PAGE # 89

Dear Baby Lily,

Happy 2nd birthday to you, no longer a baby, but a toddler now. You probably have a different name as well, which would put you on at least name number three, and it strikes me as crazy that any toddler should have been named more times than her actual number of years old. 

I still look for you in the faces of other little girls. If a child looks genetically unrelated to her parents, I tend to suspect adoption immediately. In these cases, I really study the child's face for clues of your baby face. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, I may even strike up a conversation with a parent. If they were to share an adoption story, I'd make an apt listener. 

I wonder when or if I will ever stop looking for you. It's not as if I am in ongoing pain; no, I think I am fine. I think it's just the nature of such a bizarre loss--surely it is not the normative experience--plus, I am curious. So, I predict the habit will continue on till my dying day.

The chances, I think, are actually good that we might someday meet again. I recently found the daughter of my mother's ex-fiance on Facebook. This is impressive for a multitude of reasons:

1)  My mother was not very forthcoming about the fact that she had been engaged to someone else before marrying my father. In fact, she only told me about her broken-off engagement after I'd been married myself. This once-upon a time engagement was over 40 years ago.

2)  After learning of this other man, it took me another ten years to find out his last name. Finally, a few months ago, my mother told me.

3)  That very day, the same day of finding out his last name, I learned that the man had unfortunately passed away less than two years ago. Also, I found one of his daughters on Facebook. And then I noticed that the daughter and I have a mutual friend. And many of my friends are friends with her friends. 

4) We connected and are now Facebook friends. Her dear mother even scanned old photos for me of her late husband, then a young man, with my then-young mother. So people save stuff. And they are happy to share! It was super exciting to see these resurrected pictures of my mom and to finally get a look at the man who almost cost me my very existence! He was indeed handsome.

5) The daughter and I are planning to meet in the spring. We both almost never existed and yet--we are now connected by this immutable detail of our parents' history. AND I FOUND HER IN LESS THAN AN HOUR once I learned the last name of my mother's fiance (which, by the way, his daughter no longer shares, and still, it was easy).

I tell this seemingly unrelated story now because it gives me hope that someday I will be able to find you. Finding a person is easy nowadays, given all the social media. The hard part, on the other hand, will be getting your name in the first place. But that too, I do not believe to be an impossible task. I have hope--some of that hope rests in the fact that your biological mother, according to her twitter feed, became a private investigator. Just like your maternal biological grandfather is. 

In any case, your footprints will be waiting. And your hospital identification bracelets. And your earliest photos. 

I wish you a very happy birthday, wherever you are, and hope that you are loved, healthy, and enjoying life. 



A Note to Readers: Please note that my writing time has grown quite narrow these last few months. This lack of output is not related to the Baby Veronica case outcome--it is merely the result of other life events (including recurring illnesses and building a new home). I intend to complete Baby Lily's story in its entirety. Thanks for your patience. 



PAGE # 88
Morning Through Afternoon

I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  I was not supposed to be at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Not even close.  

It was Friday--the one day of the week that I have babysitting help--and I had planned to catch up on some chores, maybe even take a nap.  But Tom, who was supposedly off from work for the holidays, ran out for a business meeting early in the morning.  And my father-in-law, with no prior warning, decided that this very day would be the day when TJ got his driver's permit.  He appeared in my house even before I'd had my coffee and immediately dragged TJ out of bed.

"But Grandpa," TJ protested, "I haven't even studied yet."

"Study Shmuddy!  Who needs to study for a driver's permit?  You can study while we wait in line," my father-in-law told him.

"Wait!" I said.  "I can't do this today.  I have things I need to get done.  And I'm too tired for this right now."

"I'm taking him," my father-in-law said.  "You don't need to come."

"I doubt that," I replied.  "I don't think he can get a permit without a parent there."

"Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer.  Don't worry so much.  I am the grandfather.  They will deal with me.  Relax."

They left for the DMV, and within the hour, Tom texted me instructions to head to the DMV right away.  Of course a parent needed to be there.  And, I needed to bring my license and two utility bills for proof of address.

Oh, I was so mad!  I was exhausted from the new baby and the holidays.  I wanted to rest.  Instead, I spent hours at the DMV, waiting in lines and feeling totally annoyed at my father-in-law--who left upon my arrival so he could grab some lunch.

TJ and I were still waiting, when at 12:56 pm, I received this text message from Tom:
Nate and the whole clan are coming over around 2:30, after lunch.
Nate is one of Tom's best friends.  The "whole clan" referred to Nate, his wife, his two daughters, his two sisters and their respective husbands, as well as his parents and parents-in-law.  A grand total of twelve unexpected house guests. In addition, Tom's parents would attend the impromptu event, along with Tom's brother, his wife, and their two children, raising the head count to that of party status.  I wanted to punch my husband between the eyes, but since I was still stuck at the DMV (where Tom was not stuck), I sent him back this text message instead:
I'm still here at the DMV!  The whole clan is coming?  I need a fucking shower!  I'm going to kill your dad too!  I'm stuck here for hours like a moron!  On my special babysitter Friday!  I need to shower before they come.  Seriously.  I am disgusting.  I am gross.  Very gross.  
Tom did not empathize with my frustration.  All he wrote back was:
U have time.  No cursing.
I was livid.  All I wanted was a few hours to myself--already impossible--and now I had to prepare to entertain guests?  At the last minute?  

