Memorial Book: Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945

IN MEMRORIUM

This is a difficult blog for me to write for today 11/15/15 as for the first time ever I saw photos of a few of my ancestors. Unfortunately three of the four people in the photos were of those lost during the Holocaust. To see their photos and know what happened to them was heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes. I also found out one that survived passed away only seven years ago…if I had only researched my paternal side earlier I may have been able to meet her.

The black/white photos of the people in this blog were either from Yad Vashem or from the private collection of Anita Herze Jorg.

Eleven members of my family (that I know of as of this date) were taken from their homes, seven were killed in the Holocaust and four survived.

Through the above book I was able to find exactly what happened to those that died, two that survived. I found information on two others that survived by visiting a web site from Kaiserslautern, Germany web site pages dedicated to each family member with Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) dedicated on July 10, 2014 at the last address where they were free at  Rudolph-Breitscheid-Str. 71, Kaiserslautern. Two currently have testimonials for them in Yad Veshem and I will be submitting them for the remainder over the next few weeks.

AddressLocation

Rudolph-Breitscheid-Str, 71 pinpointed on the city map

02her_all_stHere are their stories and photos for those I have today. The daughter of one who survived still is living and I have written to the resource I found to see if I will be able to contact her as well as see the interview done with her father Erich Herze back in 1994 before he passed. Yes, I have hope to see more photos especially of ancestors that go back before the generations on this blog.

Geissmann, Hedwig: born Hedwig Jakob, sister of Johanna Jakob Herze, 1st cousin twice removed

Born: January 24, 1882 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz, resident of Kaiserlautern

Married: on 10/02/1912 to Silvan Geissman in Essweiler, he died in service in during WWl

Deportation from: Baden/Pfalz/Saarland

10/20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Recebedou internment camp

08/03/1942 Drancy collecting detention camp

Murdered:  08/12/1942 Auschwitz extermination camp

Herze, Johanna: born Johanna Jakob, sister of Hedwig Jakob Geissman, 1st cousin  twice removed….daughter of Lazarus Jakob/Barbara Franck…my 2x great aunt/uncle

Born: February 15, 1874 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz, resident of Kaiserlautern

Married: on  10/24/1894 in Essweiler moved to Kaisrslautern in 1902

Deportation from: Baden/Pfalz/Saarland

10//20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Noe internment camp

Murdered:  03/05/1943 Noe internment camp

Herze, Hugo: husband of Johanna Jakob Herze my 1st cousin twice removed

Born: 07/29/1870 in Randerath / Geilenkirchen / Rheinprovinz

Married: 10/24/1894 in Essweiler & moved to Kaiserslautern in 1902

Deportation from: Badem/Pfalz/Saarland

10/20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Noe interment camp

Murdered:  02/07/1943 Noe internment camp

HugoJohanna

Johanna & Hugo Herze-1935 Kaiserlautern

GursMarker

The marker at Camp Gurs of entrance memorializes those who entered on 10/22/1940 and were murdered, including 5 members of my family

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Hugo & Johanna appear on the 2nd column…whoever visits will have to remember them!

Franck, Auguste:

Born 07/08/1878 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz resident of Koln son of Herman Franck/Ester Moses…Herman brother of  Joseph Franck my 3x great grandfather 3rd great uncle

Deportation: 06/12/1942 Theresienstadt, ghetto

Murdered: 07/05/1942 Theresienstadt, ghetto

Herze, Adolph: son of Hugo/Johanna Herze, 2nd cousin two times removed

Born: 12/13/1896 Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz

Married: Rosa Lazar…date not as yet verified

Escape: Adolph & Rosa escaped to Brussels, Belgium

Deported: to Dusseldorf

Deported: 12/11/1941 to Riga

Murdered: 03/06/1943 Riga Jungfernof Aussbenlager ghetto

Herze, Rosa: born Rosa Lazar wife of Adolph Herze

Born: 08/01/1902 Kaiserslautern/Bayern.Pfalz

Escaped: to Brussels, Belgium with husband

Deported to Dusseldorf

Deported: 12/11/1941 to Riga

SURVIVED:…went to Hamburg, Germany after liberation, immigrated to the United States in December 1946

RosaLazarus

Rosa Lazar Herze immigration papers into United States

Herze, Hannilore: daughter of Jacob/Lydia Horn Herze….Jacob is son of Hugo/Johanna Herze…Hannilore, 3rd cousin once removed

 Born:07/13/1933 Kaiserslautern/Bayern/Plafz and lived there

Deported: 10/22/1940 from Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs interment camp

Murdered: 08/1/1940 Gurs internment camp

Herze, Hedwig: daughter of Jacob/Lydia, sister of Hannalore Herze 3rd cousin once removed

Born: on 01/23/1931 Kaiserslautern before the marriage of her parents, though her mother was Catholic she was officially listed as Jewish

Deported: 10/22/1940 from Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs internment camp

Moved: 02/26/1941 to Aspet (Haute Garonne) with 49 other children from the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) of Gurs in the children’s home Maison des Pupilles

SURVIVED: On 28 January 1948 she returned to Kaiserslautern, where on 08/27/1949 she married Oskar LF Ebling, they had two children. She died in Kaiserslautern 1974.

