PAGE # 16

11:00 am

Shelley, the adoption attorney, welcomed us into her office.  Tom and I sat down and waited.  I looked for the dog, but didn't see him anywhere, so I browsed through the saved photos on my iPhone.  I was trying to find some good pictures of our family.  Shelley had recommended bringing in some photo albums, but I didn't want to reveal any identifying information (all of my photo albums have captions, etc.).  I had already provided the hastily made Shutterfly photo book--that and some cell phone pics would have to suffice.

"She's bringing her husband," Shelley stated.  "Kendra phoned a little while ago to say he'd be joining us."

I was surprised.  I couldn't imagine being him, and meeting us, while his wife discussed the adoption plan for another man's baby.

When Kendra and her husband arrived, Shelley went to greet them in the waiting area and quickly escorted them into the office.

Kendra was adorable.  She wore a simple black maternity dress and was all belly.  She was not exactly my younger twin, as Shelley had sworn, but we did share the same overall coloring:  dark hair, dark eyes, fair skin.  She had some freckles too, very slight, that painted an aura of sweetness.  She looked like a maternity model, but not the flashy, 'pregnant in heels' type.  She looked like she fell out of a Laura Ashley catalog.

Tom and I stood up to greet her and shake hands.  I think I hugged her, but I'm not sure if I was that bold.  Maybe the hug was only at the goodbye part.

Kendra's husband, Johnny, was just behind her.  He gave a warm nod, shook our hands, and sat down beside his pregnant wife.  He was dressed casually:  khakis and a polo shirt, a pair of flip flops.  He looked like a kid to me.  Johnny was quiet for at least the first half of the meeting.  He sat with his hands clutched between his knees, gaze aimed downward, one foot tapping the floor.  He looked like any waiting husband does--as if  he were sitting in a department store while his wife tried on clothes.  

I had a lot of questions, but the attorney was talking; I assume she felt the need to navigate both couples through any potential awkwardness:

"I've done this over 2,000 times!" she reminded us.  

I resented the lawyer's presence and wanted to go ahead with my own agenda (like make sure that Kendra wasn't being coerced by anyone, had received crisis counseling, etc.).  I was worried for her.  

But we didn't get to the serious topics just yet.  Kendra had brought a large photo album from her own childhood, complete with images from the newborn stage through her adolescence.  She narrated some family history as Tom and I turned the album's pages.

Of everything she shared about her family's background, the most interesting detail was that Kendra's mom had been adopted (that is, Kendra's mother was raised in an adoptive home).  I found this bit of information reassuring.  Since Kendra already had a frame of reference for adoption, it seemed to make more sense that she might choose adoption for her own, unplanned child.  I didn't think it would make giving her baby away any easier, but maybe the choice was available to her, more so than it might be to someone else, simply because her own mother was the product of an adoption placement?

After viewing pictures of Kendra's childhood, she presented us with professional portraits of her two boys:  Alex (age 5) and Logan (18 months). 

"They're so cute!" I exclaimed.

Kendra started to cry a little.

"Don't worry.  It's not me.  I'm not worried about me," she wiped tears from her face.  "I'm just really worried about Alex.  He doesn't understand why we can't keep his baby sister."

I was with Alex.  I really didn't understand it either. 

Kendra pulled herself together quickly.  "Do you guys celebrate Christmas?" she asked.  "I want the baby to celebrate Christmas."

I pulled out my phone.  I had a picture of last year's Christmas tree surrounded by tons of presents.

Kendra smiled.  "That looks like your mom's tree!" she exclaimed, referring to her mother-in-law.  She showed the picture to her husband.

I was feeling very sad for her.  And for her two little boys who wouldn't get to grow up with their sister.

Kendra gave me back my phone.  I showed her some pictures of our two kids:  TJ and Sara.  I felt like I needed to share something of ourselves.  How could she just give her baby to us without even seeing the baby's future siblings?

We chatted a bit more about the holidays.  About all our kids.  For a little while, it felt like we were making new friends, not planning the exchange of a life.  I even forgot that the attorney was still sitting there.  

It turned out, Kendra and Johnny had a lot in common with us.  At least it seemed that way at the time.     

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