Wounded in the Womb
A story of adoption, disability
and the hope we found on four paws
By Donnie Kanter Winokur
~ Coming 2014~
Excerpts from Wounded in the Womb
PROLOGUE - Wounded in the womb
“Since receiving our son’s diagnosis of FAS, we have been humbled in ways we could never have imagined. Metaphorically we serve as a life guard to our son, but we ourselves must don life-vests in order to survive our son’s turbulent existence. FAS, is like the undertow... it lies in relative silence beneath the surface of the individual gathering its energy and force. Marked by co-existing disorders and peculiar characteristics, the ebb and flow of FASD behaviors are not exactly invisible, but often remain hidden. Some symptoms can be as gentle as the tide or swell like a tidal wave, engulfing the person and often the caregivers or family. Living with a child affected by prenatal alcohol exposure is living with the constant anticipation of an impending hurricane. Witnessing your child drown in a whirlpool of chemical imbalance and then resurface, keeps you hyper-vigilant for finding safe ports in the storm.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
My mom taught first grade for 26 years. That’s a lot of noses to wipe and tears to dry, buttons to button and shoelaces to unknot. She loved her kids, and they her. I would help my mom grade papers and paste on the gold stars for those who earned them. When I returned from college during breaks, I visited her class.
During one noteworthy excursion to her elementary school, my mom asked the class if they could think of a word describing a part of the body that rhymed with “peg.” An exceptionally adorable little boy with glasses falling off his nose enthusiastically shot his hand up in the air waving it wildly.
“Adam?” asked my mom as she advanced towards his desk.
Adam proudly and loudly announced his answer, “breast!”
So okay, maybe my mom didn’t teach rhyming or anatomy very well. But I get hysterical every time I remember that response. I hope Adam didn’t grow up to become a doctor.
FINDING MR. RABBI
Rabbi Lou and I would get together from time to time for lunch or coffee. I even took a course in Judaism from him at one of the Jewish Community Centers. Earlier that fall Lou, (notice we are now on more familiar terms?) had inquired if I was interested in meeting “anyone.”
I mumbled with a self conscious smile, “Sure. What the hell?” Not something I probably should’ve mumbled to a rabbi.
He followed my response with the intriguing comment, “You just need to know one thing. Well, maybe two things.”
“Yes?” I asked raising one and half eyebrows ... since I’ve never been able to raise only one.
“Well, this guy … if you meet him … if you wind up spending time with him … your life could be very different.” Melodramatic pause.
“What d’ya mean?” I interrogated.
“Well this man is extremely busy and very public. Hanging out with him could be like living in a fish bowl.”
I’m thinking I’m allergic to fish. Should I swim away now? I laughed and indignantly responded “Well I’m really busy, too.”
Lou reiterated. “He’s really busy.”
LEAP OF FAITH
The dinner was exquisite and afterwards we were in the elevator riding up to a penthouse floor when the door opened. In stepped a well-known, beloved rabbi and his wife. This couple belonged to the oldest conservative synagogue in the Atlanta area. Being the “new Jew” on the block, I did not recognize him. Harvey introduced me and we exchanged pleasantries.
Now under other circumstances, this would not have mattered. But Harvey and I were trying so hard to stay under the Jewish community public radar. He felt it important to be discreet in our dating activity and didn’t want to arouse suspicion…yet. Being discovered in the elevator of the Ritz Carlton in a tux and little black dress did leave room for speculation…but we figured, hey…it was a rabbi who discovered us. Rabbis aren’t supposed to gossip.