Published August 2010
By The Cradle Staff
All for the Love of Phoenix
On December 9 of last year, Jala Anderson-McKee came to The Cradle to take home her new baby daughter, Phoenix, who had spent her first six weeks in the care of The Cradle Nursery. “Phoenix” was the name chosen for this beautiful baby girl by her birthmother, and a name that held special significance for Jala – long before she even dreamed of her daughter’s existence.
On March 28, 2010, Phoenix was christened in the loving company of family, friends and her birthmother. Jala wished to share this experience, “the beautiful beginning of Phoenix Rose’s life,” with her Cradle family.
The Christening of Phoenix Rose McKee
All I can say is, “Who knew?” Who knew that this experience would grow and blossom so early in such a unique way that I could never imagine?
Sunday she had her Baby Dedication (Christening) at my church. I started the day at dawn preparing my sleepy bundle of joy for the day that she would be dedicated to Christ. Granny had bought her diamonds for her ears, her Godmother had bought her a silk organza gown with hand-knitted and beaded shoes, her Grandfather had purchased a silver spoon on a pillow with a cross on it just waiting for her… so much outward, physical expression of love.
The most precious gift of the day came after I left home with the baby stuffed in the car seat and her gown overflowing on the sides. Along with her loving babysitter, we made our way to pick up Phoenix’s birthmom, Angela (not her real name). She stepped in the car wearing a white blouse (I had told her I would be wearing a white suit) and grey pants. We listened to gospel music and headed to church.
We entered church and worshipped together and took turns holding Phoenix. When it came time to make our way to our special area for the dedication, I kept Angela right by my side, as I wanted to make sure that she felt safe and loved. As we waited for the service to begin, my baby girl went from Angela’s lap to my lap and on to other family members. Angela stayed close and wanted to help any way she could. She updated me on the upcoming graduation for her master’s degree. She beamed with delight as she told me about her success, and I encouraged her to participate in the graduation ceremony.
Well, we never know the journey or why things happen as they do. Angela and I have an uncanny connection and we understand our roles. Despite our resistance to “being so open,” we have found our open adoption and new relationship to be the greatest gift of all.
Sure, others likely looked on throughout the day and didn’t understand. One person told me it was awkward and she didn’t know what to say. I could only respond, “Just be yourself when she’s around.” This is a new journey for all of us.
The service was beautiful. Angela joined in the 50-plus family member gathering at a special reception at Granny’s home. She jumped right in and helped, and in her way, even seemed to be protecting me from any judgment. So now I understand… this is an individual special journey – one I cannot control. God put all three of us together and it’s a love no one can understand. Phoenix Rose is truly a blessed child.
In 2004 and early 2005, during a career transition, Jala worked at Elon University whose mascot is the Phoenix. With the tragic loss of her husband in 2006, Jala began working on a book. She also reflected on the mythological bird. “As I began to heal through the grieving process and rebuilding my life,” she recalls, “I realized that I was like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. I knew I had to incorporate the Phoenix into my book as it focuses on overcoming life’s obstacles and proactively rebuilding.” So imagine Jala’s awe when she was matched with a birthmother who had named her baby Phoenix!
Jala, Angela and Phoenix were together most recently on May 8, the day before Mother’s Day. They shared a meal, family photos and conversation. Angela brought a card that “perfectly described the three of us,” Jala said. “I thanked her for her selflessness and strength to do what she felt was best for Phoenix. We continue to call, text message and email, and we just know we are finding our way… all for the love of Phoenix.”