There is a moment when you realize you’re just not cut out for the cookie-cutter lifestyle. You are never going to be one of those girls who marries at 18, births continuously from 19-40, and is known throughout the community as the Rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife).
In fact, when your high school Jewish law teacher referred to you as Rebbetzin, you threatened to file a law suit for religious harassment. That, of course, was before you understood the legal limitations of harassment suits. Nonetheless, you made it clear that you had other plans– plans beyond the highly insular Bubble, in which marriage precedes career and babies precede stable income.
You chose this alternative path because you believed that as a budding pseudo-intellectual with a propensity for climbing metaphorical mountains you needed to step beyond the confines of your upper middle class ghetto in order to maximize your potential. And so you did– willingly and confidently.
After four years of attempting to reach significant intellectual heights, you receive an equally significant letter in the mail. It’s an invitation, to be exact, and it’s inviting you to the final wedding of your bridesmaid career. Your last friend from high school, a brilliant closeted Democrat, is tying the knot in August.
When her wedding day arrives, you will adorn your last bridesmaid dress. You should/would be ecstatic, except you receive two other pieces of significant news that day too. 1) Your exes, who have been dating each other, are contemplating a commitment ceremony in England (and they’d like you to attend, if you’re around and feeling particularly gay-friendly). And 2) your one straight ex who isn’t married with kids just got engaged… and is about to be married with kids.
If you were a drinker, now is the time you would hit the bottle. But you are too poor to indulge in alcoholic sympathies. And so instead you engage in the one free activity available to you: introspection. You realize that all your married friends appear happy, content, and optimistic about the future.
You, on the other hand, remain torn, professionally confused, and, as your grandmother likes to phrase it, “very, very barren.” You’ve diverged from the Orthodox norm, but suddenly you wonder, “Was it worth it?”
The answer, though far from obvious, becomes more readily accessible when you reflect on a conversation with a completely secular co-worker. Said co-worker, upon learning of your rather unique marital-driven sub-culture, comments, “Are there any good guys left for you? Or, is it just the dregs of Orthodox society?”
You panic (internally only, of course). You don’t want the dregs, but your refusal to conform may leave you with few other options. And so you do what any woman with a maternal instinct would do, you call the Mongolian consulate to inquire about international adoption possibilities.
After viewing “Babies” (2010), the French documentary tracking the lives of four babies in four different countries– Namibia, Mongolia, Japan, and the United States– you have a fervent desire, and that is to adopt. Your call is to inquire about the procedures involved in such a process.
You are informed that if you are married, you are eligible to adopt immediately. You begrudgingly tell the consulate you are not. The kind voice on the other end then states, “Well, if you are single and living on one income, the legal age is 30.”
You sigh, express your gratitude for the general assistance, and prepare to hang up when the kind voice speaks again, “There are some exceptions, you know. For really lovely and loving people the age limit has been reduced to 28.” You smile and hang up for real this time.
You may not conform. You may have the rarest and most pathetic relationship history known to womenkind. But you also have hope and a new mountain in the Mongolian countryside to climb. You determine to start now; you’re not the most athletic, and 28 isn’t all that far away.