When Dick and Barbara finally decided to get married, nothing else really mattered but promising each other forever. The path leading to that moment hadn’t always been easy, so officially being together was all both of them cared about.
They took their time planning the details of the wedding, just a little ceremony for family and close friends, and sooner than they both expected, they were a merrily married couple.
It wasn’t until people started prying into their lives that they realized they had never actually discussed a very important matter.
“So, how long down the road to you two think you’ll expand the family?” Had been the curious and polite question of one of Dick’s coworkers when Barbara went to visit him at the precinct one day. They both looked at each other, alarmed, mouths hanging for lack of words, and soon the guy noticed the question wasn’t as innocent as he thought. He excused himself and soon Barbara had to leave, but the thought popped in her mind for the rest of the day.
That night, after a quieter than usual dinner and we’re-avoiding-responsibilities kisses, they lay together in their bed trying to decide on how to approach the subject.
“So…” Dick starts, rather awkwardly. “Expanding the family.”
“Yeah.” She replies, even more awkwardly, and cringesd inside. They’re not like this, they aren’t weird out by anything. She clears her throat and decides to take charge of the subject. “What do you think? About, you know, kids.” She asks him, turning her head to his side to see him better.
He seems uncertain of what he should say, almost like he just wants to say what she wants to hear but he doesn’t know what that is. “Well… I’ve always wanted them. Kids, I mean.” He unnecessarily clarifies, nervous. “I don’t know when I’ll be ready for that, but I know that I want to have children. Someday.”
He’s still looking at the ceiling, like he’s afraid of her reaction, and she actually smiles before moving closer and resting her head on his chest, hugging his torso.
“Well, I know that. Come on, Dick, we’ve known each other for ages, of course I know you want kids.” She rolls her eyes as she feels him release his breath, and soon his arms are circling her waist, too. “And I want them, too, of course.” She can’t see his face, but she could bet all of her money that a dopey grin is covering his lips now. “I don’t know when I want them either. I just think we can agree that now is too soon, right? We should wait at least a couple more months down the road.”
He kisses her head, then. “Absolutely. We got married just a few months ago, let’s just enjoy some more months of us before we start bringing kids into the picture.”
“Agreed.” Barbara says as she raises her head and moves her mouth over his, searching for a kiss.
He obliges and soon turns them over, both of them trying to focus on this rather than the previous subject.
Unknown to the other, of course, both later go to sleep imagining what their first kid might look like.
It’s not common, but a few of times during the following months people will ask them about ‘expanding the family’. Barbara blames it on society’s stupid idea that people were designed to have kids, Dick blames it on the fact that people simply don’t know how to just take care of their own business. Be as it may, it happens more often than they wish it did.
One day, several months after the first time they were asked that, almost on their one year anniversary, Barbara brings the subject up again.
“I’ve been thinking of visiting Leslie.” She says as soon as Dick sits down in front of her after putting their food on the table.
His eyebrows shoot up. “What for?”
“Well, I know we haven’t exactly discussed it anymore or anything. But we did say that we wanted to have kids one day, right? And, well, it’s stupid, but since the accident I never really felt the need to ask her if… if I could, you know.” She motions to her belly awkwardly. “Get pregnant.”
His mouth opens in a perfect O shape. “Oh… that’s… I didn’t even consider that. We should check it up, yes.”
“You don’t need to go with me, it’ll probably just be a boring and long exam.” She dismisses quickly.
“Babs, of course I’m going with you.” He reaches for her hand on the table and she’d be lying if she said it didn’t make her heart feel lighter. “We’re in this together, right?”
She smiles and nods and soon they’re back to eating dinner and talking about their days.
She decides to wait until the appointment to tell him that maybe she’s ready to think about kids.
They get home and Dick still doesn’t know what to say. The car ride had been the most quiet and awkward of his entire life – and that includes a day when he had to give a ride to four of his ex-girlfriends at the same time – and he honestly just wants to make things right. But he can’t. He can’t go back and undo what the Joker did, he can’t give Barbara back everything she’s lost. And he doesn’t know how to make things better without changing the past.
She wheels over to their bedroom and he’s brave enough to admit that he’s cowardly waiting in the kitchen until she’s almost sleeping so he won’t have to say anything. He goes over much later, sure she must be sleeping already, but even though her figure is still under the covers, he knows she’s awake. And then he feels guilty for letting her alone when she obviously needed him.
“Babs.” He calls when he lies besides her, hugging her waist from behind. “Sweetheart, look at me.”
She does, then, turning her head ever so slightly, and he’s a bit terrified to see the clear path of tears on her cheeks.
“Oh, Babs, I’m so sorry. I wish-“
“What are you sorry for?” She asks shaking her head a little. “I’m sorry. I wanted to give you this, Dick, I thought…” She trails off, her head turning away again.
He’s shocked for a few seconds before he turns her face back. “Barbara, I don’t care that you can’t have kids.”
