attention.
Maura is the most generous and kind person I have ever met and I knew from the first week we met that I would be lucky to be a part of her life in whatever way I could. As our initial friendship grew into more, I knew that Maura was the only person I could imagine spending my life with. I learn something new from her every day and I look forward to learning and growing with her as we go through this experience together.
Maura is a wonderful mother and I have learned so much from her about what it means to be a parent and to have a family. Will shares all of Maura’s intelligence and kindness and makes friends wherever he goes. He will be a great big brother. Maura and Will opened their home and hearts to me and welcomed me into their family just as we will all welcome another kid into our family and love him or her unconditionally.
Maura and Jane sat at their dining room table with Jennifer from the adoption agency while she looked through the materials they put together and then they talked about what would happen next. Jennifer explained that Maura and Jane’s pictures and letter would be available for birth mothers to look at. If any birth mother was interested in them, they would be able to set up a phone call through the agency and then meet if both parties want to do that. If a birth mother choose them for adoption, the amount of contact before, during, and after the birth would be negotiated between them.
When Jennifer asked if they had any more questions, Maura asked, “What can we do to make sure the baby and mother get appropriate prenatal care?”
“Often the birth mothers are already getting all the care they need,” Jennifer answered. “These are women who want the best for the baby and that’s why they are going through this process with our agency. But, you can discuss their health care needs with them as well and I’ll help with that. But I’ll also caution you to not go overboard. We want the birth mother to get appropriate and necessary care but not more than she or the baby needs.”
“That makes sense,” Jane said. “Can we pay for medical care or other expenses?”
“There are certain things you can and can’t pay for depending on the state the birth mother lives in and what her needs are. We can figure out what’s appropriate when a birth mother chooses you,” Jennifer explained. When there were no more questions, Jennifer said, “Congratulations, by tomorrow morning you will officially be eligible to be adoptive parents.”
Jane took hold of Maura’s hand under the table and squeezed while she said, “So now we just wait?”
“Now you wait,” Jennifer said.