“Magda, Magda dear have you made up your mind yet?” asked the social worker. “These people deserve an answer.”
She hated her name, a name from the old country, a grandmother’s name, a grandmother she never knew. At least it was better than this social worker’s name. Who names a kid Star anyway? Flower children hippies from the sixties that’s who.
“This young couple is quite anxious. What should I tell them?”
“I need to talk to my attorney some more,” Magda answered, stalling for time.
“I can give you their names if you wish. You know what they do for a living. You know that they will be able to provide a good home. They’re even willing to meet with you, talk with you.”
“Star please I can’t decide now. I’ll get back to you in a couple of days with my decision okay?” Magda felt put out. Her attorney had told her to look at the pros and cons of this, argue both sides of the issue in her mind. She could guide her through the legal procedure she assured her but the actual decision was hers and hers alone. There was no right or wrong here, only her decision.
“Okay talk to the legal aid attorney again and get back to me as soon as possible,” Star replied somewhat huffily.
Her tone was so condescending to Magda that she could barely control herself as she eked out through gritted teeth, “I will.”
Star put her papers back in her briefcase and slammed it shut. She stood up abruptly, straightened out her dress out and marched to the door. Magda closed the door on her as Star left Magda’s one bedroom low income government subsidised apartment.
She had one child sixteen years ago and swore that she would never have another. Now she was pregnant again due to her own stupidity, getting drunk for a week and forgetting to take her free birth control pills during and for some time after that. She didn’t remember how long. This was all her own stupidity getting pregnant. She constantly screwed up. She really didn’t want another child.
This young couple wanted her baby. Star told her that the husband had a good job as a car salesman at one of the big dealerships here in town and that the wife would be a stay at home mom able to devote full attention to the baby. Probably some Gen-xers with names like Dustin or Justin and Tiffany or Brittany. What would they name the baby? Probably one of those stupid popular names of today, Hunter, Jagger, Madison, McKenzie. At least it wouldn’t be an old fashion grandparent’s name.
Magda started to weigh the pros and cons in her mind. She had been a lousy terrible mother, if she had even been a mother at all, and she knew it. Furthermore she knew that she wasn’t even a decent respectable human being. She was sure that these people would be good parents. Of that she had no doubt. Anybody would be better than her and at least there would be two of them. Not a single screw up mom dependent on government programs to support her.
She also had a criminal record. She’d been in the county jail a few times for her ‘poor decisions’ as her probation officer called them. Nobody committed crimes anymore. That wasn’t politically correct. They made mistakes or poor decisions. Like that mattered when it came to bouncing checks, shoplifting, driving under the influence. Still they were minor ‘poor decisions’, at least no felonies. When she got off supervision or out of jail it was only a matter of time until she screwed up again.
Every one of those times a social worker would place her son in foster care, have Magda attend certain classes that were court ordered, classes that would miraculously change her somehow. Then her case worker would pronounce her fit for society again after she had successfully completed all her programs and return her son to her. Magda kept getting one more last chance that she repeated over and over. It wasn’t hard to comply with the demands of her case worker. Just act sincere and do whatever they say. Play their game. She knew the system by now. These do-gooders always seemed to get so much personal satisfaction out of helping her, believing that they made a difference in this world, as she wallowed in her misery.
So now she wondered what to do. Look at it from both sides. Her boy was sixteen but didn’t live with her. He was in a juvenile facility on the other side of the state thank God. A high school drop out, no job, he stole things, repeatedly, was finally caught on camera, and was dumb enough to try to sell them on the internet. Did everything by impulse, no self control. Couldn’t help himself, just like his mother. Lost his license, too many tickets. Never appeared for his traffic tickets and was picked up on warrants for failing to appear. Didn’t pay his fines. There was nothing she could do with him. Nothing the courts or anyone could do with him to get him straightened out so he went to a juvenile detention center.