HedwigHannilore

Hedwig with younger sister Hannalore-1935 Kaiserslautern

Hedwig

Hedwig in orphanage (far right)

Hedwig2

Hedwig in orphanage (front 6th in from right)

Hedwig3

Hedwig: Hannalore has been murdered and Ruth moved…she is alone:note the star of David having to be worn

Herze, Jacob: son of Hugo/Johana Herze, 2nd cousin twice removed

Born: 02/13/1901 Neukirchen/Daun/Rheinprovinz lived in Kaiserslautern

Married: Lydia Horn

Imprisoned: 11/12/1938-12/10/1938 Dachau concentration camp for protection (?)

Deported:  10//22/1940 Baden/Plaz/Saarland Gurs internment camp

Murdered 04/27/1941 Gurs internment camp

camp-de-gurs

Camp Gurs Cemetery for the 1017 murdered here: Hugu & Hannalore Herze, both of whom died here in 1941, rest here and as people walk through the markers each will be remembered as will the other 1015

Herze, Lydia: born Lydia Horn

Born: March 29, 1912 in Kusel, daughter of Michael and Katharina Horn, family was Roman Catholic

Married: 06/06/1931 to Jacob Herze in Kaiserslautern and lived there

Deported: 10.22.1940 Baden/Plafz/Saarland….this after repeated request on the part of official bodies to renounce her Jewish husband, Lydia refused. She was sent back from Gurs to Kaiserslautern, where she was obliged to do forced labor and lived on February 5, 1943 to October 7, 1944 in the basement Straße 9, with her mother. Between October 1944 and July 1945, after escaping Kaiserslautern, she lived in Hamburg.

SURVIVED: She remarried on 03/29/1960 to Kurt Nagel, Lydia died on 08/16/1992 in Kaiserslautern.

Herze, Ruth, Renee: daughter of Jacob/Lydia Herze,  3rd cousin once removed

Born: 06/30/1939 Kaiserslautern/Bayern/Plafz and lived there

Deported: 10/22/1940 Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs inernment camp, The 16-month-old girl Ruth was the youngest ever transported to Gurs

Moved: The one and a half year old Ruth was brought by Blanche Raphael, pediatric nurse and Max Teichert to a children’s home to Limoges, France. They became her foster parents.

SURVIVED: Ruth knew a long time nothing about their origins and about the fact that both her mother and her sister were still alive. Erich Herze, the youngest brother of Jacob their father, finally found her and contacted her.. Mediated by Erich Herze her mother Lydia traveled to Limoges in 1950 to bring her youngest daughter home with her. This, however, was thwarted by the foster parents.

The relationship between Ruth Herze and her birth mother remained difficult, however, she had good contact with her older sister Hedwig and her uncle Erich, she visited him often in Malmö, Sweden, where he had fled in 1939. Around 1960 Ruth moved to Nimes and learned the profession of pediatric nurse. She then moved to Boulogne near Paris and later by Cagnes-sur-Mer near Nice, where she died of 2008.

Two children Erich Herze and Wilhelm Herze fled Kaiserslautern in 1939. Erich fled to Malmo, Sweden where he married had at least one child, a daughter. He died during a visit to Kaiserslautern with his daughter in 1999 and was returned to Malmo, Sweden for burial. Wilhelm immigrated to the United States, to Argentina. to Paraguay where he died in 1986.

This is the Synagogue the Herze family attended in Kaiserslautern from 1902 until 1938 when it was destroyed to make a parade ground for the Nazis:

img_Kaiserslautern_ext DSC03223

Replica of Synagogue entrance memorial built in Kaiserslautern by the Jewish community

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Plaque at the memorial entrance showing before and after destruction

A human being is forgotten until his name is not forgotten!

Blood Relative Finds Me After 51 Years Separation

Before I begin this story I should note I am 63 years old. The blood relative I am speaking of was born in 1962; making him only 51 years old and that’s the reason for the title being what it is.

I should also note that to protect his interest and others involved in this story I will not be sharing many last names or location information.

Here goes:

On the evening of June 5, 2013 I received the following E mail:

Hello, you don’t know me however we are related by blood. I am Michael , the biological son of Cora Frances Lee (passed away 16 April 2001 in Detroit Michigan), who was given up for adoption back in late 60’s. My brother was Gregory( passed away 29 August 2006 in Longwood, FL). I was given this information by a court appointed investigator from the Wayne County Family courts in Michigan. I have been looking at your website

I was wondering if you would have any other information on my birth mother and my brother? I currently live in Ohio. I know the investigator has been trying to reach you, however I have no ideal if he has had any luck. Well hope to hear from you. He had not reached me but did so a day after Michael’s first E mail.

