the nagging issue of a name

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,
but I’ve never been able to believe it.
I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


(the crest for my maiden name, Nichols)

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know that I’ve written a good bit
about my adoption…and that of a quest.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions with the exhilaration of discoveries–
all of which have been met by the slamming of doors, tightly shut…
all the way to the bewildering opening of different doors, much more welcoming.

In all of this is a name…
or more aptly, two names.

A before name and an after name.

The ‘now’ name of Julie and the ‘then’ name of Sylvia Kay…

Two names for one person that were exchanged after only three short months.

The Julie side of all of this has had the staying power of nearly 60 years while the
initial Sylvia Kay side was used but for a short time…

The whys and significance of Sylvia Kay remain unknown but to one.

Albeit a brief name, it none the less has most certainly remained in the recesses of the
conscience of a certain 83-year-old woman.
She has slammed shut the door but none the less has obviously allowed this name to fester…
just as it has festered in my own thoughts.

Yet Sylvia Kay was the “before” name.

The name following, which was officially Mary Julia and shortened by Dad to ‘Julie’,
has been the ‘after’ name—a name that has remained for all these many years…
the name with the real staying power of identity.

And so it was this morning, as I was reading a verse from the Bible, that I noticed
the real importance of before and after names.

I read a verse in which Abraham was referred to as Abram.

I am obviously no Bible scholar.
I was raised an Episcopalian and we all know Episcoplains are not Old Testament,
let alone Bible, aficionados.

I noted that it seemed odd as I am more familiar with the name Abraham
but I figured it must indeed be a “before” name for Abraham.

A sort of ‘before God encounter’ name.

And it seems that I was more correct than I realized.

You’ve often heard me quote and share the teachings of a simple
Benedictine monk from Australia who is currently living in a monastery in England.
He is best known as Father Hugh—Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB

The good Father’s post from yesterday opened with a picture of the
Jerusalem-version lectionary used throughout England and Wales.
Father Hugh asks all viewers if they can spot what it is that is the glaring mistake…
a mistake that is actually used twice.

The glaring mistake is found in a name.
The name Abraham.

Because of where this name falls in reference to the before and after encounter
of Abram with God, it is indeed, incorrect.
Instead of the after name Abraham, the Lectionary should use the before name of Abram.

Before Abram encounters God, he is known as “exalted Father”
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Genesis 14:19-20

After his encounter and ensuing covenant with God, Abram becomes Abraham, “father of many nations.”

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him,
“As for me, this is my covenant with you:
You will be the father of many nations.
No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,
for I have made you a father of many nations.
I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your
descendants after you for the generations to come,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Genesis 17:1-7

Why does any of this matter?
What is the big deal about a before and after name?

Well, it matters a great deal…
For we see time and time again throughout the Bible, names matter.
Names have meaning…purposeful meanings.
And in this case, the case of Abram, it matters because of the implications
of a covenant.

A covenant being an agreement.

And this agreement between Yahewh and Abram has lasting implications for all
generations to come…of which include both you and me.

On the other hand, my little before and after names are much smaller in scope.
They matter really only to me…and perhaps one other.
Mine is a simple matter of why…
Abram’s before and after is a matter of the beginning of reconciliation which
in turn leads to the salvation of all mankind.

Yes, big or small, names matter.

Please see the link below for Father Hugh’s most excellent teaching post

What’s in a Name

well that didn’t go as planned now did it?

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
Allen Saunders


( I snapped this little spine chart yesterday sitting in the exam room waiting on the doctor / Julie Cook /2019)

Pour yourself a cool glass of lemonade and pull up a chair, this may take a minute.

Yesterday I found myself sitting in the orthopedic’s exam room waiting on the doctor.
They were kind to work me in as I called on Memorial Day and they were closed.
During grandmother duty this past Saturday, something went awry in my back…
I knew when it happened…much like 3 years ago when I could be found in the same office.

Last time it was two herniated disks.
This felt much the same…sooo I knew the drill.

Shots in the back for now…we’ll see how that works before we pull
in the big guns as we did last time with an epidural and nerve block.
Sigh.

Things like back issues, bone issues…any medical issue really, in almost all cases,
have a hereditary leaning.

We inherit so much from our parents and from those even further down the line from previous generations.

That’s in part why our doctors are always asking us if we have a medical history for __________
allowing you and I to fill in the blank.

When you’re adopted, you almost never really know the answers.
You never really know a thing about any sort of medical history.

