Cover image for You get past the tears : a memoir of love and survival
You get past the tears : a memoir of love and survival
Broadbent, Pat.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [2002]

Physical Description:
xix, 218 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
RC607.A26 B754 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In late 1984, Patricia and Loren Broadbent chose to adopt a baby girl named Hydeia, whom they had taken in as a foster child. Hydeia had been abandoned in the hospital at birth by a mother addicted to drugs, and Patricia and Loren were sure they could give her a better chance at life and provide her with the love, support, protection, and guidance that all children need and deserve. In the spring of 1988, however, when Hydeia was just a few months short of four, the Broadbents' hopes for their child were put to the test when they learned that Hydeia had been infected with HIV at birth. Doctors predicted she wouldn't live past her fifth birthday.
More than twelve years later, Hydeia is not only still here, but she is also an internationally recognized AIDS activist and, even more remarkably, a typical teenager. She is among the first generation of children with AIDS for whom science has changed the odds-- the first generation for which adulthood is a possibility and not just a dream.
Writes Patricia Broadbent: It would be easy to tell our story in cliche s about miracles and hope, tragedy and the ' innocent' victims of the epidemic. I know, too, how easy it is to view Hydeia, myself, and our family as somehow ' special.' The truth is, however, we are a family just like any other. I am no stronger or braver than any other mother who loves her child.
You Get Past the Tears is the story of a disease for which there is still no cure. But this is also the story of a family living with AIDS, a mother who did everything in her power to defy that first hopeless prognosis, and a young woman who continues to inspire millionswith her courage and determination.
I want to show everyone that the struggle is worth it, that life is for living, writes Hydeia. AIDS can change a lot of things about your life, but it can't change the person you are inside. You deserve happiness, love, and respect. Don't ever forget that, and don't let anyone try to tell you different. This is still your world, too.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Broadbent and her husband adopted Hydeia, a baby abandoned at birth by her drug-addicted mother, but they did not know she had been infected with HIV. She was four when they learned her chronic illnesses were due to more than the mother's drug addiction. Broadbent's long career as a social worker helped her navigate the system, but nothing could prepare her for the fortitude and endurance she would need to help Hydeia. This is a touching, first-person account of a mother and daughter struggling to keep life as normal as possible. They face a roller coaster of near-death crises, long-term involvement in clinical trials for AIDS treatment, and the challenges of becoming AIDS activists and, particularly, educating African Americans about the spread of AIDS. The book is interspersed with essays and notes written by Hydeia over the years, showing her personal development from a young child wise beyond her years to an adolescent facing life with courage and determination. Inspiring reading. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

In 1984, Patricia Broadbent, a mother and former social worker, adopted Hydeia, an infant born to a drug-addicted mother. Three years later, the sickly baby girl was diagnosed with AIDS. This book is the story of raising Hydeia at a time when very little was known about pediatric AIDS. Although both mother and daughter are listed as authors, almost all of the book is in the mother's words. Hydeia, now about 18, is doing well and working as an AIDS activist. The mother's story is less about tears and more about being pushy and aggressive with doctors and others. She documents her frustration and how she learned to deal with it, but readers will likely view her as self-righteous rather than as a hero. Several other memoirs by parents of children with AIDS, such as Jeanne White's Weeding Out the Tears: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss and Renewal (Avon, 1997), are more helpful as they are less self-obsessed and deal more evenly with the pressures and is sues involved in pediatric AIDS. Suitable for AIDS/HIV collections. Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



