PAGE # 22

10:00 am

My good friend, Tracey, who is also an adoptive mom, wanted the latest update.  I sent her the following text message:
The social worker spoke with Kendra over the phone.  She said Kendra sounded very put together, asked thoughtful questions, etc.  Kendra said at first that she only wanted to see the baby briefly after the delivery, but now thinks she should spend time with the baby to say goodbye.  She doesn't know what to do with her two boys.  Social worker said they should come to the hospital to meet the baby, take pictures with her, and meet us too.  Tom and I really thinking that there is no way she can give up her baby.  Can you imagine her taking pictures with the baby and her two boys?  There is no way the mom is going through with this!  
Tracey wrote back:
Ricky's birth mom took plenty of pics with him before she left and spent the night with him at the hospital.  Obviously know that she can change her mind, but any of them can.  It is impossible for us to imagine any of them giving up their kids, but it happens because they know it's best for the baby.  You can't put yourself in their position because you have never been in their position.  I can imagine giving the baby up.  She is 24 and can't afford the 2 kids she already has.  Plus, it's not the husband's baby!
I read Tracey's message a few times, but I wasn't convinced.  Kendra and Johnny (her husband) came from affluent backgrounds--they could definitely afford the two kids they already had.  The problem, financially, sounded more like a potential punishment from Kendra's in-laws. 

Johnny was not the baby's father.  His parents probably didn't want a grandchild around who was not their genetic lineage.  Since Johnny worked for his parents' business, perhaps his job and income were at stake?

Johnny had told us that his parents were not supportive of his reconciliation with Kendra.  They wanted him to divorce her.  But Kendra and Johnny were officially separated when she became pregnant with this baby girl.  They already had two little boys together.  This baby girl had two half brothers!  Even if Kendra's in-laws hated her, had they no compassion for their two grandsons who were about to lose their baby sister?  

I looked at Tracey's text message again.  The following line struck me:

You can't put yourself in their position because you have never been in their position.

This wasn't entirely true.  I had never been in Kendra's exact circumstances, but I did have a "crisis" pregnancy once upon a time.  I was unmarried, 20 years old, and a college junior when I got pregnant.  I was definitely not encouraged to keep my baby.  I did (TJ is now 16), but the hardest thing about that time in my life was not the actual baby--it was the attitude of other people.  I had to summon all my strength and courage to endure the judgment and constant criticism from society.

I felt terrible for Kendra.  How could she summon that kind of energy when she already had two children to care for?  Why didn't her own parents want to help her?  This was their grandchild!  I couldn't understand any of it.  

Tom shared my heartbreak, but was more optimistic:

"Everyone is going to fall in love with this baby girl when she is born.  Believe me, her family is going to beg her to keep the baby!"

We agreed that this would be the best outcome for the little girl.  We talked about giving Kendra some money, as a Christmas present, for her and the baby.  We wanted to help them.  We imagined that we would remain in contact.  Tom was certain that an adoption would take place, just not an adoption of the baby.  He was convinced that Kendra was going to adopt us-- as an aunt and uncle for her baby girl!

We were back to our rescue fantasy.  During earlier times, when Tom and I had casually discussed adoption, we always envisioned ourselves providing a home for a baby who had nothing.  But this baby had a beautiful family!

I read blogs and message boards online, but could not relate to other prospective adoptive couples.  Other couples were literally praying to get the baby--not secretly hoping that the real mom would choose to parent instead.  

"That's because you guys are not desperate," Tracey told me.  "When I was adopting Ricky, I just wanted a baby.  It's all I thought about."

I guess that's why I didn't find any online camaraderie.  I already had two biological children.  Kendra already had two biological children.  I was more psychologically identified with Kendra than with other hopeful adoptive couples--and I felt sadness and confusion.  

If there had been more time.  If this baby hadn't appeared out of nowhere.  If I wasn't racing around to prepare for a newborn--I might have called my former therapist and scheduled some emergency sessions.  

Adoption is portrayed in the media as this wonderful event, but actually it is a time of tremendous crisis.  Adoption always involves loss, trauma, and grief.  It may even involve coercion.  And the transfer of a life, from one family to another, imprints layers of mystery upon everyone involved. 

The image of a stork bringing me a baby was definitely fading away.  


Myst said...

I just have to comment... I have been reading your blog since you commented over at Cassi's and find myself crying through many of your posts. It is so refershing to find someone who genuinely cares and who dares to put themselves in another person's shoes. Bless you for being such a compassionate soul. I only wish the people who have my child could have been like you and most likely I would have my daughter with me now.

Just so you know, I pretty much stalk your blog to see when you have updated!!

Jennifer said...

Thank you Myst for your compliment. I'm definitely flawed in other ways, if not in my capacity for empathy. The irony, as you will see, is that my concern for everyone involved ultimately left me in very conflicted territory. I'm still not sure that I did right by everyone, especially Baby Lily, but I also feel I was the victim of an unethical attorney. It's crazy because I am so drawn to all the first mother blogs--that's where I feel most comfortable even though I don't share the same experience. I wish I was reading the first mother blogs before all of this--I might have been braver (i.e. more direct) with Kendra and less intimidated by the adoption workers. Thanks for reading :) Now, I'm going to check out your site...

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

I so appreciate this post. I'm a mother who lost a daughter to adoption 32 years ago. Today I posted on my blog about the lack of compassion in adoption and it's refreshing to see someone in your position actually thinking about what we, as mothers of adoption loss, go through. The heartbreak is forever. Thank you for the compassion and your ability to look beyond your situation to what others may be suffering.

Jennifer said...

After what happened with Baby Lily, and as soon as I began blogging--I kept finding myself drawn to all the first/natural/birth mother blogs. I've written this elsewhere--that I kept feeling like someone who shows up to a support group for something that they don't share with the others. I am not a birth mother. Why am I identified with BM blogs rather than adoptive parent blogs? Why was I so afraid for Kendra? And Bobby too?
After much soul searching--I am sure it is the PTSD connection. I have an extensive trauma history (unrelated to adoption), but I think the dynamics of the adoption industry--are something I felt on a visceral level before I understood it cognitively (and am still working through). Hence, I was able to put myself in Kendra's shoes. I only wish I could have been braver in certain ways--but it was so confusing during the process.
I have learned so much from the aftermath--b/c of my blog and reading the blogs of others. I have a whole new perception of adoption now.
It's no wonder that 1 of my 2 best friends is an adult adoptee. I'm telling you--it's the PTSD connection.
Stay in touch--I will check out your link as well.

Jess said...

I just started reading your blog and I am hooked. I am a natural mother who lost my daughter to adoption 14 years ago and her adoptive parents avoid me like the plague, like I am out to rip their perfect little family apart. Although, before the adoption, promised open contact until my daughter was 18. I wish there were more people out there like you! You actually care about the biological parents and their rights.

Jennifer said...


Welcome and sorry to hear that you are a victim of adoption loss. I learned during our experience that there is no such thing as a legal open adoption (despite the fact that prospective adopters make this promise), and that many birthmothers end up with this devastating outcome.
Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment too. It means a lot :)

Jennifer :)