I've Got Issues...And Peace


Boulder, Colorado,
October 22
Family, marital, and individual psychotherapist. Mother to four who no longer need my services but still enjoy my love as I do theirs. I specialize in stepfamily dynamics and difficult transitions. I try to write from the heart with a sense of vulnerability, humor and a frank look at myself. Art shown: "Four Pots" by Lindsey Leavell


Editor’s Pick
MARCH 19, 2012 10:01AM

The Call

Rate: 55 Flag


There was never a doubt in my mind when it came to wanting children. Among other things, I always knew I wanted to be a mother. 

Three years into my first marriage, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to conceive a child.  I was one of seven children and was confident that soon, with the help of my husband, I would be brewing and concocting a tiny human being that would join us and the two would become three.

When we decided to start our family, our first attempt failed and I was stunned.  Stopped dead in my tracks. Prematurely, I began to ruminate about my imagined infertility and the next month brought daily determination to produce a much wanted member to our family.

Nine months later our first son was born.  As my water broke, so did the floodgates of the fertility gods and despite the efforts to control and plan, we ended up with four children under the age of six.  While this was more than overwhelming, I considered myself fortunate and daily thanked the powers that be for the lives of my young children.

My brother and his wife weren’t as charmed as I.  They were high school sweethearts and as high school sweethearts tend to do, they broke up and went on with their lives.  In Kevin and Lara’s case, they remained single and stumbled upon one another years later.  Being in their late 30’s and remembering the ties that bound them so many years before, they fell quickly and comfortably back into one another and married on the dawn of mid-life.

As they merged into one they yearned for a baby but time and tests bore the bad news that Nature had not graced them as She had so many others and me.  Spurning the loud cries of bitterness and an unfair fate, they turned their attention to private adoption, undaunted by their age and the barrenness of an empty room where they stubbornly kept an expectant crib.  They held on to hope like life rafts as they clung to one another, month after month, waiting for a call, any call, The Call.

One day the phone rang like manna falling from heaven.  There was a baby to be born to a young single mother who was already overwhelmed by the flesh and bones of two small children.  She had decided to relinquish the soon-to-be-born son over to the care and security of two who had more capacity and magic than the man on the moon.

Our family and friends celebrated and future Christmases would pale in comparison to the gift of the child who spent his first three days on earth in the arms of my good brother and his wife, being swaddled and cooed to and loved no less than if he was their own baby born from their loving union.

But as any person who has lived long enough knows, the gods can be cruel and the baby turned out to be a mirage, a vapor, a tease.  The mother had a change of heart and my brother and his wife, with faces stained with tears that remained as permanent markers, handed him back over to the one who had the right to change her mind.

Sterile and arid months ensued but the grief-stricken eyes still brimmed bright with hope.  Kevin and Lara chose to ignore the formidable and real possibility that they would never be parents, choosing instead to focus on God, the Universe and the angels who surely were looking after them and the unseen child who was waiting in the wings.

Several months ago, the phone rang once again bringing promises of a miracle from the highest on high.  It was my brother speaking in hushed tones.  They had kept it quiet, The Call they had received just weeks before.  The Call that delivered the news that a baby boy was soon to be born to a young woman whose love and wisdom exceeded her sliver of a life that had barely seen seventeen years.   With the aid of those who loved her, she had decided that the only act of motherly love worthy of her unborn child was to surrender him to those whose empty arms and solid foundation were waiting and willing to rock him to sleep, kiss the fragile soft spot on his head and walk by his side for a lifetime of lullabies, lessons and love.

Baby James sleeps in the crib that so patiently waited for him.  My brother and his wife hover over him in reverence, whispering long stifled words of love in the form of prayers and proclamations.

And a young woman sleeps alone in the darkest of midnight hours but she is not afraid.  She closes her eyes and hears the distant sounds of a baby’s cry and remembers the sweetness of newborn baby breath and despite the ache in her heart, she smiles.  She is a woman now and the music is calling her to places she simply must go.

Kevin and Lara lay side by side, hands held tightly together as they close their eyes and listen to the rhythmic inhalations and exhalations of their beloved baby’s steady breathing as he sleeps besides them, and despite their exhaustion from the long and tortuous wait, they smile.

They are parents now and the newborn life of their son is calling them to places they simply must go.  To the places they always knew they were destined to go.




 *A heartfelt thanks goes out to the timely post of Wren Dancer.  It is women like Wren Dancer who are selfless and courageous enough to give their own children the stability they couldn't offer and allow couples like my brother and his wife to fulfill their lifelong desire to be parents.

