Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to Get Your Blood Boiling with a Simple Fever

A few weeks ago, Noah and I were back in the ER. He'd spiked a fever of 104F (about 40 C for you properly-educated Canadians) after tylenol, so we brought him in to get checked out.

The registration clerk took down our particulars and sent us over to see the triage nurse. She was fantastic - giving Noah bubbles to play with (i.e. eat) and engaging him while she collected his medical history.

Inevitably, the question of his early days and prenatal history came up, and I filled the nurse in on relevant parts of our adoption story. 

We were sent back to the clerk to have a few more details added. At that point she asked for a contact number. 

"Can I have his mother's full name, address and phone number?"

"Yes, I'm Sarah Reid, and my address and phone number are the same as what I've given you already."

She stared blankly at me for a few minutes. "It says here he's adopted. I need the contact info for his MOTHER. That's the policy. We need to contact her if something comes up later on." She smiled (at least, I think it was a smile).

It was a good thing for her I had a roasting toddler in my arms, because it shielded my outrage a little. "Noah has a birth mother. And I am his mother through adoption. Put my name down as the contact." (I carried on silently "before I reach across that desk and give you a personal info session on adoption and roles and what NOT to say to a stressed out mom in an emergency room.")

"Well, I know, but the form says I need his... you know, his real mother's information..." she started faltering. "But maybe you don't know it."

That was it. "Hi. I'm Sarah. This is my son Noah. I'm checking him into your hospital. You need a contact person, preferrably his mother. Hurray! That's me." 

I then spelled my name for her and waited for the low-wattage lightbulb above her head to turn on.... it never did.  

I went back to the waiting room and sat amongst the bleeding and the barfing and wondered briefly how many other adoptive families this woman had offended. Then I took care of my son

On my to-do list: draft a form letter for medical professionals about the roles and responsibilities of adoptive, foster and birth parents, and mail 20 copies to my local hospital, attention admitting department.