I was born 4-10-1935 in the Veil Hospital for Unwed Mothers in W. Chester, Pa. I was a repacement for an adopted child who had died 6 months before I was born.
My a-parents had begun to age out by the standards of the Americam Adoption System so the Veil Hospital for Unwed Mothers was a perfect option. There was no home study, payment for a child prompted delivery as soon as the child was available and my a-parents were living in a foreign country.
The Veil Hospital was known through out the state for it’s many infractions of adoption rules and although their advertising touted the highest standards for adoptees, they were in fact a black market institution. Closed in 1938 for trafficking.
They promoted adoption to birth mothers as being the best option because their hospital clients were wealthy, childless, couples, and they could offer the child so many more opportunities than the birth mother. As a result, I was sold into adoption through the black market.
I was given parts of the same name as the previous child and on completion of the adoption, my a-parents took me to Central America.
My first step-mother died when I was 3. It left my a-father as a single parent to a child he didn’t want and for the next 2 years there was abandonment.
When I was 5, my a-father married again. I was so happy. There would be cookies, cake and pie, clean clothes and bed time stories. My new a-mom was a nurse. She was pretty, charming, fun loving, and deadly.
She wanted biological children of her own, not a ready made family. There was immediate abuse of all kinds. Daily I prayed to a God who never answered.
When I was 7, she told me of my adoption. I was not related to anyone in that family. Additionally, I was suspect and tainted. I was stunned. I built a wall so that nothing would ever hurt that much again. I could stand the labels, but the adoption was overwhelming.
I tried everything to be perfect. I anticipated the needs of everyone in the hopes that someone would recognize that I had some value. With the value, perhaps I could be admitted to the family and my adoption sins (whatever they were) would be washed away.
It was an era when the victorian beliefs were still accepted. “Children are to be seen, but not heard.” The word of adults was law. I became a people pleaser to try to ward off the abuse.
By the time I wa 9, there had been so much abuse, in every form, that i recognized I was not an equal, only a slave.
My a-father ignored me. In the 18 years I knew him, we never had a conversation.
When I was 15, my mother wanted to go to graduate school. My a-father told me the success of that mission depended on me. I was to care take for my a-mom and 2 brothers and do whatever my a-mom wanted.
I became a caretaker. There was always work in the form of cooking, cleaning, ironing or trips to the store. My days melted into each other. I went to school, performed all my chores and at night was loaned out to do Industrial Cleaning.
In the winters when water pipes froze, I laid in snow banks to thaw them out and I learned that freezing is painless. Don’t move and in 5 minutes it will end.
There was also 3 years of sexual abuse. I barely graduated from high school. I was a basket case.
On graduation we moved to Columbia SC. In 2 months my a-father became seriously ill and was operated on.
When I went to see him his only concern was to extract a promise from me that should anything happen to him, I would take care of my mother. Again I was stunned. Even looking up at the ceiling for guidance on how to caretake for the 1 person who had caused so much misery and pain. In the end I agreed, and was subsequently dismissed.
As I left the room, I wanted to go back to get the details of my adoption, but I could not find the courage or strength.
Four days later he was gone. He had never given me much, but he was all I had. He made sure that I was aware of my status by taking all the adoption secrets with him to the grave.
With his death there was a new regime. My a-mom required that I pay to live at home. Out of fear of being kicked out to the streets where I knew no one, I took a job in a finance company. I worked in the office in the days and at nite I went into the ghetto to find delinquent cases. I would not have cared if personal violence had ended it all. In fact, it might have been a relief.
I kept that job until I went into the Navy. There my shipmates taught me that love is not conditional. It is shared by wives, g-friends, parents and extended family.
After the navy I had healed enough to think about school. I wanted to be a M.D. but there was no money. We lived in a college town, but I was not allowed to live at home.
As a result, I moved to NC, went to school and became a lab tech. I could at least be a part of medicine.
In the end although I got a scholarship to go to grad school, the school only paid for books and tuition. Altho I worked 3 jobs, there were still days when the cupboard was bare.
In the end I was able to follow my dream and be a part of medicine, not as a physician, but nonetheless able to make a contribution to the lives of others.
Now in the twilight of my life, often I am reminded of a quote: “I did not ask for the life I was given, it was given nonetheless, and with it I did my best.”