When Michael and Elaine Fendover married in June 1989, life seemed perfect for the young couple. With their respective careers in food additive management and motivational aerobic therapy on the rise and a wonderful home in the Pacific Northwest, the Fendovers felt “blessed.” Yet, within a few years, it became apparent that all was not well in the their lives: After several failed attempts, it was confirmed by doctors that the couple could not conceive children, and a dark cloud fell across the pair’s life together.
Now, all that has changed. Happily picking safety pins from her teeth, Elaine smiles as she begins to lovingly diaper Ed, the newest member of the Fendover clan. Daintily powdering his tiny feet and bottom, she chuckles to herself in sing-song baby talk: “Who’s got a witty-bitty tummy-tum-tum? Who’s got a teeny-weeny pair of footie-wooties? Oh, yes, you do!”
An unusual scenario? Hardly. Yet something is different about the Fendover household. You see, Ed is an adult male dwarf, 48 years of age.
“Help me,” Ed silently mouths to reporters. “These people are insane. I want to go back to my wife.”
“I want only to make our little Eddie happy,” says Elaine in response to the oft-repeated criticisms of dwarves’ rights groups nationwide, which have demanded that Ed, a Pomona, CA, computer repair technician and amateur model rocketry hobbyist, be set free. “Don’t they understand that we give him everything a little one could ever want? We spoil our little Eddie, and dote on him hand and foot.”
Elaine points to the nursery, where the disgruntled man, clad in a baby bonnet and booties, sits amid piles of plush stuffed animals and colorful plastic playthings, quietly writing letters to his wife with a brand-new, 128-count box of Crayola crayons. Before he gets a chance to mail the letters, like all the ones before them, they will be seized and destroyed.
“You don’t understand how hard it is to be without a little one of your very own to share your life with,” says Michael Fendover, pushing Ed’s tricycle along the driveway. “These dwarf groups don’t know the sorrow, the pain...”
He breaks down, overcome with emotion. Within seconds, the silent dwarf is racing toward the end of the driveway in a desperate bid for freedom.
“Bad Ed!” cries Michael, regaining his composure, striding after the frantically pedaling Ed. Although the hapless dwarf exerts himself, Michael’s long legs overtake the tricycle easily. “You’re in big trouble, young man!” says Michael as he carries the wiggling, kicking dwarf back inside for a spanking.
A subsequent search uncovers two bus transfers hidden in Ed’s Li’l Slugger baseball cap. Perhaps, after reaching the street, he had hoped to catch a crosstown bus home.
“We love Ed,” says Elaine, hugging the man Newsweek called “The Pint-sized Prisoner” to her bosom, forcing her nipple into his mouth in a semblance of breast feeding. “And we’re never giving him up! Never!”
The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld an Oregon court’s decision that, as a dwarf, Ed constituted “a smaller than normal person, much like a baby, and is therefore a legitimate candidate for adoption and forced imprisonment.” Some are calling the ruling “unfair,” most notably Ed’s wife, fellow “little person” Sally Dugan.
“We are human beings,” Dugan said, “with dignity and pride. I will do whatever I can to bring Ed home again, including dressing up like a member of some race of mythical beings and engaging in choreographed dance numbers with other dwarves.”
Few observers believe such an elfin performance would have any effect on the Fendovers or their fierce grip on their tiny new tot, yet Dugan insists on performing the dance anyway, as it is “the only thing I, a dwarf, can do to sustain the attention of regularly sized adults for more than a few minutes in a row.”