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...


Victoria Gallegos said...

This is such a touching story. I can't imagine what any of you were feeling, but you describe it so well. My heart breaks for you and Kendra with every new post.

Jennifer said...

Thank you Victoria for reading :)