PAGE # 61
Just After Sunset

I am guilty too.  

I am no better than Sam or Diana, for I too am prejudiced toward adopted persons.  In fact, I am far worse.  At least my in-laws would never have brought home some other person's baby in the first place.

I make this discovery about myself while seated in the living room.  I'm feeding Baby Lily, watching the sky turn a bright pink--no orange--until the outside is dark, dark dark!  There is nothing to watch through the window anymore; the night has come and forced me to look elsewhere.

I shift my gaze down to the baby on my lap--What a beautiful baby!--that's what all the neighbors have said.  Congratulations!  No, really, you guys deserve her--how lucky for your family!  

All these exclamatory remarks.  They are well-intended.  Our neighbors, our friends--they are so happy for us.  They are celebratory.

I am not.  

Instead, I catch myself studying Lily's face, inspecting her, looking for something.  A deformity?  Some sign that she is somehow damaged?  There must be something wrong with her. 

I wonder if she has fetal alcohol syndrome.  That must be it!  Perhaps Kendra, during the time she was separated from her husband and during the time she conceived Lily, perhaps she had been drinking and partying daily?  It seems plausible.  She'd been married young.  She'd already had two boys.  She missed out on all the inebriated fun that is youth in America.  So when she left her domesticated life, where did she go?  To bars?  Perhaps she started to drink.  And perhaps she kept drinking.  Non-stop alcohol consumption.  Then, upon discovering her pregnancy, thought:

 I can't keep her now.  

I throw this theory away almost as quickly as it forms in my mind, but I don't stop looking for some flaw, some defect.  I'm like a crime scene investigator looking at a dead person's body, trying to find clues.  Trying to find some evidence.  Trying to find a motive.  Except this is no lifeless body; no, this is the opposite of death.  This is life at the very beginning--infinite potential!--there is no corpse to bury.  But it feels very much like a death, like someone has died, and I cannot make sense of such incongruity.  My emotions do not match what one should feel when holding a sparkling brand new baby.

Of course, I cannot find anything wrong with Lily.  But maybe the flaw--the explanation--will show itself at some later date?  I don't want there to be anything wrong with Lily, but I cannot wrap my head around why?  I remember there were reasons.  Kendra had reasons.  But none of them really make sense anymore.  Usually, things make more sense in retrospect, not less!  This is so outrageous to me--it seems to fly in the face of the laws of physics.  I feel mocked, played with.  The universe is testing me.  Perhaps everything is mere illusion?

I'm looking down at this beautiful baby girl and I cannot fathom why her mother has given her to me.  My feelings of unreality are deepening.  I worry I might have a panic attack.  Nothing feels real.  

I wonder if Lily will do this too someday--look for defects.  I can already see her as a young girl, looking into a mirror, trying to find the hideous reason: why?

I might have cried then, thinking this, thinking about Lily's future psychological challenges, but the feeling of unreality has grasped me too hard.  There is numbness and there is shock and there is the fear of going crazy.  I feel like someone has died a terrible and shocking death.  Yes, this sense of unreality.  I have felt it before--in the past, when people close to me have died.  Especially suddenly. 

I find myself wanting to speak to Kendra.  I am desperate to speak with Kendra--as if my own sanity demands an immediate and secure connection with Lily's natural mother.

To Be Continued...


J said...

How do you remember all this in such detail? My mind is the complete opposite, in times of stress or sadness I forget almost all the details later - which can be both a blessing and a curse!

I've got no idea how this story will end. It seems so strange that Lily was adopted, but ultimately not by you guys. I can't even imagine the events that would have led to that. So sad. I wish there were more adoptive families out there who went into adoption with such concern for the baby and its family. Good *adoptive* parents can be hard to come by.

I hope you guys do consider adopting again, one day. Thanks for sharing your story.

Jennifer said...


Having a strong episodic (autobiographical) memory is one of my superpowers! Much to my husband's despair of course!
In the case of Lily, I also have my own recorded reflections (which exist not so much in a paper diary but in the form of electronic notes that I email to myself--or emails that I email to myself!). Also, I have emails with others, text messages, my appointment calendar and so on. These resources are a huge help--once I get some concrete bit of my day established--it helps me to remember everything else linked with it.
Also--friends & family--I relied on some very close friends at the time--they listened and supported me, so they too have memory to share.
Thank you for reading!
Jennifer :)

*Peach* said...

Just found your blog and am completely fascinated. Can't find the post that tells how Lily left your home?
It is very refreshing to read your honesty and concern for adoptees and birth families.
It is true, adoptees DO grow up and look in the mirror at the image of themselves and see nothingness. They can't find the flaw that made their mother give them away, because they can't even find themselves.

Jennifer said...

Hi Peach,

I have not written that part of the story yet--the part of how Lily leaves our home--as I've been writing this blog in chronological order (mostly) and it's been taking me forever--I need more writing time!

Thanks for reading and commenting.