PAGE # 47
Approximately 6:00 pm

We were on our way back to the hospital.  This time, we took TJ and Sara with us too, along with some gifts, but not with the necklace intended for Kendra.  I had finally purchased something a few hours earlier, but I was not about to present it to Kendra just yet.  That felt plain wrong as she hadn't actually signed off on the adoption and might still change her mind.

The other gifts included some cookies and a couple of teddy bears.  I hadn't known what might be appropriate to give Kendra's two little boys, and the social worker had suggested toys, but just any plastic contraption found at Toys R Us seemed impersonal and cold.  I had settled on Vermont Teddy Bears:  they're warm and cozy and last forever.  The company will even repair them if needed.  When the bears arrived at my home, they came in one big cardboard box.  I was a little annoyed--I had envisioned a separate gift box for each bear, and I ended up placing either bear in separate gift bags, which was a shame as the box was really cute.  It even came with a cut-out "air hole" so the bears could breathe easy during shipment.

I had written out a small gift card for each boy.  The cards read something like the following (I can't recall the exact wording):
Please hug me if you are ever feeling sad!

In retrospect, I think those notes were rather depressing, and the bears should not have come with any instructions at all.  I was trying to fill the boys' arms with something to hold, if not a baby sister, for when they were sad about losing that sister, because I was certain that they would be.  Those bears were a poor substitute for human life, cute as they were, but I could think of nothing else.  I imagined Alex and Logan clutching their bears, at some later point in time, as they cried silently in their beds.  At least the 5 year old.  The 18 month old probably wouldn't miss his little sister at all; well, at least not right away.  But they would both likely miss her forever, especially if Kendra decided to have no future contact with us.   

In addition to the two bears, I had selected a bunch of Christmas cookies--the ones my mother had made with the children over the last several days.  There were chocolate chips and butter cookies and of course, the gingerbread people, all of whom were now clothed in full frosting.  I had tried to pick the prettiest ones, not the sloppy ones decorated by Sara or TJ.  I chose the ones hand-painted by my mom, the only family member with any talent for artwork.  

I had stood in the kitchen, carefully placing the cookies into a tin, while my mom peered over my shoulder.
"No!  Not that one!" she exclaimed as I tried to kidnap one of her loveliest characters:  a gingerbread girl with a pretty white dress and red hat.  "I want that one!" 
"Fine," I said, as I quickly grabbed a larger cookie frosted in green overalls with white buttons.  

My mom was about to protest again; I could sense it in her body language.  She loomed over the cookie tin, as if I were about to give away her actual grandchild--not a bunch of gingerbread people mixed with other, non-anthropomorphic cookies.   
"You're taking too many!" she exclaimed followed by a large sigh.  "Come on, there's not going to be anything left for the holidays."

My mom removed a few of the cookies from the tin.  I took them back.  We volleyed the cookies several more times.  I won and threw the cover down upon the tin before she could get back another one.
"Kendra might be giving us her baby!  Her own flesh and blood!  You're getting another grandchild  for Christ's sake!  I think we can spare a few more cookies."

I was upset.  Not so much about mom's reluctance to part with her baked goods--but with the fact that she was counting cookies when the future of a little baby was at stake.  If Kendra chose adoption, would our extended family, my mom included, love her the same as  they love TJ and Sara?  Would we be able to love her like our own?  It seemed like we could; indeed, I love my husband and we are not genetically related.  But, I started to worry.  I worried that the rest of our family--our parents and siblings (the baby's maybe adoptive grandparents and aunts and uncles) might not develop real love for the baby girl.  I was thinking about this on the ride to the hospital, when TJ moved my attention to more immediate matters:
"What am I supposed to say to her?" he asked, referring to Kendra.

"Just be yourself," I said.
"She's really nice," Tom added.  "I don't think you're gonna be uncomfortable at all."

"This is weird," TJ said.

And it was.  

There's simply no natural way to prepare for an adoption.  It is, by its very nature, unnatural.  

When we got to the hospital, TJ carried the two bags with the bears.  I held the cookie tin.  Tom carried Sara.
"Where we go-in?" Sara asked as we boarded the elevator.

"In the elevator," I told her.

"But where we go-in?" Sara asked again.

"To meet a baby and her family," I explained, unsure of how to tell my toddler about our maybe baby.  "But the baby might come live with us and be your baby sister.  We don't know yet."

But it didn't matter what I said then, because the elevator was already wide open and Sara had jumped out of Tom's arms.  She ran down the hallway.  And we chased after her, forgetting all about Kendra's baby for a split second, just long enough to make sure we didn't lose sight of our toddler who was sprinting away from us.

To Be Continued...

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