They don’t send home care instructions or medical charts with babies who are being adopted.
Well, they didn’t in 1959 when I was born.

So I usually tick the boxes on my doctor’s charts with an NA or an “I have absolutely no clue”

Every medical issue I’ve ever stumbled into during my lifetime has seemed to be an anomaly…
an out of the blue sort of occurrence.
Who knew this short person who has been relatively active her entire life would have bone
and back troubles?

I certainly didn’t.

I’ve written about my having been adopted on numerous occasions.
When I first began this blog 6 years ago, I pegged adoption to be one of my “discussion” topics.
We former educators always think along educational lines…so much so that when I started writing,
I was all about wanting to inform and educate…
Be it about cooking, art, travel or adoption…education was the impetus.

But in the middle of those 6 years, God redirected my words…
I found I wasn’t sharing much about those sorts of topics anymore but rather topics
God had lead me to share.
And who am I to argue with God??

But for whatever reason, I am back to revisiting the topic of adoption…
In great part, due to my concern over this culture of death we seem to be living in…
a culture that puts money, lifestyle and convenience over the sanctity of human life…
but I digress.

Adoption is a funny thing.

We adopted children are actually given a second chance at life.
Aborted babies, not so much.

Adoption is either a hard and painful choice for a woman or it is relatively simple.
It just depends on the woman.

Yet adopted children, those whose adoptive parents are very open and transparent about the adoption,
live with the knowledge that they, in essence, have two sets of parents…
a biological set and an adopted set.

It’s just that many fathers in the biological set may or may not know that they had ever fathered a child.
But that is not to be the pig trail for today’s discussion…we shall stay on topic.
Educators do try to keep the discussions on track…not unless they see a teachable moment taking
place in the diversion…today, we are on track.

A couple of weeks ago, before baby James got so sick, I wrote a post about my search for my biological parents.
Well, not totally an in-depth tale and not so much about my parents, but actually, a search for my mother.
Suffice it to know, things did not go so well.

The link is here:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/i-think-we-could-have-been-friends-and-i-do-have-some-really-nice-lamps/

However I want to back up a bit.

I was born in 1959 and adopted in 1960.

There was a little book put out in those early days for adopted parents to read to their adopted children,
a book read when the adopted parents deemed their adopted child was ready…ready to learn
the truth and could help explain the situation.

Dad read me the story when I was about 5.

I loathed that little book and I loathed the story.
Suddenly I felt separated from everyone I thought I knew as mine.

I then set out living my life,
while trying to keep the feelings of separation from that life, at bay.

I think we call that suppression.

This was the first post I wrote about my adoption—
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/who-in-the-heck-is-sylvia-kay-and-what-have-you-done-with-her/

I didn’t want to talk about being adopted nor think about it.
If I did, then my neat and tidy little world wouldn’t be so neat and tidy.
Plus I fretted about my parents and their feelings…I never wanted them to feel hurt or
pain that I was really not theirs, but rather that I was someone else’s child.

The child playing a role far beyond her age, responsibility or capacity.

For you see their second adopted child, my adopted brother who was 5 years younger than
I was, was a mess.
His life with them and the life of us as a family was doomed…
because in essence he was doomed.

He did not handle being adopted well at all, and we all suffered grievously.

It is probably one of my better posts, despite the difficulty in writing it as well as the pain
in re-reading it of which adds to the re-living…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/

So I suppose we could say adoption has almost haunted me my entire life.

Once, when I finally became a grown woman with my own family, I wanted to learn more.
I wanted to be able to know things for my son’s sake.
Mainly medical information, but genealogy as well.

So 10 years ago, I was troubled by those nagging questions.
Adopted children live with questions.
That’s not a bad thing…don’t educators always say, no question is a bad question?
And I thought I’d seek a few of the answers.
I had always told myself, because of what my dad had lived through with my brother,
that I would never search for my biological parent—
I knew that the thought of possibly “losing” his only living child would be too much.

So rather than seeking the answers to the big questions, I decided to look for smaller answers.
But when I did find those “answers”, they only created giant gaping holes in the story
of who I was.

I reached out the Family’s First, Georgia’s Adoption Reunion Registry—
it is what the Atlanta Adoption
Agency, the place I came from, had morphed into.

For a small fee, they would provide me with my redacted case files—
no identifying cities, last names
or any hints as to people, states, cities or places.

But the story left larger questions.

