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Approximately 1:45 pm 

Who can recall the exact details of those last minutes with Kendra?  That final gut wrenching exchange under the hospital's fluorescent lights--can anyone remember it fully?

Sometimes, I wonder if Baby Lily has any memory of the traumatic loss--those moments, not a single one, but the collective ones when she could no longer hear the voice that carried her, no longer be fed from the mother who nursed her--would those most primitive losses be stored within her?  Obviously, she will not remember that last goodbye in the way in which we commonly speak of memory.  But will her body remember it?  Will the essence of her being simply know it?  Perhaps yes, and perhaps in a way we can neither communicate nor understand with simple language.

As for my recollections of that afternoon:

Despite my excellent autobiographical memory, I did not recover easily after the attorney scolded me; thus, my memory for what happened next is not just fuzzy--whatever happened was not fully observed by me in the first place.  It cannot be remembered, as it was never 100% perceived.  But perhaps I blame too much on the nasty attorney.  Perhaps my memory was doomed from the start, given my place in such unnatural circumstances.  For how many people actually take a baby from a mother's arms and bring that baby home thereafter?  It is not the stuff of adoption as one might imagine it--an orphan taken from nothing.  No!  It was, in this case, a living breathing mother right there.  Right beside me!  With her own parents (the baby's biological grandparents) there to witness the exchange!  It was a heartbreak that I cannot recreate easily, as I cannot claim to have understood it even then.


I do remember some things.

1)  I remember how Kendra cried when I gave her the necklace.  It was a blue topaz pendant--the birth stone for December.  Since Kendra also shared a December birth month with the baby, I thought it was perfect.  I had seen a lot of "adoption triad" jewelry for sale online, but somehow, I never found one that appealed to me.  I'm not sure if some unconscious part of me sensed that I would not become a permanent member of the adoption triad, or if I just found the idea of inserting a symbolic reminder of myself around Kendra's neck somehow distasteful.

2)  I remember Kendra's dad (Mike) suggested that we exchange email addresses, but then the attorney interrupted, and I was stressed out because Kendra and I never exchanged contact information before she was hurried away in a wheelchair.  (I wasn't even sure if Kendra wanted future contact with us, but when the attorney had earlier shared that Kendra was worried about us disappearing, I assumed it meant she did want to remain connected.) 

3)  I remember the moment when Kendra handed me the baby.  Kendra was crying. She put the baby in my arms.  I don't know what I said if anything.  I only remember Kendra's sobs and then Kendra's mother saying, "We should have gotten a picture of that.  That would have been a great moment to capture," she said this with an ooh and an aah, referring to the moment Kendra gave me the baby.  And I remember thinking that was a cruel and unusual thing to say. OR maybe I only thought that later.  And almost immediately after that, Kendra was rolled out of the room in the wheelchair.  I would not see Kendra in person ever again.

As soon as Kendra and her parents were gone, it was all business with the attorney.  Unfortunately, I remember very little of that too.  Except that she hurried it along, even instructed the discharge nurse that "you don't need to go over everything--these are not 'first-time' parents."

And I interjected with:
"No, please slow down.  I may have two other children, but I never bottle fed a newborn before.  I need you to go over that part with me."

And I couldn't understand why the attorney--who was getting paid close to $600 an hour for her time, appeared so agitated with this request.  But she stayed quiet while the nurse explained formula feeding to me.

Now, I think we signed some kind of discharge paperwork.  But maybe we didn't.  I honestly don't remember what, if anything, we did or did not sign.  

Weeks later, I'd be trying desperately to find any legal proof of our taking Baby Lily home.  
"Didn't you sign something?" my mother would ask.

"Don't you have paperwork?" my friends would question.

"Where's the forms?" my neighbors would inquire.
I couldn't find anything in my files or in the piles that cluttered my desk.  In fact, I couldn't remember if we'd signed anything at all.

Tom was adamant that we had not.
"I don't understand," my mother would say.  "This is so unlike you.  You are so careful about everything.  You must remember this.  Don't you remember if you signed anything?"

"I don't, Mom," I'd respond.  "It was such a fucked up situation."

And it was.

Sometimes I'd feel like I had lost my mind.

Was there ever a baby here?  


But I do still have the baby's footprints and her hospital identification bracelet.  These things remain in my home like evidence obtained from a crime scene.  They are proof that a life was here, and that we have not constructed some elaborate fantasy fueled by some rare form of psychosis that afflicted my entire family.

To Be Continued...


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine...

Addison Cooper said...

I can only barely imagine what you guys are feeling. I've worked as a foster care and adoption social worker, and have walked with families that I care deeply about as the adoptions they hope for sometimes happen, and sometimes don't. The worst is when an adoption falls through because someone in the system wasn't doing their job. I should say here that I support reunification as the primary goal of foster care, but it broke my heart to learn that two kids were moved out of a safe home that was willing to adopt them, and returned to an abusive situation, because the county social worker assigned to the case didn't know about the abuse, because she wasn't making her visits. I was a private agency worker on that case, and really still wish that I had called her supervisor earlier than I did; it could have made a bigger difference had I done it sooner.

You're writing about a very powerful thing, and you write very engagingly, and your posts made me remember the sad experience I had with those two kids. I'm new to your blog, but it sounds like your adoption attorney was your version of that county worker. I'd really encourage you to file a report on her if you haven't already.

Jennifer said...

Hi Addison,
Thanks for reading--
and welcome.
Jennifer :)