PAGE # 59
Baby Lily's First Birthday

Happy First Birthday!

I hope that wherever you are in this world you are loved, happy, and healthy.  

Is your birthday cake made of ice cream or did you get the fancier fondant kind, complete with your own little smash cake?  What presents did you receive?  Did you have a party with a super girly party theme?  Or maybe your "final" family is pink-averse and went with some trendy brown owl decorating scheme?  

I imagine you are walking now, if not yet, then very soon.  When I am out and about and notice little girls toddling around, not quite with the hang of it yet, I always look closely at their faces--just checking to see if the universe will grant me that lucky coincidence.

But that is unlikely.  And even if possible (it is of course possible), I'm not sure I could recognize your face now.  It's not like we have the genetic link that would make you stand out as a relative.  And although I study your newborn pictures sometimes, just in case I do come upon you someday, you were still in that snuggly, sleepy baby phase.  Not even the smiling phase yet.  So, it's hard to know whether I could ever know you, now changed.

And Kendra...

She must be thinking of you too today.  I am sure this is a painful day for her.  I hope she will be okay.  I have no doubt that you will be reunited with her someday.  She already has you registered in our state's adoption registry--I have checked.  17 more years to go!

I, on the other hand, don't know if you will even know about your time with us. Ever.  And I don't mean to sound envious of Kendra's potential to be in your life someday; it's simply a fact, a strange twist of fate, that you spent time with us, never to know us.  I doubt your "final" parents even know of our role in your first month of life.

And...I hope your paternal first family finds peace this holiday season.

As for us, we are okay.  And we hope that you are okay too.

Happy First Birthday to the little girl we called Lily, who was first called Holly, and whose cake today probably reads some other name altogether.

I don't know how to reconcile that part at all--that you kept getting renamed, like an object, like living property.

I am sorry that I didn't fight harder to keep the name Holly.  That would have been the right thing to do.  I am not sorry I didn't fight to keep you.  That would've been the wrong thing to do.  It was the hardest choice, but it was the best choice.  Of course, our decision couldn't force other persons to act ethically concerning your fate (or did they?).  But.  We did what we could given the knowledge we had (and didn't have).  

Happy Birthday little girl.

Wishing you a lifetime of love, health, and happiness,


After I finished typing, I selected a birthday cake picture to use for this blog post.  I had just inserted the image when I heard Sara calling me.  She was finally awake after a long afternoon nap.  I lifted her up, hugged her close, and she told me:
"Look over there.  Look at that birthday cake."
She was pointing to the back wall of her bedroom, a wall we have decorated with pictures of flowers and ballerinas.

There is no picture of a birthday cake.  Not even close.



Maybe I was stuck in some bizarre dream?

PAGE # 58
Approximately 8:45 pm

There was something therapeutic about going up and down the aisles at Babies "R" Us, rushing to find everything before the store closed for the day.  The sheer physicality of it all--running back to the first aisle for a bottle brush, lifting the heavy pack n' play into the cart, sorting through a rack of onesies for the right size--it was good for my mental health.  I needed the distraction; otherwise, I thought constantly of Kendra and felt nothing but anguish.

TJ, who had been happy to accompany me initially, was growing tired.
"I'm beat.  Can we go now?"
"Not yet.  I don't want to have to come back tomorrow," I explained.  "Why don't you look for some Christmas presents for Sara and Lily?  I'm gonna be a bit longer."
TJ sighed, then headed in the direction of the toy department.  A text came in from Tom that read:
"Lily ate more than an ounce and then went to sleep again."
I smiled reading this, mostly because I was happy not to be breastfeeding.  Tom could wake up at night and do half the feedings.  At least that would be easier this time.

Feeling satisfied that my cart contained all items essential to newborn care, I spotted TJ pacing around the front of the store by the check-out line.  He saw my approach and applauded.
"Finally!" he exclaimed.
"You didn't pick any gifts?" I asked, noting his empty hands.
"I'm not in the mood," TJ explained.
"Christmas is in a week.  There's not much time left."
"I was thinking about Christmas," TJ said, "and I think we should invite Kendra and Lily's brothers over for Christmas Eve or something."
We were standing in line, waiting for another customer to finish her purchase.
"I'm not sure how Kendra wants to proceed with things," I said.  "But I think that would be a really nice gesture."
TJ and I started placing our items on the counter.
"Don't you think she misses the baby?" TJ asked.  
"Yes, I think she must."
"Do you think she wants her back?"
"I don't know."
"I think she's probably crying right now."
"Probably," I agreed.  
The drive home from Babies "R" Us took nearly a half hour, and when we pulled into the driveway, I told TJ to carry the bags in and I would walk the dog.  I let Jersey out and put him on his leash without bothering to go inside first.  I needed to cry, I needed privacy, and I couldn't hold in the tears for much longer.

I took Jersey for a long walk that night.  I felt as if someone had died.  And in the darkness, alone with no one but my little dog, my terrible sadness began to collide with feelings of unreality.  I felt as if I were trapped in a dream; perhaps I would wake to discover that there was no baby.  

No Kendra.  

No adoption plan.

I clutched Jersey's leash too tightly.  My other hand was clenched into a fist, with my nails digging into the softest flesh of my palm.  If I could just feel the discomfort--if l could actually feel the jagged force of my fingernails pushing into my own skin--maybe, just maybe, things would start to feel a little more real. 
To Be Continued...