Reprinted with Permission from
The Word Among Us
Story by: Diana M. Amadeo
God’s Perfect Child
He was rejected again and again—until God sent him the perfect mother.
Could it be him? I scrutinize the young man browsing through the shirt aisle. Is he the one I cuddled as a baby some two decades ago? My heart races. Yes, it could be Scotty.
"Mom," he says. A middle-aged woman turns and smiles. No, I'm wrong. This mother doesn't share her son's scar, the faint line that begins at the nose and runs through the lip. But I smile at the memory this pair evokes.
Newcomer in the Nursery. In my mind, I travel back twenty years. It is the beginning of my shift in the Special Care Nursery, where I work as night charge nurse. I am making my rounds, checking on each infant. Only one new baby since yesterday, I note. A good-size newborn, wrapped in a powder blue knit blanket that conceals half his face. No name on his little warming bed.
What a gorgeous baby! He has thick, wavy blond hair and big blue eyes that follow my gaze. His eyelashes are long and expressive.
I pull the blanket away from his face, then take a deep breath at what I see. An opening runs from the infant's lip to his left nostril. I peer inside his mouth and see a fissure in his palate. Fortunately, though, the cleft lip and palate can be easily repaired. With a couple of operations and possibly speech therapy, this alert child will go on to live a healthy, productive life. I stroke his cheek and smile down at him.
Rejected. As I learn from the head nurse on the previous shift, this baby was born to an unmarried sixteen-year-old who arranged an open adoption with a thirtyish professional couple. They paid all her medical expenses and accompanied her to doctors’ appointments. Prenatal tests didn't reveal the clefts though, and now they want their money back. Their lawyer has already been in.
"Does the couple realize this is mainly a cosmetic problem, not a serious birth defect?" I ask.
"Yes, but they've made it clear they want a perfect child now, not later," the day nurse says wearily. "That baby is being treated like defective merchandise."
"Everybody wants the perfect child," sighs another colleague.
I could only groan. "Maybe they've just rejected a future president, famous actor, intellectual genius, or saint—rejected solely because of looks. What's his name?"
The day nurse looks at me with sad eyes. "He hasn't got one. The teenager doesn't want him, never bonded during pregnancy. Now she wishes she had aborted. This baby has no one. To me, he looks like a Scotty."
"That's good enough for me." I write down his name.
On day two of his life, a second set of prospective parents decides against adopting Scotty. A third couple says they'll think about it. Twenty-four hours later, they too reject him.
Praying for Parents. Frustration consumes me. Hospital confidentiality regulations prevent me from talking about Scotty's plight at home. At work, I feel comfortable discussing it only with the day nurse. Both of us are grieved that this child is being rejected because of a minor physical imperfection. Some of our colleagues feel otherwise. "I don't know what you two are so upset about," one nurse remarks. "Adoptive parents have a legal right to a perfect child."
Quietly, the day nurse says to me, "Scotty deserves more than those couples are willing to give. He deserves perfect parents." We pray together that he will find the perfect family. And we pray privately, as we cradle him in our arms and take him on our rounds in a front-pack infant carrier. It feels necessary to convey to this tiny spirit that not everyone rejects him.
On day three of Scotty's life, a plastic surgeon visits and determines when Scotty's corrective surgeries can take place. He asks whether Scotty has become a ward of the state, and whom he should bill for the surgeries. I say that I don't know, and hug Scotty to my chest. The next day, he will be taken to a foster home.
God's Perfect Plan. About midnight, I'm feeding another infant when I notice a nurse scrubbing in and slipping on a protective gown. Not recognizing her, I ask what she wants. No outside personnel are allowed in the nursery without permission or notice—a security regulation to keep infection rates down and protect infants from abduction.
"I'm looking for—oh, there he is!" she says, walking straight over to Scotty's crib. She picks him up, kisses him on the forehead, and cradles him in her arms. "Here's my boy. I've been waiting so long for you!" She settles into a rocking chair and holds Scotty tight. "I'm sorry," I begin, "but I haven't been given notice of your coming. I'll have to call security."
"Please don't," she says. Looking up at me, she smiles a crooked smile. Immediately I see the telltale marks of restorative surgery for cleft lip. Something about her voice suggests cleft palate repair as well.
"You see," she explains, "I once had a dream that I would have a blond son with beautiful blue eyes and clefts, but my girl and boy were born normal."
"After I heard about Scotty yesterday, I went home and had the same dream again. Then I talked to my husband, and he agreed for me to visit. Now that I hold him, I know—we're going to adopt Scotty."
"Is he able to suck from a bottle?" she asks. I shake my head. Scotty is being fed through a thin, flexible tube that allows formula to drain into his stomach by gravity. It's called gavage feeding.
"That's okay," the nurse says. "My family knows how to gavage. My mom did that for me for months. Your grandma, Scotty. Just wait until she sees you!"
I watch this perfect mother kiss her perfect baby and place him back in the crib. "I’ll be back at the end of my shift, and I'll get my husband and lawyer in here. I'm so excited! Molly and Paul will be thrilled to have a baby brother."
She pulls off her protective gown and heads to the nursery door. "God sent Scotty to me," she says with a beaming smile. "Yes," I say softly in agreement. "And he sent you for Scotty."
Diana Amadeo lives on the East Coast of the U.S.A. Another version of this article appeared in The Annals of St. Anne de Beaupré.