Assumptions are the mother of misunderstandings # 2

During our first visit back into the fold,  I assumed my family would know exactly what to do and say after My Man and I had lost Sofia to her birth mother. I envisioned a group hug where Marty and I would be swallowed up in sympathy and the loss of our daughter would be at the heart of our visit. I expected my brothers and sisters to read my mind, see the gaping hole in our hearts, and express themselves with precisely the right selection of words that would bathe us in solace. I’d placed my family on a pedestal and then watched with a critical and judgmental eye to see who’d pass muster.

Chapter IV – January 1994 to May 1995

“…While I anticipated the Fourth of July pit stop in southern Arizona with my family, I girded myself for the inevitable: the next generation. Last year I’d daydreamed of Sofia huddled within the pack of newly hatched toddler nephews and nieces, forming a tight bond with her cousins. Marty and I would be in the fray of comparing baby gadgets, contributing our comical missteps, and turning to my mother for advice. I’d salivated years for that moment, but as soon as I set foot in my mother’s house with my backpack and not a bundle of joy, my flight response kicked in. After a boisterous welcome, I ferreted for Sofia’s photographs in my mother’s living the hallway, and her bedroom. They’d been put away to spare our feelings.

My siblings gathered, I doted on my nephews and nieces, praying my lighthearted façade remained intact, but once we exhausted our camping stories, my brothers rehashed their jokes, and my sisters conceded on refashioning my look the visit proved awkward and forced like a TV sitcom with a laugh track. No one brought up Sofia.

My mother, a night owl, kept me abreast of the family gossip late into the night, the two of us alone, sharing her bed while polishing off her stash of butter cookies and See’s Candies. The few times we brushed up against intimate conversation, I was certain she’d at least allude to Sofia, but when fatigue won over, I kissed her goodnight.

“Mijita, do me a favor,” my mother asked on my way out the bedroom door. “Reach into my top drawer.” She pointed to her dresser.

I pulled out Sofia’s silver-framed photograph, my precious little girl smiling back at me, and clutched it to my chest. Without a word between us, we embraced and wept. When I finally went to bed, I placed Sofia’s photograph among the other family portraits and thanked her.”

4 thoughts on “Assumptions are the mother of misunderstandings # 2

  1. Beautifully expressed, Liz. Thanks for posting this. Our friends Armando and Erica just had their first baby. I held Hugo in my arms just yesterday, that tiny perfect being and it made me think of Sofia and how I never got to hold her. I wondered where she is now, how old she is, where she goes to school, what her name is. You must be some kind of freekin resilient being to have gone through that and come out on the other side still graceful and funny and willing to love and love again. I think your book speaks more to the resilience of the human heart than to anything else, including ill conceived adoption policies, bad bureaucracies and messed up social workers.

    Waiting for more…

    • Oyes, muchas gracias! I love the baby’s name. This scene of loss and life reminds me of Malin when speaks of women as “Steel Magnolias”. And I am extremely fortunate to have an abundance of steel magnolias circling my wagon. love you, Liz

  2. It’s so sad, but true. In our case, the adoption agency social worker and director treated us with incredible insensitivity when the birth mother changed her mind. On top of our devastating loss we felt discarded by their callousness, which only added to our anger. A vicious cycle. Thanks for your comment, Liz

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