I wake up as always, the sun peering through the break in the blinds over the window near my bed, to the morning bell chiming loudly. I sit up, taking in the movement of all of my roommates around me.
“Gregory!” A younger boy who sleeps on the bottom bunk on the other side of the room appears at the foot of my bed shouting my name. “Gregory! What’re we goin’ to do today?”
He’s about five years old and looks up to me as a brother. I don’t mind. It’s fun to have a little brother of sorts to teach.
“Andy, let me get dressed first, and we can go get breakfast down stairs together.” I answer, throwing my blanket off and getting out of bed. I quickly change from my pajamas to a blue t-shirt and some shorts and walk down the stairs to meet Andy at the breakfast table.
At the long table, a lot of the other children are seated already, scarfing down biscuits and cereal. I spot Andy seated down at the end opposite the table and sit in the seat he had saved me beside him. I grab a plate from the stack nearby as well as a couple of biscuits. The jar of jam finally gets to me after being passed around, and I am able to spread some jam on my biscuits.
Andy is sitting beside me shoving a large spoonful of cereal into his mouth, making a mess on the table as excess milk falls from his spoon. I grab a napkin and pass it to Andy, and he takes it and cleans up his area, laughing at his mess.
“Greg,” he turns to me again, “what’re we goin’ to do today?”
“Well, I believe we have some parents coming in today to observe and interview some children, so we need to make ourselves presentable. We want to be adopted, right?” I respond as I stand up from the table. Andy stands too, and stands behind me as I push both of our chairs in.
We race up the stairs and back into the room we share with four others. Andy sits on his bed, laughing and kicking his feet back and forth as I go through his drawer looking for a decent shirt for him to wear instead of the cereal-covered one he is displaying now. I select a red collared shirt and throw it at him, and he starts to change into it.
I hear a car pull up in the driveway of our building, so I run to the window and peek through the blinds down at the prospective parents. A nicely-dressed man in a suit gets out of the driver’s seat and walks around to the passenger side, opening the door for his wife. A thicker woman gets out of the passenger side. She’s wearing a long green polka-dotted dress and has short curly brown hair.
They look like the typical couple looking to adopt a child. They always look so normal and loving. Always. In interviews, I’m always as nice and polite as possible. I try my best to get chosen. I really do, but I never get chosen. They always choose someone else. I’m fine, I guess, but I would like to get out of this place. As I get older, it’s just going to get harder for me to get adopted, so I don’t know why I even bother trying.
I look back at Andy trying to balance on one foot beside his bed. He’s smiling his crooked smile as always, the holes from tooth-loss showing. His short blonde hair is standing up and tangled up everywhere all over his head. I grab a brush from the bedside table and grab hold of the little boy, brushing his hair down to the best of my ability.
The building head calls us down stairs to meet the adopters, so I put the brush down, and Andy and I rush down the steps to the lobby area with the twenty or so other boys. The two adults look more intimidating person than they did from the bedroom window. I get a weird vibe from them as they stand before me. I’m uncomfortable.
I’m called in to interview with them first, chosen by random selection. So, I walk into the little room off the lobby set aside specifically for parents to meet children. The two adults sit on one side of the table in the room, and I take the seat on the opposite, facing them. The building head is in here with us too, sitting in the corner, observing and taking notes.
The two adults both lean forward to shake my hand and greet me. I take the man’s hand first. “I’m Victor, and this is my wife, Hilary,” the man says with a large, almost fake, smile as I shake both of their hands. Hilary sits beside him, smiling and near-staring at me.
“I’m Gregory,” I reply to them with my name, not knowing anything else to say. I start out by telling them how old I am, and they nod. The adopters always seem to smile and nod when you first start to talk to them. It takes a while to break through the figurative wall to get different reactions from adopters. Hilary speaks up, asking me about my interests. I respond, listing just a handful of my hobbies so as to not bore them. The building head always tells us to be brief when describing ourselves, even if the parents insist on us opening up or that we’re not boring them. I’m asked about other simple things such as my cleaning habits or education level.
“Gregory, you wouldn’t by any chance have younger siblings, would you?” Hilary asks nonchalantly.
I think for a moment and reply happily. “I don’t have any siblings, but one of my younger roommates looks up to me as an older brother.”
The two parents smiled at each other and then looked over at the building head. Victor spoke up, “I think we’re done here,” and they all head out. I follow closely behind and merge back with the crowd of children outside. I see Andy start running over to me to ask about the interview, but he is quickly grabbed by the building head and pulled into the interview room before he reaches me.
I sit on the bench outside the interview room and wait for Andy to get out. I think about my interview. Had I done well? Did I make a good impression? I’m just not sure. Usually, you can read the parents’ faces as they sit before you and judge you. You can tell almost immediately if you are going to be the one they choose to adopt or not. You just get this feeling. However, with Victor and Hilary, I couldn’t tell.
Andy emerges from the interview room very giddy, skipping over to me and tackling me in my seat. He’s still laughing and smiling, his squeaky voice never getting old.
Suddenly, the building head commands all of the children to leave the lobby area and return to their rooms, but before Andy and I can leave, she grabs us by our sleeves and holds us back.
“You boys are about to be adopted,” she says sweetly with a smile. Andy’s smile runs from ear to ear as he looks up at me. I can feel my insides fluttering. I’m nervous. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been before. I’m being adopted. I’m getting out. I’m getting a family. However, another feeling is building up next to the nerves. I’m scared. The weird vibe I had been getting from the couple is getting stronger, more prominent. I can’t place it, but I feel like something is wrong. Something about that couple just doesn’t seem right.