Saturday, January 03, 2009

Trippin

I was adopted back in 1960. The polite term for what happened was 'privately arranged.'
The real story goes like this: the poor girl, my mother, was red, about 15 years old and unmarried. The father was a white boy off the nearby Army base. She had the baby in a charity hospital. With the 'help' of the attending doctor and the collusion of the staff of the maternity ward I was basically stolen from her and then sold to whoever. If you hit my archives you'll find out what exactly I mean by 'whoever'.

Now, over the years I've gotten a few arched eyebrows and long-suffering sighs when I've recounted this, as though I were making it up, right? Trying to inflate the drama factor, the romance, make the story more tragic?

You would be SHOCKED how common that shit was.
You would be shocked at how common it was right up until about the mid '70's, in fact.
Here.
In America.
If you were white.

Oh yes.

Recently I joined an online group for birth-moms who have been reunited with the children they gave up for adoption. Meet the Arborist:

(I was reunited with my son last January, and it's been fucking AWESOME, mainly because he is fucking awesome, and he gardens, and cows fear him. And the suspenders.) It's been really cool to know that I'm not the only person out there with a happy ending!

The group is great. The chance to share this unusual, overwhelming, emotional rollercoast of an experience is great. But the thing that is just blowing my shit away is not that other people have been reunited with their children, but HOW INCREDIBLY COMMON MY ADOPTION STORY WAS!

So many of these women went through the exact same thing that my birth mother did! And these are not old ladies either, folks...this shit went on right up until the mid-Seventies! They STOLE your baby! And the racism behind it! If you were white (looking,) unwed and indigent, you stood a really good chance of having your kid taken-just flat fucking taken- right out of the nursery by any one of a number of 'social service' organizations, (or in my case a crooked G.P.) and SOLD. They didn't screen prospective parents, either! Hell no they didn't do any screening! Sure, if it was a rich family going though a legitimate agency, sure, then there might have been some kind of a cursory background investigation, but in the majority of cases? If the check cleared, congratulations. Have an infant. And it's horrifying how many of those infants went to people just as evil and fucked up as my parents were. The fucking Humane Society spends more time and effort clearing people to adopt stray dogs.

I cannot tell you how shocked I am. I associate this kind of thing with, like, Victorian-era New York or something. I mean come on. But it's true!

Before anyone asks, no. No, I'm not going to resume the search for my birth mom. I'm not going to drop that bombshell into the lap of some elderly stranger. I've already tried once and got stonewalled, and that was years ago. I've had enough drama in my life and I sure in the fuck don't want to go around mongering more drama for complete strangers. That episode is done. But can you imagine?

I just cannot get over this. And here's the kicker...had I taken after momma instead of daddy? I'd have grown up in Eastern Oregon in a hogan. No fucking lie.

Life is a fucking trip, I tell you what.



26 comments:

  1. Caramba!
    I know of some Irish "institutions" that worked until the 1960s where children were kind of stolen and put into. I know of the Australian practice of "adopting" native children into white families - I think but do not know whether it stopped after WWII.

    But what you tell here I hear for the first time - hearing it first I would connect it with pre-WWII times: There were some really nasty practices in the 30s. But that it continued until the 1970s is shocking.
    The whole behaviour, the set of mind what expresses itself in these actions, is so unbelievable: I guess it slaps any single value of the enlightenment into the face.

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  2. you bet it does. thats the kind of shit that happens when you base a social system around fundamentalist christian fucking dogma. I tell you what, this past week has been an eye opener for me. I am ready to light my torch and fucking MARCH ON ROME.

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  3. ?
    March on Rome?
    The last "March on Rome" I know of took place around 1920. What are you talking about?

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  4. whoops! its an expression. it references the slave revolts in rome way back when. it means to be sick and tired of getting shit on and angry enough and fed up enough to cause a revolution! or at least, kick some ass!

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  5. Thank you for the explanation and excuse me please. I did not know this word. Mussolini marched to Rome and started his revolution with this action. It was a repetition of the march to Rome of the fighters from 1870 what led to the founding of modern Italy. Earlier marches to Rome were done by the German kings who were crowned emperors there. Then there are two captures of Rome, one by Brennus and the other in the 16th century, sacco di Roma. Enough Italian bla.

    This is a tremendous story you have to tell and I want to express my sympathy.
    One can come to a point when riot is a good alternative.
    I have to read more of your blog.

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  6. Wow, FN... just... just... WOW. That is amazing. And so sad! I mean, a 15 year old having a baby is sad in and of itself, a kid having a kid, but to steal her baby... to steal anyone's baby...

    I am so glad that you have connected with your own son. And that he's such a great guy.

    I do have to ask, though... what is a 'hogan'? Don't think I have heard that term up here in Frozen North.

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  7. When I lived in the (occasionally) Frozen North, 'hogans' was a slang term for a lady's pleasantly wobbly bits (as in "Woah, dude, check out the awesome hogans on that babe, eh?".

    But really, what wasn't a slang term for a lady's wobbly bits?

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  8. ponita: a hogan is kind of an earth shelter home. it's halfway dug into the ground; you have to take a few steps down into it, and it has a round roof. Nowadays they're not so common, but back when I was a kid a lot of eastern Oregon NA way back in the high desert used to live in them. There's worse places to live.