Questions I would sit on for another 10 years.

Dad died two years ago.
I now have grandchildren.
I continue to look in a mirror wondering.
What is in me that is now in those grandchildren of mine?…and whose DNA is in them?

My doctor and I had talked about me doing one of those popular DNA tests so I could
find out some medical
information to pass on to my son.
She preferred 23 and Me as it provided the best medical info.

And so I did—I did so also hoping to find some sort of family.

I found a 1st cousin in Tennessee.
When I saw his information pop up on my computer screen, I felt my heart stop.

I nervously reached out to this man and shared the story of me that I knew.

That is an on-going story but he is my first cousin on my dad’s side of the family.
He is almost certain his second cousin is my half sister—but they are all still
working on that.

The story I shared added up.
Jobs, dates, etc.

I felt euphoria.
Which quickly faded as they have lives, they are busy and a long lost sibling is
not top on their radar…
but that is not to say that they have not been kind and helpful and eventually
want to meet and share pictures.
But they are younger than I am and are in different places.
My birth dad, one of the three brothers, their uncles, has since passed away…
so no reunion there.
And as I say, that is a story still in the making.

During all of this, however, I opted to reach back out to Families First.
I was ready to pay a larger fee for a full-fledged search for my biological mother.

The social worker told me they always start with the mother.
If she is deceased, then they share information and move on to a search for the father.

She told me that I was to come up with a top 10 list of questions I wanted to be answered,
as well as a letter is written directly to my birth mother.

At the time, I was feeling a bit disconnected…perhaps it was a protection mechanism as
I was almost stoical bordering on flippant in my going forward with all of this.
I was generic in my questions and really didn’t have a full 10.

The social worker told me that they enlist the aid of a private detective and don’t
be surprised if the search takes up to 6 months.

I then tucked all of this away on a back burner.

Yet I was actually becoming a bit of an internal emotional wreck.

But as life would have it, our second grandchild was born nad life quickened.
There were some complications and time was not my own.

I really wasn’t thinking about adoption searches anymore.

But then one day out of the blue I received a call from the social worker informing me that
they had found my mother and she was indeed still alive.

I felt an electric jolt of excitement–a smile filled my face.
Hope of sorts was entering my life’s quest.

The social worker now wanted those questions and that letter—
in hopes of giving them to my mother
when she reached out to her.

I wrote fast and quick…I didn’t want to overthink or reconsider.
I wrote without even reading over what I wrote—
a letter filled with gratitude and kindness
and well wishes…and lots of typos.

And then I waited.
And life got busy, again.

So it was not until the other week when my husband and I were getting ready to
walk out the door that my phone rang.

I immediately recognized the name of the social worker and I stopped dead in my tracks.
She had been good to keep me up to speed via email, but here she was calling.
I fumbled all over myself answering and offering pleasantries.

What had begun as a rather low key nonchalant search of curiosity now had turned into
something much more…
It had grown into the notion of me seeing all of this as a second chance…a second chance
with a crucial relationship in life.

Yet I’ve known of family horror stories—those who were seeking, just as I was,
only to find disaster.

I was well aware of the risks—yet I was willing to take those risks…
because I wanted to know who made me who I was…who I am…
all those nuances that are simply the by-products of personal shared DNA.
Who looks back at me in that mirror every day.
Who has helped to build this wall inside of me?

The social worker started the conversation with,
“Julie, I heard back from your mother today through her attorney…”
I swallowed hard and stammered “attorney”…as in “oh, ok, well that says it all does it not?!”

I felt a sicking weight hit my guts.

The room shrunk in around me and I felt as if I might suffocate.

My family has had enough dealings with attorneys as of late due to
deaths and wills…here we were to go again.
Nothing with an attorney is positive.

She continued—she wants nothing to do with you…” you were from the past and
that is where you are to stay.”

Hot tears now formed in my eyes.

I wanted to yell into the phone that “you tell that attorney and that woman
that I am a good person. A kind person…
a person who I think she could be proud of…”

But I didn’t.

I was the baby she bore prematurely, without any prenatal care.
The baby she fled her family over, moving out of state.
The baby who she ended her relationship with my father over—
a man who had asked her to marry him.
She was 23 and he was 28—yet she said some things and things went too far…
and she ran—she ran from everyone and everything…and she ran into hiding.

She was a nurse who didn’t seek prenatal care.
She delivered under me using an alias.

Even a different hospital then what is on my legal birth certificate.