TJ failed the permit test.  When we returned home, he carried his despondent self straight to his room and slammed the door behind him.  

Tom, on the other hand, did not let the bad news about the permit test affect his mood:  he was beaming, looking radiant as he held Baby Lily in his arms. He was eager to show her off to his friend.  He smiled over at Sara, who was playing with the babysitter.

I ignored Tom when he said hello (maybe I gave him a dirty look), and ran straight toward our bathroom.  I wanted to check my email again (Kendra had still not replied to me), but noting the time, I hopped in the shower.

Weeks later, after Baby Lily was gone, I would remind myself of this day in an attempt to console myself.  I'd convince myself that having a third child was too much for me anyway.  I could barely handle a day at the DMV and some unexpected visitors that day--how could I handle a third child for the rest of my life?

To Be Continued... 



PAGE # 87
Throughout the day...

Pretend you were there that day, watching me from a window, observing my activity morning through night.  What would you see and what would you conclude if you knew nothing further about the details of my life?

You would have seen this:

A house full with me, my husband, three kids, a dog, friends and neighbors stopping by (and later that night--my aunt and uncle), holiday decorations and new toys.  There was a flurry of non-stop social activity.  Shared meals. Diapers changed.  The mundane details of an otherwise ordinary life.  

You would also notice that in each and every opportunity between feedings, laundry, and conversations with others, I was engaged in a most obsessive pursuit: checking my email.  You would have seen me on my iPhone, scrolling madly through my online mail.  You would see a middle aged woman, surrounded by her domestic obligations who took each and every spare moment to check her phone again.  And again.  And again. 

And except for those captured moments--me, looking frantic and wild for something on my iPhone--for someone--you would be otherwise bored. There's not much intrigue associated with washing baby bottles.  

But...you'd want to know what was going on with all that checking of my phone. You'd probably think I was having some secret love affair--waiting for my lover to make contact!  It would explain the compulsive checking behavior.

But you would be wrong.  I was waiting for Kendra to reply to my last email.  I would calculate the passage of time between our previous correspondence--Kendra had always replied quickly and within the same calendar day--and I did, in fact, suffer from a feeling of abandonment by nightfall.

When my aunt and uncle arrived that evening, bringing with them a homemade Italian feast, I was so grateful for the nourishment and the distraction.  We ate and we laughed.  My aunt held Lily most of the night, and again, as I had noted during my mother in-law's visit, I realized I was more able to "share" Lily with others than I had been with TJ and Sara during their newborn stages.  Again, I wondered whether this indicated that I loved Lily less than I did my biological children?  Or, maybe all mothers hand off the third child with greater ease? Perhaps it was simply a matter of exhaustion. 

After my aunt and uncle left, and all the kids were sleeping, Tom practically leaped into our bed.  "Come on, what are you doing?  Let's go to sleep already."

"One sec," I told him, as I checked my email again.

But there was nothing from Kendra.  I plopped down beside Tom. 

"Goodnight," Tom said.  "I love you."

"Kendra hasn't written me back from last night."

Tom rolled over to face me.  "She's probably just busy.  Don't forget, she still has two little boys she's caring for.  Let's go to sleep.  I'm sure you'll hear back from her tomorrow."

"But she always writes back the same day."

Tom sighed.  "Jen, come on, I'm exhausted.  She's probably exhausted.  Forget it for now."

"Okay," I said.  "I just hope she's alright."

As I closed my eyes, I wasn't just worried for Kendra.  It was more complicated than that.  I felt the anxiety of a cast-off lover.  I felt the pain of rejection. There was something humbling and humiliating about being chosen by a birth mother and then, in a mere day's time, feeling neglected by her.  But what exactly did I expect from this younger woman--a daily ongoing partnership? What more could I possibly want from a woman who had already given me her baby!  

To Be Continued...



PAGE # 86
Just Before Bedtime

After a busy day with the kids and Tom's parents, I was eager to go to sleep, but I sat down to write an email to Kendra instead.  It was her birthday, and I'd been thinking about her all day.  This is the email I sent Kendra at exactly 9:51 pm:

Happy Birthday!

I'm pretty sure the paperwork said it is your 25th birthday today!  Happy Birthday from all of us!

It sounds like you guys had a great time on vacation.  Did they decorate really well for Christmas?  It must be lovely there during the holidays.

The coupons you mentioned would be great, thanks!  The next time I see Shelley, I will bring that photo album we got for you, along with some photos of Lily.  Then, you can just add future photos to the album.  I have to tell you, she is an eating machine!  She is already almost nine pounds.  Moreover, I think she is a future Olympian athlete.  I have never in all my life seen a stronger baby.  She is lifting her head all the time and even grabs the nipple and aims it right into her mouth!  She is super coordinated already.  She even looks like she is ready to scoot across the floor when we do tummy time with her.  I'm telling you:  future gold medalist!

Sara and TJ are really enjoying her.  Sara absolutely loves watching her get her diaper changed.  TJ is great with feedings, not so much diapers!  Everyone is simply thrilled.  My in laws met her for the first time today.  They came straight here from the airport.  They said she is a beautiful baby, and I told them she looks just like you. 

I hope you are doing well.  I think about you and your boys all the time.  Our son asks about you too and he says hello.  I think you have left a profound impact on him for the rest of his life.  This experience seems to have matured him, as I'm sure it has all of us, in ways that leave him well beyond his peers.  

