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Coral Reef Island

Prologue to Baggage Claim:
an Adoption Love Story

Burbank Airport, November 1994


Vicky: Heart pounding madness, will she like me? I covered uneven and missing parts of my cleft lip with pencil, then applied color ½ shade darker. Smiling to check symmetry, I drew my index finger slowly out of my mouth, Mom’s trick to keep lipstick off front teeth. 

An old habit, hiding my scars. After thousands of dollars for therapy and surgery it pissed me off when a weird look on the subway made me feel ugly - and I’d hide my upper lip behind my hand. 

Ah well, that’s life with a birth defect. 

Driving to the airport to meet the woman who threw me away, the trees blurred a green frame around my reflection - a funhouse mirror. What if she doesn’t come?


Barbara: Excitement danced around my chest, my stomach. I’ll meet Vicky at last. A new feeling stirred within, a Mama Bear who would do anything for her child. Remembering how my mother was jealous of me, I dressed more conservatively than usual, vowing never to compete with my daughter. 

My heart, so full of love, soared beyond the moving plane.

An hour later, when the engine’s pitch signaled our descent I had a plan. The landing gear bumped a touchdown, and the engines reversed. Tension coiled within me as I held my breath, clutching my bag, my seat belt. 

Ding! I sprang from the seat, first in line for the back stairway.

On the tarmac, then moving through the airport crowd I was a heat-seeking missile, impatient to find Vicky. We’re meeting at Baggage Claim. Where is it?  

Funneling through hallways, following exit signs, I burst on the sunlit sidewalk. She’s going to think I didn’t come. She’ll leave. Spinning, searching, I scanned the waiting people with hawk-like intensity, my eyes rising to a sign at the far end of the building.

Baggage Claim. There it was, above the north entrance. Taking a deep breath, I raced to hold my baby for the first time.


To be published in 2022. Contact us to read the rest of the story.

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