A new baby

Most days, Mateo takes the bus to kindergarten, but sometimes we drive so we can read together in the classroom for 15 minutes before school begins. I chat with the other mothers on the playground as we watch our kids jump and run, their little bodies radiating energy and happiness. At the sound of the bell, the teacher, Ms. S, emerges from the classroom and the kids fall into an orderly line. Ms. S has been teaching kindergarten for more than 20 years. She knows how to set a tone.

This morning, the excitement is especially high. Ms. S’s oldest daughter, a married woman who lives back East, is pregnant, due to deliver any minute. I know this because all week Mateo has been telling me, “Ms. S is about to become a grandma!”

As the kids file into the classroom and Ms. S is telling us about her daughter’s long and seemingly endless labor, her cell phone rings. “Oh, oh, oh!” Ms. S spins in a circle as she flips open her phone. “It might be news!”

Another false alarm.

Inside the classroom, I settle into a miniature-sized plastic chair and Mateo goes over to his cubby to pull out his book box. Then he does something he has never done when I come to the classroom to read. He crawls into my lap and snuggles. He wants to be held.

Chatter about babies swirls around the classroom–”During my first pregnancy…” “She was ten pounds eleven ounces!,” “And then the doctor said twins,”–and I remember the arrival of my nieces and nephews. For a few stunning moments, the world stopped: It’s a girl! It’s a boy! He’s got the same eyes-hair-chin-nose. She’s gorgeous!

As I hug Mateo, and he clings to me, I wonder about his birth. Mateo is from Guatemala, and one of the few facts I know about his life is that before he was born, his biological mother made her decision to give him up. I imagine that in order to separate, she had to distance herself from her son. No calls to a grandma waiting on the other end of a cell phone. No announcements sent to aunties and uncles and far-flung kin. Did Mateo’s mother count his fingers and toes?

I reach into my pocketbook for my glasses and blink away a few sharp tears. Through some miracle, Mateo found his way to me and my husband, to his sister, Olivia; to our family.  Forever, I am Mateo’s mother and he is my son. But today I’m reminded, again, that like all children who are adopted, Mateo has a story that started before I met him. His prologue is one I may never know.

When Mateo was born, did anyone celebrate? Please tell me yes.


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11 Responses to “A new baby”

  1. Jamie says:

    YES! God and the angels celebrated. I have to believe that for my daughter (also born in Guatemala), too.

  2. Sveta says:

    I am right there with Jamie! For sure they did! God and the angles, fairies of the fields, and also the ones in charge of playgrounds, bicycles, and all things colored with crayons and markers. Jessica, you are right to be sad. And you are also right to be happy. I don’t want to get all esoteric on you here, but I’d like believe that somewhere, somehow, the meeting of Mateo’s little soul with those of your family happened before you even consciously knew it…Your family’s path is not the one that’s easily traced, but it is wonderfully complex, and most definitely very unique. Oh, how I miss Mateo just about now!!! Big hugs!

  3. Jessica says:

    Beautifully said, Jamie and Sveta. Thank you both for understanding.

  4. Tia says:

    How cute they are hugging… :)

    This is a fantastic piece of writing

  5. Jessica says:

    One of my favorite photos~
    Thank you, Tia.

  6. susanne says:

    I am not certain about the moment of his birth, however I can reassure him that he is celebrated every minute, of everyday, as your son… that is more than many children…I look at pictures of his beautiful eyes and smile and know that his birth parents must have been beautiful people, you can almost touch his soul through the expressions I have seen… his birth parents were quite generous to relinquish such a treasure…

  7. Jessica says:

    Susanne: We celebrate our son every minute of every day. Like you, I know his birth parents must be beautiful people. As you know well, life can be hard. Relinquishing a child is never a decision arrived at easily, and without pain and loss. I hope his other mom knows how much we love Mateo.

  8. Paty says:

    I love your post today, it resonates so strong with me. Even though I’m not even close in our process I can only imagine. I keeping learning so much from your posts.

  9. Jessica says:

    I follow your progress on your blog and am learning a lot about foster-adopt from you! You’ll be a great mother, Paty. Thanks for reading.

  10. Maria Flores says:

    Beautiful writing! Made me so teary eye! My son, (almost 7) is from Guatemala and I too often wonder who celebrated his birth! I love the idea that God and the angels did as they knew (but I didn’t know yet) that my son was being born that day!

  11. Jessica says:

    Like you, I feel comforted by the knowledge that many rejoiced–God and the angels, and as my friend the midwife told me, every person present in the room. Each birth is a miracle to be celebrated.
    Thanks so much for writing, Maria. Best wishes to you and your son!

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