I'll be out most of the day. We are heading over to my sister's to celebrate my nephew David's second birthday and, as with most family parties over here, it will probably last the entire day.
I never tire of telling the story of David and how he came to be my nephew. The following is what I wrote last year, when David turned one.
the story of david, on his first birthday
Several years ago, in the courthouse I work in (I was not working there yet at the time), an employee found the lifeless body of a newborn infant in a bathroom stall. One of the emergency workers who responded to the scene, Tim Jaccard, was so moved by the scene that he was motivated to start the AMT Children of Hope Foundation, a group which went on to found Safe Havens. Safe Havens are hospitals, private homes and houses of worship throughout Long Island that have drop-off points for women who have given birth, but for various reasons do not want to keep the babies. These are infants that may otherwise have been abandoned in restrooms or dumpsters, left for dead. Tim comes into this story again later.
My sister and her husband tried for many years to have a baby. When it became apparent that they were suffering from infertility, they sought medical help. They went through many tries at in-vitro fertilization, which is a physically and emotionally straining process. It never worked for them. They went through years of testing, experiments and physical procedures to try and conceive. They got to a point where they realized that it was just not going to happen for them. This is when they decided to try and adopt.
They first went to Catholic Charities, because my cousin adopted three children through them. They were turned down because my brother-in-law is Jewish. Nevermind that they are financially stable, own their own home, can provide a stable, loving environment for a child, and promised to raise the child Catholic. It wasn't good enough for them. Catholic Charities was a dead end.
They tried posting their number in colleges and on internet message boards made specifically for that purpose. Lots of phone calls, more dead ends.
One day my sister was talking to her friend Mary about her and her husband's frustration. Turns out Mary is Tim Jaccard's secretary. Mary put my sister in touch with Tim and the wheels began turning.
There were more dead ends at first. A young girl who decided to give her baby to someone else. A woman who, at the last minute, decided to keep her baby. That one was at Christmas time, and my sister had announced to us on Christmas Eve that they would be getting a baby. Two days later, the woman said no. And how can you be mad at that, really? She wanted to keep and raise her baby and that's a good thing, despite the pain it brought to my family. My sister and her husband made the decision that they would not tell anyone the next time there was hope for a baby. They would wait until the baby was born, the papers were signed and then and only then would they spread the news.
Cut to last December. I was sitting at my desk at work, when my sister (who works with me) came into my office looking pale. She was shaking. She had just received a phone call from Tim. There was a baby boy, born on November 20th and the mother, an illegal immigrant who had just come here from Burma, did not want this baby. She was ready and willing to sign papers giving him up. My sister and her husband had known about this woman since the baby was born, but said nothing to any family member, remembering what happened the last time. But now she had to tell me because Tim said on the phone to be ready to be a mother in two days. Two days. After years of waiting and hoping and being disappointed, she had two days to get ready for a baby. She was to leave work immediately and head to to the woman's apartment in Queens, where Tim was waiting for my sister and her husband to meet the mother. The mother wanted to see them first, to know who she was giving her baby up to. I walked my sister out to her car and wished her luck. As soon as she was gone, I broke a promise I made and called my mother.
Two hours later, my mother and I were in Target, spending a small fortune on baby supplies. Clothes, diapers, bottles and every accessory both useful and extravagant, were bought. By the time we got home, my father, who cannot keep a secret to save his life, had told every relative within shouting distance. Basically meaning everyone in town. Friends and family kept pulling up to the house, dropping off supplies. A bassinet. Enough diapers to last a month. More clothes, baby blankets, crib sheets. There were moments where we felt like we were jinxing the whole thing, pusing our luck, but we decided to test fate and stock up anyhow. Any woman who has ever had a child will tell you nine months is barely enough time to get everything ready. Imagine only having two days to prepare. We figured it was better to have this stuff ready for her than to have nothing ready at all, and have to run out that day to buy all the things they would need.
Sometime that night my sister called and said it was definite. The baby was theirs. He would be delivered to their home, by Tim, the next night. She still wouldn't believe it, wouldn't talk in definite tones until the baby was in her arms. Can you blame her?
The next day was a frenzy. There were still so many things to get, so many people to call. My sister was frantic, her husband was neurotic. By 9pm, there were 20 people, friends and family, sitting in their living room waiting for David. We had champagne ready. Finally, Tim pulled up at around 10pm. My sister freaked out and wouldn't go to the door. She was afraid Tim would be standing there empty handed, come to bring the bad news that the woman had changed her mind. I looked out the window and saw Tim lifting a little baby out of a car seat. I shoved my sister towards the front door and told her to chill out. And Tim walked in, held out David, and put him in my sister's waiting arms. There was not a dry eye in the house. My father was crying, the neighbors were crying. I thought my sister and her husband were both going to pass out. They held him and stared at him for the longest time and nobody moved, nobody talked. Finally, someone popped the cork on a champagne bottle and we all cheered. For the next hour, David was passed from person to person and we all stared in wonder at the baby we had waited so long for.
David is a year old now. Not a day goes by that I don't look at him and think about the birth mother he has out there somewhere, and I wonder if she knows what she gave up. I look at his engaging smile and listen to his loud laugh and kiss his soft little cheeks and I wonder. I see my sister and her husband with their child and I am so happy for them, and so thankful that Tim Jaccard afforded them this opportunity, that this adorable child was not abandoned in a dumpster in the dark of night because the mother had no one to turn to.
So happy first birthday, David. You are a lucky boy. You had a selfless, caring birth mother who made a choice that was hard for her and right for you. And you ended up in the arms and hearts of two people who will give you a lifetime of love.