“You don’t?” She asks in a low voice, almost a whisper, like she’s scared.
“You might not know this, but I was adopted.” He says with a straight face. “And so were my brothers. Well, most of them anyway.”
She chuckles a little at that, signs of crying still in her face, but much less noticeable now.
“So if we decided to adopt, you’d be okay?”
“I just to have my children with you.” He says honestly, and she fully turns to his side with his help.
“I love you.” She says with her face pressed at his chest and he caresses her back softly.
“I love you, too.”
“And I think… I think I’m ready to ‘expand the family’.”
He’s quiet for a while, but she can hear the smile in his voice he replies. “Me too.”
As it turns out, adopting a baby is not as simple as it seems. Not even if you have money and your father is Bruce Wayne. Adopting eight-year-olds with no apparent future that nobody wants? Easy. Adopting a baby? Impossible.
For starters, it requires a lot of money. Luckily for them that’s not a problem, but there are many more stones on the way.
The fact that they can’t have kids is a positive sign on their chart, but the fact that Barbara has a physical disability is a negative one. Dick’s work as a cop also makes their file look bad, for some reason, and aside all that they have to put a lot of work into it.
Proving they’ll be a stable and loving home, proving their families are good families, proving they have enough money to support this child, proving they really want it, proving there are no second intentions, proving everything on their social and professional lives is necessary and it takes a lot more time than they thought it would. It takes months for them to even quality to be foster parents, and only then they can finally try to decide what child they want to adopt.
“I feel terrible.” Barbara says as they park on the first orphanage. “You can’t just choose a child, they’re people.”
Dick puts his hand over hers and gives a comforting squeeze. “I know, I feel bad, too. But no one can actually assign a kid for us, we need to choose one, so let’s just try to do this, okay?”
She takes a deep breath and nods, and soon they’re inside.
It’s hard. They see so many kids that just want someone and it feels too close to home. They both almost cry several times, looking at the amount of innocent children that just a family. One of the nurses shows them around and then takes them to the infant area, and they can’t shake the feeling that choosing one baby will be like telling the others that they aren’t good enough. They just want to adopt all of the children, it’s impossible to do this.
When they’re on their way out, they hear light footsteps behind them and a little girl that couldn’t be more than three is running towards them, keys bouncing in her hands.
She offers it to them, shy, and in words a little too babish for her age says that they’d dropped it.
She has olive skin and a short dark hair, her eyes a dark shade of blue, and Barbara’s heart pauses for a moment. She thanks the little girl and smiles widely at her, and when the door closes behind them, she tells Dick:
“I want that girl to be my daughter.”
After that, there’s not a lot of discussion to be made. Something clicked inside of her at the sight of the girl, at her childish shy voice and her bright sad eyes. She just wants to make the little girl feel loved, she just wants to make her eyes shine for a different reason.
When they first started this, they had decided to go for a newborn or the youngest baby that they could. They wanted to be there for every experience, to see the baby grow in every stage. But Dick knew Barbara and it was impossible not to notice how she had clearly connected with the little girl. And he’d have to have no heart to not feel moved by the expression on that little face as well.
The process is even slower now, as they have to prove everything all over again and to connect with the girl before bringing her home. They go over there on the next day and talk to the same nurse, explaining the situation. The girl’s name is Elle and they’re allowed to talk to her that day. They leave completely sure that she is definitely their daughter and start the paperwork immediately.
It takes time, but a month later they’re requested to start making daily visits to her so they all can get used with each other. They go and each time they stay longer and each time it’s harder to say goodbye to her when they leave. At some point she starts to understand the arrangements and cries every time they kiss her goodbye. She’s part of the family already and they can’t wait to get her home and to never have to leave again.
One day, finally, they get the news that everything has been approved and that they can get her home in a couple of weeks once all the paperwork is finalized.
And that’s the night they find out Barbara’s pregnant.
Leslie doesn’t have a lot to say to them other than “it was a one in a million chances and you guys got lucky”. They’re honestly too dumbfounded by this situation to even worry about how it happened. All that matter is: what now?
When the responsible for their adoption case learns of it, she says it might complicate things up. She’s pregnant, they’re having a baby on their own, maybe there’s no space in their lives for an adopted kid anymore. She advises them to go home and think about it, consider the fact that it might even be bad for Elle that she gets a new sibling so soon that could possibly steal her attention away. Maybe it would be better for all of them if they just stopped the adoption altogether.
Barbara sits in their bad that day, a photo of Elle in her hands, and considers if the woman could be right. Would she love her baby more than she’d love Elle? Because she grew to completely love the little girl, she wishes she were home with them, but she’d learned about the baby inside her a couple of days before and she already loves them with all of her heart.
She doesn’t want Elle to not feel loved, but how can she ever make sure she won’t fall into that?
Dick comes in a couple of minutes later with two cups of tea. He puts both cups in the nightstand and sits by her side, his hand holding her fiercely.
