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Baby Boy #3331: An Adoption Story

Baby Boy #3331: An Adoption Story
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Edith died when I was 15. I remember one hospital visit, after the chemotherapy had failed to stop the cancer. My father was sitting on her bed, and they were talking. She whispered to him, “I’m dying for just one cigarette.” He turned off the oxygen and removed the tube from her nose. He lit a cigarette for her, and she was just starting to smoke it when a nurse came into the room. “What are you doing?” she yelled. “You can’t do that in here!” My father backed the nurse up toward the door and said quietly, so my mother wouldn’t hear, “What’s it going to do, kill her?”
I never fully understood what my father was doing that day in the hospital, not until nearly 30 years later, when I’m the one watching him struggling for breath. The doctors tell him they don’t know which will get him first — the emphysema or the tumor in his lung. This man has been such a good father to me, Rosalie, and it hurts so to see him the way he is now, tethered to an oxygen tank and disappearing. The other day I spoke to him on the telephone, and for the first time, he didn’t recognize my voice. “Is my son there?” he kept asking. “Let me speak to my son.”

I don’t know what else to say. I hope you’re still alive. I hope we can find each other. I hope that if I can find you, you’ll want to see me.

Rosalie, can you even think of me as your son? The last time you saw me, if you ever saw me, I was an infant. Now I’m a grown man. Strange, a mother and son to be on such new ground like this — strangers learning our names for the first time. Perhaps we should make up entirely new names for each other. But I wouldn’t want to change yours. For so long I have wondered about you, and today I have a beautiful name to say, a name to call you by. Rosalie, I can’t stop saying your name.

See also: Adoption Resources.

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