My birth mother had been raped by an unknown black man. This is what she and her husband told the adoption agency. In September of 1967 they were referred to the agency by the Department of Social Services and they were looking to place “a child who appeared to be racially mixed.”
Yesterday after several calls to the adoption agency who handles my file I finally received the indentifying information I was looking for about my mother. Since she passed away six years ago, I was able to get a copy of her information from my file.
I spoke to the agency at about 10:30 am and I was advised they would copy my file and fax to me as soon as they could. By 4:00 my fax machine was still quiet and I was filled with frustration up to the tops of my ears.
My information from my file was not priority to someone who has other responsibilites and more pressing things to do. My information is priority to me and I felt some compassion was expected and should be a part of this person’s job. Unfortunately my feelings had no authority.
At 4:03 pm I placed a call back to the agency. At this point, the person handling my file was so sick of hearing from me she wouldn’t come to the phone. Instead, when I called the secretary relayed to the woman responsible for my file I was on the phone and the women handling my file passed a message to me through the secretary. I am advised they are typing up the cover letter and have just finished copying my information. They tell me they will be faxing to me shortly.
At this point, I am thinking this must be some file. It took them five and a half hours to put it together. I hoped I had enough paper in my fax machine.
At 4:37 pm I received my information. Four sheets came through my fax machine. One sheetwas a cover letter, one sheet told me who to contact if I want the court records of my adoption, one sheet appeared to be a legal order or request for my adoption, and one sheet told me my birth mother was raped.
Confusion, despair, and finality surround me as I read the words that my birth mother “could not describe the AF(father) stating she was raped by an unknown negro man.” I sat on my bed and wondered why I never thought of this scenario. For 30 minutes I sat still not knowing what to say or what to do. I now hafto digest that the siblings I was going to contact would have no reason to interact with me. I realized bringing up this painful topic really wouldn’t be fair to them and there is a strong chance they know nothing about it.
My search ends here, is what I thought.
The confusion clouds my memory of what I know. For 30 minutes I was stunned and didn’t remember the information I received 21 years ago from the same agency. Slowly, I came out of this fog.
The reason why I never thought of this scenario was because 21 years ago the agency sent me my non-indentifying information which told me my birth father worked with my birth mother, he was married and had children of his own and he was 40 years old when I was born.
What story was true? Did the person who was in charge of my file 21 years ago make this up to “protect” my feelings? I was clear headed and I was angry. It was 5:07 pm and I placed a call to the agency. I considered giving a false name to the secretary in fear that once they heard it is me they would avoid me. I gave them my name and the woman who has my file gets on the phone.
I explained to her the information I was just given totally contradicts the information I have had for the last 20 years and I need to know which is the right story. She gets my file and she can’t find where the initial file handler came up with the information on my birth father. She states it might have been in the court records which I will have to get from the court. This is another leg of a trip that seems will never end. It seems that the court system and theirs records will be a circus that I am not in the mood to attend; the typical bureaucratic paper tornado.
On the other end of the phone she stated she had found a report in my file. The report described a home visit that the agency had at my birth mother’s home. The report states that my birth mother was questioned about the facts surrounding my birth and finally she admitted the rape story was not true. She confessed to having an affair with a black co-worker. She provided information on my birth father to the agency.
The gravity of what just happened is not picked up by the woman on the other end of the phone. We ended our conversation and I realize that if I hadn’t called 21 years ago, I would be left with the rape story. My journey would have ended in a tragic way. Being conceived out of an affair isn’t the best legacy but it would have to be higher on the scale than the alternative.
This morning, I called the court just to see what, if anything, they could provide. I could not have been more wrong about the court system. The woman I talked to showed the compassion I needed to see. She listened to me tell my story. She didn’t hear my words, she listened. Being in this system, she told me very often she hears similar stories. It was very common back then for woman to say they were raped if a child was conceived as a result of an affair. Especially, in the late 60’s with a white woman and black man, rape was often used to explain what happened. The words from this experienced professional comforted me.
Soon after, I sat down and wrote a letter to my three brothers and one sister. I included in the letters all the information that I have, and the letter I received yesterday which names each one of them as the children of my birth mother. In this letter it plainly states she is my mother too.
Today four letters went to four people requesting they share with me information, stories, and pictures of my birth mother. The letter also asks them to see if someone may know the last name of my birth father. In the information I received yesterday on the adoption request form it gave me a first name of my father. His last name was blacked out to protect his privacy.
I sent the letters express and they will arrive tomorrow. Again, more waiting.