FOREWORD: This is my first real attempt at writing a proper story. I plan to go for at least a little while with this one, but I guess how long it goes will depend on interest in it. I'll probably do an occasional greentext in threads still, but this'll be my main focus for right now. Hope you all enjoy it.
Time seems to stand still as the coordinator looks over your paperwork. The only things you can hear are the loud, measured ticks of the clock on the wall and your own heart pounding in your chest. You'd gone through all the necessary paperwork, jumped though every hoop. Now it all rests on her approval. She continues to pore over every page, looking for even the slightest hint of a possible problem. After what seems like an eternity, she finally looks to you fixing you with a piercing gaze. It's like she's trying to break you, get you to reveal any dark secrets. Your heart feels like it's going to jump out of your ribcage.
A small smile crosses her face. 'Well, you certainly seem to have put a lot of effort into this. I don't see any reason not to approve your request.' It feels like a massive weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You give a sigh of relief as she signs & stamps your papers.
As she gathers up your application, she speaks up. 'Before we meet any of the girls, I do have one question. Nothing that will affect this, just a bit of personal curiosity.'
'Um, okay. shoot.'
'If it's not too much trouble, I was curious why a single man would apply for adoption of a monster. Most adoptions are for couples who can't have a child of their own, and even fewer are outside their own species.'
'Is that a problem?'
'Oh, no, of course not. One of our more troubled children found a very loving life with a single father. I'm just interested in your motives, is all.'
You think over your response carefully. She said that this wasn't a part of the application, her casual stance seems genuine, but you'd rather be safe. 'Well... I guess that it's just because I've always wanted to be a father. I never really met the right girl, so having a kid of my own wasn't really an option. This seemed like the best way to make that possible.'
She seems... not dissatisfied with your answer, but bored with it. Like she had heard the same line a million times before (which she probably has). 'Is that really all? Not that there's anything wrong with it, just seems a little, I don't know... simple.'
'Well, there is one other thing, but it's kind of personal.' You shift awkwardly in your seat, hopeful that she will just take that at face value.
'Honey, you've told me almost everything about you, and we're going to be working together for a while to make sure that whatever girl you choose is living a healthy life. Knowing as much as I can about you only helps to make that happen.'
You let out a bit of a heavy sigh. She's right, but it doesn't mean you have to like it. 'Alright. When I was really young, my mom walked out on my dad and me. I was probably two or three, so I barely remember anything about her. Eventually he remarried to a kobold, Caroline. They were happy together, and she loved me like I was her own. And then when I was about 10 or so, my dad was diagnosed pancreatic cancer. Doctors said all his years of smoking finally caught up to him. He died a few months later, and my step-mom was the only one left to look after me. She worked her tail off to make sure that I could live as normal a life as possible and never stopped caring about me... I know what it's like to not have your real parents, and how much having someone there who loves you no matter what can change your life. I want to give someone else that chance. A chance for a normal life.'
You look back at the coordinator. She seems to have taken your little story more seriously than the generic response you first gave her. 'My. That's actually quite touching. I'm sure that whatever girl you end up adopting will be very lucky.' She stand up and makes her way to the door. So then, shall we get started with the interviews?'
Despite the rampant raping that occurs wherever large numbers of humans & monsters live together, unwanted pregnancies are surprisingly low. Though the ones that do come up are usually pretty rough. Abusive households, children from prostitutes or sex rings, or even just some sex-crazed monster who couldn't be bothered with a child. Some of these children would even go on to repeat the cycle. Foster care systems were eventually revamped in order to try and put a stop to it. The families raising the children, as well as any potential adopters, are meticulously screened. Most of the children are paired with foster families of the same, or at the very least similar, species to make the transition as comfortable as possible. Many foster families even end up adopting their charges themselves after becoming so close.
Unfortunately, that is the situation that you run into with many of the foster families you visited. The kids are so sweet, and had grown so close to their foster families, that many of the families were reluctant to see the children go. And while you were hoping to have a daughter of your own, you weren't going to take a child away from a family that already cared for them.