Right from the start she couldn’t handle him, couldn’t change him, couldn’t fix him. The boy never got along with kids his own age in grade school. Once he started high school it was downhill in overdrive. Didn’t do his homework, just sat there in class, never participated, never studied for a test, never passed a course. She wanted the school authorities to send him to the alternative school but they said that they couldn’t do that because he was not a discipline problem. Then she asked about special ed but they couldn’t put him there because he tested out average. So his sophomore year he had to take all freshman classes again and again he wasn’t passing when she gave up and pulled him out of school. He had fallen through the cracks.
During all this time she had sent him to a psychiatrist as the school requested her to do. She did so because none of this cost Magda anything except her time which didn’t matter as she seldom had a job. Everything’s free for the poor downtrodden in America, free welfare, free subsidized housing, free medical, free etc etc. and Magda took advantage of these freedom things, a/k/a free dumb things, as she called them.
But nothing got resolved with the psychiatrist either. He put her son on drugs but they didn’t change his behavior. What the doctor really wanted to do was to talk to the father. He wanted to know about the father’s psychological makeup. What traits could he have inherited from his father. Sometimes it was just in the genes he said. Drugs might help some in altering behavior but you can’t alter genes. Sometimes it’s just the way you were wired he said and medical science hasn’t advanced enough so that we can go in there and tighten up the loose screws and rewire the mind back to normal. Genetic makeup had a lot to do with diagnosing behavioral problems and he was short on information here.
Magda thought of all her own problems growing up. She and her son shared many of the same behavioral characteristics. She knew that she had passed her genes on to her son.
As to the father, the same result. She told the doctor that he was in prison in another state for a number of things the worst of which was involuntary manslaughter. The psychiatrist gave up and told her there was nothing he could do to help her son. Some things just can’t be fixed and we have to live with them for better, and in this case for the worse, he said.
And as to her parents what difference did it make at this point because they also fit into the pattern perfectly. They had come to this country at the close of World War II. They were seeking freedom in a sense, they were fleeing the law. Magda never knew what crimes they were running from because her parents’ marriage was a disaster and her folks divorced when she was quite young. She grew up with a broken down drunken dysfunctional mother and with a felon father who never saw her again once he was incarcerated. She knew now that these genes kept getting passed one generation to the next. That idiots breed with idiots and produce more idiots. That they were all doomed, fated to a miserable hellish existence.
So now with all that information behind her and all that information still looming in front of her, what was she to do. It was decision time. It weighed heavy on her simple mind that this child she carried was one more set of defective genes. One more poor malfunctioning human being who would bring grief, heartbreak and despair to whoever raised him or her.
That night she met with her priest, the man to whom she repeatedly confessed her sins and to whom she had entrusted her soul.
“Father I want to know what God, not Jesus, would do.”
“God has given us free will Magda. The freedom to make our own choices ever since Adam and Eve were in the garden. Whatever you do will be the will of our Lord.”
That made no sense to Magda. God gives us free will all the while knowing that some of us will make bad choices. That some of us can’t help but make bad choices. God has programmed us that way. That was not free will, making humans that were doomed to fail. People make machines, cell phones, computers and a million other things and didn’t program them to fail. Why can’t God make perfect human beings thought Magda as the tears welled up within her.
“You have made the right choice in not aborting your child Magda for that is a sin in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord guided you in not taking a life because the Lord has a plan for you and this child, just as He has a plan for all of us.”
She could never have killed the living human being in her womb. She would not have a child sucked from her uterus and flushed down the toilet or whatever they do with them she thought. Nor could she bear the thought of her child being butchered up for parts and ‘donated’ to scientific research. She was not the most moral person, just a simple person but this was a line that she would not cross.
She remembered when she went to Planned Parenthood and they had been no help. They pushed the abortion angle for her ‘health problem.’ Very little time was devoted toward selling her on adoption. She left after a heated argument with one of those well intentioned young women pressing the issue of women’s health rights upon her. What right did that woman have to tell her, another woman after all, what to do.
