Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"No, I can't - I'm saving up to buy a baby."

Like that title? That's what my friend Jen used to say about spending large amounts of money. She always made funny remarks about her not having kids. "I wish I would have known earlier that I can't have kids," she'd say. "I wouldn't have spent all that money on birth control. I'd have gotten jewelry."

Jen has a way. She is a very comforting, validating friend (just what I like). She is extremely thoughtful. She was a pro at joking about not having kids. It was part of her way - making others feel at ease after making some asinine comment about, "Why don't you have kids yet?" The things people would say to her made me want to wretch. Very insensitive. But she played it off. "Are you kidding? Kids? I wouldn't have time to watch all the shows that I've TiVo-ed."

What a great way to make a situation comfortable for others. Brighten up an entire situation.

Not like on Mother's Days.

Or during baby blessings.

Or hearing a testimony about, "I thought I knew what love was when I got married, but now I KNOW that you'll never know what love is until you have a child."

Or most Sundays.

Or any other time when her emptiness consumed her.

She has Waldo. And they are more in love with each other than most couples I've ever met. Their open affection for one another ranks among newlyweds, and they'll celebrate 9 years of marriage this December. (I've known Waldo since I was 15 years old. We met at an EFY in Indiana, kept in touch through letters, another EFY in Michigan, lost touch, and met up again in Student Government at UVSC. Then we, completely unbeknownst to one another, built houses right next door to each other.) He takes care of her. And he always answered the door when I'd bring her a Mother's Day card, along with some treat. I hoped she'd want to visit, but deep down I knew better. That's how it was the week preceeding and the week following. Not a merry May.

Jen was not one to be bitter towards those with children. She spoiled my kids rotten. Especially li'l ~j.. They had a very unique relationship which ran like this: li'l ~j. would knock on Jen's door and ask if she could please go to the store with her. Jen would either tell li'l ~j. to go home, or start making plans to go to the store. She'd grab her planner and purse and sunglasses and keys and come over to get li'l ~j.'s car seat. Once at the store, or mall, or wherever, li'l ~j. would say, "My brain just popped an idea. How about...(dramatic pause)... you buy me whatever I want." And Jen would say, "mmm...Okay." Once, shortly after Superstar was born and I needed a nap, Jen took li'l ~j. 'out' and li'l ~j. came back with a pair of sunglasses, some lip gloss, three pairs of shoes and a haircut. Jen also has taken my girls to the snowcone stand at the corner of Center Street & Geneva Road, something I've never even done.

Jen's an expert at Aunting - she wrote an awesome paper about it.

Jen was waiting, waiting, waiting to hear from her social worker about whether any birthmoms had chosen them. Their profile had been looked at a lot, but no more than that. We would talk about my being a mom and her not being a mom. And we'd hear about some Courtney Love-esque star being a mom and say, "Yeah, that's fair." Or young girls who got pregnant...

Last summer, Jen found out that her friend Lola's husband's little sister, Fiona, was pregnant. (Yes, I have changed these names, and I have to and I want to. Bear with me.) About 16 or 17, I think. The boyfriend took off. Jen said to me, at that time, "Maybe Fiona will give me her baby."

Last September, Jen, li'l ~j. & I went to Sandy to attend the Scarecrow Festival (don't ask) to watch Lola's daughter dance in a dance recital. And there was a petting zoo. And churros. Anyway, Fiona was there, too. I didn't say anything to let on that I knew she was pregnant, but Jen talked to her, and, as is her way, made her feel very comfortable just being who she is. Jen had the understanding that Fiona had already chosen an adoptive family for the baby, and, although they were both working with the same agency, that family wasn't Jen & Waldo.

In November, the Galans moved to Texas, city of Mexico (or something like that) due to W's army job. Fast forward to March - Jen calls me and, for the first time ever, I ignore my cell phone ringing. (It was all the way upstairs in the kitchen...) When I check the message later, it was Jen yelling, "PICK UP! PICK UP YOUR PHONE!! CALL ME! CALL ME RIGHT NOW!". When I reached her, her voice had the same tone, "I'M GETTING A BABY!". I cried. All she knew was that the baby was due to be born in a little less than three weeks, and that Waldo was training 'in the field', so no one knew where he was. She couldn't reach him. Her cell phone battery promptly died. She knew she had to come to Utah to pick the baby up, didn't know yet if it was a boy or a girl. And she knew that the birth mother was Fiona.

Fiona had apparently not completely settled with any family, and came across Jen & Waldo's profile..."Oh, I remember her...". And as she discussed it with her mother, they couldn't stop the tears. They had found the baby's family. And their previous connection had nothing to do with it. This was the right family.

Jen's frantic call to me was on a Monday. That baby girl that was due in three weeks was instead born two days later, on Wednesday. By Friday, Jen & Waldo had driven to our house and were getting ready to pick up the baby.

