Losing Jessica by Robby DeBoer
As anyone who has read my blog more than twice knows, I am an adult adoptee, as is my husband, and our daughter is adopted.
Mia and my son Dexter mean the world to me. They are both very special in their own ways and I can't imagine my life without the richness and joy they give me.
That being said, I have avoided reading this book for at least a decade. I knew it would disturb me beyond measure, much as it did when the entire case was playing out.
A brief synopsis. Jessica was adopted by Jan and Robby DeBoer of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her birthmother, Cara, claimed a man named Scott was the birthfather. Scott duly signed off his parental rights, freeing Jessica for adoption by the DeBoers. But wait, oops, Cara lied. Scott was not the father. Instead, a man named Dan Schmidt who oops, had already fathered two children he didn't provide support for, nor was he involved in their lives, was the father. And he wanted Jessica.
Long court case that was remarkable because there was no precedence. It had never happened before.
Dan and Cara eventually married and had a daughter together while the case was playing out. They seemed to have no regard as to how placing Jessica with them would affect her. She was 3 and a half years old when she was wrenched away from Jan and Robby. Although Jan and Robby tried to prepare her, how could you?
I can remember watching the heartbreaking scene when Jessica was removed from Jan and Robby's home. I was sitting on the couch with my Mom (herself an adoptive parent, remember) with my seven month old son Dexter in my arms. My Mom and I were both crying our eyes out, seeing Jessica scream, "I want my Mommy! I want Daddy!" And she didn't mean Cara and Dan. I remember my Mom gripping my hand and saying over and over, "My God, I can't imagine, I can't imagine if someone would have taken you away from me, I can't imagine."
I am reminded of the conversation Stacy and I had about the anti-adoption people who seem to think adoptive parents are just babysitters for 18 years or so. According to statistics, adoption touches one in four people. I don't know how accurate that number is, because just about everyone I know has been touched by adoption. In fact, an online friend of mine from another country has just become a mother to a beautiful son this week through adoption.
Losing Jessica is a very moving story. Yes, it could be viewed as being a bit biased but Jan and Robby DeBoer acted in the best interest of the child. I don't think Dan and Cara Schmidt could say the same. Dan and Cara made very little effort to find out Jessica's day to day habits and schedule, they had the DeBoers followed, and even returned a Christmas gift for Jessica the DeBoers sent back to the store it was delivered from. After testifying in court, under oath, that they would not change Jessica's name, the Schmdits changed her name. One aspect that really pisses me off is the fact that Cara was rewarded for lying under oath. She was obviously an upstanding honorable human, since she not only couldn't figure out who impregnated her, she even deliberately lied about it.
The Schmdits were vague and non-committal about therapy for Jessica. Gee, do you think she might have needed some? The potential bonding and attachment issues are incredible. Reportedly, the former Jessica is doing well and hopefully that is some small measure of comfort to the DeBoers.
I finished this book sitting in backyard and cried my eyes out. It's a story that needs to be told, though.