PAGE # 48
Approximately 6:45 pm

We were in Kendra's hospital room again.  Actually, she had been moved into a new room and it was much smaller than the previous one.  There was a lot less seating and a lot less space to move around in, but at least Kendra didn't have a roommate to contend with (as is often the case in the postpartum maternity ward).  Then again, what kind of hospital would bunk a woman with an adoption plan next to another mother and her newborn?  

The room seemed dark to me.  There was some lighting, of course, but the dreariness of this new setting was a stark contrast to the room in which the baby had been born.

We introduced our children to Kendra and Johnny, to their boys, to the new baby.

TJ gave a high-five to Alex.  "What's up buddy?" 
The five year-old flashed him a wide grin.  He was a real cute kid with big eyes, long lashes.  

The 18 month-old was toddling around, his mouth sucking on a bottle of juice.  He was cute too, although something of a mess, with his face sticky from the apple juice.  Or snot perhaps.  Whether he had a cold or had been crying or simply squirting the contents of his bottle directly onto his cheeks, I couldn't tell.  But he was quiet the whole time.

Kendra tried to explain our presence there to Alex:
"These are the nice people who are going to take care of the baby."
Alex looked down.  There was some type of portable video game player on his lap.  I thought he was about to start fiddling with the buttons, that he was ready to start a new game.  But he surprised me by placing the toy carefully on the ground.  Then, he bent down again to get something else off the floor.  I couldn't see what it was he was reaching for--my view was blocked by a heavy chair.  But when Alex finally raised the shiny gold paper over his head, I recognized it immediately.  It was a crown from Burger King.  

Alex walked over to me, crown in hand.  He stood at my feet, lifted his head up so I could see straight into his brown eyes.  
"Can you please give this to my sister someday?  I want her to have it."
His eyes were full of tears, as were mine. 
"Of course I will," I promised.  "I'll keep it safe for her until she's old enough to play with it and I'll tell her it's from you."
Kendra was blowing her nose.  I needed a tissue too, but used my hand.  I folded the crown and placed it inside my diaper bag.  
Tom raised up the two gift bags, the ones with the teddy bears.  "We have something for you boys too," he said.
"And we brought homemade cookies," TJ added.
There was the usual commotion when young children unwrap gifts.  Plus, the chomping of gingerbread men.
"A teddy bear!" Alex exclaimed.
Sara, who had been darting around the room the whole time, ran to pet the bear too.

Out of another bag popped Logan's bear.

"Two teddy bears!" shouted Alex.
"Actually, there will be three teddy bears," I said to Alex.  "Your baby sister is getting one too, so all three of you will have matching bears," I explained.  
The idea of three matching bears occurred to me on the spot--I hadn't actually ordered a third bear for the baby yet.  But it must have been a fairly good idea because Kendra smiled and said:
"You hear that, Alex?  You're all going to have matching teddy bears.  Matching with your baby sister's bear too."
I imagined that someday, the three siblings would be reunited, teddy bears included.  

We all ate some more cookies.  Tom and Johnny took the small children to play in the lounge down the hall.  Sara was happy to run after Alex, while Logan stumbled along after them both.

When the room cleared, Kendra asked TJ if he'd like to hold the baby.

"Okay," he said.
"Sit in that chair," I instructed before passing the baby from Kendra to my teenager.
"TJ is great with babies," I bragged.  "He was in the delivery room when Sara was born," I added, feeling like I probably had already shared this fact with Kendra during one of our earlier conversations.
TJ was cuddling the infant.  I had hoped to have some time alone with Kendra again, but TJ was looking pretty comfortable.  It turned out a good thing, having TJ there with Kendra and I, as he was able to discuss the adoption plan with the kind of careless freedom only an adolescent possesses.   
"Wow, this must be so hard for you," TJ said.  
Kendra nodded.  "Yeah, but it's what I want for her.  I'm doing this because I love her so much."

