PAGE # 66
Approximately 10:00 am

The cure for derealization (and weird sex dreams) is moral outrage.  

But that would come later.

First:  more cookies.  With coffee.  Sometimes milk.  Mostly gingerbread, but also the chocolate chip kind.  I gained another three pounds trying to eat myself into feeling more real, as if the added weight on my ass might help ground me.  Fat is one hell of an anchor.  

My mother watched me take down another frosted gingerbread man.

"You know I'm not one to talk, but you're eating way too many cookies," she said.  "We're not going to have any dessert left for Christmas."

"Do you feel like someone died?" I asked.


"I don't know.  I keep thinking about Kendra and how her milk is in but she doesn't have a baby to feed."

My mother sighed.

I started to cry.

"Maybe this will all turn out okay.  Maybe Lily will just have two families and we'll all be at her wedding someday."

"That sounds crazy," my mom replied.  "Two families?  Wouldn't that be confusing for the child?"

"I don't think so.  Not if she grows up knowing her real family all along."

"I don't understand," my mom said.  "You are going to be her real family.  Isn't this baby going to belong to you?"

"It's not the same thing!  She will always have another family too."  I tried to rationalize things.  "You can't have too many people that love you.  Maybe TJ and Sara will end up being jealous.  Maybe it will be even better for Lily in the end."

"You're not making sense.  I don't understand this.  In my day, when you adopted a kid, it was your kid."

"What about Kendra?  Can you imagine her sitting all alone without her baby?"

"I don't want to think about that," my mom admitted.  "God, you're depressing!"

My mother looked more nervous than irritated.

"Nothing feels real," I said.  

"It's real!" my mother jumped up from the couch.  "I'm real!  You're real!  This baby girl is real!  You have a family to care for that is real!  Look, she's already fussing in there," my mother pointed to Lily in the bassinet.  "She's starting to show some personality!  I think she's waking up from her newborn slumber!"

"She needs a bouncy chair.  She needs to be able to look around."

And so, at exactly 10:12 am, I wrote Tom the following text message: 

If you guys can, go to Target and get Lily a baby bouncy chair.  She is waking up from her post delivery slumber!

Tom wrote back:

Sure.  We will do that.  Sara and TJ so cute together in class.  I cannot be happier. 

I could picture Tom seated at The Little Gym, trying to catch up on work email, but glancing up frequently to watch TJ help Sara across the balance beam.  Tom was so content!  He was so able to enjoy everything!  Why didn't he worry like I did?  

Just before leaving the house, he had grabbed Sara's diaper bag, then come over to kiss me goodbye.

"I love having three kids," he whispered in my ear.  "I feel like our family is so complete now."

He loved that baby girl so freely!  He didn't consider his own self-preservation.  It was sheer recklessness.

But Tom never got to Target for the bouncy chair.  Those plans were interrupted by Shelley, the attorney, who called soon after I texted Tom.  Her voice was urgent and commanding:

"Kendra needs money!  She's having a problem with her car and she just got a new job, but how can she get there if she can't drive there?  She needs $1500.  We'll just call it a Christmas present, but you need to do this today.  Either wire me the money or bring a check over right away."

I called Tom immediately.

"I don't like this," he said, his voice rising.  "We're going to be spending money on Lily for the rest of our lives--why should we have to pay for Kendra's car?"

"Shelley said it's a Christmas gift and that it is customary to give a birthmother money at Christmas."

"That's ridiculous!" Tom exploded.  "I wanted to give Kendra money for Christmas if she decided to keep the baby herself!  Why should we give her money if she's not keeping the baby?"

"Shelley said that it's customary to help a birthmother get back on her feet."

"This is bullshit," Tom said.  "And it's not that I don't feel bad for Kendra--it's the principle.  We shouldn't have to pay Kendra because she gave us her baby.  I'm not buying a baby!"  Tom paused to catch his breath.  "Look, I'm gonna call Shelley right now," he said.  "Don't worry about this--I'm taking care of it."

Later, I would ask Jim and Tracey about the money request.

"Is this normal?"

They laughed out loud.

"Are you kidding?  We gave Ricky's birth mom a lot more than $1500 for Christmas.  We gave her a college fund," Jim said.

"And Shelley would call us all the time and tell us what we had to do," Tracey added.  "We would take Ricky's birth mom to the mall shopping for clothes.  We took her out for meals.  Hell, we took her boyfriend out for meals!  Seriously, you guys are getting an easy adoption.  We had to take care of Ricky's birth mother during her pregnancy!  I had to talk to her every day!  I had to talk to her family!  It was crazy."

"Don't you still talk to her?"

"Not really.  In the beginning yeah, but you know, we all moved on.  Look, you're not going to be talking to Kendra all the time.  You'll see.  I mean, I remember when we gave Ricky's birth mom the college money, and she asked us if we'd come to her college graduation someday.  And of course we said yes.  But are we really going to do that someday?  Come on."

"I don't understand.  I thought you guys were having an open adoption?"

"Semi-open," Jim told me.  "It just means that she got to pick us and all, but we don't have a fully open adoption."

"But doesn't she want to see Ricky?" I asked.

"She asked to see him on Skype the last time we talked, maybe six months ago," Tracey said.  "But we told her no--that's a decision that needs to be in Ricky's hands someday.  He needs to be able to decide when and how he meets his birthmother someday.  It's got to be on his terms."

I did not agree with this approach; it made me feel like Ricky's birth mother was now cast aside and being punished.  I would discuss the issue of Ricky's birthmother with Tracey again--at a much later date--months after starting this blog even.  Despite it being none of my business, I'd share my thoughts with Tracey.  She took a moment to think and replied, "Well, maybe we should give Ricky's birth mother a call soon."

It was a small triumph for me--a sliver of redemption.  Because even though my heart was always in the right place--at least I do know that--I also believe that I failed Kendra miserably in the end.  I wish I had done one thing very differently.  But...that part comes later too.

To Be Continued...     


Kellie C said...

My grandaughter's adoptive parents, also my husbands brother and his wife, had no problem cutting my daughter out for the first year and a half of her daughters' life. They've cut my husband and me out completely. They justify it with saying we demonized his wife after they refused to give my daughter her child back a week after the relinquishment. I have no idea what they are talking about.
We talked with them prior to the adoption and told them we all expected and wanted to be a part of our granddaughters life. They agreed. Everything was fine. Yeah, right.

Kellie C said...

Oh, and my daughter never received a dime from them nor would she have ever asked for anything from them other than the return of her child.

Dolores said...

You seem to have such a sensitive heart...reading this makes me sad for your "friends" child, they appear to be entitled and selfish, but it also makes me glad that there are those like you...who can try to put themselves in anothers shoes.