And why winter is coming
By Elaine Gilmartin
Kayla* was born healthy, slightly underweight, but nothing of concern. She was born to a young single mom, Jane*, whose family members and boyfriend at the time encouraged her to go through with the pregnancy, after all, this was a child of God.
We will be there for you, we’ve got your back.
Several weeks of colic and Kayla’s young dad disappeared. Because he could. Family and even friends who professed their commitment to help were already avoiding her calls.
Then one night of relentless crying, endless, endless crying.
Jane picked up her then four-month old daughter, a healthy baby with crystal blue eyes and dark, curly hair, picked her up by the ankles and swung her around. In desperation.
Kayla’s head connected with the side of a standing dresser. Her retinas immediately detached. Those crystal blue eyes that had only just started to delight in the world would never see again.
A child protective services investigation ensued, Jane lost custody, wasn’t going to fight that anyway. Her mental health at that point had so deteriorated and had to be her priority, since no one else was invested in it. And dad of course never came back to claim the baby. Because he could.
Kayla languished in the hospital for years. Surgery could not repair her retinas and as a baby with brain damage, the easier course was to give her a stomach tube for feeding. Walking was problematic with neurological issues and so as caring as staff could be, it was resolved for the most part this would be her fate.
Enter our story’s hero, Mary*. Married to a postal worker and retired herself after twenty years as a county employee, her desire to have a second child never waned. She and her husband, Cliff*, had a pre-teen daughter via IVF with a donor egg, as Mary had fertility issues.
Mary came to our agency because she had a lot more love to give and would not be daunted by Kayla’s special needs. I met her at that upstate New York hospital where she first met Kayla and from that first moment, she was Kayla’s mom.
It was a process, of course, these things don’t happen overnight, but after educating…