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This piece is so beautifully written, Mary. The story itself is achingly beautiful, but the way you've presented it is a gift to the reader. xo ~r
This is beautiful and puts me in mind of our decision to adopt 22 yrs ago. Best choice we ever made.
Not enough is written about the positive outcomes with adoption...You did so with grace and intelligence.
Wow. Your reads flow so smoothly.
I wonder . . . four children under six.
You'd think you dreamed them here?
You attract babies like moth to light.
mother of six
mending pajamas
and scrubbing diaper
Poor father . . . ump.
still dreaming
of a major league career . . .
calling strikes
You write so clear. I'm groggy.
I wish we had two more children.
Then there be no time to blog.
I have many memories after this:
You stimulate dormant thoughts.
Now I may find pregnant woman.
This exquisitely written drama reads like a biblical parable, with the lesson that Hope springs eternal in loving hearts.
i'm so happy to hear that your brother and sister-in-law finally got their baby, mary. i have a lifelong friend who gave a son up for adoption when we were teenagers; those women have strength very few of us can even imagine.
I am so happy that they have their son! They experienced heartbreak, but now have their bliss! R
Lovely, Mary. You capture the beauty and love of both the giver and receiver.
The beauty of infants and toddlers is that they openly respond to love no matter who it comes from... well told.
At six weeks old, my adoptive parents picked me up and put me in a basket (seat belts, much less car seats, are for whimpy babies) for the 4-hour drive to my new home. Poor dad had to run into a roadside diner and ask them to warm up a bottle. Lesson learned. Decades later, I still expect to be fed when hungry. Good luck to your brother, sister-in-law and new nephew.
This is beautifully written and incredibly moving. Words like these come from a loving and empathetic heart.

James is a truly fortunate child to have found a family with so much love and desire to make him feel he is loved.

Rated and appreciated.
Mary, this is a wonderful story, written with great care and skill.

I always enjoy reading what you write. I like the insight into the things you think hardest about.
A beautiful story.
A beautiful story, but I can't help but be reminded there is a not so lovely aspect related to all this. You may recall, I am the father of an in vitro child. That process opened my eyes to a lot of things, most especially the whims of Nature. But it also opened my eyes to the meaning of Jesus message:

"Greater miracles than these will you do."

It never ceases to amaze me that those who so thoughtlessly presume to know the will of God also thoughtlessly presume to know what's best for everyone else and thoughtlessly presume that religious people know more about science than scientists.

Thus, these people railed against in vitro as "playing God" -- until infertility became epidemic in America (1 out of 7 couples we were told). Then the holy-rollers were quick to embrace what they once wanted to deny others.

The same goes for stem-cell research, which could very well lead to cures for all manner of human ailments. Yet, as always, the Religious Right presumes to know better than the God who gave mankind the minds to make such miracles possible.

God save us from your followers.
What a marvelous testament to adoption.
Tom, my friend... maybe dial it back a little?

It's not that I disagree with anything you're saying. However, does absolutely everything good in life have to be tainted by our awareness of the culture wars? You know I share your views on the foolishness being spouted on the other side of the political fence. But Mary's story is lovely and heartening, and perhaps doesn't need to be leavened with reminders of what the dastardly and unenlightened are up to.

Political consciousness is important, without doubt. But it seems to me that it shouldn't make us anhedonic.
What a beautiful and loving story. I am so happy for them.
rated with love
You and this piece are so near and dear to my heart, as are the adoptive parents who have given this baby an incredible life. Wonderful, Mary.
I don't know why Mary, but tears started dripping at the end of this.
You write so well.
You did this so beautifully.r
Wow, Mary, what a beautiful, beautiful story.
Exquisite. I imagined everything as I read it.
Chaos, randomness, and luck.

Just being open to seeing that two huge problems becoming a single opportunity. That is more than the sum of its parts.

Just thinking a little bigger. Why does it have to be so hard? Some things are just unknowable.
A lovely story and such a deft writing hand. I love the angle you take, the angles you take. It makes it multi-faceted like a jewel. That's our Mary, so immediate, vital and true.
Oh and MTN's 'anhedonic' comment -- priceless. (Sorry Tom)
Beautiful writing. A poem to family built by whatever means are available, knowing that adoption, no less than a biological child is a gift from the heavens. Either way, mean to be together.

As an adoptee and an adoptive parent who knows the gift of children, both biological and adoptive, and family, thank you for this.

Tom-- I didn't understand your comment. Maybe you need to elaborate in a separate post.

