Several weeks passed, but Liz didn’t hear from Patricia again. Troubled by the lack of contact, Liz tried calling Patricia. Her number had been disconnected. Finally, Liz called Jeanette Sizemore, the social worker who had first referred Patricia’s case to her.
“Oh, yes,” Jeanette said, “Patricia had the baby and placed him with a wonderful young couple from out of state. Everything is fine with the adoption.”
“I’m more concerned about how Patricia is doing,” Liz replied, “Do you have a current contact number?”
“I’m afraid I don’t,” Jeanette replied. “But I need to do a follow up visit myself. If you like, I’ll get her new number and call you later.” The two professionals agreed on this plan. Even so, Liz felt troubled as she slowly replaced the phone.
Patricia had never really wavered from her plan to give her baby up. Though at times she expressed typical motherly feelings toward her unborn son, more often she appeared indifferent or closed to the possibility of bonding with the baby. It was as if she was already carrying someone else’s child. Patricia had often said that she didn’t ever want to see her father again; Liz suspected that she harbored similar feelings for her baby. Liz had worried that Patricia would give birth and never even hold her son, so eager was she to distance herself from the child.
Was Patricia symbolically distancing herself from her weak mother as she separated her weak and dependent baby from herself? Or did she identify the little boy with her own father somehow? Babies could be awfully unpredictable and chaotic—maybe on some level the little boy would dredge up archaic feelings of helplessness in Patricia.
“In any case,” Liz murmured to herself, “it’s done now. Now all you can do is wait.”
A few days later, Liz received a call from Jeanette. “Liz, I have surprising news about Patricia,” she began. “When I got out to the trailer, it was empty. Her neighbor said that as soon as Patricia felt better, she packed her things, withdrew the girls from school, and moved to Kansas to be near her mom and sister.”
Liz leaned back in her chair, dumbfounded. “Are you sure?” she asked.
“As sure as I can be,” Jeanette replied. “I was just as surprised as you, because she had a follow-up appointment with us, too. I’m going to have to try to contact her by mail, but I don’t even have a forwarding address that’s current. She put an old address for her mother on her original paperwork, so we’re pretty much up a creek without a paddle on this one.”
Liz thanked Jeanette and disconnected the call, sighing deeply. The clock ticked.
Patricia’s file was open before her on the desk. Liz charted her call with Jeanette Sizemore, then closed the file and locked it in her file cabinet. A few minutes later, she heard a soft knock at the door; time for her next client.
Tucking her hair behind her ear, Liz took a cleansing breath and opened the door, smiling as she ushered him into the room.