By Maura McLarty
Megs and Jimmy as young kids.
My friend sent me a children’s book called “Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home“. It’s a beautiful book about a little dachshund named Roxie who needs a permanent home. Her foster mother explains that a “forever home” for Roxie has been found. Roxie has lots of questions about adoption and the book explores these topics. This book touches my heart for two very perfect reasons.
At age 6, before I had any understanding about the birds and bees , I knew that I would adopt children. It wasn’t because I was trying to be a heroine, or change the world; it just made total sense that if there were children who needed a mommy, I’d be their mommy. After my birds and bees education, my feelings didn’t change; it wasn’t necessary for me to give birth to be a mom.
When my husband and I experienced fertility difficulties I didn’t flinch; adoption it was. Adoption in the ’80’s, especially private adoption as was our case, was uncharted territory, with lots of gray areas. It was, at best, a very tedious process and we seemed to hit roadblocks at every turn. But then, September 18, 1984, our world changed -forever. A friend who knew that we were trying to adopt put us in touch with a woman whose daughter had given birth to a baby girl at 6:49 that evening. The adoption process began…very quickly. That night, at 10 pm, we secured a lawyer. The next morning, decisions had to be made. Quick! What do you want name the baby? That’s easy- Meghan Elizabeth Grace! We were told to arrive at the hospital in the morning to meet the birth parents and get our baby.
The rest of that day was a whirlwind of activity; I bought baby outfits, diapers, blankets and anything else I could think of. My friend let me borrow her daughter’s cradle. The neighborhood soon heard of our exciting news, and were rejoicing with us. But in the back of my mind, I worried; what if the birth mom changed her mind? Or the birth dad? What then? I’d be crushed. I had to be open to that possibility.
The kids as all grown up.
On September 20th, Pat and I drove to the hospital to get our baby. I still tear up remembering that day. We were told to arrive at 8:30 am. We got there early. The birth mom and dad wanted to meet us, and we wanted to meet them as well. I wanted the birth parents to know about us and I wanted to reassure them that we’d do our best to love her with all our heart. The birth father came out to the lobby. He introduced himself. Jon was his name. He was very handsome and had long dark hair. He looked like a rocker guy, and he indeed was a talented musician. Then we met Meghan’s birth mother, “M”. “M” was naturally beautiful, with long wavy dark hair, full lips , flawless skin, and brown eyes that looked exhausted and overwhelmed. We only spoke a few minutes. I told “M” and Jon that Meghan would always know that she was adopted . She would know that because “M” and Jon loved her so much they recognized that they were too young (16 and 18) to provide for her monetarily and emotionally. It took great courage and sacrifice to decide that adoption would give Meghan the best chance to have a wonderful life. When I asked “M” and Jon if they had a special request for us to impart in Meghan on their behalf, they simply said, “Just love her.”
But the story does not end there!
When Meghan was 21 months old, the phone rang. It was “M”, Meg’s birth mom. Our last communication was almost one year ago. “You told me once that you wanted Meghan to have a baby brother or sister.” “M” said.
“Yes” I said warily.
“Well, I’m pregnant. Do you want this baby? Jon is the father of this baby also.” Two biological siblings!
OF COURSE we wanted this baby! This baby, a boy, was due on September 20th, two days after Meghan’s birthday. Meg would have a baby brother (we knew the sex)!
On September 18th, 1986, Meghan’s second birthday, “M” went into labor. Our baby boy was breech and an emergency “C” section was performed. Our precious James Patrick McLarty, Jr., “Jimmy”, was born at 11:49 pm. He too, was perfect. He had tons of hair, big brown eyes, and stopped crying when I sang to him. Meghan still says that “Jimmy” is the best birthday present she ever received. And so a second celebration began! This time the sign in front of our house was blue and read, “Meghan has a baby brother! ” Our parents took turns holding their grandson. My dad said with much emotion in his voice, “Welcome miracle number two.”
“Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home” certainly would have come in handy when Meg and Jim were little. We were always honest with the children, but there were times when we weren’t exactly sure how to answer their questions. When Meghan was about 3 1/2, and Jimmy 1 1/2, I heard Meghan lecturing. “You and I are adopted”, she said in her little baby voice. Jimmy stood with a blank stare. “Mommy told the doctor, ‘I want the prettiest baby girl with beautiful dark hair and brown eyes.’ That’s how they got me. Then they said they wanted a baby boy who was cute, and then we got you.”
Much has transpired over the years. The kids have reunited with their biological dad Jon, who is a rock and roll musician and played along with Jimmy at Meg’s wedding. We are a happy, nutty, fun family.
Writing this essay has made me tear up more than once. The feeling of holding our babies for the very first time and all that adoption entails never fades. It feels just like yesterday.