Swimming with Sharks

When Shelley and I were in the Galapagos last summer, we had the opportunity to swim with sharks. Now, I'm not a super phobic type person, I have no problem with spiders and heights and flying and such things that many people fear. I've done some daring, risky things in my youth. But sharks freak me out. In fact, the thought of them is always in the back of my mind when swimming or snorkeling in the ocean. I have no idea why, but there it is.

A few days after the last post, we missed another call. Then, the bat phone rang again and this time... We answered it! We talked, then skyped, then flew down to southern California and met the couple on the other end of the phone. They told us they wanted us to be their baby's parents! We got excited. And anxious. And a whole lot of other things.

Something I fear more than sharks, though, is missing out on a rare opportunity. I absolutely can't stand the thought of being really close to doing something cool and then not going through with it. So I got on the panga (motorized raft) that was taking us out to the shark-infested snorkeling site. These were not Great White Sharks. They were Hammerheads and Reef Sharks and Galapagos Sharks. They are well-fed because people are not allowed to over-fish their habitat. They would not even notice us, the guides assured us. At this point, I was really freaked out and was wondering why in the heck I was on this boat.

After being matched for 3 weeks, the couple decided they didn't like the agency format and chose to go a different way - without us. This is absolutely their choice - and that choice is one of the fundamental tenets of real open adoption - but it made us really sad. And frustrated. And disappointed. And a whole lot of other things.

When we got to the site, there was a tunnel through two huge rocks that was too narrow for the panga to go in; it would have to meet us on the other side. There would be no turning back - if I jumped off the boat, I'd have to swim through this dark, narrow, shark-infested tunnel.

And that's it, isn't it? One of the great truths of life: The only way out, is through. We have jumped into the cold waters of waiting and now we are stuck in the tunnel. It's freakin' scary in here! We thought we could see the light at the end, and now the waves have dragged us back in, crashing us up against the rocks. It feels like we will never get out, like we'll spend the rest of our lives caught in a riptide with sharks circling underneath us. 

I actually have no idea how I made myself jump off the panga into the water. I remember being pretty terrified. I remember Shelley telling me it was going to be okay. And then I was in the (very cold) water and into the tunnel and the guides were pointing out sharks and I was struggling to see them. And then there they were, about ten feet below me! The guides were right, the sharks had no idea we were even there. They were just going on with their lives as usual.

And I went from being completely afraid and freaked out to completely awed in a matter of seconds.

Everything about this experience of waiting to be chosen, of waiting to be parents, feels just as terrifying and impossible as jumping into that water and swimming through that freezing cold, dark tunnel full of sharks. But I have to trust that once we're on the other side, it will feel every bit as awesome, too. 

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