While Tom Rogers sat passively in his arm chair, unwilling to intrude on his wife’s surprise, Jerald and Megan leaned forward on the sofa....holding hands and wondering what ‘extra bit of detail’ his mother had gone to retrieve.
They had come calling to test the waters, to broach a potentially uncomfortable subject.... hoping that the notion of looking for Jerald’s birth mother would not offend the Rogers. Now, based on the their apparent acceptance, it seemed that little or no ‘selling’ would be required.
A moment later Karen Rogers emerged from the hallway carrying a thin, letter-sized manilla envelope. Sitting down between the anxious couple, she opened the envelope and drew out a thin three-page document.
“Here we are,” she said, holding up the wordy, small-print packet for them to see. “This is the State’s Adoption Agreement. It spells out the terms of adoption....the do’s and don’ts, the can’s and cannot’s.”
Turning the pages faster than they could scan, she continued. “You can read all this. In fact, we’ll make a copy for you to have. There’s lots of detail about everything except the little person who is the reason for all the words....the one these forms call ‘Baby Doe.’
"It has little to say about him....where he came from, who his family is, and such things. I suppose the agency records have all that. But the adopting parents would never know. As far as we were concerned our new son arrived with no strings attached.”
Karen leaned forward, unsmiling now, wanting to make her point. “Anyway, you can be sure that your dad and I won’t be at all upset if you decide to look for the person or persons these documents don’t mention at all.”
Pausing, Karen wiped at the tears she could not hold back as she reached into the envelope for another, smaller piece of paper. Then, getting to her feet, she handed the page to her son and crossed the room to sit on the arm of her husband’s chair.
“Why don’t you read it out loud,” she suggested. “Let Megan hear what you have there.”
Jerald took a moment to scan the few handwritten sentences, and broke into a broad grin. Reaching for his wife’s hand he began.
This little angel has been with me for nine months. Now he or she deserves a better life than I could ever give him or her. Please help this little one have the best future possible.
Jerald paused to read the cryptic words once more, then turned to his mother. At once she read the question on his face, the one he could not bring himself to ask.
“When we picked you up that morning at the hospital,“ Karen began. “They gave us the envelope with the State papers I just gave you.
“But it wasn’t until that night, when we got out the papers to read they more carefully, that we noticed the note you have there, tucked in the same envelop. We couldn't imagine how it got there....as far as we knew it was absolutely against the agency’s rules. But apparently it was from the mother who had just given up her baby.
"It seems that ‘E. Woodman’ person, whoever she was, had managed to have her last say, and let us know what she wanted. Of course we never met her, but I’ve always thought she must a very classy lady.”
That night at home, laying in bed, Jerald closed his book, laid it on his chest, and looked over at Megan. At that moment, in light of the evening’s surprising revelations, the novel’s impending showdown could not hold his attention.
It sounded as though his birth mother might not hate him after all. Perhaps he had been wrong about that....based on her own words, spelled out in what might be her own handwriting.
For as long as he could remember he had blamed her for giving him away, perhaps to erase his bothersome presence in her life. Instead, it seemed she had done what she did for his own good. Taken at face value, that was enough to turn his long-standing complaints upside down.
“It’s going to take some getting used to,” he said, more to himself than to Megan.
“What is that? What will take getting used to?”
“All of it, I suppose. I idea that maybe she didn’t just unload me like I thought. And knowing that Mom and Dad are okay with me trying to find her. All that and having a name to work with. At least I think that ‘E. Woodman’ must be a name.”
“You’re right. That is a lot,” she nodded. “A lot to be thankful for.”
“You bet it is.” He reached for her hand. “And you’re the one who prodded me to go ahead and talk to the folks. Who knows how long I might have waited if you hadn’t given me a nudge?”
It would take a few seconds for Megan’s question to arrive. “I wonder what that E. Woodman name is about? How do you suppose that can help us?”
“I’m not sure. But you can bet we’ll try to find out.