7.21.2012

# 43: "SHE WAS FORCED TO GIVE UP HER BABY"

PAGE # 43
Friday
12/16/11
Approximately 11:35 am 


We waited in the hallway while Kendra was examined by the nurse.  I moved away from Kendra's room and walked down the corridor till I reached some windows.  Tom followed close behind me.  I think Anna stayed in the room with Kendra.  I can't remember where Johnny was at the time.  But Mike, Kendra's father, joined Tom and I.


Mike seemed eager to make conversation with us.  He brought up the adoption attorney:
"That Shelley is one good lady, don't you think?"
I did not agree, but contrary to my typical behavior in instances of differing opinion, I actually kept my mouth shut and let him keep talking.
"You know, I went to high school with her," Mike explained.  "She had been in an all girls' Catholic school but got herself kicked out of there.  So, she ended up in the same school with me."
"So that's how Kendra knows Shelley?  She's your friend?" I asked.
"Well, not exactly.  I did some investigative work for her some years back.  Prior to that, I don't think we'd spoken since high school."  Mike lowered his voice a little.  "I was lucky to know who to call when Kendra decided on the adoption.  Really, I'm very grateful for all her help with this and to you guys too.  You guys seem like real nice folks."
Mike went on to explain that him and Anna were no longer married.  I did not ask when they became divorced, but it sounded like the dissolution of their marriage happened many years earlier.
"Oh, I could not tell," I said.
"Yeah," Tom added.  "You guys don't seem divorced."
"Well, we're still good friends.  I'm remarried now."  Mike took out his wallet and showed us a picture of a very attractive blond woman.  "This is Lori.  She would've been here--she gets along with Anna and Kendra--it's just that this situation is triggering some personal stuff for her."
Mike seemed to want to share more, so I waited for him to explain.  I could sense that we were about to learn something that might make us feel uncomfortable.  And...I could sense that Tom felt it too and was moving away, slowing backing up, making himself very busy with text messages or emails or something.  I, on the other hand, was wide-eyed with curiosity.  Mike continued:
"Lori is real good to Kendra and she would've been here to support her and meet the baby, but, you see, she was forced to give up her baby when she was a teenager.  You know, it wasn't like this.  It wasn't her decision.  Her family made her do it."
"Oh my God!" 
"Yeah, it was a real tragedy for her.  She couldn't come here.  This whole adoption thing is just too triggering for her."
"Oh my God," I repeated.  "I've never heard of anyone being forced to give up her own baby.  How could that happen?"
Mike shrugged his shoulders, tilted his head a bit.  "Back then.  The shame.  The stigma."


At the time, I was not aware of this country's notorious adoption history known as the "Baby Scoop Era."  In just the 1960s alone, about 2 million mothers lost children to adoption.  And of that number, 80% were sent away to special maternity homes.  For more information, please see:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Scoop_Era

http://www.amazon.com/The-Girls-Who-Went-Away/dp/1594200947

http://babyscoopera.com/

As for Mike's second wife, Lori, I never did meet her.  And as far as I was told, her biological daughter hasn't met her yet either.


***

At some point after starting this blog, I began to analyze the dynamics of Kendra's family as they pertained to adoption.  I've already pondered whether adoption runs in families.  And if Kendra's relinquishment were in any way "encouraged" by her own mother's adoptee status, I cannot ignore the interesting fact that Kendra's father is remarried to a birth mother.


Consider it:


Kendra's parents divorce.

Anna is now in close daily contact with her birth mother.


Mike is now remarried to birth mother.


If Kendra chose the adoption option, she would become, at least symbolically, just like these other two women.  The act of relinquishment would render her similar to the most important persons in each of her own parents' lives.  Anna had searched for her biological mother for 18 years!  Mike had married a birth mother!  The force was likely unconscious, but given the family history, it's plausible that Kendra was at least partly motivated by a desire to be loved by her parents.  Or at least to become somehow equal with her dad's second wife, as well as her mother's long sought after object figure.  A twisted psychology, for sure, but possible nonetheless.


While waiting in the hallway that day, I really didn't know what Kendra would choose to do.  And I personally hoped she would keep the little girl.  But now, it's hard for me to even use the word "choice" with any sense of real meaning.  Legally, Kendra was fully able to sign off on adoption papers.  But emotionally?  I don't know if Kendra and her baby ever stood a chance against the formidable adoption theme running through the family.  Certainly, Tom and I were ineffective to alter the course of events.


And we were waiting for the opportunity to make sure Kendra wasn't getting coerced into this.  How naive!  I'm not sure exactly when Tom and I decided we were powerful enough to make sure Kendra was okay.  Maybe our ability to balance out each other's superpowers caused us to carry a special arrogance, an over-confidence of some sort.  We thought our good intentions and carefulness would be enough.  


We would be wrong.

5 comments:

Kellie said...

This has given me a lot of insight into our own story. I truly wish we would have all went to a counselor before our daughter decided to relinquish.

Loving Mother said...

It has taken me a few days, and countless tears to get through your story from the beginning. You have a wonderful knack for writing. I feel the pain for all of you. I will be anxiously awaiting your next blog. Is it ok if I share your blog? I would love to get other people to read it.

Jennifer said...

Kellie and Loving Mother,

Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment as well. And yes, please feel free to share the blog with others.

Best,
Jennifer :)

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

I'm glad you became aware of the BSE and shared information about it on your blog. What's also disturbing is the fact that the BSE treatment of women didn't stop in the mid 70's. In many areas it continued on into the 80's. What happened to those mothers in the 60's happened to me in 1980. I was sent away and after my daughter's birth not allowed to see her at all. It was incredibly cruel treatment of women and babies.

Jennifer said...

Carlynne,

Astounding and horrible. Probably why they don't teach about that in school. I'm nearing 40 and only learned about the BSE in these last few months. I was totally ignorant.