I also hope that the trip with your in laws went well.  In laws are never easy, even under the best circumstances!  My friends and I all joke that we should co-write a book about what NOT to do to a daughter/son in law, so at least we will have a written reminder for when we are in that role someday.

By the way, please tell your mom that her story (how her birth mom took 8 years to start a relationship with her after your mom found her) was an inspiration for one of my best friends.  Also adopted, she found her birth mom a few years ago, but after initial contact, the mom declined any future type of correspondence/relationship.  Your mom's story gave her hope, that maybe her birth mom will come around too someday.  It's really amazing how this adoption story is touching the lives of so many people around us in so many different ways.  I hope that people around you, unlike that one friend you mentioned on the phone, are responding to your experience in all this with grace, love & support.  Perhaps you will even inspire someone else to not get an abortion and to choose adoption.  You never know how far reaching your impact can be on others.

One last thing--I'm so happy that we got to spend the time we did together in the hospital.  I think Lily is very fortunate that we were able to connect and share her birth experience together.  

Hope you ate a delicious piece of birthday cake!


At the time this email was composed, I see now that I was beginning to deviate from the social worker's script:  I start off with the more mundane details of feeding and diapers, but then I start sharing more personal subject matter--that I think about Kendra and hers sons all the time, that my son is having an emotional reaction to the adoption placement, and that I've thought more about our time together in the hospital.  I was interested in an authentic and continuous relationship with Kendra and her boys, and I can see here, that I am beginning to share more of my true feelings.

Of course, how I felt about things then, are altogether different from how I feel about things now.  For instance, my opinion on PAPs being present in the hospital and even pre-birth matching has entirely changed.  I now think such methods in newborn adoption are coercive and unethical. 

To Be Continued...



PAGE # 85
Tuesday to Wednesday
12/27/11 to 12/28/11
From one day to the next...

My mom left Tuesday evening.  She took the latest flight possible back to New York, and her departure signaled not merely the end of the Christmas holiday, but also the approaching end of the entire holiday season.  The new year was imminent, and a few days thereafter marked the final day on which Lily's biological father could contest the adoption.  Since we hadn't heard anything further regarding Bobby the bio-dad, the hypervigilance that guarded my heart seemed to soften slightly, and Lily began to feel more and more like a permanent family member.

We barely had the chance to feel my mother's absence on Wednesday morning, because Tom's parents returned home that very day.  They had been off traveling the world, I cannot recall where, as they never stay home for more than two consecutive weeks at a time.  At any given moment, they are likely en route to someplace other than home; in fact, it's hard to even call their nearby apartment a "home" outside of legal purposes; after all, they must claim permanent residency somewhere.

And so, almost two weeks after Lily's birth, my in-laws were coming to meet her.  On the day we brought her home from the hospital, my father-in-law called with a congratulatory remark followed by an apology:  "Sorry we are not around for this."  To which Tom had replied, "Don't worry, we're used to it."  I listened for traces of bitterness in Tom's voice, but there were none.  "We're used to it," was a matter of fact for Tom.  The statement was not intended to convey any underlying hurt feelings toward his parents.  

When Sara was born, Tom's parents had been out of the country on a vacation.  They were not around the two weeks she had spent in the neonatal intensive care unit.  Their absence from significant life events never seems to bother Tom; he merely shrugs it off, as if expecting otherwise would be akin to betting on a nonexistent number at the roulette wheel.  He's a practical man.   

When they arrived, my mother-in-law took to Baby Lily with much enthusiasm and warmth.  She held her for hours, snuggled her, fed her--I was surprised but grateful.  This same woman had scrunched her nose in disgust when Jim and Tracey had adopted Ricky, saying, "I could never do it.  I couldn't love it."

I watched her gazing at Lily's face.  She couldn't get over Lily's beauty, and this seemed to please her very much.  When I showed my mother-in-law a picture of Kendra, the natural mother, there was a gasp, followed by, "I cannot believe it!  She is gorgeous.  Like a supermodel!"

My father-in-law nodded in agreement.  "She is very pretty and the baby is very pretty too, but Sara will always be the number one granddaughter."

I could have pointed out that family is not a competition, but I didn't.  And maybe the truth about all families is that competition is inevitable, lurking beneath achievements and disappointments, carried by sibling rivalry, reinforced by parents across all cultures.  I felt powerless to stop a dynamic that was already unraveling:  Lily might be adored or praised, but she would always be considered inferior to our other children.  I wondered if Lily might have been better off in a family that had no biological children in the home.  

Just as I was doubting Lily's placement with us, my mother-in-law said, "You are so lucky, Jen.  Two kids are not enough.  Three kids is a perfect family.  All of my friends with less than three wish they had more now.  I'm telling you, three is the best amount."

My mother-in-law held Lily all day.  I took a shower, caught up on some household tasks, played with Sara.  Once in a while, I'd peek in to check on Lily and my mother-in-law would smile saying, "I just love babies."

This was such a surprise.  I could not recall her gushing and cooing over TJ or Sara like that.  But then it hit me:  I never let her hold TJ and Sara like that.  I never gave her the opportunity.  I clung to my own flesh and blood fiercely and selfishly.  I didn't share my babies easily.  Not with anyone, really, except for Tom. 

