Upon receiving the devastating news from the doctor, it was as their hearts fell into their stomachs. It hit them like a ton of weight. The news could not be any more devastating. They were anticipating this all along. This was the end of the line. It was the demise of a life-long dream for the young couple. The words spoken by the doctor rang in their heads. Afshin dropped his head so his chin was resting on his chest. Parvaneh began sobbing.
There was a dead silence in the examining room. All their dreams were shattered. The doctor had given them the final results of her tests. Parvaneh was incapable of bearing children. They suspected this a long time ago, but their hopes and persistence had kept them going all this time. They always kept that tiny flicker of hope that someday they could have a baby of their own. They had hoped for a miracle. Their parents in Iran had prayed for them and had gone to the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad and also to Mecca maybe some miracle could happen and would turn things around so they could conceive, but to no avail. Parvaneh’s system was not producing fertile eggs for conception.
They had prepared themselves for such a day. But no matter how much you psych yourself for such news, once it is delivered, it is hard to accept and digest. How could that be possible? She was healthy, never drank or smoked. She kept in a good physical shape. She worked out regularly and ate healthy. There was no record of infertility in her family. For generations, her mother, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts had successfully reproduced. Then why wouldn’t she? They picked up the papers, left the doctor’s office and began driving back home. On the way home, Parvaneh could not stop crying. Afshin tried unsuccessfully to mend her pain, but the heart of the woman was badly broken.
She did not consider herself a complete woman. She was from the old school that believed not until a woman bore a child she could not be considered a complete woman. She always believed that a short relation that she had with an Iranian guy years ago had caused this problem. She was ashamed of it. She was ashamed that she was not a virgin when she married Afshin. But Afshin was above all these. He never accused her of any wrongdoing. It did not bother him that at the time of their marriage his wife was not a virgin. But she always felt ashamed for giving her body to another man before her true love, Afshin.
During the car ride home, Parvaneh barely uttered two words. She was intensively entangled in her thoughts, recalling how her neighbors in Iran considered a woman who could not bear children an infertile and incomplete woman. They used to believe there was something wrong with this kind of woman and that it was a shame. After all, they all had grown up believing that a woman’s duty in life was to serve her husband and bear children for him. Incapability of performing such a “God-Given” duty was like a sin, a shame. She remembered there were a number of women in Iran who were divorced by their husbands due to this biological inefficiency, or the husband would marry another woman for the sole purpose of bearing him a child, often preferably a son.
Afshin unsuccessfully tried to calm Parvaneh down. He was having thoughts of his own. He remembered their trip to the orphanages where they fell in love with all the kids in there. He remembered all the beautiful and innocent kids who resembled puppies in pet shops, sitting in the middle of the orphanage hall surrounded by a short white gate, playing, and upon the arrival of any potential adopter, displaying their desire and attention upon them as if they were advertising themselves.
It was like they knew why they had come there. It seemed that in their own little minds they could process that they needed to be adopted and any of these couples could turn into the mommy and daddy that they were striving to have. It looked like a contest for them to stand up among the rest. Why shouldn’t they, Afshin thought to himself? What is the difference between them and those who are fortunate enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouths? What is their fault? Just because they are the productions of mistakes, lack of education, and carelessness of two people, they had to be rejected like outcasts?
Afshin remembered their several trips to the orphanages, where they looked at many kids. They were all lovely and precious. They had smiles that could light up a room. They were from many backgrounds and cultures; Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, Whites, Blacks and many other origins where their physical characteristics would not immediately reveal their roots. But among them there was a Puerto Rican boy around the age of seven, named Ricky, who stole their hearts. He had a beautiful smile with white bright teeth and large extended ears. His skin was a beautiful brownish color, half black and half white, a mulatto. He was constantly smiling and staring at them. It was as if he had instantly loved them too.
Afshin had fallen in love with him, but Parvaneh was still hoping that she could bear children. But that was not her only worry. She was worried about what people might say. After all Ricky was not Iranian. He was not from Afshin’s genes. She brought these issues to him. Afshin angrily replied, “What do I care about what people say? Do they care what I say about their affairs?” He continued, “And what is the big deal about my genes? Is it something special, made of a better material than most other people?”
It was not that Parvaneh was prejudice or had reservations about the color of one’s skin. She was worried about people’s mouths. She did not want to put herself, Afshin and the child through a life of misery and prejudice. People talk and their words can hurt. But Afshin did not care. He was beyond the gossip and the cheap talk of people. He was past the prejudice of colors of skin and the superiority of one race, one culture, over the others.
He wanted a child. He wanted to hold a human being in his arms to caress, to love, to raise and to cherish life through him or her. But Parvaneh was not totally convinced. She offered him many times to divorce her and find another Iranian woman so she would give him a child, and every time Afshin responded angrily and told her that he loved her and she was the only woman for him, no matter what the consequences were.
They had gone to the adoption services, but it was not easy for an Iranian couple to adopt a half white, half black Latino child. The agency believed that the family and the environment that they could offer might not be suitable for a Puerto Rican kid. It is unheard of Iranian couples to adopt a child out of their culture.
But Afshin thought who cares about the past, let us change the future. They had to go through many interviews, form filling and red tape. The future seemed bleak. That is why they continued hoping that they could conceive on their own. But today the dagger soared through their hearts when they heard that she would never be able to have children.
The distance from the doctor’s office to the house was not that long but it seemed like the journey of a thousand and one nights. It had been a long day. It started when Afshin’s family called and informed him about the grave illness of his mother. They said that she was very ill and everybody sounded worried. Then he left to work and was notified that the promotion that he was anticipating had gone to another man based on the Affirmative Action. On the way to the doctor’s office, he got a speeding ticket and then the news at the doctor’s office hit him the hardest. All and all, it was not a good day.
He pulled into the driveway and turned the engine off. Parvaneh was still crying. He helped her out of the car and gave her a big hug. She rested her head on his shoulder and sobbed. “Please, if you want to divorce me, I can understand,” she said in a trembling voice. In a relatively loud voice he said, “I love you and no matter what, I want you as the love of my life and I am never letting you go.”
They walked towards the house. As they reached the front door, they found a package on the doormat that had been delivered by the post office. He picked up the package. It was from the Department of Social Services and Adoption. He tore open the envelope and took out the enclosed papers. He read them quickly. “What is it, honey?” she asked. Afshin replied, “The stork has brought us a baby. It has delivered us a boy, my love.”
Life was beautiful. An Iranian couple from the rich soils of Persia raising a beautiful mulatto kid from Puerto Rico, life must be beautiful. They embraced each other and began crying out of joy and satisfaction. They finally felt like a complete couple. They had never felt more complete as two human beings.