After the twelfth straight interview of shattered dreams, you almost fell ready to give up. 'Couldn't bear to split them up again?' your coordinator asks.
She ticks off another family on her clipboard, reviewing her list of potential adoptees. Her pen drums against the board as she tries to think over what the best course of action would be. 'Hmmm... I think I might have something for you, but it might be out of your comfort zone.'
'How do you mean?'
'Well, I was hoping you'd be willing to adopt one of the girls I've introduced you to already, but with your disposition towards them this may be the best plan for you.'
'We separate the children in our care into two categories, Standard and Special Needs. The ones labeled as Special Needs are girls from particularly rough backgrounds or species who can pose a threat to their families. In short, girls that require special care for a healthy life.'
'And what does that have to do with me?'
She thumbs through various papers from your application, checking that her numbers are correct. 'Given your status, I believe that you are sufficiently qualified to adopt a child marked as Special Needs, should you choose to do so. And this avenue would allow you to find a child who hasn't formed any sort of familial bond yet.'
A chance to adopt someone who doesn't have a family yet? How does that work? But then again, it would be a good fit for you. You mull it over for a moment... 'Okay, I'll do it.'
'Excellent. Now, follow me and I'll take you to our hatchery.'
After a short drive the two of you pull up on a building just a short way from the hospital. It's a rather plain looking place, even a little ugly. A large sign over the door reads MGC ADOPTIVE SERVICES MUNICIPAL HATCHERY in big block font.
The inside of the building is rather warm, almost stuffy. As you walk through the halls, you catch glimpses into the windows of various rooms. Most of them seem to be set up in a similar fashion: About a dozen specially designed cradles in each room, a big egg nesting in each one of them. Heat lamps and blankets warm the eggs as workers make their rounds, checking them over and making notes. Occasionally you'll see a hatchling being tended by one of the nurses, typically of the same species.
'All right, here it is.' The two of you come to a stop in front of a door marked SPECIAL NEEDS HATCHERY. The coordinator turns to you. 'Inside here is where we keep the eggs of draconic species that are left abandoned at the hospital.'
'How can you tell if they're some kind of dragon egg?'
'Dragons, as well as their cousin species, have exceptional natural magic that protects them. The eggs have a similar quality that makes them very hardy. Unfortunately, that same quality makes them resilient to ultrasounds, so we can't tell what kind of species they are. The eggs can hibernate as well, refusing to hatch until the can sense they are in a place they can be cared for properly. This makes finding an appropriate family difficult.'
'And, what, you think that I can raise one?'
She just shrugs a bit. 'It's hard to say. We've had situations in the past where eggs refused to hatch for their adoptive families and were taken back from the family. It's all about if the creature inside senses some sort of compatibility. If nothing else, it wouldn't hurt to try.'
This seemed like a long shot. What guarantee did you have that the egg you picked would respond? What if none of them decided to hatch for you? Or maybe even worse, what if one did hatch for you? Could you handle raising a dragon as a single man?
The two of you enter the room. It has a similar layout to the other rooms, but a smaller number of cradles. You also notice that the eggs here seem significantly bigger than the ones from the other rooms you passed. The eggs also have more exotic hues to them, with various colors and patterns to them. One of the eggs even seems to have a metallic, bronze sheen to it.
You walk over to one of the cradles. The egg nestled in it has a deep jade-green color to it. You run your hand over the surface of the egg. It's surprisingly smooth, and it feels warm. Not warm from the lamp it was under, but more like an inner warmth. Your hand comes to rest on the side of the egg, and for a second you could swear you felt something bump against it on the other side of the shell.
The coordinator peeks over your shoulder at the little scene. 'Do you think that could be the one for you?' It's hard to say, but it did feel like there was something there for a moment. You give her a short nod in response.
'Excellent! I'll go fetch the paperwork for you to sign then. By this time tomorrow, we can have her set up at your house.'
The installation went smoothly for the most part. The hatchery provided all the transportation and muscle for installing the special cradle. Thankfully they worked pretty fast, since the set-up did a number on the spare room you had designated for the girl's bedroom. The energy needs for the cradle's heating system required rewiring half the room to avoid blowing a fuse. You could only hazard a guess as to what that would do to your electric bill.