I was not the same mother with Lily.  I was a different mother, an inferior mother.  In a later conversation with Zeni, one of my two best friends, she asked me if it felt different to adopt.  And all I could say was, "I don't know yet.  I'm not sure if I'm protecting my heart from a possible loss, or if I'm going to feel less love for Lily forever."

To Be Continued...



PAGE # 84

It was the day after Christmas.  Our nephew, Max, was playing with Sara in our family room.  He was excited about all the new toys in the house, and I watched as Sara gave him the tour of her new kitchen set.
"Look what Santa brought me," she said.
I sat on the couch, holding a sleeping Baby Lily in my arms.  I heard Max lower his voice down to a whisper.  He looked over at me, and with a smile wider than his face, he said to Sara:
"There's no such thing as Santa."
Then, Max looked back over at me.  I was surprised at the degree of anger boiling inside me.
Really, Jen?  You feel this much anger toward a child who is only on the brink of turning five?
Oh, I was mad.  There was no good way to intervene at the moment, but Sara, weighing only 21 pounds at 2 years of age, was articulate enough to handle things by herself:   
"Santa's real.  You silly Max!  He brought me my kitchen.  Look..." she said, her hand pointing at the evidence.
But Max would not let up.  I had already discussed this issue with him--after a previous attempt he made at killing Santa.  He knew the topic was off limits.  My husband, Tom, and his family are Jewish, and despite the fact that I consider myself agnostic, I was raised in a Catholic family and do enjoy carrying on the holiday traditions.  I had hoped Tom's family would respect my wishes regarding the Christmas holiday.  And I had already spoken with my brother and sister-in-law, Sam and Diana, more than once about it.
"Max, I think it's time to go home now," I said.  
"No!"  he cried.  "I promise I'll play nice."
Within minutes, Sara and Max were playing dress-up.  Sara donned her new chef's costume, and Max was running through the rooms sporting a pair of pink fairy wings.  I put Baby Lily back in her bassinet and grabbed my iPhone to capture it all on video.  After recording a good twenty seconds or so, I sent the video off to Sam and Diana, knowing that seeing their son parade around in a fairy costume would be unsettling for them.

My intentions were not kind.  I wasn't seeking revenge merely over Santa Claus.  I was boiling mad over years of indecent behavior--stuff I never seemed able to nip in the bud in the moment.  This included but was not limited to them making derogatory remarks, both direct and indirect, toward TJ, mostly pertaining to his involvement in musical theatre.  Their tone was always comedic, but it housed a real hostility toward our son--and one that implied he was somehow not "masculine" enough for their own taste.

It was petty and completely unfair to little Max--but I sent the fairy-winged video off to my in-laws.  With glee and without much guilt.

Those days with Baby Lily were like living within a kaleidoscope of emotions:  Tilt things one way, and happiness made an outline around anxiety mixed with exhaustion.  But shake things up a bit--and suddenly--I could see nothing but a mass of confusion.  And whatever anger I experienced, well, most of it was directed at Sam and Diana. I'm sure a lot of it was justified, but it took on a life of its own, and started to impact my actual behavior toward them (and not just my feelings about them).  It was not merely their history of insensitive remarks, and it was not just their almost complete isolation from Baby Lily; no, it was much more.  It was, one might argue, a part of my own imagination, because as I peered into the future, a future that included raising a child who had suffered the most primal of traumas, I feared my in-laws' future behavior.  It didn't matter if it hadn't happened yet; it seemed enough that what had already occurred was like a line cast out in front of us all--a path that was inevitable and most unfriendly. 

The latest insult had occurred a few days prior, but Sam and Diana were still retelling the story as if it were material destined for a stand-up comedy act.

This is what happened:

Sam had come to meet Lily (finally) and he brought little Max with him.  It was a quick visit, and would be the only time Tom's brother would spend with Lily.  Sam questioned little Max about Lily's origins:
"You see Uncle Tom and Aunt Jenny's new baby?  But where did she come from?  Aunt Jenny didn't have a baby in her belly, so how did she get here?"
And Max replied,
"I think they found her on the street.  Someone left her there, and she was all alone, so they took her home."
Max's interpretation of Lily's pending adoption was not ill-willed; in fact, it was probably an age-appropriate fantasy to explain the inexplicable.  What was upsetting, on the other hand, was the pleasure everyone seemed to take in the retelling of Max's explanation.  I worried about this story's inclusion in the ongoing family narrative.  How would such a family "tale" impact Lily as she grew up?  Would it make her feel like a piece of discarded garbage we had found on the street?

Perhaps if the family history had not been punctuated with so much insensitivity and ignorance.  Perhaps if Sam, and later, Diana, had allowed themselves a little laughter over Max's innocent story, but then had demonstrated some empathy for Lily by explaining the reality of Lily's adoption story in an age appropriate way.  Perhaps if they didn't keep retelling and laughing at the story that, in my vulnerable state of mind, felt like sheer cruelty at the expense of an innocent baby girl.  

Maybe, under more gentle circumstances, I would have felt differently about Lily's future place within our extended family.  

But things happened the way they did.  And I wondered if other adoptive families shared similar struggles.  

The odds seemed to be stacking up against Baby Lily's best interest:

She had been relinquished by her natural mother.

Her natural father was allegedly a terrible person.