I thought Mary's post was a testament to everything I know to be true.
@ManTalk and denese
Perhaps this wasn't the place to interject the sidebar, but those of us who've gone thru the pain of infertility and found hope in the miracles of modern medicine such as in vitro fertilization tend to a have a hot spot about these matters.

If you haven't been there, you can't imagine how cruel and thoughtless people can be. When we went thru in vitro a quarter-century agree, some deemed it their responsibility to inform us how wrong we were to be "playing God". More than a few were impolite enough to add that "if God had wanted you to have children you'd have them".

Having been thru that experience, I feel compelled to speak out at every opportunity, though as you point out, perhaps this wasn't the ideal time or place to have done so.

What wonderful news, and you've written it in such a breathtaking and beautiful way. Best wishes on the addition to your extended family.
Lovely story. Remember so well infertility, miscarriage, almost adopting, and then pregnancy. My son is 33yrs. old. It's great!
Excellent piece. Beautifully written, Mary.
As one who also received that call, I congratulate your brother's family. They are in for a ride full of joy, and just about every other human emotion. As for me, I wouldn't change it for the world!
The flow of this swept me and my emotions along as if we were riding the waves on a surf board. What a ride. Marvelous, Mary.
Joan: Thank you so much for reading. Such supportive words from one who writes so well is an honor.

Jonathan: Oh you know of which I speak. Congratulations on your wise choice over two decades ago. Your comment brought me joy. Thank you.

Linnnn: I agree. Thankfully, "open adoption" has become the norm and is such a more gentle and loving process for all. I marvel at the courage of the mothers who make this decision. Thank you for reading.

Art James: "You attract babies like moth to light". Loved that Art and the rest of your comment. Your words always delight. Thank you.

Frosty Frank: I don't think we could get enough of hope these days. Their hope was inspirational to me, as was your good reminder. Thank you.

femme: "Those women have strength very few of us can even imagine." Candace, I couldn't agree more. Stunning really. Thanks for reading!

gracious jane smithie: I'm with you. The word "anguish" comes to mind. Heart wrenching but of course now, they believe it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Thanks so much for reading.

Jane: Thank you for your good and happy wishes for them! I echo them myself.

Lea: Thank you so much!

bobbot: Yes, it is very sweet as is that baby boy. I just love him. Thank you.

jmac: So true. Infants and toddlers continue to amaze me. We could learn a thing or two from them. Thank you!

Stim: Oh Stim, I love the image of a baby in a basket being whisked away (and an aside, now kids are in car seats until they are 8 or 9? Yikes!). Thank you for reading and for your good wishes for my family. Much appreciated.

Dennis: Thank you much for your kind and spacious words. We feel more than fortunate to have James in our lives. It seems to be working wonderfully for all!

Man Talk Now: Thank you so much MTN! I appreciate your kind words (and I still have saved your much needed words of wisdom from several years ago, so the feeling is mutual!). It is a wonderful story and I am so happy to be able to have shared it. Thank you for reading.

mypsyche: I agree!

Tom: I am so happy that you and yours were able to fulfill your dream by "in vitro". I'm happy that reason and rationale prevailed. And perhaps you remember the piece I wrote several years ago, "Confessions of a Former Pro-Lifer". Don't give up. There are many of us who have "seen the light" of science and logic and changed our views. Thank you so much for reading and reminding me of your story.

sweetfeet: Thank you. It's been such a roller coaster for my brother and his wife and to see it have such a happy ending for all is just wonderful.

MTN: Like you, I agree with Tom and have the deepest of respect for him. Right now, my life has been full of shadows and valleys and for me, the purity and joy of this story has been a torch of bright light. There is a season for sadness, for anger, and for joy. For me, this story is just pure joy. Period. Thank you!

Midwest Muse: Yes, thank you!

Romantic Poetess: Thank you so much. What a wonderful community we have here where we feel so much joy and empathy for one another. I'm sure they feel it.

Cathy GF: You are one loving auntie and we are all so happy at this outcome. Love you!

Mission: Oh Mission, I understand. I was crying when I was writing it. Tears of joy, the best kind. Thank you!

hugs,me: Thank you so much. I truly appreciate your kind words.

trilogy: Yes it is, isn't it? Thank you!

Deborah: I love that my words were able to paint a visual for you. This means a lot. Thank you.

Nick: I owe you a PM and I want you to know I appreciated your response. I will write you back. As for this, you said, "some things are just unknowable". I couldn't agree more. Yes, "chaos, randomness, and luck" is a strange journey isn't it? Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Gail: Miss you! And as always, I thank you for your affirming and supportive words. You always touch my heart. As for "anhedonic", I learned a new word today! Thanks to both of you!

