B is for Baby

B

ba·by
ˈbābē/
1. a very young child, esp. one newly or recently born

 

I took the bus from Whole Foods in Montclair, down Bloomfield Avenue to the State Street Diner stop in Bloomfield. Sometimes I stopped in for something to bring home, I loved the old diner with it’s ancient cigarette machines, regulars that seemed to permanently occupy the stools and booths and waitresses well past their prime in heels, thick make-up, long nails and teased hair. Most of the time I passed it by and walked down to Broad street, made a left and headed towards home. I passed the library on my left and frequently made a stop there too. The college was across the street and I wondered what it felt like to just be a student somewhere.

diner corner

It was a mile from the bus stop to my door. My belly was just starting to harden but not yet sticking out and I couldn’t help but hold it like it might disappear from my body or be attacked my tire-iron wielding madmen on the uneventful walk.  I still didn’t know how I felt about the life inside of me, or more accurately I didn’t understand the feelings I was feeling.  I was pretty sure this was euphoria mixed with madness. I was up and down but surprisingly cheerful about it all.

I had found an agency, Friends in Adoption, up in Vermont. From what I gathered, it was run by hippies that thought adoption should be personal and easier than most agencies made it, for everyone involved.  I had received a pile of pamphlets from them too, but this time they all met my criteria and apparently I didn’t require constant counseling and a go betweens to be trusted to make a decision. I could contact these families as I saw fit, and having that bit of control felt much better to me.

I walked and thought about babies and families. I was not a baby person. I did not get all gooey and weird at the site of infants, I had limited interest in holding them or caring for them. They seemed like very needy, cute, wiggly, moist creatures that might eventually be human.  I liked older children more but had limited experience with them as well. All of the younger foster siblings I had, had were more like me and cynical by 4 or 5 and I could relate to them; most normal children were a complete mystery to me. I had even less experience with families, though I had been a resident within several over the years, it still felt like my childhood was a sociological study I made and not so much a true life experience.

By Lennart Nilsson : A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

By Lennart Nilsson : A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

I walked and held my belly and felt the faintest butterflies inside of myself. Was it the baby? I didn’t know and there wasn’t anyone to ask, but I liked to think it was. For this time, while my body did its thing and created another human ( and how bizarre is THAT?), this baby was mine and I had a secret I was trying keep even from myself. I loved it. It was like a perfect secret inside of me. I was at peace about giving the baby up, it was never a choice to keep it, not for me; but this part? This weird parasitic, brilliant, miraculous, shifting, morphing, awkward experience? This was mine and no one could have it or take it. I knew I wasn’t cut out for the after part, the crying, pooping, comforting, insanity of parenthood, I knew that in my bones. Not now, maybe not ever, despite how much I desperately WANTED a family, I knew I wasn’t selfless enough for that right now.  I hoped I would be one day. What I could do, was give this life a chance and share it with people that were ready. For right now I could secretly revel in every change, every shift every tiny butterfly, because I was giving this baby away to people that would make sure it was never alone I could love it now, wholeheartedly, and not be afraid. I could chat with, sing to and hold my belly and for a little while, and not be alone.

 

A is for Adopt

A

a·dopt

1. legally take another’s child and bring it up as one’s own.

2. take up or start to use or follow (an idea, method, or course of action).

3. take on or assume (an attitude or position).

preggers

He was drunk, I could smell the beer and his hand was shaking when he rested it on my belly.

“ Keep the baby” He said, with a slight rise at the end, like he wasn’t sure if it was a question or not or if he had meant to say anything at all. We both knew that we weren’t a couple, he wasn’t a father and this was just an obligatory nod to ideals neither of us had.


 

“ What are you gonna do?” TJ asked. We were lying on my bed together, looking at the ceiling full of plastic stars.

“ I don’t know. Abort?… No. Foster?… No. Keep it?… No.” I said each choice with space in between, trying out the concepts and finding none of them fit. We had done this a few times already.

Disco fries “ Well that pretty much covers all of it”

 “ Yeah, maybe we should go to the diner for disco fries”

 “Okay”


 

“If you’re not going to abort, what about adoption?” The blonde girl in the front office asked. I couldn’t remember her name, maybe Alicia or Alice? Definitely an A.

“I couldn’t just give a baby away and not know how that went, you know? “ I was trying to get away from this conversation, a conversation that seemed to be taking over every waking hour. I was going to be late for class.

“Yeah but there’s open adoption, my cousin went through it, you can pick the family and they send you pictures and letters about the baby”

I stopped, and re-ran that little nugget of information, saying it over in my head.

“ I’ve never heard of that kind of adoption”

“ I’ll ask her for more info and bring it in for you Monday, yeah?” She swung around in the chair as she said it and I left the tiny office feeling a little less hostile, like something might fit this time. I still can’t remember her name.


 

“Spence Chapin! How can I help you?”

“ I am pregnant, and I’m thinking about giving the baby up for adoption, an open adoption, but I don’t know anything about the process” I am sitting in my brightly lit kitchen on the house phone. My dog Honey, is leaning on my legs begging for attention and I am slowly wrapping and unwrapping the cord of the phone around my finger. The woman puts me on hold but comes back to take my information and connect me with a counselor. She is very eager and friendly. I am transferred and another woman picks up, she has a calmer voice, she asks me questions about being pregnant, why I am looking into adoption and if it’s okay to send me some information. I tell her that’s fine and she is sure to use my first name and keep that comforting tone.

I am inundated with pamphlets, folders and general information overload. I now have a social worker who wants to set up preliminary interviews, connect with my doctors and begin the seemingly endless process that seems very far from actually being in contact with anyone that might be a good parent for this baby. The couples I see on the foldouts are all smiling but almost none of them meet my criteria.

1) They must be a same sex couple

2) No extreme religious affiliations

3) A mixed race child must be there first choice

The first criteria is what has them confused, they just don’t have many options, and I am starting to feel like I’m drowning.

I paged through the magazines and picked up Rolling Stone. Little Plastic Castles from Ani DiFranco was being reviewed and I took it with me to a table with my books. At the back of the magazine there were ads and I read them while I drank my tea. “ Pregnant? Looking for a home and family for your baby? Call us, we are here to help you”  or something like that. I ran to the bookstore to hide and I couldn’t even find some peace here, my longtime refuge. I kept reading and the ad spoke about open adoptions with same sex couples. I bought the magazine.

friends-in-adoption-logo