Who Can I Turn To?

hospitalJenny woke up from her surgery to find a nurse staring at her and writing on her clipboard. It would have seemed normal, expect for the worried expression worn by the nurse.

“She’s awake now, Doctor. Should we ask her how to contact her family?”

“No, let’s wait until she is more alert. It’s just sad that we can’t reach anyone.”

Confused by the conversation, Jenny slowly sat up and looked around the recovery room. What she saw only confused her further. Her mom and her brother were standing over the bed of another girl across the room. Jenny wanted to scream that she could see her family, but in her drug-induced state she couldn’t say the words. It was hard to hear every word, but she heard her mom say to the other girl, “Jenny, you look so great,” and then her brother said, “We can’t wait until you come home.”

Jenny’s mom turned and looked at her, but quickly looked away. In and out of consciousness, Jenny struggled to comprehend what was happening. Why would her mom and brother ignore her and instead talk to a stranger? Why did the doctor and nurse think her family couldn’t be reached when they were in the same room? And why were they calling that other girl Jenny?

When the anesthesia began to wear off, Jenny managed to tell the nurse, “That’s my mom and my brother right there. Mom, I’m over here! I know you can hear me. Why are you avoiding me?”

Her mom finally turned around and rolled her eyes. “I guess we should get this over with.” Jenny’s mom reluctantly walked over to her bed; Jenny’s brother did not follow.

“Mom, what’s going on? Who is that other girl?”

“So this is kind of awkward to say, but when we came to pick you up, the doctor took us to that girl across the room. It turns out her name is Jenny Bridges too. We were going to tell the doctor he made a mistake, but then she started talking to us and we saw how wonderful she is. She is a pre-med student who regularly volunteers at the animal shelter, and most importantly she doesn’t have any family. I felt bad for the girl and then I thought, she is a delight—why should I have to deal with my ungrateful, terrible daughter when there is this girl who needs a mother? I have done nothing but good in my life and I am stuck with you. She already has the same name—she could easily be my daughter.”

“She doesn’t even look like me!” Jenny screamed.

“I know, that was an added benefit,” her mom replied. “If you are going to replace something, you might as well upgrade. Your brother and I decided we would rather have her be part of the family and you can find a new one. We hardly see you anyway and this way everybody wins.” Her mom forced a smile and said, “You’ll be just fine.” With that, her former mom walked back to the “new” Jenny.

Jenny sat dumbfounded, wondering what just happened and what she would do next. She was just given up for adoption at the age of 25. How could she move on from that?


It had been one year and a day since Jenny’s family had disowned her. Life had been a struggle, but with therapy and the support of her friends she had made it through. She was finally at a point where she felt comfortable and happy with her life.

She sat down in her kitchen, with the newspaper in one hand and a much needed cup of coffee in the other. She scanned the paper, waiting for something to grab her attention. An article titled, “Family dies from accidental fire” caught her eye. The first line of the article read, “Patty, Chad, and Jenny Bridges died last night from a house fire, which investigators are ruling as accidental.”

The article continued on the next page, but Jenny set the newspaper down; she couldn’t read anymore. She didn’t want to read the details on how her former family and replacement had died. She smiled—reporters always messed up the details anyway.


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