Guideline for Adoptive Parent Autobiography, by Rachelle Zalter

 

Name: Shelby
Date: Thursday?

In order to ensure that you have come from a dependable family, an autobiography is needed from both adoptive parents. One autobiography from the more grounded of the two prospective parents is insufficient. It is imperative that each of you writes your own autobiography. We will be able to tell if the more grounded of the two prospective parents wrote the other’s autobiography, because it will sound intelligent and expressive and also we placed cameras in your house at the last home visit, which is to say: we are spying on you. Please complete this at your earliest convenience. The earlier you send it in, the earlier we can start finding you a baby, and since you’re lesbians it will take even longer, but there is no rush. If you’re procrastinating because you don’t believe there is any way for you to market the catastrophe that is your life, we understand. Some people are not suited for adoption. Nevertheless, there is always the option to lie. Of course we don’t encourage lying because we will see right through you, specifically because we are spying. Best of luck!

Your Childhood

1) Describe your parents and your relationship with them. What are their employment and education levels? Were you rich? How many siblings do you have? Please confirm that you are not an only child. Studies show only children are less likely to be huggers. Are you a hugger? In what city were you raised? Please confirm you were raised in only one city. We are skeptical of people who don’t grow up with a sense of “home”. In what type of home did you grow up? On what street? Can you give us directions? Are you Protestant or Catholic?

2) Describe your most challenging moments growing up. When were your parents there for you? When were they a part of the problem? If you don’t have a relationship with your parents, think back to a time when you did. If the last time you saw your dad was the day he left your mom and he fled the house screaming that at least he didn’t raise the dyke talk about how that made you feel. Talk about how you would never do the same thing to your child, even though you aren’t fully confident that’s true. Well, you’re confident you wouldn’t be a homophobic asshole, but not so sure about all the other assholes you might be. There’s an array of categories, really—and you’d like to think of yourself as quite experienced. So well acquainted with assholes, in fact, you’re sure a handful of them rubbed off on you. But it’s best not to mention that. And probably don’t mention that the only reason you’re filling out this form is because of Emily, who swore you wouldn’t make a god-awful mom. Actually, rather than bringing up any of this, consider talking about your own mother. Perhaps there is better material there. What about that one day she gave you her tennis bracelet? Sure, you didn’t know what a tennis bracelet was and thought the diamonds on it were fake until you brought it home and Emily cried tears of shock. But even if a bracelet covered in over-appreciated-stones-that-have-caused-the-deaths-of-millions is the last thing you wanted, your mom was trying. And sure, you had just come out of surgery and there were fresh bandages on each of your boobs, and your mom wouldn’t have visited from Vancouver otherwise, but at least she was there. We would love for you to write about that. However, it may be wise to cut out the part where she helped you rip off the gauze stuck to your right tit even if it was beautiful. You were naked from the waist up and she didn’t mention the Paleo Diet once, she just ripped the gauze from your stitched up boob and stared at you sympathetically. And it was the first time you realized your mom might be funny, because she looked at your scars and said if Frankenstein’s monster had boobs they’d look a hell of a lot like yours. The whole exchange was inspiring, really, but we don’t want to hear about it. We encourage honesty in this autobiography, but nothing that honest.

3) If you have siblings, discuss them in the space below. Are they older or younger? Are they married? Do you have a brother who’s three years younger and yet ten years ahead? Are his children beautiful Ralph Lauren models who sing in their synagogue choir and play four to five different instruments? Are you invited to Jim’s children’s concerts and science fairs every year? How old is Jim’s wife? Objectively speaking, to what order of magnitude are you less attractive than Jim’s wife? Do your parents love Jim more than they love you? Why do they love Jim more? What is wrong with you? If you need more space than what’s provided below, please feel free to use a blank piece of paper. Nevertheless, we understand that your perception of what’s wrong with you is limited and that you cannot be held accountable for listing or knowing the entirety of said list.

Your Teen Years

1) Describe your school experiences. What activities were you involved in? Please note, when we say activities we mean basketball or water polo. Having sex with your drug dealer’s sister is not what we have in mind. We understand if you were not a well-rounded high school student. Many people need more time to mature. University can be a wonderful opportunity for that. Did you go to university? Which school did you go to? If you went to university but failed half your courses in first year and dropped out in your second, don’t bother including this. That’s just another failure you’d be best not to—
-Shelby!
-What?
-Are you working on the form?
-Did you give me a choice?!
-What’s the matter with you?
-I don’t know! Why don’t you ask the fucking form!
—disclose at this time. You have enough failures in your life you can’t hide from. Namely, the fact that you’re unemployed and currently staining your keyboard with Kettle Chip grease. What did you do after your school years? Were you ever in the military? Were your parents abusive? How many times do you cry a month?
-I don’t understand why you’re taking this out on me.
-I’m not… It’s just. This form is actual bullshit.
-It’s helpful.
-Of course you think that.
-What’s that supposed to mean?
-You’re a fucking angel! For fuck sakes!
-Shelby.
-Emily.
-Just start with the easiest section and work from there.