She gave birth and left the hospital that day.
But the social worker at the time noted in the files that twice she was called back
because I was sick
She was worried and had tears in her eyes when returning to the hospital.
The social worker noted that she was still very much emotionally attached to my birth father
despite his having moved on and becoming engaged.

So many questions.
Such a sad past.
And that was where I was to stay…in her sad past.
A past that could have had a happier ending.

The social worker told me that because of this, she was unable to share my
questions and letter.
I half-heartedly laughed telling her it was a letter chocked full of grammatical errors and
typos as we both laughed.

I asked if she could, perhaps clean it up and send my letter to this attorney.
I even almost found myself asking for the attorney’s name before I thought better—
knowing all of this was such an anonymous process, protecting her identity.

In the state of Georgia, one’s adoptions records remain sealed under the court of law.
They may only be opened by petitioning the court and the reason better be pretty darn good.
Curiosity and the answering of questions are not good enough reasons.

And so that is why I wrote that post the other week.

Tomorrow I will post the letter I wrote to my mother.

I figure what the heck.

The social worker was having to send some sort of affidavit to the lawyer for my
mother to sign—
I suppose a paper to put in my file that states she is not to ever be contacted
and my records…may never be seen.
Despite the fact that they are also my records.
As in mine and just as much mine as hers.

I told the social worker, to again, please assure this attorney that it had not my intent
to invade into this woman’s life.
I also told her I figured this would be how it would end.
“Why is that Julie” she inquired.
“It’s just my luck Stacy”

After writing that post the other day, a dear blogger friend, Dawn Marie,
in Pennsylvania offered this comment:

I am so sorry, Julie.
But even sorriest for the woman who opened her womb to you, but not her heart.
I will pray for her.
And I would ask you to consider perhaps this “rough” ending was put in place by God
to protect you & not harm.
He revealed, through her calloused legal action, a lot about her –
perhaps sheltering you from further harm.
May you be at peace.
A warm hug sent your way to uplift you.

I’ll add a few more words tomorrow when I share my letter.

After I hung up the phone I dropped my head like a small child might do,
and sobbed into my husband’s arms.
A double rejection.
The grown me, the grown 60-year-old woman, crying like a small child whose
own mother had rejected her…again.

But as Dawn reminds me…God is in the midsts of all of this
just like he was when in 1959 when I was conceived and born…
and later in 1960 when I was eventually adopted.

When we opted to go down to the beach for a few days last week, I thought it would be
a time that I could ponder, contemplate and make sense of things…
and to natually lick my wounds.

Yet God thought differently—no time for self-pity…
He called us to race home to be with our grandson who was rushed to the hospital.

See…life, my life, does go on.
It goes on in three blood relatives…
My son and his two children.
Of whom mean the world to me.
They are mine and I am theirs.

Some reasons in life we know,
some we do not—
The best we can do is to always pick ourselves up when we fall and move one foot in
front of the other–
always moving forward…and never back.

The letter tomorrow.

The story and the questions

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald

DSCN3408
(tired eyes struggling with a sinus infection)

This is part II to a previous post, Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay and what have you done with her? Published March 13, 2013

Have you ever looked into a mirror and wondered who’s that person staring back at you?
No, this is not some psychological question.
Not some deep search for man and his meaning.
Nor is it a trick question.
For here rests a more literal question.

Who do you see staring back at you?

The answer is not simple.
The answer is not the obvious.
The answer is not exactly. . . you.

If not you, if not me, then who you ask?!

The face you see in the mirror is a combination of those who have gone before you. Are those your mother’s eyes? Is that your dads’ chin? Maybe, sadly, your grandfather’s nose? Perhaps your aunt’s earlobes?
It is the bits and pieces of others which make you, you.
Individual, yes.
Conglomerate, yes as well.
You are not just a mere product of a mom and dad but rather a product of generations prior to your parents. You possess a lineage–for good or bad, of a certain family, of a certain people, of a certain clan.

But wonder if you didn’t know whose eyes were looking back at you, whose nose, whose ears, whose facial structure. . .?

Ah the real question—
It is the question of Who.

And so this takes us back to examine an earlier question.
Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay?
“But Julie,” you say, “it doesn’t matter about Sylvia Kay because you are you.” You’ve turned out swell. You have a swell life and and a swell family”
My reply is you’re right—it doesn’t really matter. Life is good, I’m good. It took 54 years of picking up pieces, but you’re right, it’s all good.
But. . .