Denese: Oh you know of what I am speaking more than I do! I did not know this and it tells me even more about you and your family. You are such a kind and gracious person. Thank you for being you.

Tom: Oh the things people say, the platitudes that wound, cut, sting, hurt and scar. I understand your passion Tom, I do. I wish those people would remember a few platitudes like "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in their shoes" or "Take the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out in another". Hard not to feel angry with such arrogance and ignorance being thrown at you. Keep speaking up Tom. You have a powerful and bold voice.

Diary: Thank you so much!

jackie2: Congrats on your 33 year old son and I can only begin to imagine how difficult and sad those times must have been for you. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that. And I'm happy for your good outcome. Thanks for reading.

Haley: From one who writes so beautifully so consistently, I thank you much!

Steve: I didn't know that and I know you truly understand, much more than me. I'm very happy for you and your family and I thank you so much for your good comment.

Matt: Oh thank you Matt. I'm happy you felt the emotions the way I was feeling them when I wrote this piece. A great confirmation of how I was trying to express it.
This is nothing short of extraordinary writing!
Everything about this sings, even when it's the blues. You've given us stunning perspective from so many sides, especially the least considered member of the adoption experience... the courageous woman who made such a heart wrenching, selfless choice. Mazel Tov to the new parents and the big, loving family who can now celebrate.
With stories like this the rain was just perfect.
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★
Sorry that was rainbow...
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★
apology . . . I cant resist.

Algis K. I smiled at your correction.
I big brotherly Kiss to you. Old time.
That's how Kurds greeted Brothers.
Who know where a shake-hand was.
Somebody may have picked a nose.
I once didn't correct my goof era.

I said:

"There isn't a blue cloud in the sky."

It was a perfectly clear day. We human.
I though Tom C. was dignified. Thanks.
We imperfect humans have sore spots.
I love comments
Never delete
It's rude
I know you never delete.
You see that rainbow?
It's a pitch black one.
The sun isn't awake.
goofy . . .
Love this. I remember years ago, my mother being a vehement pro-abortion advocate taunted me: what are pregnant women supposed to do who don't want their babies?! Mom, I said, give them up for adoption, it's been done since the dawn of time.
I appreciate the spirit with which this piece is written, and I'm happy for your brother and his wife but I had mixed reactions while reading this. I'm an adult adoptee who has been in reunion with my birthmother for over 20 years. In my experience (and in the experience of other triad members I've spoken with), adoption is a phenomenon that is ever-shifting with the changes of the life cycle. I always carry a sense of loss and disconnection inside me, as I think both my adoptive mother and birthmother did, for different reasons.
I love a good happy ending, Mary! I'm so happy for your brother and his wife and Baby James and his brave birth mama, who realized she was too young to properly care for him. I wish the best for all.
JD: Well you just made my day! Thank you!

Sally: "Everything about this sings, even when it's the blues." Great writing Sally! thank you so much and thank you for your good wishes for the birth mother and my family.

Algis: Rain and rainbows are perfect companions. Thank you.

Art: I am graced with two comments from you? This must be my lucky week!

Deborah: Choice is a three way street here isn't it? Thanks so much for reading. I hope you are doing well.

divorcedpauline: Thanks for reading and thanks for bringing up the potential complexities of persistent pain for those who have been adopted. In this situation, it is an "open adoption" (as every adoption should be). Baby James will know who his birth mother is from very early on; he will know his birth grandparents. This is critical as it is ancient and anthropological for us to want to know where we came from. To do this any other way can be quite cruel as you well know.

Lisa: I love a happy ending too Lisa. We gotta celebrate them when they happen! I'm happy for your dryer! Thanks so much for reading.
jeezzzz... making me cry so early in the day. beautiful piece, particularly the nod to the birth mother at the end. just lovely.
This hit a personal chord, but beyond that it was so extraordinarily written. You captured it all, the joy, the heartache, the *cadence* of the process. Absolutely stunning writing.
I am crying. In a good way. And I am thankful for both my birth mom and my real parents as I read.
Thanks, Mary. A beautiful story and a happy ending.
This is why a lot of couples don't go the adoption route. At least with IVF, you don't have a face and name to remember and the crib and the rest of the paraphernalia to haunt you.
I didn't know birth mothers could just change their mind. How long does that 'right'last? I realize that's not the crux of your piece, but it seems more than a little unfair. It's not like returning something you've bought off Ebay, nobody should be allowed to play with peoples'feelings like that.
I am moved to sobs, choking tears of joy.
Silence. Amazing and beautifully told.
I am touched. thank you.
Beautiful story. I can relate.
I have an adopted child. I adore him.