“I’m scared, Babs.” He says then in a small voice.
“Me too.” She leans her head on his shoulder and wonders why everything is always so complicated with them.
“I… I don’t want give up on Elle.” He finally lets out, his voice firm. “I feel like she’s my daughter already. Giving up on her now would feel the same as if after this baby is born we give it up for adoption.”
“But what if they’re right?” Barbara asks in a whisper. “What if we end up neglecting her?”
He raises her chin and makes her eyes meet his. “There’s no way that the woman who knew that kid would be our daughter the first time she saw her could ever neglect her, Babs.”
She lets his words sink in for a few moments and then she kisses him, calm and sweet, just to remember herself that she’s not alone in this.
When they part, he moves over until he’s leaning on the bed frame and then pulls her to his lap. They both take their mugs and stay silent for a few minutes.
“It’s gonna be hard, two kids. Practically at the same time.” Barbara says when she’s almost done with her tea.
“I think we can do this.” He says as he lightly squeezes her waist, and soon his hand moves to her stomach and stays there. It’s the nicest feeling.
“I love you.” She says against his lips.
“I love you, too.”
They proceed to tell they intend to keep the adoption process that same day. All of that puts a delay on the plans, but in the end, it all works out.
Three weeks later all the papers are signed and approved, and before they know it, they’re opening the door of their house to Elle for the first time.
She’s comfortable around them, but seems shy to be in a new place. They show her the room they prepped for her and she’s in awe of everything, how big her bed is, how many clothes there are in the wardrobe, how many toys she can find everywhere. Truth be told, they can’t even pretend they’re not crying. They’re parents now, truly.
They spend the whole day together and she seems to be getting used to the house and to what she could or couldn’t do. They hope she can soon understand that it’s her home now.
When bedtime comes, they decide to tell her about Barbara’s pregnancy. Apparently when she found out she’d been well into her third month, so they already know it’s a boy. They explain it to Elle, how there will be a baby boy in their family in a couple of months and how she would be a big sister. They make sure to tell her over and over again that the four of them will be one family and that they love her and that nothing will change that.
She doesn’t seem to understand it fully, but says she likes babies. Soon she’s sleeping and that night, the first night with their daughter, they sleep with her in her bed.
After all the exams during her pregnancy months, the doctors tell her that it’s too risk for her to go into labor, so they should schedule a c-section. She wishes she didn’t need it, but she understands it, so they knows exactly what day their son will be born and they both make a countdown when the date starts to approach.
They had easily fallen into the routine of having a kid. Elle was as much theirs as John would be. She’s always awestruck by Barbara’s belly growth and loves to talk to her new unborn brother when she and Babs are spending some quality time together.
Soon the day arrives and they go to the hospital at the arranged time. The procedure goes smoothly and faster than they thought it would be, and soon Dick is holding little John in his arms as he waits for Barbara to wake up from the anesthesia.
Elle is standing on a chair by his side, her eyes wide as she looks at the baby in her father’s arms.
“Here, give me your hand.” Dick asks her and she obliges, moving her left hand forward. He takes it and holds her fingers leaving just the index one showing. He moves it closer to John’s hand and soon he grabs it.
“Wooow.” She says in her childish voice and Dick simply can’t stop smiling.
“Pretty amazing, huh?” He asks and Elle nods her head, still in awe.
“Huum, look at you three.” Barbara murmurs from the bed, coming out of unconsciousness.
Both Dick and Elle turn their heads towards the voice.
“Mommy, he’s holding my finger.” Elle says trying to show her the little hand wrapped around it.
“I think he likes you, sweetheart.” She tells her and the little girl smiles in amazement.
Dick then wraps his other arm around Elle and gets up, moving towards the bed. “How are you feeling, Babs?”
“Just a little dizzy.” She says and stiffens a yawn. “I want to hold him.”
They look for the button to sit her bed and soon she’s taking John in her arms. Dick puts Elle on the bed next to Barbara and then proceeds to sit down.
“He’s perfect.” She says as she contours his soft skin.
“He is.” Dick agrees and then smiles at his daughter so she knows she’s not left out.
“Come here.” Barbara asks Elle and soon the girl is leaning towards her, her eyes glued to her brother. She offers her finger again and it takes some time, but he eventually catches it.
Dick’s eyes meets Barbara’s then and they can’t stop smiling. They silently mouth I love you to each other and then Dick leans over and kisses her forehead. He moves over to the other side and tries to hug all three of them at once, the family that he’s dreamed for a long time. It’s perfect and he can’t stop a few tears.
“Don’t be sad, daddy.” Elle asks when she sees her father cry.
He chuckles and cleans some of the tears. “I’m not sad, sweetheart. I’m actually really happy.”
She considers him for a moment and then looks at her mom who’s also crying a bit. “You’re happy too, mommy?”
Barbara just nods and smiles, and then Elle leans on her shoulder again.
“’m happy, too.”
And honestly, that’s all they needed to hear.