Fiona took the baby home for a few days. The placement was to occur on Easter Sunday evening. I had the privilege of going to the placement. Since I'm 'not family' (whatever) I couldn't be in the actual room; I just waited in the social worker's office. But I felt it as it was happening.

The Spirit stormed into the room where I was sitting, followed by the sound of a mother handing over her firstborn. It is a crying moan, a weeping and wailing of Biblical proportions. I have heard this sound only twice before; once made by me and once by my cousin, Heather. I hope to never hear it again. It was excruciating. I can't even write about it without shaking. Tears streamed down my face, and I instantly, automatically, prayed: "Heavenly Father, HELP HER. Helpherhelpherhelpher. Comfort her. She's doing the right thing. Help her. She's the bravest, most loving soul on the earth right now. Help her."

Shortly after that, I heard people leaving and then Jen & Waldo came in to the room where I was, carrying little Georgia Grace Galan. The ride back to my house was bittersweet. We had all just been emotionally floored. While it was what they had been waiting for for all those years, there wasn't that fairy-tale feeling that we had perhaps expected. It's one of those experiences that's not really discussed. But it's part of the story, and that's why I write it.

Gigi, or, "Bee-bee Joo-jah", as Curly had named her, is beautiful. She looks like Waldo, actually. Jooj. That's what I call her.

I'll see them in about a month when they come up to Utah to finalize the adoption and then immediately go to the Temple to be sealed together for time and all eternity.

I don't really know what else to say. I don't have a witty ending to my story. A friend that I have met through this blogging-world is currently dealing with adoption issues that are more than I would ever wish on anyone, and I've been praying for her and her situation. And she's been on my mind. I guess that's one reason I wanted to write this.

Also...I'll just put my plea out there to watch what you say to people about their children, or lack thereof. People don't want to hear, "Are all those kids YOURS???" "You can't possibly have enough [time/money/love] to take care of all those children!" "You're not going to have any more, are you?" And people don't want to hear, "How long have you been married -- and you don't have kids?" "Don't you want children?" "Just relax, and you'll get pregnant." I don't know exactly the right words to say, but I've heard the wrong ones far too often.

20 comments:

MOM said...

Hey! What can be said? You have a gift for writing. I recently got a pic from Jen of Jooj. She DOES look like Waldo. Itold her that after the first pictures about 5 months ago. love you.

La Yen said...

Thanks. I can only write glibly about it--it is too close to write from the heart--I am afraid that I will crack up inside and all of my guts will come out. The funny thing is, even though I have The Jooj at home, I still really want to take Rae to the mall. I can't give that part up!
ps--the password that I have to type to post is my new favorite word: hollivn.

Kerri said...

That is awesome. It gives me comfort as we ache with Doug's brother and his wife while they wait for a baby through adoption after losing their twins this year. I have hope that they too, will get their baby someday.

Chelsea Strong said...

Jenny
That was a really great to read. I could never put it into words either. But you totally nailed it. I didn't think I would cry while reading that, but the tears just flowed. Thanks for being there for Jen and letting me impose on your family.

I think Lola is the coolest person ever :)

cabesh said...

Jenny-
Thank you. We struggled to have Chloe and heard all kinds of comments too (the worst ones from my family members). It was hard, but not nearly as long as Jen & Waldo's experience, so I can't imagine what that must have been like.
I am also grateful to feel like an "insider" by reading your account. I always thought Jen was super-cool (I'll admit that I was jealous of your guys' realtionship--you guys seemed to have so much fun), and was VERY excited to find out that she & Waldo got a baby. Thanks for sharing so that I didn't have to pry.:)

Stephanie Aurora Clark Nielson said...

jenny,
that was totally the greatest blog. I have to say I may have teared up a bit. Thanks for sharing.

Queen Scarlett said...

Phread: Lovely story. What a beautiful experience. I totally agree with you - enough already with the inappropriate comments. Can people just step out of each other's biz for a moment? Nice post.

To Jen Galan - so happy for you!

c jane said...

Jenny,
I wrote an essay on this very subject (segullah.org "Infertility and Fulfillment.... now I feel like I am self-promoting...) Needless to say, I love to hear that "fertile" women care about us "barren" women's feelings. Right on!
And I loved the happy ending.
-Courtney
P.S. So lovely to visit with you the other night. What other movies do you have???

~j. said...

Courtney - I loved the visit, too. And i love that website. We'll have to chat about it. I know one of the other contributers. I've got lots of movies...Yes, we'll chat.

~j. said...

Chelsea - I think Lola's great, too. I wish I knew her better. We have daughters the same age that should be playing together.

And, Welcome, Queen Scarlett! Nice to see you in my world.

La Yen said...