Goals

Favourite Memories

Financial Status

Past Relationships

Failed Relationships

Relationships that were actually not relationships but were more accurately a string of emotionally uninvested hookups

-Shelbs?
-What?
-Nothing. You just didn’t answer me.
-I’m writing my fucking autobiography. Do you think Ben Franklin’s wife interrupted him when he wrote his?
-Actually, Franklin spent most of his time away from Deborah and she was dead by the time—
-Emily.
-What?
-Shut up.

Post Grad
• Twelve jobs
• Fired from all said jobs
• Certificate in Photography Studies
o Boosted my Instagram followers
o Learned nothing
• Dabbled in cigarettes
• Deleted Instagram

Travels
• Thailand
• Australia
• Bali
• Explored weed on a spiritual level… Can you explore weed on a spiritual level? Explored myself on a spiritual level… Smoked a shit ton of weed

Adulthood


Jobs
• Most recent: waiter at Good Life Deli
• Received employee of the month at Good Life Deli
• Promoted to manager at Good Life Deli
• Celebrated by binge drinking tequila and crying on the floor of Club Seventy-Seven because my Spanish tutor told me I was going places (which was really a result of my deep obsession with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, so how much credit could I take? Honestly?)
• Came into work high
• Got fired
• Told Emily it was because I screamed at a homophobic customer
• Currently applying for a job at Subway

Past Relationships “Relationships”
• Connor
• Jane
• Grace
• That girl with the lisp
• Lesley
o So ugly
• Patricia
• Stella
o What a bitch
• Alexandra
• Marie

Current Relationship

1) How did you meet your significant other? How long have you two been together? What are some of your shared interests? Please go into detail, as we are trying to understand how a girl like Emily ended up with—of literally all females—you. This is, of course, not mandatory to respond to. Then again, none of these questions are mandatory. We think you should be grateful, because not all agencies even ask these questions to lesbians, but it’s all the same to us. If you choose to abstain from every question you will not have any material for your autobiography and we will have no choice but to throw your files into the trashcan beside our vase of purple lilies doused in Jesus’s sweat. On top of that, all the classes, paperwork, creepy fingerprint testing, and drug testing will be for nothing. And you went to a doctor’s office, for Christ’s sake, you never do that. Plus, besides all that effort, Emily will be disappointed and consider it the final straw (because there are literally no straws left in the world, regrettably you’ve wasted them all), causing her to leave you to be alone (with your Kettle chips and no real proficiencies other than quoting every Rush Hour film from start to finish). And thus, it would be helpful for us to understand why Emily is in love with you, and moreover, we believe this may help increase the likelihood of birth parents choosing you. Pity can be an asset. However, we understand that someone with your self-esteem is likely to be unsure of why Emily’s with you to begin with. If you are unsure of how to answer the question, ask yourself: what are your best qualities? Anything other than quoting Rush Hour? Your ability to binge eat cheese? Your ability to binge watch television? Your capacity to hold in tears for 5 years at a time before everything hits you at once and you go for a daylong drive sobbing across the 400-series highways whilst controlling the car and avoiding near death experiences? Or maybe, could it be that your ability to make a mess of your life is the reason Emily’s with you? Considering you’ve done all these things while you’ve been together, have you ever wondered if Emily’s trying to fix you? But she’s not really the fixer type. Stella was the fixer type (what a bitch) but not Emily. She’s patient with your mistakes and if she ever gets mad it’s only because you’ve done something really stupid, like call her a racist when she says, “We’re not adopting from China,” and then tells you, “If you listened at all in ‘Adoption 101’ you’d know lesbians can pretty much only choose domestically.” And you feel like an idiot on three accounts: 1) not listening, 2) calling Em a racist, and 3) reminding her that most of the world’s still against them. But usually Emily’s really supportive. Which, again, raises the question: why is she with you?

Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe it’s because you weren’t a mess when the two of you first met. You were in the midst of an unprecedented high point. It was the first time since the eleventh grade you only smoked bowls on weekends, and you were actually starting to enjoy the taste of salads. You still hadn’t heard from your dad, but you were happy Marie convinced you to write him that letter: “Fuck you, Dad, you fucking piece of shit, please write back.” Marie was helping you with a lot. You got promoted to manager at Good Life Deli, you lost 25 pounds, you couldn’t stop touching that part of your stomach you used to feel curve, you rarely watched television, you even had lunch with your brother and mom. For all intents and purposes, you were happy, and it showed. So when the blonde bombshell came in with her friend, you felt confident enough to flirt. You’d never left your number on a receipt before, but that morning you did. And it must have left some impression, because she called you. You weren’t expecting anything—at the very most, a text saying “what the fuck, creep”—but when your phone started ringing you picked up.
-Hello?
-Hi, it’s Emily. From Good Life Deli…
-What?
-From this morning? You left your number on my receipt.
-Shit. Of course!
At this point you thought of Marie. You had just celebrated your six-month anniversary. That was the longest you’d ever been in a relationship. You were doing well. She made you happy. You tried to remember she made you happy.
-I’m so happy you called.
-Well, you did leave me your number…
-I did… I’d like to take you for a proper meal. Without pancakes.
-What’s wrong with pancakes?
-You don’t usually eat them at night.
You’ve always been good at charming girls, but not that good. And Emily’s a ten. Usually you dealt with fives, sixes… sevens at best. Plus, you weren’t even high. But you killed that conversation and to this day, it’s your greatest accomplishment. Maybe you should write that in your autobiography. If your future kid is anything like her mother she’ll be good with the ladies (or, more likely, guys). But even so, your game was only enough to drag Emily on one date. How did you make her stay?

Could you possibly have Dundas to thank? For a suburb that has become the one constant piece of shit in your shit-filled life, could it have actually done something good? Despite the fact that Dundas is one identical house after another, from the stucco window trims to the mugs on their countertops, all reading: “Shoot for the moon,” or “Bonjour, Beautiful.” Despite the fact that your neighbours drink sangria to Coldplay every Friday. Despite the fact that half the customers at Good Life Deli are moms who order turkey sandwiches without the bread, a salad for their daughter, and two stacks of pancakes for their son. Despite the fact that Dundas is so terrible it even managed to drive away your parents (well, technically your mom only moved to BC because of Chris—she still loves Dundas, which is really a point against it considering, once they break up, she’ll be back). Yes, despite all this, there is one thing Dundas has going for it. There are practically no lesbians. And if there are, they either don’t make it known or they’re hidden in the clubs you both hate. But as it appears, if you’re a lesbian in Dundas, your pickings are slim. So you were lucky to find Emily, but you have to ask yourself: was Emily lucky to find you?

Even still, there are other lesbians in the area. Yes, the options aren’t endless, but there’s enough (meaning, more than just you.) So why you? Another theory you’ve tossed around is that without you, Emily lives a particularly boring life. She goes to work, studies history, volunteers, combs her hair. It’s not like Emily herself is boring, nor does she complain about living a monotonous life, but she has to get her entertainment from somewhere. That’s where you come in. Not that she would be aware of this, because Emily is too kind to deliberately date you as a means of entertainment. But it’s possible, right?

Let’s break it down. In the last few months, you: had to call Em because you got fired, call Em because you got into a bar fight, call Em because you started a fire making pot brownies, and call Em because you forgot to fill up your gas tank. And that’s just since February. For Christmas, you were invited to your niece’s violin concert and for the first year you were planning to attend. After your brother showed up to your wedding and spewed rhetoric about loving you to Emily, there was no way out. She demanded you drive with her to Richmondhill for Sophia Ray’s fucking violin concert. She couldn’t have expected that on the day of the concert you two were going to get into the biggest fight of your relationship.
-What do you mean you don’t want kids?
-WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DO?
-Don’t scream!
-HOW DO YOU WANT ME TO DEAL WITH THIS? FUCK.
-Tell me you want kids, too!
-I CAN’T JUST FUCKING TELL YOU THAT. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST. YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT FAMILY.
-But that’s your family. Not ours!
-You’re my family, Em. I thought you knew that.
-Baby…
-Don’t fucking Baby me right now. Jesus. What a fucking word to use.
-Shelby…
-This isn’t a joke.
-You’ve never thought about adopting? Never?
-I swear to God.
-I’m just asking.
-No. Shut the fuck up.
-Shelbs.
-NO! YOU CAN’T JUST MARRY ME AND THEN TELL ME YOU WANT KIDS. WAS THIS YOUR FUCKING PLAN? TO TRAP ME?
-Trap you?!
-YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
-I don’t think I do!
-YOU FUCKING FORCED ME INTO THIS INSTITUTION. I HATE FUCKING MARRIAGE AND YOU KNEW THAT.
-That’s not–
-AND YOU KNEW IF YOU TOLD ME THIS EARLIER I WOULD HAVE LEFT YOU.
-You don’t mean that.
-YOU’RE A FUCKING PHSYCO. YOU MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH A FUCKING PSYCHO AND NOW THERE’S NO WAY OUT.
-I’M A PSYCHO BECAUSE I WANT A FAMILY?
-NO, BECAUSE YOU TRAPPED ME!
-SO DIVORCE ME! IF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT MARRIAGE, THEN LEAVE!
-THIS ISN’T ABOUT A STUPID GODDAM PAPER! YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU.
-If you love me… like actually love me, this shouldn’t surprise you.
-Don’t fucking cry on me right now. Em…
-I’m not. Just, could you just think about it?