And now, our family--her prospective adoptive home--seemed destined to fail her.  
"We need to move off of this street," I later said to Tom.  "This is too incestuous, having your brother a few houses away.  It's beginning to feel like the Jewish version of the show 'Everybody Loves Raymond' except that it's not very funny.  Not funny at all.  And I'm not even Jewish."
I showed Tom the video I had recorded of Max in the fairy wings.  I expected him to react with disgust, discover that I am some kind of horrible person.  We'd have a fight over his family.  Instead, he laughed:
"That's pretty funny.  They totally deserve it."
There was hope, then, not only for Baby Lily, but for our marriage.  Finally!  I had won a battle against Tom's most impenetrable superpower:  his loyalty toward his family of origin.

To Be Continued...



PAGE # 83
9:45 am

As far as I am aware, the Veronica Brown custody battle is currently in some kind of mediation process.  As both parties are under a gag order, there is little information to be had.  This is probably best for Veronica, and likely protects her from a media frenzy.

Of course, I am personally breathless waiting to learn the outcome of this case.  I have purposefully delayed writing anymore of the Baby Lily narrative.  As my readers are already aware, my last several posts, all pertaining to Veronica Brown, represent an unprecedented and sudden shift from the straight narrative form of this blog.  At this time, I am going to post something pertaining to our story, but out of our story's narrative order of things, because I would like to share an alternative response to a contested adoption with the adoption community and the general public who is (and all should be) interested in such matters.

The following is the exact communication I wrote to our attorney after learning that the birthfather of Baby Lily was contesting her adoption.  New readers of this blog should not assume that Lily was thereafter returned to her birthfather.  Adoption law, as it currently stands, has too much room for unethical practice.  And neither we nor either biological parent ended up with Baby Lily.  I do promise to get on with the Baby Lily story soon, and return to the last chronological point of things, but for now, here are the exact words I wrote to our attorney:
We do NOT want to fight a legal battle with a birth parent who wants his child.  Married or not [the attorney thought "our case" was winnable because the birthfather was unwed, and furthermore, the birthmother was married to a different man], it does not sit well with us and we don't even know his side of things.  Our only hope is that he does not truly want to parent this child, and is angry about being left out of everything.  Otherwise, we don't see how our continued participation in this matter is justified.  We may be the best home for Lily, and our hearts are broken for sure, but we need a swift and clear resolution.  We are simply devastated for Kendra as well.  But we cannot risk losing a child at any later point in time.  It would be unfair to Lily and our other two children.  Please advise.
Even now, as I read what I wrote then, I am ashamed of the line, "Our only hope is that he does not want to truly parent this child..."

After all I have now learned about adoption, I would not wish for anyone's biological parent to not want them.  If I could rewrite that sentence now, it would read:

I do not wish for either of Lily's natural parents to relinquish their daughter.  But, if the natural father is truly not interested in parenting this child, and is angry about being isolated from this adoption process, well then, that is the only situation in which I see this adoption possibly moving forward. 

With the exception of the above revision, and the line "we may be the best home...", I am able to look upon the rest of my original words knowing that I had Lily's best interest in mind, and showed a concern for all the involved parties.  I understood immediately that entering into a legal battle with Lily's natural father could never be in her best interest because:

1)  Court cases and appeals processes take very long.  This would place Lily at risk of having to be removed from our care years into the future.

2)  How would we ever explain to Lily that she was adopted because we fought her biological parent in court?

3)  Although all the professionals involved in this case thought we were the "best home" for Lily, a family involved in a legal battle, by definition, will endure psychological, financial, and emotional turmoil; therefore, such a home would hardly be a "best home" for anyone. 

4)  And...how could anyone say we were the "best home" for Lily in the first place?  Should we start redistributing the nation's children based upon some person in power identifying better, best, and most best homes?  

And now, I am off to Google "Baby Veronica" news and hope I find an update that is truly serving Veronica Brown's best interest, that is morally sound, and is founded on truth, love, and empathy.  

Have a great day,
Jennifer :)



Veronica Brown with her father Dusten Brown

PAGE # 82
7:20 pm

I have been unable to continue writing Baby Lily's story.  I will return to the story eventually, but for now, my apologies for this ongoing hiatus.

I simply cannot manage the retelling of an unethical adoption story that has already run its course--that is already over and done with--while the unethical adoption of Veronica Brown is taking place.  Baby Lily's story is important too, of course, but Veronica Brown needs your help right now!

Please sign the petition linked in my previous post.  Please call the politicians and demand a hearing to consider the best interest of this child.  Please, if you have derived anything--pleasure, information, etc. from reading this blog--I beg you to educate yourself on Veronica Brown's case and help save her from an unethical adoption.  

You can also join the Facebook page "Standing Our Ground For Veronica Brown" for further information.

Thank you.




PAGE # 81
7:04 pm

Readers of this blog are surely aware by now that I almost never break from the Baby Lily story to comment on other adoption news.  Unlike other adoption blogs, "Where's Baby Lily, Mommy?" has remained exclusively a personal narrative since its beginning.

But I would be telling "Lily's" story in vain if I ignored this call to action.

I urge you to please sign the petition to save Baby Veronica from an unethical adoption.  For more information, please see my prior post (#80).

Together, we might make a difference and help preserve this family.

And after you sign the petition, please copy and paste the link to your own blog.  And so on.

To sign the petition:


Thank you,
Jennifer :)



PAGE # 80
This morning

Dear Baby Veronica,

The first thing I did this morning, even before getting out of bed, was Google the words "Baby Veronica" to see if there were any updates regarding your court case.  And there were.  I already knew that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (a federal statute) in your case.  They did not decide on your final destination, however, and sent your case straight back to the state level to make that determination.