Who is staring back at me?
Whose eye’s?
Whose lack of lips?
Whose thyroid issue?
Whose horrendous sinus issue?
Whose temper?
Whose intensity?
Who makes me me?

The time: 1959
The Location: Atlanta

The cast of characters:

We know there is a woman. By the time our story takes place she is a nurse. We’ll call her “the Nurse”

There is a man, around the age of 28. A former serviceman, we think, turned State Patrolman, a Lieutenant. We think from Alabama but we are not 100% certain of his state of origin.
We will call him “the Lieutenant.”

There is a baby. We will call her Sylvia Kay or simply, “the Baby.”

There is a Social Worker from the Child Welfare Association, who we will call “the Social Worker.”

Allow us to look briefly back on the life of the Nurse.
At the time of our story she is 23.
Living with one of her older sisters in Atlanta.
She is a nurse, but for which particular hospital is unknown, but probably not Georgia Baptist.
She is a petite woman around 5.5 feet in stature weighing in at a 103 lbs.
Dark brown straight hair, fair complexion and hazel eyes.
Of Scotch / Irish decent.

During high school, the Nurse was involved in music, loving to sing. She was also a part of her high school’s Annual Staff and was even a member of the Future Teacher’s Association.
Funny, we know that the Baby, once in high school was also a part of her school’s Yearbook staff and actually grew up to become a teacher, a lifelong educator. . .and although she can’t sing a lick, loves to sing none the less.

It is believed that the Nurse is from south Georgia but of this we are not certain.
She comes from a close knit family—2 sisters and 2 brothers, a mom who worked in a dye lab and dad who, having had heart trouble, retired his job with the Government. The Nurse was the next to the youngest of the 5 siblings.

There is not nearly as much known about the Lieutenant.
At the time of our story the Lieutenant is 28 with light brown hair, blue eyes and a medium complexion.
He is tall, 6.3 and weighs in at 220 Lbs.
It appears he is friends with the brother-n-law of the Nurse and that he and the Nurse have known one another since high school.

Question: Odd, does that mean they were from the same town, same state?

It also appears that he comes from a family which is considered to be “wealthy” and socially affluent. Perhaps that was a tipping point in the story, yet we do not know that to have ever been an issue.

We do not know how the relationship began between the Nurse and the Lieutenant. However it appears to have been an extensive relationship with marriage having been discussed.

But.
Something happened.
The questions for us, the reader, remains sadly just that—questions upon more questions.
What had happened to this couple? They were not kids but rather grown young adults each having a good education under their belts, each with a secure job. They were enjoying a committed relationship that suddenly, somehow, goes a rye.

The following information is derived from official papers regarding that of the Baby.

In the later half of the year in 1959, the month that the Baby is born, the Nurse calls the office of Georgia’s Child Welfare Agency. The Nurse explains that she is a registered nurse who is to soon deliver a baby out of wedlock at Georgia Baptist Hospital. The Nurse (who should have known better) had not received prenatal care and delivers a baby girl prematurely. There were fictions names.
The Nurse leaves the hospital the very same day, leaving the Baby behind.

But before the Nurse leaves the hospital, the Social Worker finds her. The Nurse explains that she does not want the Social Worker contacting her sister as she is currently living with her sister who is unaware of the Baby or pregnancy.
That she, the Nurse, is planning on returning to work at the hospital where she is employed (not the hospital in which the Baby is born), agreeing to meet with the Social Worker the following day once she gets off from her shift.

Question: Who has a baby, walks out of the hospital, and goes right back to work—in 1959?

The Social Worker learns that the Nurse had signed papers asking that the Child Welfare Association pick up the baby and place the baby in a foster home and that she, the Nurse, intended on paying for all of the medical fees from the birth and now for that of the foster home.

The Nurse shared with the Social Worker that no one in her family had known about the pregnancy. She had told her sister, at the time that she was soon to deliver the Baby, that she would be going on an out of state trip for a bit. No one knew she was pregnant–not family, not co-workers.

Question: How do you hide a pregnancy so well in 1959?

The Nurse and the Social Worker met several times over the course of the next couple of months.

The Social Worker noted that the Nurse guardedly discussed the Lieutenant, only offering basic pertinent information—asking not to discuss the relationship. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse still seemed “very emotionally attached to the Lieutenant.” When discussing the Baby, the Nurse would show “considerable emotion with her eyes filling with tears”—yet appeared very resolute in the decision to relinquish the Baby. The Nurse stated that during the entire 9 months of the pregnancy–she never entertained the idea of keeping the baby.