Her mind continued to ramble. Perhaps God would forgive her for her past sins if she put her child up for adoption. It would be her way of doing penance and or a way to redeem herself for a lifetime of sins. A way to do something good in her life for a change.
She thought of all these things as the priest droned on. But the bottom line kept coming back to her. It was obvious. To her way of thinking God had doomed her with bad genes. A genetic makeup that she could not deal with. One that had caused her and her son countless problems, disappointments and grief. Her dna was a curse that no prayer or penance could foil. If she had only been blessed otherwise, blessed with normal genes. Thus her decision had already been made for her when the priest repeated for the umpteenth time, “Whatever you do Magda, it is doing the Lord’s will.” But she knew the priest’s real angle on all this when he ended with, “I’m sure that your decision will bring so much joy and happiness to this young couple.”
Two days later she was called into the adoption agency by Star to deliver her answer. As Star showed her into her office Magda needed no introduction as she glanced at the young couple already there, the prospective parents. Star introduced them by first names only, Jason and Ashley. She chuckled to herself when she heard the names.
After the formalities were out of the way, Star once again sang up the praises of the young couple. It was way more information than Magda cared to know. Complete family histories from both sides including those of the potential loving and adoring grandparents. Complete education and work background history. Even hints as to their wealth, the size and cost of their home, what kind of cars they drove. But what stuck in Magda’s craw most were the plans that the couple gleefully told her that they had for her child’s college education and their belief that a child, with the right guidance and help, can grow up to be anything he or she wants to be, and that they would always be there to make this all possible for him or her.
The longer and more fluently they elaborated on the pros of the adoption, the more it confirmed Magda’s decision.
They had no idea what they would be in for. This problem was given to her by God. It is His will. She must not foist it off onto anyone else. She must take responsibility. She must spare them. That was the right thing to do. Abruptly she stood up and point blank shouted out to the prospective parents in no uncertain terms, “You can’t have my baby!”
They both broke down. Ashley started crying incessantly and her husband could hardly control his fury. Star got up and took Magda by her upper arm and drug her to the door saying, “Now look what you have done. Are you proud of yourself? Well you ought to be ashamed.” She continued screaming as Magda freed herself and ran out onto the street.
Magda said nothing in response as she started walking back to the projects. She kept her thoughts to herself. I don’t owe these people an explanation. How dare them think that they were entitled to my baby. I didn’t want to meet them anyway. That was that goofy Star’s idea forcing them upon me. What gives her the right to treat me like that?
Those people have no idea what I have done for them. I have spared them a lifetime of grief, heartbreak and disappointment. I have spared them countless hours of school conferences, psychiatrist conferences, lawyer conferences, court dates and jail visits. All their love and money would be foolishly wasted on someone who cannot be fixed. But no they would have never given up trying, always believing that if they had done this or done that, that somehow the child would have turned the corner and been fine. It would have drained them mentally, physically, and financially. Strained their marriage. Little did they know that it is better to be heartbroken now only this one time rather than endure a lifetime of broken hearts, hopes and dreams.
That pushy do gooder Star will find them another baby that’s for certain. Perhaps some knocked up college kid. They’d be better off taking their chances from that gene pool than the pool that I have created thought Magda.
Her thoughts from the priest now flooded her head. Oh God has a plan for us all right. His plan is brilliant. It is for people like us to serve as screw ups so that we create jobs for social workers, psychiatrists and their staff, government workers providing welfare, law enforcement officers, attorneys, bailiffs, court reporters, judges, prison employees, parole officers. Why there were probably countless others out there that were counting on us to screw up so that they can have jobs to provide for their families? People like myself, my son and yes my child to be, we all do a good useful job in the scheme of God’s plan.
Then she stopped, shook the cobwebs from her head, collected her thoughts, and tilted her head upwards toward the heavens and shouted up to God, “Why me God? Why me? Why must I be cursed with these genes?” Then she mocked God with the answer that she imagined God would give her, “Blessed are the cursed for they too do the will of the Lord.”