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...



PAGE # 77
Later that night

The email from Kendra appeared in my inbox at 10:44 pm.  I read through it quickly first, then over again slowly, many times.

This communication was just as warm and friendly as her previous interactions with me, but my heart sank when Kendra described how she thought about Lily all the time.  Especially when she saw little girls walking around.  Or little girls' clothing in a store window.  And that she tried to imagine how Lily might look in the future.  She mentioned the pictures of Lily on her iPhone, all taken during their short time together in the hospital after delivery.  These pictures were all she had now.  And she looked at them constantly.

Although Kendra said she was having a nice time on vacation, I just didn't believe it.  I imagined a shell-shocked young woman--only one week postpartum!--strolling around a festive holiday destination, trying to blend in with her husband's family, the Christmas festivities, a normal life.  It seemed impossible and cruel.  I was exhausted just thinking about it.

Kendra also addressed the issue of Bobby the bio-dad.  She told me not to worry about him, things would work out, and that she would do whatever it took to make sure Lily gets the life she deserves.  She expressed her desire for Lily to have a happy and healthy life, and then thanked me again for "everything."

What a paradox adoption is!  For how can a birthmother ever ensure that her child will get the best life--a healthy and happy life--when she is giving her child away to total strangers?  And how sad--that a woman should feel her child's "best life" would be with someone other than her real mother.  All parenthood is an enormous responsibility, but adoptive parenting was beginning to seem so much harder.  Would my love ever be enough?  Was a happy and healthy life even possible for a child after relinquishment?  It seemed Lily would always be marked by trauma, and I doubted my ability to alleviate her inevitable suffering.  I was overwhelmed, but found some comfort in the fact that I was at least willing to admit it.  I wondered if other adoptive mothers acknowledged the inherent trauma so soon after taking home a newborn.  And if so, how did they handle it over the course of a lifetime?

As for the rest of Kendra's email, she promised to give me some formula samples she'd received in the mail.  And some coupons too.  She said she would drop these things off at at the attorney's office for me.  I wondered if she'd prefer to give me the stuff directly.  Maybe she hoped for an invitation to do so?  Or, perhaps this was her way of trying to set a boundary with me?  Was this her way of letting me know that she would prefer for things to go through the attorney instead?  That she didn't want so much direct contact with us?  Of course, it was also plausible that I was over analyzing things, and there was no hidden meaning in the email whatsoever.  Perhaps she simply had some baby formula and some coupons and dropping it off at the attorney's was merely the course of action that first occurred to her.

What a confusing state of affairs!

One certainly does not receive a secret decoder pen when adopting a newborn.    The only way to know anything for sure would be to simply ask Kendra.  But this seemed too invasive at the time.  I was afraid of putting pressure on Kendra.  I was terrified that I would become unable to differentiate my own expectations from Kendra's personal needs.  It wasn't just that I was afraid of asking specific questions--I was afraid that my asking anything might somehow be damaging or painful.  I didn't know how to communicate with Kendra without the social worker's stupid script.  I was, in fact, afraid.  And this fear would penetrate all my future interaction with Kendra--ultimately culminating in a moment of great cowardice on my part.  

To Be Continued...



PAGE # 76

We decided to order our entire Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners from an Italian restaurant.  Nobody felt much like cooking, and anyhow, we had already cancelled our invitation to extended family and friends.  The holidays would be a quiet affair this time around:  just our immediate household plus my mother, who was still visiting.

I wondered whether Kendra and her boys would ever celebrate a future holiday with us.  There was no way to predict how our now overlapping families might relate in the future, but I craved a connection with Lily's birthmother as if she were my birthmother!  I would send Kendra an email, then check my inbox compulsively until I received a reply.  I was like a silly teenager waiting for a boy to call after a first date.  Looking back now, my desperation seems bizarre.  What could I have possibly wanted from this young woman who had already handed me her own flesh and blood?  Sure, I told myself that I wanted to preserve Lily's connection to her natural family, and this was indeed true, but there was something else--something more personal at stake.  I needed Kendra--I myself wanted a relationship with Kendra.  Because without Kendra, I felt like a kidnapper.  

What ridiculous expectations!  To think that Kendra might help take care of me!  Kendra, who for whatever her reason(s), did not think she could take care of her own baby!  

Of course, on the day prior to Christmas Eve, I was hardly struck by this irony.  Instead, I typed out the following email and sent it off into cyberspace at exactly 3:06 pm.  I don't think my neediness was at all obvious; on the contrary, I was still following the "Script for Chatting with your Baby's Birthmother."  My overall tone was upbeat and warm, sharing not much more than the mundane details of caring for a newborn.  Eating!  Sleeping!  Just as the social worker had instructed.  And although I stayed within the confines of good prospective adoptive parent communication (according to the adoption industry), I did bring up the major issue at large--that of Bobby the bio-dad:


Just wanted to wish you guys a very Merry Christmas!  Did you leave for vacation yet?  I'm sure the boys must be super excited.

Baby Lily is a total roly poly piglet!  OMG!  She would take down the whole jug of formula if we let her.  She loves to eat and sleeps tons, though she tends to want to hang out a bit at 3 in the morning.  She likes to chill out by the Christmas tree in the middle of the night.  In case you saw the Enfamil formula recall--don't worry.  We ended up buying the Similac sensitive.  

Of course, I'm sure you talked to Shelley already about Bobby registering with the putative father registry.  We were all upset when we heard that news, but Shelley seems very positive and optimistic.  

Give Alex and Logan hugs from all of us.  And please give Johnny our regards.  Your parents too!  I hope you have a great holiday with your boys:)

Jennifer :)

I would not hear a reply until much later that night.  And so, the remainder of my day included childcare, a mad rush to finish wrapping all the Christmas gifts, and a non-stop watch over my email account.  I also started to experience heart palpitations around this time.  It felt like a butterfly was stuck inside of my rib cage--a butterfly that was flapping its wings wildly but in vain, as if trapped near my heart, and the flapping was so powerful--so urgent too--that it left me literally breathless.  

To Be Continued...