Today was an extraordinary day. It was amazing to go “back to the very beginning,” as Zoe puts it – or at least to the beginning of the story that we know. Everything that comes before is speculation – where was I born? who gave birth to me? why did they decide not to raise me? who brought me to this place? why here? was I alone? was I crying? did they watch until I was found? what were their dreams for me? do they think of me now? All the answers are guesswork. But this we know – a baby was found HERE, here on the ground where we are standing. Six years, seven months, and six days ago, a baby was found HERE, where a six-year-old picks flowers and finds pretty stones for her treasure box. HERE, on this sidewalk, three years, eight months, and 24 days ago, a baby was found HERE, where a three-year-old holds my hand and says, “Mama, say it again: ‘You’re my daughter forever. No one can ever take you away.’”
I already had pictures of Zoe’s finding place. We call it that, her finding place, instead of her abandonment spot. That’s what makes it a beginning rather than an end. She was found. I didn’t expect to have an emotional reaction; after all, I had already seen the pictures. But being there showed so much more – how many people were around who could be relied upon the find a baby quickly and how easy it would have been to end it all in the nearby river. But her birth parents made another choice, a choice to make sure that she had a life.
Maya’s finding place, too, was teeming with people. There seems little doubt that the site was selected with care to ensure that she would be found, would be well taken care of. No one can see the place and think the birth parents were indifferent. We talked to people at this place; babies are often found here. This was a thoughtful choice, a choice to guarantee that she had a life.
We visited another finding spot, for a friend. Again, there were people everywhere. A baby would be found here, and found quickly.
I don’t romanticize my children’s birth parents. I can’t know if they are noble or venal, selfish or giving, heartless or loving. But standing at these places, I can believe that they did the best they could to make sure that these little lives they brought into the world had a chance to survive. And I am thankful.