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...


Jay Iyer said...

Dear Jennifer,

I very much can relate to this post. When I think of my currently very conflicted views about adoption, and how simple my views were when we began the adoption process, I am eternally grateful that we did not pursue private domestic infant adoption. We very easily could have gone that route, it was pure chance that I spoke with a colleague who adopted from foster care before we got to the point of speaking with a private adoption attorney.

And yet, even though we satisfied ourselves that the only option of a permanent home for our son was placement with a non-relative, I now am so aware of the complexities of adoption that I think a lot about alternatives to adoption. As things stand in society, I feel that the only way a child is guaranteed the full spectrum of rights is for him/her to be permanently linked, by name, with a family. I do however wonder if as a society we must work to secure these rights for them without changing their birth name. I sort of see where people who are completely anti-adoption are coming from, even though I don't see implementing it as a viable option just yet.

Your letter reminded me of the person I used to be. Sometimes I miss that girl (yes, girl, because I was so very naïve) as I felt so much less tortured when I first considered adoption. It all seemed so easy.

Now, like you, I definitely would not consider pre-birth matching, nor being in the hospital room as the prospective adoptive parent of a child being born (again, I am grateful this did not happen in my case because it would have been hard to live with). I feel that biological parents, as long as the state deems them fit, should readily be able to change their minds for at least the first six months post-placement. I believe not allowing the baby to return to his/her biological parents at that stage is far more detrimental than the separation he/she must endure from the prospective adoptive parents. I do not believe prospective adoptive parents must feel entitled to any sort of "guarantee" upon a baby's birth. If parents in the foster system are given at least a year to rehabilitate and reunify with their children, why would we give the more fit biological parents who place through private adoption such a hard time when they change their minds within even days after the birth?!!

Lots of tough questions, indeed, and as one who is tied to adoption forever, I will never be free of them and hope always to make the system better.

Thanks for increasing our collective consciousness by taking us on a journey through your thoughts,


Jennifer said...


When we first heard about Lily's upcoming birth, we were so naive about adoption. We thought we were doing something good--"giving back" to society if you will. Adoption was definitely something I had a certain cognitive schema about--mostly positive--and boy has that changed! Of course, I am not suggesting that all adoption is bad--obviously, there are real cases where adoption is the best option. Looking back now and rereading my emails, oh, I cringe at this earlier version of myself !!!
Jennifer :)

Vikki Freeman said...

Jay, I have been wondering, do you have a blog? If so, I would be very interested in reading it, If you would send me a link. Thanks, Vikki