Question: What is it that we know today about the transference of positive and negative emotions in utero form mother to child?

The Nurse told the Social Worker that the reason she returned immediately to work following the birth of the Baby was due to the fact that working hard helped to keep her mind off of her troubles. She would even volunteer to work overtime and would take the shifts of the other nurses who needed time off.

Over the next several weeks, during each meeting, the Social Worker would share the progression of the Baby and of the Baby’s health. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse’s eyes would still fill with tears. The Nurse always wanted a full report about the Baby’s check-ups and growth progress.

The Nurse told the Social Worker that she actually enjoyed their meetings as it felt good to be able to confide in someone else. The Nurse expanded slightly on the relationship with that of the Lieutenant, noting that he was aware of the pregnancy and wanted to do whatever possible to help and make things right.
But.
Something happened.
Something was said.
The Nurse explained that “she had said something, something too much,” and that a deep rift between them occurred. Later one of the sisters of the Nurse sent a newspaper clipping of the wedding announcement regarding the Lieutenant. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse still seemed emotionally attached yet now also resentful. Nothing else was shared regarding the Lieutenant.

The Baby remained in foster care for the next 3 months before eventually joining an adoptive couple. It would take up to another full year until the adoption was officially complete marking the Baby’s case as closed. The Baby, who had been given the name Sylvia Kay by the Nurse on that fateful day in the hospital, was 1.5 years old before she would no longer officially exist as Sylvia Kay.

Fast forward to 2010. The Baby was now a grown woman. The Baby, now grown, had often wondered about her life prior, on and off, but had made the decision to leave it in the past to which it belonged. Yet there were always nagging questions. Why had there been struggles in school? Why was there often fears of rejection? Why was there the need to seek out the surrogate father in the Priest? Where did the love of cooking come from? Why writing? Why Art? Why the consuming need to communicate? Why the need to be the one in control? What’s the Italian thing all about? Why the tom-boy thing? Why the love of solitude?
Why?

So when she, the now grown Baby, stumbled upon the agency Families First, the current organization in the state which was now the defunct Georgia Child Welfare Association, she discovered that she could obtain the basic “non identifying information” for a nominal fee. The full disclosed case file would be $325. The Baby believed that the little pieces would be best first, telling herself that she could decide later whether she should seek the release of the original case file–or not.

The Baby, now grown, had a tremendous love of history, even minoring in such in college—but the nagging issue was what was the Baby’s, now grown, history? Yet part of the question was whether or not the knowledge of such was pertinent to life today?

Question: Is it important to know one’s past before progressing to the future?

And so here we are with all that remains–those eyes.
The eyes of one who wonders—wondering whose eye are staring back from the mirror.
Those eyes which stare each day from a mirror asking more questions than there are answers.
But does it really matter?
I suppose it only matters if knowing from whence you came is as important as knowing where it is you are going. . .

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Psalm 139 13-18 NIV

Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay and what have you done with her?!

Ok, so the other day I shared with you my story about my brother.
His was a convoluted story of mental illness, adoption, ending with the eventual taking of a life.
And please, you must not ever think that since an adoption was thrown into that mix,
that adoption is ever a bad thing.
It was just one piece to his very sad story.
On the other hand, there is me… 🙂

I was adopted in 1959.
I was always told that I had come from a Florence Crittenden Home in Atlanta,
eventually making my way through the now defunct Atlanta Adoption Agency.
The Florence Crittenden “homes” were all part of a national organization that aided young single woman
who were pregnant–those having little or no resources or safe places to go.
Sent by their families to these “homes”,
many of these young pregnant women were not bearing the best of news.
A single pregnant woman in the 1950’s carried all sorts of taboos and connotations.

Now whether or not I actually took this route is a bit of that “gray” area surrounding my past.
However, this was my story and I was sticking to it!

I was almost 3 months old when I was adopted.
My parents told me all about being adopted when I turned 5 years old.
I suppose 5 is as good an age as any.
I remember my Dad sitting me down and reading me a book.
A book I came to be ashamed of and loathed—
I didn’t like to acknowledge its existence in the house after the day he read me the story.

