You know how sometimes you’re wound so tight and moving so fast you’re incapable of feeling anything outside of fear and anxiety, and then, out of nowhere you see or hear something so personal and affecting that it cuts right through and moves-slash-devastates the crap out of you? Well that’s what happened to me yesterday in the car.
I was driving on the I-95 through a mini tropical storm when I tuned into “Fresh Air.” I held my breath, waiting for Terri to tell me she was talking to some Brazilian jazz drummer about Brazilian jazz drumming. Instead—yay!—her guest was Jennifer Gilmore, author of “The Mothers,” an autobiographical novel based on her own experiences adopting a child. I’ve been totally planning on reading it, i.e., it’s been high on my fuzzy mental list of titles I know I should try to remember to order on Amazon after I get through at least one of the ten or so half-read books scattered around my home.
Gilmore was just launching into a story about how a birth mother she’d connected with ended up giving birth nine weeks early to a baby with down syndrome. She describes arriving at the hospital initially unaware of the situation and then ultimately calling the woman to break the news that she wasn’t going to go through with the adoption. (Gilmore and her husband did know when they made this choice that another family was going to adopt the child.)
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her decision. It’s a decision I may have very well made if I’d been in her position. Raising a child with special needs is beautiful and transformative but it’s also hard and pricey. Many parents who learn their biological children are disabled are terrified they won’t be able to pull it off. It’s hard to imagine choosing this version of parenthood, especially when you’ve never experienced the good parts.
But, wow, listening to her talk about holding that teeny baby in the NICU, it was like watching “Terms of Endearment” all over again.
And that wasn’t it. There was the scam by the”birth mom” who wasn’t really pregnant, and then, worst of all, the baby they had to give back after the biological father objected to the adoption.
Even if you’ve never driven on the I-95 through a mini tropical storm, I’m sure you can understand why it isn’t a good idea to cry while you’re doing it. The good news is I stayed safe, and “The Mothers” just moved way up my list. I’m pretty sure I’m going to remember to order it soon.