This morning, I learned that after living with your biological father for the past one and a half years, the court has ordered you to return to the prospective adoptive parents--the people you lived with during the first two years of your life.  I'm upset.  For so many reasons.

1)  I don't know why so many news reports and articles refer to the prospective adoptive parents as the adoptive parents.  You were never adopted in the first place.  Your prospective adoption was contested by your biological father.  Who are these "news" people who can't even get their facts straight?  I imagine even a high school student in a journalism class ought to get an "F" for such a grand mistake.  And it is a gross error.  It impacts how the general public interprets your case--it causes the masses to rise in indignation against your biological father.  By incorrectly referring to the Capobiancos as your adoptive parents, the media has created a blindfold over the truth.  People cannot see because they have already decided that you belong, officially and legally belong, to a family other than your biological one.  General public opinion impacts real and concrete laws and practices regarding adoption.  If public opinion is formed in the absence of truth--well, as a society, we are setting ourselves up for more obfuscation.  I am sorry that facts of your life have been misrepresented across the country.  

2)  I am so terribly sad that you are ordered to leave the home of your biological father.  No matter one's legal opinion on your case, you are a little girl who is about to be taken away from her father.  I was really sad for you when you were removed from your first home as well.  I look at my daughter, Sara, who is only a few weeks younger than you and I cannot imagine her being tossed around like an object.  It's so unfair and you didn't do anything to deserve this.  

3)  If your situation is hard for me to process and leaves me with moments of ambivalence, well, I worry about you--how will you make sense of all this?  After reading a recent article that your biological mother wrote, I felt empathy for her struggle in this.  I was rooting for your biological dad, but then I felt confused.  I didn't know which side to take anymore.  It was a short-lived reaction, of course, because within the hour, I was back to rooting for your biological father.  I didn't want you to suffer the lifelong trauma of being adopted.  I worry how you will integrate the knowledge that the Capobiancos fought against your biological father.  You will be dependent on the Capobiancos.  If you go to live with them, you will be dependent on them for all your basic needs, from food to love.  You will be faced with psychological sabotage when you are old enough to understand how you came to be adopted.

4)  Growing up is hard, but now each and every developmental stage you encounter will be even harder.  I worry about potential attachment issues.  How will you ever feel secure when you have been ripped away from your earliest caregivers not just once, but twice?  When you reach school-age, I worry how your peers will speak about you.  Your case is now famous.  Your development has been usurped.  I hope your future classmates, their parents, and your teachers are sensitive to you.  I am sorry that the perception others have of who you are will exist prior to actually knowing you.  With these words, I too am making assumptions about your future.  I worry that people will interpret your behavior, your emotions, the very essence of who you are according to their opinion of your adoption situation.  I am sorry that your unfortunate circumstances have denied you freedom, that your life has started under this great shadow.  I hope the sun shines brighter around you so that you will feel its warmth despite this great shadow.

5)  I'm super angry that the state court made a decision without even considering what would be in your best interest at this time.  I believe this is a reflection of our society in general, not only in adoption.  We live in a culture where children are truly the ultimate marginalized population.   

6)  Much of your case has caused debate over the Indian Child Welfare Act.  I do not wish to diminish the significance of whatever impact this case has on Native American rights.  I am sorry, however, that the use, then later deemed misuse of a federal statute has possibly clouded a right even more basic than a cultural heritage.  We are children of our biological parents first and foremost, before accounting for the larger cultural group we have descended from.  There is a lot of hair splitting over percentages--some people think you are indeed entitled to be protected under the statute, others think you are not Cherokee enough.  I suspect your father simply wanted you, and the lawyers involved thought this was a means of saving you from adoption.  

7)  I am saddened that so many people are happy that you are to be removed from your biological father.  Online message boards are inundated with celebratory comments.  Even if your dad made legal mistakes regarding establishing his paternity during your fetal development, I cannot believe he has no right to his child.  It's not like he came along four years later.  He did not want you to be adopted.  He came along before you were adopted.  I hope people will forgive your father for whatever personal failures contributed to this outcome.  He is and will always be your biological father.  You have a right to love him.  You have a right to know that he loves you.  

8)  I worry that someday you will hate the Capobiancos for fighting your biological father.  I am having a had time understanding how anyone would want to force a child away from a biological parent.  It is hard to remain non-judgmental of your future adoptive parents.  I was in a similar situation to the Capobiancos but made a very different choice.  I am their antithesis.  I am trying to find potential redeeming qualities in a prospective adoptive couple who chose to fight a biological parent.  It is hard for me because I was in such a situation and did not make such a choice.  I want to believe the Capobiancos are good people.  I am trying to understand their course of action though it bewilders me at the moment.  I will keep trying.

9)  I'm angry at the legal system.  I wonder if there was ever an early conversation between all parties outside of lawyers and courtrooms.  When your biological father contested the prospective adoption, did the Capobiancos try to talk to him?  Will they speak to each other now?  Will all involved parties be able to come together on behalf of your best interests?   

