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Adoption Blog: Inconceivable Family

Dealing With Difficult Comments
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Two weeks after Anna was born, the new Nadeau family was still in a hotel room on the side of an interstate highway. We were waiting for ICPC to clear so we could begin the long journey home. In the original plan, we anticipated being home, surrounded by family, and enjoying the showers of cards and gifts that would naturally come from such a wonderful occasion.  Instead we were eating Subway every night and trying to block out highway noise during the midnight feedings. 

Our lawyer had talked at length about how he managed to get couples out of his state in 5-7 days. Two weeks later, Mike had depleted his vacation time and needed to get back home. I would be left in the hotel room by myself…  except it was worse than being by myself. I was with a two-week-old infant for whom I felt incredibly ill-prepared to care. Not only was I in a strange state hundred of miles from my home, but I was also with a baby who cried inconsolably every waking minute. Seriously. E.V.E.R.Y minute.

Colic. That’s what we were told when she screamed and clenched her fists or hours and hours each day. Even while sleeping, her brow was furrowed and her tiny muscles were contracted. When she left the NICU after a five-day stay, we were told she was as good as new after some minor reflux. One nurse even told us she was going to be the most laid back baby we could imagine. What, then, was the problem?

I found a hospital to complete Anna’s 2 week well-baby check up and was anxious to ask them what I could about this crying little being. After explaining my situation to the nurse at the ER, I was told to take a seat in the waiting room. It was then that I learned I had new issues to contend with. A security guard walked over to me followed by a doctor and two nurses. They lead me to an exam room where the nurse took Anna from me to be “weighed and measured”...  or so I thought.

Moments later, when the questioning began, I realized that Anna was no longer in the room with me and that the questions I was being asked were not about her health, but about me.  Where are you from? What is your full name? Do you have two forms of ID? I explained the adoption and that my husband was on his way back to our home state. I was tired and I cried as I told them that Anna hadn’t stopped crying since we took her from the hospital. I was met with glazed eyes and was told that they couldn’t treat her or do an exam because I didn’t have her adoption papers with me. I explained that the adoption was not finalized but that I had a file of paperwork and that there must be something in there that would be helpful. Apparently the one paper they needed was at the hotel room. The insurance coverage was difficult to understand because Anna was both on her birth mom’s insurance and also ours, but her name had not been changed, etc. I begged them just to help me help Anna and that we would take care of the money on a credit card if needed. I could hear Anna screaming in the adjacent room and I tried to get to her. The security guard stood strong in my path.

“She is screaming and has been screaming for two weeks. I need to hold her.”

“Babies don’t scream for no reason,” the guard told me.

“That’s what I’m here to find out.”

Finally I was told, “We can’t treat her because you aren’t her real mom so you can’t give authorization.”

In that moment I felt myself become focused from my fog of exhaustion. Fear turned into a protective rage.

“I AM her mom.”

Memories of her stay in the NICU flooded me. I recalled one night shift nurse who phoned us to tell us to come feed Anna at 2am. We explained we were going to see her in the morning as we had a very long night of attorney issues and needed to clear our heads with sleep. “Babies are a 24-hour job,” she had said before hanging up. Her tone obviously questioned our commitment as parents. I had bit my tongue during that phone call, but not now.

“I am the person who has dreamed of her for years before she was born and I am the person who has held her each night as she cries. I am the person who is here now and I will be the person who is there for her when she falls, when she cries, when her heart breaks, when she graduates, when she learns to drive. And I will be the person who explains that I am not the only mom she has and I’ll be the person who has to delicately embrace the fallout of emotions that will inevitably come from that story. Yes, I AM her mom.”

This would not be the last time my role as her mother would find its way to an important conversation. It would also not be the last time that I would find myself defending the origin of my family. I imagine this happens to many adoptive parents as I also imagine it happens to birth parents who are asked about how many children they have.

I’m a work in progress as a human being and especially as a mom. I’m still working on how to not let those ignorant comments get the better of me. Just today someone said of my two children, who are just nine months and two weeks apart, “That can’t be natural.”


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Meet the Author

Jenna Nadeau

Jenna Nadeau

New Hampshire

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn

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