It was a nice enough story I suppose…
all about mommies and daddies not being able to have children of their own but having
the opportunity of being able to “adopt” a baby who had no parents.
I was “special” because I was chosen.
Hummmmm…
Really?…special!?
‘Special’ because I was “abandoned” and this poor couple couldn’t have their own child,
so they had to come “pick me” like a piece of fruit…
Hummmmm…
What kind of happy story this was proving to be!”…or so thought my young mind.

I do vaguely remember having to go down to what I know now was a social worker’s office and sit around
“playing” so the social worker could monitor if I was turning out to be “well adjusted”
(had they stopped this little practice by the time Ed, my adopted brother rolled around, as anyone could have seen his adjustment levels were slightly off, we wouldn’t be talking about Ed).

My parents had some friends who had also adopted a little girl at the same time.
We played together and our parents hung out together a good bit.
I hated spending time with these people because they constantly talked about this adoption business
like it was cutting edge material.
They even acknowledged the Adoption day for their daughter like it was another kind of birthday.
Oh my Lord, what was wrong with these people I wondered.

I didn’t like to talk about it.
I didn’t want my parents reminded that they had “something” wrong with them.
I felt sorry for my parents and I didn’t want people reminding them things weren’t as they should be.

Little did I realize that things were indeed as they should be because we were a family—–
(but then they wanted another baby and got Ed and it was downhill after that,
but I digress again—–the moral of that story,
maybe it’s best to be happy with the one).

Never ever did anyone in my family ever make me feel as if I was anything but a part of the family.
My grandparents loved and doted on me just as they doted on my older cousins.
Dad had ruined my life by giving me the “nick-name” of Julie (see the post on passports),
which, at the time, seemed fine
(again see the post on the whole passport fiasco to understand my sarcasm here)…and so life rocked along.

We never talked about it, that being the whole adoption topic, because remember,
I was “protecting” their sad feelings—or so I always rationalized.
Crazy I know, but what can I say.
Always the old soul in the young body
(now it’s just an old soul whose body had finally caught up—but I digress again).

One day, while I was in college, I found myself in UGA’s massive library working on a paper.
I can’t recall what course or paper it was that I was writing at the time,
but as I was digging around amongst the books, buried in the back on one of the myriads of shelves,
I found some books on adoption.
Curious, I pulled all of them off the shelf,
carrying them back to the table, and begin pouring over what they had to say on the subject.

The next time I was home I found myself asking Mom some questions.
She had limited information as that was how it was done back then.
My “legal” birth certificate listed Mary Julia and my parents as my parents—–
there was no mention about any adoption.
The only thing missing was time of birth…hummmmm.
It’s as if life started for me the day they brought me home—
those missing months prior was a time non-existence.

Mother told me what she had been told by the Agency at the time they got me.
My biological parents had been older…not young teens but rather late 20s.
They were in love but for some reason, could not marry.
My biological mother was petite (I’m short but a far cry for “petite”),
she was popular, a cheerleader (oh dear Lord, a far cry from my tomboy self) and loved art…hummmmmm….
I was an art major at the time, interesting.

After reading a good bit on the subject and talking to various folks,
I understand a few things about adopted kids.
One tidbit I found interesting was that most of the time when a woman is pregnant with a child,
a child she most likely either resents or knows that she is immediately giving up, those feelings
are somehow transferred through the womb—

I also know that many adopted folks deal with the concept of rejection, more so than “regular” folks.

It’s that whole abandonment issue.
All of which now makes tremendous sense to me.

Also, there may be issues with anger and/or simply establishing solid relationships in general,
as all of these deep-seated feelings tend to act as defense mechanisms in an adopted individual.
It all makes sense to me, as I’ve lived it but I’m certain there are those scientific among us
who would disagree—but that’s ok.
I just know what my life has been like…

I love history.
You may realize that by now if you’ve read any of my previous posts.
But the funny thing is that I don’t really know my own history—and that is frustrating.

I love the whole genealogy thing, as one of my grandmothers did extensive research.
She was a Daughter of the Revolutionary War, the Confederacy, the Huguenot Society, etc…
she’s on the freaking Mayflower for heaven’s sake…but I am not, not really.
My spot on her “tree” is not real—
I’m supposed to be on someone else’s tree.

This is what bothers me.
Terribly.
I don’t like gaps—things should be filled in.

It also bothered me when I was pregnant with my son.
The doctors always begin asking about all of my medical histories.
My response is always the same “Who knows??—I’m adopted.”
Is there a history of cancer, heart disease, some other odd malady??—
It’s anybody’s guess.