10)  The irony of the United States Supreme Court's naming of this case is just too much.  The case is called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  Shame on you SCOTUS for mislabeling the Capobiancos.  They are not the adoptive parents.  At least not yet.  Please see item number one on this list.  I can hardly bare to reiterate why the misuse of language is dangerous here.  Federal Supreme Court case law with a misleading title!  Moreover, it is noteworthy that the case is v. Baby Girl.  Just think about it.  I am sorry, Baby Veronica, that your situation is even misrepresented on this level.  You surely are worth better care and consideration than this.

In conclusion, I wish Baby Veronica all the love, strength, and intelligence that will be required to navigate a lifetime of adoption trauma, public knowledge of that trauma, as well as these multiple early losses.  I hope all the adults in your world will find a way to preserve your connection with your biological family.  


Author of "Where's Baby Lily, Mommy"
and Former Prospective Adoptive Parent 



PAGE # 79
Merry Christmas

Santa had been generous.  TJ got an assortment of gifts, but only really cared about the tickets to Broadway shows.  Sara got a toy kitchen set.  Baby Lily finally got her bouncy chair.

Sara was overwhelmed, but in a good way.  The toy kitchen included three separate pieces:  a sink, a refrigerator, and a stove.  When I asked her what Santa had brought, she exclaimed, "The whole kitchen!"

There was a bunch of toy appliances, plastic foods, a wooden apple pie.  Even a chef's costume.  I watched Sara explore the kitchen's contents and imagined how Lily would play alongside her in a year or two.  They would be sisters, only two years apart.  They would play together with this kitchen set for years to come.

Baby Lily was settling into our home and daily routine, but more than that, she was taking up a spot in our future.  Even now, it sometimes feels like she has a a seat here, unoccupied, waiting.  It's like the roped off, empty chairs one finds at a theatre or concert.  Always these reserved spots are in the first few rows.  You're scrambling to find a chair, an unobstructed view, but there is no good spot left, and you envy whoever is getting that special place where no one else can sit.  But sometimes, the people never show up.  The best seats, wasted on no one, casting a great void between the rest of the audience and the performers on stage.  You have to wonder if the show will even be as good in the absence of any front row energy.  Why didn't they show up?  They had the best seats in the house!  

But that Christmas morning, things were so busy with three kids--it was easy to forget that Lily was not our baby, and that we had no right reserving a place for her in our home.  There had been no further action from Lily's biological father, but it was the holidays.  People got busy.  Public offices were closed down.  We should have stayed vigilant, but the reality of an infant in one's arms is a powerful distraction from what hasn't happened yet and only might happen in the days to come.  

I unwrapped a gift from my mother.  It was a pair of earrings.  They were Lily's birthstone.  They matched the color of the necklace I had chosen for Kendra.  Two pieces of sparkling blue, each shaped like Mickey Mouse's head.

My mom looked at me, waiting for my reaction.

"I got those because you were supposed to be in Disney World when Lily was born.  And they are Lily's birthstone of course."

Disney World!  The trip I had been planning before Lily was born, before we even knew about Kendra's pregnancy.  The trip I had cancelled when we learned of the sudden adoption opportunity that seemingly came out of nowhere.

"They're perfect," I said.  "Thank you."

My mom frowned.  "I didn't know whether I should still give them to you.  You know, now that we found out he signed the registry and all."

"No, no, it's fine.  I'm glad you did.  No matter what happens, I'll be happy to have them."

And I do still have those earrings.  I never wore them and I never will.  They wait in my closet, another artifact, another tangible item of proof that Baby Lily was once here.  I will not wear them, but I will keep them.  I will save them alongside Lily's newborn footprints, her hospital identification tag, and whatever else I have from her first few weeks of life.

It's probably a doomed gesture of optimism, keeping these things; a symptom of pathology better suited for hoarders.  I am typically inclined to purge rather than hold on to stuff (with the exception of books and photographs).

But I make excuses.  Rationalization comes easily.  The earrings, the documents--they are a part of this story.  They are just as important as the pages of this book.  

The truth is that I know better.  The truth is that I harbor a secret wish--that someday, somehow, Lily will want to meet us.  She will find us, visit us, ask to learn the details of her earliest moments.  She will want to know why we didn't keep her.  It's a question she will surely want to ask her biological mother.  But she will wonder, "How could this have happened to me twice?  How is it I came to be given away more than once?"  A hideous truth--to have been handed off not only once, but then, again?

If that day ever comes, I will be able to provide her with more than a short, simple answer.  It will all be documented in this writing.  I will be able to provide her baby footprints.  And I will definitely give her the earrings.

On the other hand, it is unlikely that Lily will ever know of her time spent here.  

But I will keep the earrings for her.

Just in case.

To Be Continued...



PAGE # 78
Christmas Eve Day
Approximately 3:00 pm

It turns out that Christmas Eve Day is an optimal time for visiting the pediatric emergency room.  The place was empty when we got there.  No other babies or kids or anxious parents.  Just me, Tom, and Baby Lily.

"Where is everybody?" I wondered aloud.

Tom shrugged.  "At least it won't be a long wait."

"I mean, there can't be less emergencies just because it's a holiday," I said.  

"The pediatrician said the ER will likely fill up later.  Typically gets busier at night."

"I guess.  Or maybe parents are more likely to neglect a medical issue on a holiday.  Unless it's like a blood gushing situation or something.  Too much to get done on Christmas Eve.  Too many guests coming for dinner."

We didn't have time to speculate further--we were already getting called back.  The medical area was also empty--Baby Lily was the sole patient of the hour!

