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    May 06, 2005

    Adopted - Part III - The Conclusion

    I didn't hesitate to open the letter and was thrilled to see it was five pages long!


    The first line read:
    I have loved you from the minute I knew you existed and I have never stopped.


    The flood of tears began and I remember vividly the sting of my tears as I red her letter. She told me that she never had another child. That the only one she ever wanted, she couldn't have. She told me about her family, her life, her two failed marriages and a hysterectomy at the age of thirty-eight. She divulged that she had been seeing a therapist for years in an effort to deal with her feelings over the years. She shared with me her love for animals and dreams of someday riding and owning her own horse. I was told a great deal about my ancestry and how she had been working for years on a family tree, in hopes of someday sharing it with me. She told me of the little girl charm, with my birthstone on it, that she wore on a bracelet nearly every year on my birthday. She wrote, "I didn't feel I deserved to wear it the rest of the year, but it was my way of honoring you and the day you were born". I had been sure she didn't even remember my birthday, much less celebrate it. Over the past weeks I had run the gamut on emotions, but at this moment my heart was full of happiness. If I never heard another word from her, I would be content with this knowledge. The only thing I hoped for at this point was a chance to let her know that she indeed deserved to wear that charm, because it was she who had given me life.


    There were pictures included with the letter. A few of her, one of my Maternal Grandparents, my Aunt and her Son - my cousin. This was the first time I had ever laid eyes on people who were actually related to me. I immediately noticed that I looked a little like her younger sister. The next thing I noticed would change the course of events for both of us. There was writing on the back of each picture, that was covered with White-Out. [By now you should know me well enough to know where this is going.]

    Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I immediately searched for something to try and scratch it off. I wasn't about to let a little White-Out keep me from even more information! Beneath the White-Out were the first and last names of everyone in the pictures. I immediately summoned T to come read the letter and we devised a plan!


    I had decided that I'd had enough of that adoption agency and I would be taking matters into my own hands. We located two telephone numbers listed with my BM's name in the area we thought she lived. We called one and found it was actually a convenience store. With the other I got an answering machine with a woman's voice. I hung up, sure that it was her and I had no idea what to say. Thank god for T! She called back and left a message. She gave a brief explanation of the situation and said that if we had the correct person, I had received her letter. She went on to say that if she was ready and felt comfortable, I would welcome a call from her. She left my telephone number and we waited. About two hours later she called back. T and I stared at each other, both of us petrified. I made T answer and she confirmed that it was in fact the right person, then handed the phone over to me. Her first words to me were, "You have the sweetest voice I've ever heard." I noted that our voices sounded very similar. My insides were shaking at this point. There were a few tears and awkward moments, but after the initial few minutes, it was like we were old friends, catching up after years of separation. She was thrilled at the opportunity to talk to me and totally understood my frustration with the agency. She had been upset with them as well. S had given them her letter the Tuesday before the Fourth of July weekend so that I would have it before the holiday. She found out on the following Tuesday afternoon that the letter had been sitting on Mrs. Houston's desk the entire week! We were both upset at this. Together we decided to tell the agency we would handle it from here.


    During that conversation and many more over the next two months, we shared the stories of our lives. She was saddened to hear that my parents eventually divorced. One of the main things she wanted for me, was to have a Mother and a Father. I assured her that hadn't changed, they just weren't married anymore. I told her I had one sister and a Step-Brother. She told me I had an older Half-Brother, my Birth-Father's son from his first marriage. I made note of his name, and later established contact with my older Brother.


    We eventually got around to the reason for my adoption. My BF had been married before and had a son four years older than me. My BF's marriage ended and at some point later, he was engaged to my BM. She was 22 at the time she became pregnant. After telling him of her pregnancy, he told her that he could no longer have children and that, with the exception of his son, he hated kids. He made it clear to her in that conversation that she was on her own. She broke off the engagement and never spoke to him again. To her knowledge, he had never finished high school, much less law school. His parents never knew of her pregnancy as far as she knew. She was still living at home and hid her pregnancy from her own parents until her mother eventually figured it out. Her parents were ashamed to have an unmarried, pregnant daughter and they demanded that I be placed for adoption and the entire situation would be kept secret. That's exactly how it was handled.


