With Child
Marni Asplund-Campbell, editor

A Circle of Women
Elizabeth Bradley

[p.95]I watched my younger sister, Emily, give her child to another woman. She was seventeen and wanted her daughter to have a family with a mom and dad. Her long-gone boyfriend denied being the father, and Emily knew her child deserved more. At an age when most teenagers are having the time of their life, she was making the decision of her life. A decision she will remember, at times question, but in her heart know she did the right thing.

There is no easy way to look for a family to adopt your child. So many requirements. If they are not perfect, they will not do. I watched from the sidelines, voicing an opinion I know my sister at times listened to.

Emily stumbled upon a family in Texas, Carol and Wes and their son Bryce. Bryce was adopted five years ago. Emily met Bryce’s birth mother at her counseling group. Emily knew in her heart that this Texas family was going to raise her daughter. Bryce wanted a little sister.

Exactly one week after I had my own daughter, Emily became pregnant. Had she not seen me? Had I not shown her how alone being alone can be? Why had she been so careless? Why had I?

I am supposed to protect my sisters. Ease them into this world, as she did her daughter. I should have warned her that boys do not stick around, men do, perhaps. Love is confused with lust, and with lust there is not responsibility. Why did I not prevent her pain from happening? I should have known, but I was blinded, distracted by my own pregnancy, problems, life. She was crying out for help in the only way she knew how.

Tracy Chapman’s voice played quietly, whispering words for Emily in the final moments before sharing her daughter: “If you’ll wait for me, I’ll come for you.” Emily will always be there.

[p.96]Emily needs time to grow up herself, although watching the way she handled herself through this experience, I know she has grown up. She is no longer a girl, but a woman, a mother. Her child is in another state, but part of Emily is there too. It is an open adoption. Emily can call anytime.They send pictures. They want Emily to be a part of her daughter’s life. But that part is limited.

Sometimes Emily calls me in the middle of the night, longing for that missing part, the cry, the warmth of the innocent breath. I talk to her, trying to comfort her in the only way I know how. Her voice is distant, and perhaps mine is too. We need each other.

Emily has told me often that I influenced her in her decision to give Kristen Siera a family with both a father and a mother. She has watched me as a single mother and seen the struggles I have faced. I never know how to reply. She is right, it is hard.

My cousin Jake is adopted. His birth mother handed him over to my aunt Shauna. She was young and wanted more for her newborn son, a family with a mother and a father.

My aunt Shauna is a social worker. One day she was speaking to a young woman who resembled her son Jake. Could she be his birth mother? Shauna never saw any pictures or never knew her name. Jake’s mother, Ann, sat on the other side of Shauna’s desk that afternoon. Fifteen years after the transition from mother to mother was made, these two women came together. Shauna and Ann sat in the office and cried. So many questions were answered for both women.

The adoption agency was on the second floor in a modest corner office. Both families sat in the room. Strangers sharing a child. A connection for life forming. Two families coming together through the life of a child.

The smile on the faces of those Texans burns an image in my heart. During labor my mother and I held Emily’s hands, a circle of women. I found myself pushing with my sister, feeling the birth of her child. She was so calm. Emily passed her child into the arms of a woman who was denied the miracle of birth.

I want to share Emily’s pain as a woman shares her child.