Once the set-up crew had finished & was on their way, your coordinator approaches you with the last bit of paperwork. 'Looks like everything's been taken care of. Before I go, I just wanted to go over a few more things with you.'
'Alright. What do I need to know?' you ask as you sign the papers on the wall.
'First off, how to try and get the egg to hatch. It's not enough to just have the egg under a heating lamp. If it was, dragon eggs would be easier to care for. You have to have physical contact with it.'
'And what qualifies as physical contact?'
'Just spend an hour or two holding it each day. It's part of the way they can sense whether they'll be able to survive once they hatch. Just remember to be very gentle with it. Treat it as if it were already a newborn.'
You hand the paperwork back over to her. 'Okay. Anything else?'
'Yes. If the egg does hatch, it is imperative that you be there as it is happening. Draconic species imprint on the first creatures they see as their parents. If you intend to be her father this is paramount. However, do NOT help her out of the egg unless it is absolutely necessary.'
'The scales of dragon species are still soft when they first hatch. If you aren't careful, you could end up injuring. It can also have an effect on them psychologically as they develop. Ones who can't even escape their own egg can develop poor self-esteem or self-loathing tendencies. Of course, all of this is assuming that she even hatches for you.'
Right. That whole thing about taking back eggs that don't hatch. You didn't even have the girl yet, and already you're facing some daunting propositions. Your coordinator lays a reassuring hand on your shoulder. 'Don't worry. Call it intuition, but I have a good feeling that you'll be able to do this. And I promise I'll do everything I can to help you.' And with a little smile, she turns and heads out the door.
You just sit in your living room for a while, eating what little bits of food you can muster up the strength to eat. You knew that adopting would be a drain on you, but you never imagined it would be to this level. All the effort you put in, all the meetings, interviews, and papers it took to get here. And now you had to pray that whatever was inside that egg would even choose you...
The hours roll on, and eventually night falls. You climb the stairs to your bed, figuring you should get some shut-eye. On the way there, you pass by the egg's room & remember what she said about contact with it. Probably for the best that you get a jump on that now. You pull up a chair next to the cradle and scoop the egg up into your hands. It's about the size of a large pumpkin, but it's a bit lighter than you imagined it'd be. You sit down in the chair, cradling the egg in your lap like a newborn. You feel that same odd warmth from it that you did yesterday.
For a while you just sit there, looking into the deep green of the egg's shell. Your mind is racing with all sorts of thoughts. You decide to try and do something to calm yourself. It sounds utterly stupid to you, but there's nobody around who can judge you. And who knows, maybe it'll help the egg to hatch.
'Hey. I don't know if you can hear me in there or not, or even if you could understand, but I just wanted to say a few things.' Your voice is low, barely even a whisper. As if your were trying not to wake a baby up. 'I know you've probably gone through a lot of rough stuff so far, and you haven't even come out of that shell yet. Sitting in that dark egg, waiting in the hatchery, hoping for someone who could give you a good home. I don't know if I'm the first person who tried to take you home, and maybe I won't be the last. I don't think I could say I'd be the perfect dad. We'd probably both get scared at some point, or mad, or something. I don't know if I could give you the best life or not. But I promise, that if you give me a chance, I'll do my best to make you happy. I'll try to be someone you can always come to when you're feeling down. And I promise that no matter what happens, I'll always love you. I don't care about what happened to you in the past, but I'll always be there for you in the future. So I hope that someday soon you choose to come out of there. I can't wait to see your beautiful face, and there's so much out here for you to experience.'
Again, you could swear that you feel a small hand pushing back against yours from the inside of the egg. You sit there for a little while longer, just thinking back over what you had said. You've done all you can for now. All that you can hope for is that she chooses you. You lay her egg back into the crib, wrapping the warming blankets back around her. You lean in and plant a little kiss on the egg's smooth surface before making for the door, shutting off the lights & retiring to your bed for the night.