ONE The first time I saw her, she didn't even have a real name. Just six weeks old, she had been taken from the hospital nursery, where her mother had abandoned her, to Child Haven, a county-run temporary facility. Now, here at my doorstep, was Baby Girl Kelloggs. As it turned out, Kelloggs was not her father's name or her mother's, either. Perhaps her mother picked it up off a cereal box. This fact, like so many I learned about the children I had fostered or adopted over the years, would have shocked me if I hadn't heard a dozen stories like it before, and worse. A veteran social worker, an activist for minority adoptions, and a foster parent, I knew how this story began and how it would probably end. A baby born to a drug-addicted mother and temporarily cared for by the state now needed a loving home until she could be adopted. A friend who worked for the state had called and told me about this baby. Was I interested in taking care of her until she could be adopted? As a foster parent, my role in this little one's life would be brief but, I hoped, important. Having taken in several foster children before, I had learned the art of loving and caring for children who would not be mine forever. I knew when to hold tight and when to let go, how to draw the lines around my heart and theirs so that they regarded me as Auntie Pat and not Mommy. (Besides, I already had four of my own children to call me Mom.) This little one, like so many, was born with drugs in her system. That, along with the fact that her mother had left the hospital within hours of giving birth, told me that she probably had not received good prenatal care. I expected a baby who was smaller than average, more likely to fuss, less likely to interact spontaneously. I wouldn't have been surprised if she had problems with eating and sleeping or didn't like to be held as much as other babies. That was okay. To hear the media--then in the grip of hysteria over crack babies--tell it, "drug babies" were close to hopeless. But I knew better. With a few months' care, love, and attention, this baby girl would blossom. Even before she arrived, I was looking forward to the day when she would leave in the arms of adoptive parents who would love her forever. If this sounds a little idealistic, then maybe I was, even though I have always been a very pragmatic person. Some people see taking in a foster child as a noble sacrifice. For me it wasn't about that. I had always enjoyed kids and had spent most of my adult life working with them in both the public and private sectors. I imagine that there were people who looked at the lifestyle my husband, Loren, and I had made and wondered why we did it. Three children from my previous marriage and one from ours had been adopted. I had always felt that parenting had more to do with how you raised a child once you got him than with how you got him. By the time this little baby girl came along, two of my children, Paige, or Pepe, as we called him, and Kimmie, were teenagers. My oldest son, Kendall, was an adult, married and stationed in Germany with the military. We had decided that our family was complete. There would be no more adoptions, but that didn't stop me from wanting to help a child however I could. Most of the children we fostered were thrown into the system because their parents--usually their mothers, since fathers were rarely involved--could not care for them, for various reasons. Sometimes, as in the case of this little one, the parent made it clear enough through her actions that there would be no going "home." For many others, however, there was hope. There were mothers and fathers who worked very hard to overcome the obstacles that kept them from being the parents their kid deserved. It felt good to provide a safe, temporary home until parents could take a child back. Recalling the positive lifelong impressions a few caring adults had made on me as a kid, I truly believed that I could and did make a difference. When we brought foster children into our home, we made them feel at home. I knew of some foster families who would send the foster kids to another foster home while they went off on vacation. We didn't believe that was right. Wherever we went, they went. We provided extra clothes and toys--items that were not covered by the small monthly payment we received for their care. Even after you explain all that, some people still wonder why you do it. At the time, I was the unit director of a Boys Club of America chapter and the executive director of Camp Fire Girls. Those jobs, like most I'd had throughout my career, involved helping kids and providing a role model. I guess you could say that I gave at the office but felt the need to do more. Financially and emotionally, I could do more. We were financially secure and upwardly mobile, with a six-figure income, a new car every couple of years, and a Mercedes out in the double garage. With Las Vegas on the verge of a major boom, we had amassed a healthy portfolio of real estate that practically guaranteed we could retire around age fifty. In the meantime, though, we didn't sweat it. If we saw something we wanted, we bought it. If there was somewhere we wanted to vacation, we went. After years of moving from one side of the country to the other because of my first husband's military career, I was ready to settle down. I felt that I'd finally found the partner, the lifestyle, and the home I had dreamed of. To have come to this place and yet still be in my early forties struck me as some kind of blessing. Every which way you cut it, we had it made. It was mid-July, and it was hot, even for Las Vegas. My friend Luria Walker, who worked for the Nevada Division of Welfare, had called to say she was bringing the baby over. When she pulled up in front of our house and tooted her horn, I hurried outside. As I leaned in and reached for the baby in the backseat, I couldn't believe how tiny she was. Not only that, her skin was still wrinkled, just like a newborn's. Weighing under six pounds (less than what she had weighed at birth), this baby looked more like she was six days old. At six weeks, she should have regained her birth weight plus at least another pound. "Are you sure this is the baby?" I asked Luria. "She looks like she was just born!" "Yeah, this is her," Luria replied. "Gosh, she's so little," I said, noticing that the orange-and-white Cabbage Patch outfit she wore wasn't a baby-size version of the popular dolls' clothing--it was a pajama set literally made for a doll. She was that tiny. Her complexion was chocolate, and with her fine, straight black hair and delicate features, she looked almost East Indian. All she was missing, I would joke, was a red dot on her forehead. With her big brown eyes and fine black hair, she was a very pretty baby. The idea of having a baby girl in the family, even if only temporarily, really appealed to our youngest, three-year-old Briana, whom we call Keisha. There was a big age difference between Keisha and her older siblings, so in many ways she was essentially an only child. We found that taking in foster children not only helped them and their families but gave Keisha an opportunity to be around other kids and to learn to share. At the time, two brothers were living with us. Keisha liked them well enough, but she loved the idea of having a baby sister, and this was the first female foster child we ever had. Oddly enough, that same day Keisha happened to watch an episode of Sesame Street that concerned a family having a baby. Every now and then, Sesame Street explores an important issue using the human characters or other real people without the Muppets. This program showed a mother discussing a new baby's arrival with a little girl not much older than Keisha. She told her, as I had told Keisha, that she would be a "big sister" and reassured her that there would be enough love for everyone. That made an impression on Keisha. The parents on Sesame Street gave their daughter a Swahili name--Hydeia (pronounced hie-DEE-uh), which means "again." "Mommy, this is just like us!" Keisha said. "Can we name our baby Hydeia?" "We sure can," I replied, pleased at how well Keisha was handling the new arrival. Of course, I didn't bother then to remind Keisha of the ways in which this new arrival was not like the one on television--namely, that this baby would not be staying. We had already discussed that, and I knew she understood that in a month we would bring Hydeia to an "adoption fair," where, we hoped, a loving couple would discover her. I remembered back when my eldest son, Kendall, then six, was determined to name his younger brother after himself. We gently explained to him that Kendall Paige Jr. would be a great name for his son, but that his brother needed something different. We compromised with Paige Bendall, though we always called him Pepe. Although I had never heard the name Hydeia before, it sounded both beautiful and strong, ancient yet new. It could have been the name of a warrior princess or wise woman. To grow up a smart, strong black woman in this world, I knew she would have to be a little of both. So she became Hydeia. Excerpted from You Get Past the Tears: A Memoir of Love and Survival by Patricia Broadbent, Patricia Romanowski All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.