    S quit her job and the adoption agency sent her to live with a host family across town for the remainder of her pregnancy. This was their standard procedure for unwed mothers back then, so they could hide their pregnancies from friends and family. S and another single, expectant mother lived with this particular family. In exchange for room and board, they would help with daily chores, cook and baby-sit on occasion. Her own mother would show up to take her to doctor appointments and that is the only contact she had with any of her family until after I was born. S explained that her Mother expressed at one point that she wished there was some way they could pass me off as her own child, but said it was impossible. Several members of her family were aware of the fact that she could no longer have children. She told S that she had to do this. That this was the only way for her and the family to avoid the shame.


    On June 26th S was in labor and admitted to the hospital under a false last name, which was standard practice at that time. She went through her entire labor alone. Nurses would check in on her occasionally, but the agency did not provide anyone to see her through it. Not even her mother would show up to offer support. According to her account, she was awake for the entire labor, but not the delivery. S woke up later the morning of June 27th and she never got to see me. She described the only evidence she ever saw of my existence. A tiny, bloody imprint of my body on her skin, where I must have been placed on her tummy after delivery. I cannot fathom what that moment must have been like for her. Her younger sister, still in high school, would be the only visitor she had. On June 29th Mrs. Houston stopped in with papers for her to sign and it was only then that she knew that she had given birth to a girl. She asked if the baby was okay, Mrs. Houston said, "Yes, she's fine. She has all her fingers and toes". A day later S's mother arrived to take her home. She was told to remain inside for the next few weeks and in her room if company were to stop by. Her parents were concerned that someone might suspect she had been pregnant. After that conversation, nothing about her pregnancy was ever discussed again. I cried as she told me this story. Hearing her account of these events left me incredibly upset and sad for her. Despite all she has been through, S has an amazing spirit!


    I still can't imagine having to go through something so horrible. I suppose in a way, I did, but to me it is just a story. I know the story involves me, yet the events haven't had the impact on my life, as they did upon hers. It does make me a little sad that while most births are joyous occasions, mine wasn't. I try not to focus on that part. What I do focus on, is that there were two loving people, who desperately wanted me, and they have celebrated my life from the moment they saw me.


    S and I have all but lost touch. We spoke regularly for a while and visited each other on many occasions. We took a vacation together, celebrated some holidays, but eventually the contact dwindled. We still send cards and update each other on what's been happening in our lives. It was impossible to go back and be Mother and Daughter, but I hope she got what she needed from the experience. I cannot speak for her, but the experience was healing for me and helped put a lot of things to rest. I once made the comment to her that I no longer "felt" adopted and she wasn't sure she understood what I meant. I didn't either at the time. Today I can tell you that it means being adopted is no longer an issue for me. There are no more secrets and no more feeling unwanted or unloved. I have had closure. I can talk about this with each of my parents today without fear and without making their hair stand on end! The lines of communication were opened by this experience. As I write this, I know my black birth certificate was just a crappy photocopy. I know the color of it had absolutely no significance at all. I can look back on that day in high school and laugh.

    Today I have a pretty, mint green birth certificate, but no matter which you prefer to look at, the parents listed on both certificates are the parents god gave me and I am totally glad he picked the ones he did! I was never unhappy with my parents. I just needed answers to the questions that haunted me.



    Additional notes of interest:
    • I was in fact, born at St Lukes Hospital, the hospital that was not listed on my birth certificate. We believe the hospital name was removed during the adoption process.
    • Had I ever looked for my birth records from the hospital I was born, I would have found absolutely nothing. The agency admitted my BM to the hospital with a false last name.
    • I was released from the hospital on June 29th and we have never been able to establish where I was between then and July, 12th, the day I my parents picked me up.
    • My half-brother shared with me that I have a younger half-brother that is roughly 8 years younger than me. Proving that my BF was indeed quite fertile.
    • My BF remained with the mother of that son for 3 months until she left town with her son and has not been heard from since.
    • After the first 3 years of my half-brothers life, my BF had nothing to do with any of the children he fathered.
    • My BF gave up his legal rights to my half-brother, in lieu of back and future child support. He was later adopted my his mothers second husband.
    • It is incredible how much I look like my BF.
    • My BF died about 6 months after my BM established contact with me and I decided against attending his funeral. I have since learned a great deal about him and his life from my half-brother.
    • To my knowledge, no one in my family was ever on television as I once thought possible. Like I said, I was a child with a highly active imagination.
    Jack LaLanne Juicer


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