Later, you asked Emily if she still wanted to go to the concert. She nodded reluctantly. You were both silent in the car, neither bringing it up but neither disregarding it. When you got to the venue, you were surprised by the caliber of the event. It shouldn’t have surprised you. Your brother’s a loaded stockbroker and he learned how to party from you, so when you opened the door to appetizers and free alcohol, you should have expected it. You pounded down the wine and champagne. You wished it was beer, but booze was booze. You flew from tipsy to shitfaced and watched Emily flirt with every man in the room. That was her passive way of telling you she would never cheat, but if she wanted to, well, she could. It didn’t matter. You kept drinking. And by the time everyone moved from the lobby to the auditorium, you were finding it hard to keep your balance. You thought about all the girls in high heels and wondered how the hell they did it. You found a row of empty seats and took the first one from the aisle. A line of people glared at you so you got up and moved down. Emily sat in the same row but let four men slide between you. You thought that was hysterical at the time, or maybe you just laughed because it was the easier emotion. The concert started and a bunch of rich kids played their violins like the little Beethovens they were. You fidgeted in your seat for something like 5 or 200 minutes. Then your perfect brother’s daughter came on. She played a long piece that sounded like strings screaming at you in a creepy forest with coked up trees and you looked at Emily to laugh, but she was loving it. Maybe it was because the music seemed sexually frustrated, or because everyone else seemed to like it, or because Emily wasn’t looking at you, but when Sophia Ray finished you were pissed and drunk and had to do something. You got out of your seat and walked up to the stage. Your niece was still curtseying so you patted her on her shoulder and you grabbed the microphone from her music stand and you looked out at the stage lights. “I would just like to thank this beautiful girl for her performance,” you said to the crowd. They were confused, but some people clapped. You kept going, “I’m serious. Can you see her from back there? She’s scenic. She’s fucking picturesque! And my brother gave birth to her! Can you imagine? I’m related to this thing.” At that point someone was on stage trying to walk you off. You shoved them away, “Stop. I’m busy. I just want to thank my little brother for being so great. Jim! Where are you, Jim? Stand up!” He didn’t stand up. “It’s ok, Jim. Never mind. I just wanted to say you’re great. Actually, you’re all fucking fantastic. I mean, come on! Look at you all! No wonder you’re rich! You’re precious! You’re special! You deserve to have copious money! Your children deserve it! Your grandchildren—“ You were cut off by two jacked men and the next thing you knew you were off stage with your head in a bucket, puking. Somebody’s hand was rubbing your back and when you looked up it was Emily. You expected her to be furious, but she was beaming.
-You’re not mad?
-You’re ridiculous!
-You’re not mad?
-No!
She was laughing.
-I don’t want to be mad anymore!
-Take me home, Baby.
-Baby?
-Baby! Take me home!
The following afternoon you woke up and it was the first time you thought it: Emily loves you because you’re a disaster. If you ever get your act together, she’ll be gone.

But that isn’t quite right. She loves you in the quiet moments too. When you’re lying in bed and her head is on your chest and you’re looking at her long legs, whispering: “I guess I just never felt loved.” And you talk about your mom, and your dad, and your brother, and every sore spot on your heart. And Em strokes your hair, and she kisses your head, and she promises she’ll love you for all them.
It’s during one of these moments you tell her:
-I’ll do it.
-What?
-I’ll adopt.
And so here you are, staring at an outline for an autobiography you haven’t started because you’ll do anything in the world for Emily. There’s not a thing you wouldn’t do. And so you can’t answer these questions. You can’t.


Rachelle Zalter received her BASc in Arts and Science from McMaster University. She is currently living in South Korea, teaching English and writing on the side. Whether through short stories or screenplays, Rachelle’s main interest is telling truths through humour. This is her first publication.

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