Saturday, May 21, 2016

This is meant to be your baby

I’m cramming fistfuls of papers into my binder that has just exploded in the campus commons. Squatting on the cement floor, I struggle to stay semi-erect as my backpack hangs heavily to one side, my biology text book (which cost two-thirds of my book budget for the semester, and is threatening to be the reason for lifelong chiropractic care) digs into my back as a silent but painful reminder that I’m about a minute and a half from being late to class, and I’m at least two and a half minutes from the science building a dead sprint. I struggle to my feet, backpack leaning, half of a lukewarm latte in one hand, and the offending binder in the other. I lumber in awkward determination in the direction of biology when my cell phone vibrates deep in my jeans pocket.
Tucking the binder under my arm and transferring the coffee cup to the binder hand, I dig in my right, back pocket with my left hand, fellow students are eyeing me in this strange, hokey-pokey move as though I’ve just grown a third arm (which, quite frankly, would come in SO handy right now). Just as I poke the answer button the binder begins a slow but steady slide out from under my arm; backwards. In a valiant attempt at saving the binder from explosion number two in as many minutes, I clamp my arm down hard, but being an ever-so-helpful hand, my right had clamps down, too. The lid of the coffee cup pops off as the cup semi-crushes, and suddenly my arm is more interested in thrusting the splattering coffee away from my body, so the binder escapes in a cascade of paper behind me.
“Shit!” The phone in my left hand starts saying my name in my mom’s tiny, far away voice. I stare at it for a second before lifting it to my ear.
“Hello? No I’m not swearing at you; I… sneezed. Hi mom.” I slowly turn to survey the binder shrapnel behind me, the dripping cup still grasped too firmly in my hand, now dripping on the aftermath.
“Becky, there is a girl in my home; she’s pregnant and giving her baby up for adoption; this is meant to be your baby.”
I never did make it to biology that day.
It was mid-May, 2003 the day I got that call from my mom, Jan (my former foster parent, but my forever Ma). I was 26-years-old, a full-time college student and full-time nanny. Though I wasn’t married any longer, I had already had three miscarriages, the final one with my ex-husband had really been the undoing of the short marriage. I wasn’t thinking about adopting; I wasn’t thinking about anything other than surviving the last few weeks of the semester, which had been the toughest yet. (Thanks, biology.)
A few days later, on May 21st, 2003, I met her. A young girl with blond hair, blue eyes, the sweetest smile; and the biggest tummy I had ever seen on a 14-year-old; inside this beautiful, girl interrupted was my precious son, Grover.
I won’t talk about how she was already eight-months pregnant and how her being a foster youth meant there were hoops within hoops within flaming hoops to jump through and nearly no time or money to jump that high or that far. I won’t talk about the adoption agency who turned me down cold as a single woman (and “poor” in their eyes). And I certainly don’t need to recount the ups and downs of being “chosen” and yet living in daily fear that she would, at the last minute, change her mind.
I will fast-forward to July 23rd, 2003, to the part where, after God, family, and friends joined together to help get all of the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, I caught my son as he entered into this world. I held seven pounds and three ounces of squirming baby boy in my shaking hands; he was warm and slippery, pink and… perfect. I could hardly make out his tiny, squished-bug face through tears of joy that filled my eyes. The doctor clamped the cord and asked me,
“Are you his Auntie?”
“I’m his. I’m his. He’s my son.” I choked through sobs.
She handed me the scissors then, and I cut the cord between this precious gift and the selfless giver of his life, and in so many ways, of mine, too.
On this day, May 21st, 2016, the day we celebrate the miracle of my life wonderfully connecting to his, I say to Grover, my son, “Happy Adoption Day!”
To my mom, rest her soul, I say, “Thank you, Ma; you gave me the gift of having a mother, and then helped me become one.”
To all the friends and family who came together to make it happen, I say, “Thank you for your belief in me.”
To the brave and precious girl who made this day possible, I say, “Thank you. With all that I am and all that I have; thank you.”
~Rebecca Reece
May 21, 2016