Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn’t grow under my heart
But in it.
~ Fleur Conkling Heyliger
She wanted a child.
Her body thought differently as it refused to allow one to grow within her.
Three times she was pregnant; three times her body rejected it.
Adoption. She could care for and love a child as her own. She approached her husband with the idea and they endured paper applications and many interviews.
The call came on a fall afternoon. “We have a baby for you; she’s a four-month-old girl. Would you like to meet her?”
Her excitement was beyond what her body could hold. She shook as she hung up the aqua rotary telephone that was mounted on the kitchen wall. She slowly sat down in the kitchen chair closest to her, the seat and back covered in padded aqua vinyl that almost matched the telephone.
Her head rested gently in her hands as her mind raced. So much to do!
She stood up as the tablecloth covered in large aqua and yellow flowers shifted. She paused to straighten it. Heidi, their brilliant white American Eskimo dog hung by her side, as she always did.
Her husband came home the next day. They lived on an Air Force Base in a remote area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He had been on alert for a 24-hour shift in case of an attack by the former Soviet Union.
Excitedly, she told him of the telephone call the previous day and they picked a time the next week to go meet the wee babe.
The time crawled by and she kept herself occupied preparing the room for the new arrival. The crib, bassinet, and a small dresser were already comfortable in the room on top of a white, soft, shag rug to cover the cold wood floor.
She sewed covers out of a green and white gingham fabric that matched the trim she made for the crib. She made a matching cushion for the white rocking chair and, for a moment, imagined herself rocking her daughter to sleep in it, softly singing to her.
The perfect teddy bear already sat in the rocking chair, also waiting to meet this little girl. The bear’s blond fur and brown plastic eyes glowed in the sunlight of the sinking sun peeking in between the venetian blinds. The woman picked up the bear and placed the cushion on the rocking chair, tying the two ties to the white rungs on the back.
As she gently placed the bear back in the chair, it released a small growl from inside his chest. She would teach the girl, her daughter, not to fear the noises animals make. She left the room as the sun set, turning off the overhead light with one last look to make sure all was perfect.
The day was here and she was up before the sun, too excited to sleep. They had a long drive ahead of them and would spend the night in the Holiday Inn motel in Jackson, Michigan, and would meet the baby the following morning at 8 o’clock.
They left their small duplex with the red bricks and white trim around noon. The day was cold and cloudy, snow lightly falling as they drove on the roads surrounded by thick woods. Occasionally, she would see a deer peeking out cautiously from the trees and thought excitedly about teaching her daughter about animals.
The sun had already set when they arrived at the motel. They walked in and set their small bags on the luggage racks. The beds had bright quilts with golden flowers decorating them among the avocado-colored leaves.
The lights over the bed were large, made out of gold glass with heavy chains as they hung from the ceiling. As they sat in silence, they could hear the occasional doors opening and closing from rooms nearby. She turned to him and just looked at him for a few moments, this man she had fallen in love with as a young high school girl. His wavy, dark hair, blue eyes, and a smile that took over his face. He covered her hand with his.
It was morning and, as usual, it was cold and cloudy. They quickly packed up their small bag of clothes and essentials, left the motel, and arrived at the Children’s Aid Society 15 minutes later. They just sat in the station wagon for a moment. Heidi was in the back seat and hung her front paws over the front seat between them, as she often would do. Her dog bed was in the back with her grey, soft blanket inside, but there was also a basket next to it with a pink cushion.
The man and woman walked slowly to the front door, hand in hand. She paused as he opened the door for her; she removed her headscarf, and as he signed them in at the front desk, she settled into a chair in the waiting room covered in brown vinyl. The bright lights glared on the white, speckled linoleum floor and it smelled faintly of Pine-Sol. He sat next to her and they both took a deep breath.
Moments later, they were ushered back into a small room. The woman had short, dark hair and was wearing a brown tweed skirt and matching jacket, and introduced herself as Betty. The same questions that had been answered in multiple interviews were repeated, as were the answers. Finally satisfied, Betty left the room and returned with a small bundle, wrapped in blankets.
“She’s still asleep,” Betty whispered as she handed the bundle to her. Tears ran down her face as she held this tiny child, and as she shifted the baby ever so slightly, her eyes opened up. They were blue, just like their eyes. The face was soft and pink. The child yawned, stretched out a bit, looked up again at the woman, and relaxed into her arms as if she’d been in them a hundred times. The love she felt for this child filled her empty parts as if the child had grown inside her. They were now a family.
Her husband took Heidi for a short walk before the long drive home. The woman reached in the back of the station wagon for the basket with the pink pillow inside. She gently laid the baby, now Jennifer Ann, in the basket. Jennifer did not wake but just stretched a bit and curled up in the soft bed.
Heidi, refreshed from her walk in the cold air, jumped in the back seat and hopped in the wrong basket. Startled, Jenny, as she was now called, began softly crying. The woman picked her up and whispered soothing words into her ear and stroked her small, fuzzy head. Jenny relaxed again and was placed back in the basket as Heidi was scolded and told to go into her own basket.
On the drive home, the woman was thinking of all the fun she and Jenny would have together and how blessed they were to have found each other.
The woman and Jenny had a beautiful relationship—Jenny always knowing she was adopted. It was explained that she was picked special and her mother made her feel that every day.
The love between this woman and her daughter was like no other. It exists to this day and always will, even though the woman has left this earth.
Love is not just blood—it is unconditional. It surrounds us, it makes us who we are, it guides us and holds us close in each moment of our lives.