My son is taller than my husband and myself—he’s built differently.
Big strong, broad shoulders. Very handsome.
Where did all of that come from?
He suffers from migraines. I do too…
But where did I get that from?

He has struggled with a learning disability and dyslexia. I’m pretty sure I did too.
Where did that come from?
I look in a mirror and wonder who it is I look like.
As I age, how will that be?

All of my little medical ups and downs…who gave me all of that?
I pass people on the street and find myself often wondering if I’ve not passed my parents,
maybe a brother or a sister…

When mother died and I was just 25, and yet to be a mother myself, I found myself at times,
so desperately wanting a mother…
someone who I could confide in, someone who could understand me, someone who could offer advice,
someone who knew the road I was traveling and could tell me what to expect.
When I finally did become a mother myself—boy did I miss having a mom’s help!
It was all solo.
No instruction manual and no mother—Good Lord!!

But people never believed it when I told them I was adopted.
I looked a great deal like mom and dad.
Mother and I both had that oh so southern drawl.
Mother’s, however, was much prettier.
They were my parents and I always knew that to be so—
but I always had the nagging holes, the questions, and the missing pieces to the puzzle.
And of course the obviously painful question—
I always thought I was a cute, good kid, why would someone give that up???!!
Just walk away?

I have several long time, dear friends who wonder much of the same things about me as I do.
They have been very encouraging if I ever wanted to go on the quest to “find out”
but I’ve also always heard that if the biological parent(s) wanted to find you,
they would have done so on monumental occasions—a 16th or 21st birthday, etc.
I also have heard horror stories of other adopted adults locating biological families,
regretting the whole ordeal.
I certainly don’t want that.
I want an Oprah moment.
Who doesn’t?

As long as my dad is alive, I’ve decided that I would not go on this quest.
I think it would hurt his heart.
He lived through, barely may I add, the ordeal with my brother—
losing the same child basically twice—first through the annulment and then by the suicide.
I just didn’t/don’t think I could let him know I was on a quest….

I did however, do a little research and found a site for the state of Georgia—
a place for those wanting to adopt, or those who had been adopted—Families First.
For $35 I could send off for some non-identifying information.
“Ok” I thought, what harm could/ would that be.
What exactly would non-identifying information mean?

I send a check, filled out some forms, and proceeded to wait.

A few weeks passed, I began to forget about my mini-quest…
until one sunny spring afternoon, a packet arrives.
Oh, Lord—this is it—this is “me”
A history of me…
Hummmmm…
My name. My name!!!
Would it be…Katherine?
Elizabeth?
Something beautiful, pretty—and not a nickname that has proven difficult.

I poured over the paperwork.
I read the facts.
Birth weight, size, time of birth.
Hospital. Hospital??
My “official birth certificate” states I was born at Piedmont.
Not so on this now original certificate.
What the heck??? Why is that I wonder—and how very odd.

I read the story given by the social worker who worked with the hospital and that of my “my mother”.

The mother’s, my mother’s story, seems really sad.
It’s a long story, one I’ll save for another post.
More questions than indeed answers.

The parents, my parents it seems, did love one another.
One came from a well to do family, one not so much.
It appears the families may have known one another–or at least her brother-n-law knew my “father”.
She moved from somewhere, in what I’m assuming to be south Georgia, living alone,
with no one ever knowing she was pregnant.
There were two states involved.
Something tragic occurred and there was a separation.

She was a nurse, living alone in Atlanta.
She had no prenatal care. (Idiot!!)
She gave birth and immediately left the hospital, all the same day.
Just walked away.
Wow!
Why?
There was a foster home, then the adoption agency.
More questions, with very few answers.

Sylvia Kay.
Are you kidding me??!!
No offense to any Sylvias or Kays out there, but I just knew I was a Katherine or an Elizabeth…
a Katie or a Beth.

I suppose it’s that southern fascination of our love of Katie Scarlet O’Hara (to be said in a very southern accent).
Oh well, I suppose I’m sticking with my adopted Mary Julia!

And so yes, there are more questions than answers.
I will, I suppose, one day investigate further, but that shall wait—that will be later.
I do know that time is running out I suppose, as my biological parents, if they are still alive,
are aging, just as we all are aging.
Do I want to establish a relationship—no, not especially?
I have a family.
I do have questions however and curiosities, as that is to be expected.
But all of that is, I suppose, for another Scarlet!
And so it shall be…..