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A/N: Burn Notice romantic fluff with a side of angst. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.
On Thursday of the fifteenth week, Ellen Muslen, who ran Anderson's adoption agency, looked at them as they entered her office and said, "So, tell me why you want to adopt."
"I'm sorry?" Fi asked.
Ellen looks startled, not expecting that answer. "You're Sarah and Abe Gunderson, right?"
"No. I'm Michael Westen and this is Fiona Glenanne. We're looking to put our child up for adoption."
"Oh. I'm so sorry." Ellen spent a long moment looking them over and then gestured for them to sit down while she looked through her files, found the right one, and skimmed over it. She nodded her head a few times as she looked over it and then looked up at them.
"Terribly, terribly sorry about that. I don't know why, but I've been thinking it's Friday all day. We don't get many couples, let alone..." She can't seem to find a polite way to say what she's thinking, so goes for blunt, "of your age or economic status on the birth parent side of the equation. So, tell me why you want to give your child up."
Neither of them answered for a moment, neither of them wanting to explain, let alone have to put words to this idea, and then Michael says, "It'd be better for everyone if we didn't keep this child."
"Uh huh." She flips through the file. "The information we have here says that you've kept up with your doctor's appointments and the child is healthy."
"From everything we can tell, yes," Fi answers. Getting the results of the nuchal fold test back last week and finding out the baby didn't have Downs Syndrome, Trisomy 13, or a host of other genetic abnormalities was very good news for both of them.
Ellen looks up at them again, seems to be studying them. Her eyes flick over their clothing, and settle on Fi's engagement ring. "Okay, let me be very blunt with you, we will not accept you as birth parents. Not for this agency."
"Excuse me?" Fi asks, though Michael is thinking it, too. He's never heard of anyone being turned down for trying to put a child up for adoption.
"That's a what, eight thousand dollar engagement ring? You're clearly in love. The address you have listed on the form is for a house that's in a pretty good school district. Your clothing is expensive, so you've got income. You've listed your job as security consultants, so you might be professional go-getters who can't stand the idea of taking time away from your business for a child, but the kind of person who fits that profile goes to an abortion clinic, not an adoption agency.
"I don't know why you are here, but I can tell you what I see when I look at you: two people who will change their minds. And I'm not about to allow you to get the hopes of my adoptive parents up just to crush them. Too many birth parents change their minds, and in Florida they can do that for up to two years after the birth of the child. Our agency does everything it can to make sure that when adoptive parents and birth parents agree to put an adoption in motion, it happens. So, in a word, no. We will not accept you as birth parents, you are too high of a risk."
For a moment Fi and Michael just sit there, too stunned to say anything. Then Michael begins to talk, "Fi worked for the IRA. I worked for the CIA. We both have enemies who wouldn't blink about using a child for revenge. This baby will be safer raised by someone else."
Ellen seems to consider this. She looks at both of them for a long time and then shakes her head again. "Most of the birth parents we get here are young, single women. They have boyfriends who couldn't care less about a baby, and parents who have the funds to deal with a pregnancy and career aspirations for their daughters. As they get older they'll go to school, build careers, eventually get married, and then have children later in life. They will be able to tell themselves that they couldn't possibly have raised the child they gave up, and knowing that they made the right decision will comfort them.
"We occasionally get couples. And without exception they are heartbroken by this. This is possibly the most traumatic decision a couple can make. It's bitter when a couple has to give up a child because they can't raise it. But once again, they'll take comfort in knowing they really couldn't raise a child.
"You two can raise a child; you're just scared. And maybe you're scared for good reason. But you want this child, and as day after day passes and nothing terrible happens, you'll regret giving it up. You will change your minds. As you get closer and closer to the birth, and this baby becomes more and more real, you'll decide it won't be that dangerous, and that you can cope with it, and you will change your minds. I'm not about to let that happen to any of my clients."
"But..." Fi begins.
"But nothing. Tons of people in this world have dangerous jobs and skeletons in their closets and manage to do a fine job of raising their kids. You will, too."
Michael and Fi stared at her, thunderstruck. "That's it?" Fi asked.
"That's it. Though I would counsel that you not try to find another agency to go through with this. All you'll be doing is breaking someone's heart."