A nurse took Lily's vital signs.  Tom held her while I explained the problem.

"Her belly button is not looking so good," I started.  "It's oozing a ton of pus and it's quite red and we're worried that it might get infected."

The nurse noted that Lily didn't have a fever.  "She's your first baby?"

"No, she's number three," I said. 

I figured the nurse thought we were over-reacting first time parents, but she didn't act too surprised when I mentioned we had other children.  What did throw her, however, was when she asked how old the other two are.

"Our girl is two and our boy is sixteen."

"You have a two-year old, a sixteen-month old, and a newborn?  That'll sure keep you busy!"  The nurse smiled.

"No, our son is sixteen years old," I corrected her.  

"A teenager!  You have a teenager?  When did you have him?  When you were in junior high?"

I was tempted to say yes but took the compliment instead.  Sure I was young when TJ was born (age 21), but I don't look that young.  In fact, I thought I was aging quite rapidly under our current circumstances.

After the nurse left, we waited for the doctor.  This took longer than one might expect given that the place was deserted.  Tom held Lily.  I checked the time on my iPhone.

"This is ridiculous!" I exclaimed.  "Where the hell is the doctor?"

"I don't mind waiting.  In fact, I'd stay here all night.  It could be the best Christmas Eve ever.  I don't have to listen to your mom and TJ arguing.  I finally have some peace."

"Come on, I think everyone's getting along pretty well considering the stress we're all under."

"But it's so much nicer and calmer in here."  Tom kissed Lily's cheek.  Then he looked up at me and mentioned Bobby the bio-dad:  "Where's that interloper now?  Huh?  We're taking care of his baby, but where the hell is he?  If he ends up contesting this adoption, I'd like to know where the hell he was hanging out this Christmas while we were taking care of his baby."

The doctor finally arrived, and he took a quick look at Lily's belly button.  He didn't think it was problematic.  We were told to continue cleaning the umbilical stump, etc.  There was nothing to worry about.

Tom was feeding Lily.  The doctor's exam had woken her up.  She took down the whole bottle and was fast asleep again before the doctor stopped talking.  "It's always better to be safe than sorry," the doctor went on, "cause you never know.  It was the right thing to come in and have her checked out." 

"Yeah, well, our pediatrician was already closed for the day." 

Tom was trying to get a burp out of Lily, who was totally asleep upon his chest.

"Formula really knocks them out," the doctor said.  "Breastfed babies never sleep as much."

"I know," I said.  "I breastfed our other two.  But we're adopting Lily.  So, formula it is."  

The doctor raised his eyebrows.  "Wow, you guys are brave.  Lots of people would be afraid of adopting a newborn because of fetal alcohol syndrome."

And with that he wished us happy holidays and the best of luck with Lily.

Shortly afterwards, as we drove back home, I asked Tom what he thought of the doctor bringing up fetal alcohol syndrome.

"Do you think he noticed something about Lily?  Maybe he noticed something wrong with her?"

Tom scolded me for being ridiculous.  "If he noticed something was wrong, he'd have to tell us.  That's his job.  And anyways, our pediatrician said she's perfect."

"Well, you can't always tell, you know.  I mean, there are physical signs in more extreme cases.  But no one can really know the effects of any amount of alcohol use on the fetus.  And Kendra did drink until she found out she was pregnant.  And she didn't find out until the 9th or 10th week.  That's practically the end of the first trimester!"

Tom patted my knee.  "Lily's fine.  She's totally fine.  She just has a yucky belly button right now."

We made it back home in time for Christmas Eve dinner.  My mother had prepared the table and TJ and Sara were excited to start celebrating.

After dinner, we sat around the Christmas tree and I held Lily on my lap, facing out so she could see the Christmas tree lights.  TJ was singing a Christmas song, and Lily seemed mesmerized--either by the music or the twinkling lights or both--but where was Sara?  

I didn't see my toddler come running toward us until it was too late.  Sara clutched a red stuffed doll in her hand.  It was an Elmo doll.  Sara's hand swung back and then--boom!--she hit Baby Lily straight on the head with Elmo.

I was too shocked to speak, but TJ, who had witnessed the whole assault, was first to reprimand his little sister:

"Sara!  That's not nice!  Santa's watching you and you're not gonna get any presents if you hit Lily.  You better say you're sorry."

Sara pouted.  "No!"

TJ moved closer to Sara and shook his finger at her.  "You better say you're sorry, Sara.  Santa's watching!"

Sara sighed.  "Okay," she said and turned back around to face me, Lily and Elmo:

"I'm sorry Elmo."

Then, she grabbed Elmo and rubbed and kissed his head.

"Elmo's all better now," she assured us.

I couldn't help but laugh.  Tom and TJ were roaring as well.  Only my mom looked concerned.  "She's a naughty little thing, isn't she?" my mom said.  "She needs more discipline!"

"On the contrary," I said.  "Sara's totally normal and that is probably the most normal thing that's happened around here since we took Baby Lily home.  Sara's behavior is entirely appropriate for her age.  It's the rest of us who don't know what to do in this situation!"

And it really was true.  Sara's acting out normalized the whole adoption process.  It actually made everything feel, well, as it should be.  What parent hasn't had an older sibling feel threatened by the sudden appearance of a new baby in the home?  

I'm sorry Elmo!

It was the comic relief in a tragic journey. 

To Be Continued...