More Tales from the Tailgate
by Beth Kozan
Last month for my blog piece (published on the 3rd of June 2016), I wrote about the baby who was born in my Subaru on the way to the hospital. I ended with the promise to tell the story AGUA, from my book Adoption: More Than By Chance. (By the way, this was a different Subaru! I had five Subarus over my 30-year career in adoptions.)
I have noticed through the years that placements come in “clumps.” We might not have a need for foster care for a long time, then we’ll have five babies in a row who need it. At the time of this story, we were on a run of Spanish-only speakers. We hire bilingual staff whenever we have openings, but it’s difficult to retain them. A well-trained bilingual worker with a Masters degree can always find a job making more money than in the nonprofit field. When possible, we try to match our Spanish-speaking birth moms with a couple who speak Spanish, which was the case now.
I thought that Rosario understood the signal, which was for her to page me and say ’ospital when she went into labor; I would know it was time for me to drive her to the hospital. At two-thirty on a Saturday morning two weeks before her expected due date, I got a page, but the message was only heavy breathing. I figured it had to be Rosario, so I called her back. When she answered, all she could say was, “mucho dolor!” which I understood: “much pain.” I assured her I would be there andale. About three miles away from the hospital, she said, “Agua!” I was pretty sure she wasn’t thirsty.
At the emergency room entrance, I ran in and said I had a woman in hard labor who only spoke Spanish. Luckily, the desk clerk on duty was Hispanic, and she came with the wheelchair personnel to whisk Rosario away. “Did her water break?” she asked. “Oh, yes, I see that it did.”
I took a moment to towel off the seat in my car and then moved the car out of the emergency room driveway. About a minute later I was back inside the hospital and asking where they had taken Rosario. “Room three,” the attendant answered, “but her baby’s already here!” I walked into the room and found a nurse standing by the baby boy in a warmer, and four attendants pushing towels with their feet, mopping the floor. Rosario was lying on the bed, still in her clothes. “How did she deliver?” I asked in astonishment. “She still has on her clothes!”
“Through the clothes,” said the nurse. When they stood her up to move her from the wheelchair to the bed, the baby fell out of her! That amniotic fluid is slippery stuff.
Later in the day, the adoptive parents came to the hospital to meet Rosario. At first reluctant to meet, I knew that the adoptive mom’s ability to speak Spanish would reassure Rosario in ways I could not. We took pictures of them together, so that someday J-J (the nickname they gave the baby) would know what his birth mother looks like. A few months later, Rosario asked for a letter from the adoptive mom, which she supplied in Spanish, and at present Rosario does not want to have any photos. We will honor her wishes, but there are photos that will remain in the file in case Rosario asks for them.
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.