The thing is, the comments don't get any brighter ince you adopt. My favorite so far: Are you ever going to have kids of your own? For the love, people. She IS my own. Just because my tubes are placeholders and W is full of slow swimmers and gimps does not make her not mine. She is so mine. She loves Oklahoma! and The Music Man and Sesame Street and Will Smith and she takes a nap to Nico and Beast of Burden and Sympathy for the devil by the Rolling Stones. She Squawked at Madeline Kahn on Clue today. She sleeps with her hand over her face like I do. She is small like I was. More importantly, she feels like mine. She is more mine than I can explain. From the moment I saw her I knew she was mine. If someone ever refers to "real kids" in her presence I will neuter them.

Anonymous said...

Jen Galan, I just had a visual of you with hedge trimmers! Miss you and "W". Dave T.

Queen Scarlett said...

Don't you wish you could just POP people who say those things and they'd POP like a bubble? Be so nice. I'll have to think of that power one day.

I have a friend who adopted their second son. Her husband had prostate cancer. They're on their way to save up the money to adopt a girl next. One time I was talking to her and she had to remind me that her son was adopted. Because I just started talking about him that he would be like her husband.. yada yada.

It goes along with the just because someone births a kid - doesn't make them the parent. A parent nurtures, loves and is deeply entrenched in the child's life. So to all those dumb people who keep saying those lame comments to you... I say pull that think steel rod out of your touche and put it through your ears.

Bek said...

Jen,

I loved this blog for so many reasons (and thanks for the e mail JG--thank you...you, me and Bon Jovi..Space Mountian......). I think that every adoptive mom needs the kind of friend like you are. I have been blessed with many and know that I could not have made it through it without them.

As for the "are those kids yours" crack...I so hear you. My son is black and so I get BLACK people saying "what makes you think you can raise a black man?". I usually igore it, but am tempted to say other things. My family is my business. I worry about this happening when the kids are old enough to understand. It makes me so mad.

I have to say that I felt bonded to my son INSTANTLY. It was the strongest, visceral feeling I have EVER felt in my entire life. I am embarassed to admit I did not feel that w/ my bio daughter. It took longer with her. My son has my personality, my quirks and is much more like me then my daughter. We all find our family in different ways. I know one thing.....your children find you. They really do.

Thanks again. What a great story.

AzĂșcar said...

Hi Jen, you don't know me (I don't think) but I know Jen & Waldo. It took us years and years to concieve, during that time Jen would joke and laugh about our shared situation (although she may not have known it was shared) with such grace.
Thanks for putting down their incredible story, I must admit that I shed tears.
I can't even express the pain when those well-meaning people take those barbs out of their mouths and stick them in our hearts.

And yes, Jen & W were meant for parenthood, they're the coolest. Everyone knows "cool" is the best prerequisite for being a parent; they're the cat's pajamas.

~j. said...

Hi, Carina! Don't know if I know you or not, either...but, any friend of Jen's... ;)

So, I tried to comment on your blog, and it won't even open the comment window, but I have a name suggestion for you.

Amber said...

Wow - that was a touching story. Thanks for sending it. I tried reading it last week, but the link on my computer @ work wouldn't work. I was totally bummed, but then I got your link this week and backtracked. I am so excited for Jen & Waldo! I got the chills reading it. My family to has been through all this adoption business and knows that it works wonders!! I don't know what I would do without my 2 little brothers - they complete me. And have helped me prepare for my own son to come in just 8 weeks. Thanks, and pass on my congrats to the Galan's! I remember Jen (we met @ Clara's baby shower)...she is a great person and deserves all this happiness.
Have a great day,
Amber Pionke (a.k.a.Ambangs)

Melissa said...

I am very happy for Jen, whom I will most likely never meet...it sucks that people who so desperately want a child and would be so good to a child are the ones who can't have them! I am very happy to hear that there is a way around it, so they CAN have them. Well deserved! And that baby is as much hers as the one in my tummy is mine!

In my own baby news, tomorrow is my due date for my first little one. I've had it so very easy compared to most people, but now I am anxious, and want this to end.

I really think I would have been fine if my doctor hadn't planted that "may be early" seed in my head last Thursday. Now I'm focused on how I have become uncomfortable, and how every moment could be the one when labor really starts, and how I don't sleep at night, and what the heck do you do with a baby anyway?, and I'm antsy. And every person I see at work asks me about it - there are 3,000 people in my building! It's nice that they are all curious and sympathetic, but it's not making me feel better.

For future reference, doctors should always tell you you're going to be late - or at least right on time, so you don't hyperventilate and become anxious. I talked myself out of working this week, when I was sure this would be over last Friday. It's hard to get back to focusing when I think I shouldn't be here. My boss said I can go home early if I need the rest, which I may do. He's nice. But then what? I sit at home thinking "kid, come OUT!"

I am now convinced that I am going to have a 20-year-old by the time he comes out. At least he should be potty-trained by then!

AzĂșcar said...

Hey Jenny, try posting now, it might go through.

Betina said...

Yea, we are saving up to buy another baby. This is why our yard is being landcaped by my husband instead of a trained professional WHO WOULD GET THE JOB DONE IN 2 WEEKS.

Argh. The blessing and curse of adoption. BUT NO STRETCH MARKS.