I didn't know it then, but this type of explanation is common in adoption:

I'm placing my baby for adoption because I love her enough to do so.
It would be selfish of me to keep her.
I want her to have a better life.
Do these phrases spring forth spontaneously each time a new baby is handed over for adoption?  Or is the story more scripted?  Maybe these ideas get implanted by the adoption workers into the birth mothers' minds?  I can't know for sure, but it definitely seems like part of the adoption rhetoric. 

TJ was all ears that night.  He listened to Kendra with a mixture of seriousness yet casual ease.  I realized that the two of them are not all that far apart in age.  In fact, TJ is closer in age to Kendra than I am.

Later, TJ would tell me that Kendra was the strongest woman he'd ever met.   

But that night in the hospital, I wasn't certain of anyone's degree of strength.  I wasn't certain of anything at all.

The baby started to cry.  

"I think she's hungry," TJ said.  "I can feed her if you want," he offered Kendra.
"That's okay," Kendra said.  "I'm actually breastfeeding her," she added softly.  "I want her to get the colostrum.  I didn't know if I should tell you that," Kendra looked at me with an almost apologetic expression.  
"I think that's great," I replied.  And I did.  I also thought this indicated that Kendra might be changing her mind.
To Be Continued...


Samantha P said...

I do believe that there are many phrases used in adoption that are marketing just as much as "Just do it" is a well-known slogan for Nike. Except people don't want to hear or believe that because children are not supposed to be commodities, yet they are!

When you read stories about contested adoptions in the news, you immediately see a flood of comments by people who think that the PAP's are selfless and loving and how the mother is just trying to get a better life for her child but that damn sperm donor is screwing it all up. I mean, why else would a woman give up a child for adoption? This is not what I think but it's what other people do! How often to you hear people, in private, talk about how they could never give their child up and that only a horrible mother or a mother who fears the father would do such a thing, right?

Except, not all PAP's are doing this because they are selfless and loving. Just as not all mothers who adopt their child out to get them away from their father are doing it to protect the child.

Myst said...

"I'm placing my baby for adoption because I love her enough to do so.
It would be selfish of me to keep her.
I want her to have a better life."

Yes, all these phrases are scripted and part of the adoption industry's rhetoric and yet it is not only adoption workers who put that message there but society is inundated with these messages through the media - American tv programs feature adoption ALL THE TIME. And because I am more aware of it now and the messages, I also see that slipped in: "If you love your child enough you will give them up, Being strong measn sacrificing yourself and your child on the adoption altar etc" and the messages continue. In the news - the way the stories are told, in magazines...the saturation of the adoption industry is complete. If we took this systematic brainwashing out of the picture, I wonder how many people would think these things for themselves? From what I can tell, not many.

Sacrifice does not mean strength, it means desparation. Love does not mean abandoning a child in a desperate act thinking the child will be better off (adoption cannot guarantee a better life merely a different life).

These messages are deliberate. Given the fact adoption is a big business in the States, it is not surprising the messages infiltrate every single platform. It helps to ensure supply keeps up for the neverending demand in the sale of babies. Frankly it makes me sick.

I had tears reading what Alex said to you about the crown. Children are a lot more affected than many want to believe. My second daughter is very angry that she has a sister out there she is not allowed to see. In her words: "Its just not normal to have a member of our family, my own SISTER, living with people who are not our family". I agree completely.

jennifer said...

So true about the messages embedded in the culture. I notice it all the time now. I never realized it before, but adoption, even if not the central plot, is mentioned in so many movies/books/etc. And definitely from a one-sided point of view.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. What Alex said brought tears to my eyes. :( I so hope he gets to know his sister through her life. It is so unfair to everyone what adoption does.

LisaAnne said...

Your story grips me in a way I cannot describe. I feel like I am reading about a train wreck in intimate detail before it happens.

Everyone in this story is portrayed as a REAL person. Like each character has value.

Novel idea.

If this were a true adoption story (read with sarcasm font), no one would explore the hurt that is prevalent here.

Each player in this story feels deeply about what is happening.

Oh how I wish that in real life, we could all see into each other's hearts the way you are obviously able to sense other's pain.