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  9. EVERYONE: I don't want to turn this into a bitter shitload of ranting, folks. I am actually in a really good mood, life is going really well, I'm happy...its just, there this is. It came up and I had to write about it. There ya go. People should know about this stuff. This is history as much as any war or election or anything else is.

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  10. not as uncommon as one would think, fo sho. I mean, they had those "homes" for unwed teen moms for a long freakin' time, just ask that one guy we know whose gf got shipped to one when they were in high school and she got pregnant. Fucking sad, man.
    And you were born right in this era in this article here yo: http://www.adoption-articles.com/human_right_adoption.htm
    Gah.

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  11. Wow indeed. I friend of mine had a kid down the road who fit the "the Australian practice of "adopting" native children into white families" tag in the 60s by the way.

    I used to try to accuse my family of "adopting" me but it really didn't stick - darned hereditary traits!

    So glad you have got a good relationship with your son - hooray.

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  12. Anonymous7:57 AM

    I am glad that you are in a happy place. Love, R

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  13. Make no apology. I find this kind of thing fascinating.

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  14. FN...sometimes people are in our lives for a reason and not in our lives for a reason...i think you are doing what you need to do for yourself and you did so when you found your son...maybe one day this will resolve for you...i hope it will but it does sound like you have come to a certain acceptance and moved forward...

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  15. tim: you snook in under the wire there, you and your hogans. one of my favorite slang terms is 'zoomies'. it sounds refreshing, like they're always going really fast. you know, like when dogs stick their heads out the car windows? theres a mental image for you!

    SSA: thats just messed up. like i said, i always associated this shit with the Victorian era. think how much more sane things would have been if people had actually practiced Jesus' love, tolerance and forgiveness and welcomed the new little baby into their lives, supported their daughters and nurtered everyone involved? nah, thats just CRAZY TALK.

    jeannie: it happens everywhere. im just shocked that anyone puts up with it or thinks it solves anything. and my son is so awesome that you simply have to like the guy, son or not. loving your kids is one thing....liking them is BONUS POINTS!!!

    RETRO: hey, thanks. maybe one day we can visit you and say howdy!

    tick: it is, isn't it? i mean, even I find it fascinating and im in the middle of it. go hug your daughters, my darling.

    daisy: I'm fine, sweetheart. I find myself in the enviable position of being overwhelmed by happiness as a kind of ongoing state for the past year, is what the deal is! seriously, its just a stone trip. MY story with my boy has a happy ending. Now we spend the rest of our llives as a family making something positive come out of all the dysfunction and misfortune of the past. thats where I'm at now. It's pretty good!

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  16. it's incredible is what it is. and growing up in an extremely fundamentalist christian home, I say it is not surprising unfortunately. Your story is an amazing one. I loved that you found your son too. makes me happy and smiley.

    (I refer to my boobies as "fun bags". Not really original, but makes my hubby laugh and laugh. And that is good)

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  17. sugar, you are incredible! i'm glad you're glad, too. ;) seriously, nothing astounds me anymore about "behind the scenes" america - being multi-ethic myself, but being tan, my experience was a bit different: you EXPECT shit to be fucked up most of the time!
    anyway, here's to better times, babe! xoxo

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  18. If he is truly descended from the FlatButt Tribe, Mistress MJ will need evidence.

    Send a photo of his bare bottom.

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  19. It is truly sobering that expliotation of an 'underclass' can be so blatant in a supposed civilised society , makes you wonder whats going on today that we don't know about

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  20. I heard on Radio 4 this afternoon that British Mental Health institutions in the 1960's were, for the most part, little removed from the Victorian Asylems. As Beast says, one wonders what is going on today behind closed doors.

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  21. I'm so glad that things have worked out for you, what goes round generally comes round.

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  22. and also, I made a carrot cake at the weekend and people ate it.

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  23. Bizarre.
    My husband's Mum and aunt's found out a few years ago that they had a brother...from when their mom went away on "extended holiday" as a younger girl. I can't believe what was done "for the good of society" back then...I'm not surprised at anything from back then...seems they did anything to keep up appearances. Noone knew anything. Whacked...I didn't think it got to the point where money crossed hands tho...and so recently.

    Wow.

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  24. Despite the unfair ominous start, here you are, one of the most formidable entities on the internet.

    I love the fact that you have broken that chain and that your son is going to get all this love and wisdom from such an amazing woman.

    Plato might have been on to something when he suggested that in order to really improve society, he would need to rescue all of the children from their untrainable permanently tainted parental units, and start from scratch.

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  25. We didn't cover this. May I use?

    Awesome reunion full of awesomeness.

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  26. joy: I refer to mine as 'The Kremlin'. don't worry. nobody gets it.

    savannah: its like being color-coded. its absolutely ridiculous, isn't it.

    mj: sure, I'll get right on that. I'll just whup right on down to oregon and ask my boy if I can take a picture of his ass. you betcha. wow. ok. dang. you already saw him in rubber waders, ok? get a grip.

    beast: oh hell yes. out of sight out of mind.

    tick: I'd imagine that most 'homecare' facilities are straight out of Dickens.

    Ziggi: thank you, and GOOD FOR YOU!

    geo: you ever hear the story about Jack Nicholson growing up thinking that the girl he knew as his sister was actually his mother? that happened in my adopted grandmothers' family too.

    coppens: didn't he use that to lead into a description of the Spartan method of childrearing, though? yeesh!!

    hardhouse: yes, you may. and yes, it still is!

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