My initial reaction was this is a scam and someone is trying to get personal information from me. My response I have to admit was extremely rude and blunt.

However, as the evening went on and thinking of the search for my birth family and how difficult it was I began having second thoughts on the response I had written earlier. I decided to write this person a second time:

Probaby came across as rude in my 1st reply as I was/am leary of these types of E mails considering all the crap on the internet. Considering I had to search for my birth family and spent years in foster care in various homes….I can relate to one’s searching. I don’t know why one would say we are blood related. If you are not pulling my leg you will have to tell me why as I don’t know the people you speak of unless they crossed my path in one of the foster homes I was in.

Will see if you write or if not then I know this note was not true.

Michael’s reply came within minutes:

Understand your response. I am doing this stuff a lot later in life, as I am now 51. I will forward the e-mail with information provided to me by the investigator from the court in Michigan. If I have sent this e-mail to the wrong person I am sorry. I am attempting to get as much information on my birth mother and brother a possible. Forwarded e-mail on it’s way.

No further E mails came that evening and I retired for the night not sure if in fact I would ever hear from this person again.

One of my early morning rituals is to check for E mails that may have come in overnight. There was one from Michael! I sat there is astinishment and repeating the words “Holy Crap” as I read it. The E mail contained all the information found by the court investigator in Michigan had found.

Due to the length I cannot put it in this blog. However, it contained his birthmother’s maiden name * death information, his brother’s birth/adopted name & death information. The most amazing information was including my birthmother,s name as well as her sisters and extensive information on my grand parents and great grand parents. There was other information but I won’t bore you with it.

Yes, “Holy Crap” Michael is a blood relative…he is a first cousin. I for quite awhile just sat there stunned and read the E mail a number of times.

I sent a quick E mail to Michael confirming all the information he had sent, welcomed him into my family and arranged for us to speak on the phone that evening after I returned from work out of town.

We spoke only for a short time later that evening…it was very personal and private and I will keep it that way. Needless to say I was thrilled to have been found by a first cousin as I had had no contact with blood relatives since the passing of my birth mother, birth father as well as my first cousin Dorothy in 2005. We agreed we would have a much longer phone conversation on Saturday.

Though I felt comfortable with all the information Michael shared I wanted just a bit of further information and called the nmuber of the court investigator the next morning. He just verified all the information and also told how he had found the information needed to confirm Michael and I were indeed blood related. He was also very happy Michael and I had made direct contact.

Now I am sure you are wondering how in fact is he a blood relative and first cousin….I won’t keep you wondering any longer…LOL!

My birth mother had two sisters; Doris and Frances. During the search for my birth mother I was very aware of them. It was through Doris that I actually made contact for the first time with my birth mother. I had also searched for Frances but was unbale to find any information past 1952. At the time she was in the state hospital due to adolecent behavior not suitable to my grand parents. No one had heard from her of her since she was released from the hospital in 1952.

It was through Michael I found out why I had not been able to find Frances nor could any other family member over the years. Frances, had purposely I believe, changed how she listed her name after the hospital release. I believe she did it to make sure no one from the family would ever be able to find her as she no longer wanted contact with her parents who had put her in the state hospital in the first place. Frances’s maiden name was Frances C. Adams and she changed it to Cora (found out the C was for Cora) F. Adams. At the time of her death it was Cora F. Lee.

Michael and his late brother Gregory were Cora’s (Frances)two sons…they both are first cousins! Because of the life she chose to live at some point both Michael and Gregory were taken from her and placed for adoption. Both were lucky to be adopted by very loving families and their first names were never changed. From the information on Cora’s probate records after her death it appears Gregory remained in contact with his birth mother and also left a clue for Michael if he ever attempted to search he or Cora. Since Cora has passed I won’t detail her lifestyle but to say it was not condusive for raising children.

I should note that now all three sisters; my birth mother Roberta and Aunts Doris, Frances (Cora) are now deceased. They all passed within a year time frame.

On Saturday Michael and I spent over an hour on the phone speaking as though 51 years had never separated us. He talked of his birth mother, his adopted family as well as hs family. He lives in Ohio, spent 20 years in the army & now works for the government. He is married & has 2 adult daughters. We shared what info we could on family though we both have unanswered questions. It was great talking with him. We will be staying in touch now through E mails; phone calls but hope in time for a get together probably here in Arizona. Though emotional at times it was a very good phone call!

Unfortunately there is also a sad part to this story. He had a brother ( by the same mother but different father) who she placed for adoption as well. He was 7 yrs olderthan Michael. He passed away in 2006 at age 50. Michael had hoped to find him but of course Gregory passed before he was able to do so. I feel the past several days has been episodes of “As the World Turns” in regards to Michael finding and reaching out to me. A promise I made to Michael when we spoke on the phone Saturday was that I would help him find the adoptive family of his birth brother if possible who had been adopted even though Gregory is deceased….he wanted to find out as much as he could about him. He had his adopted last name and where he had passed which was far more information than I had when I began my birth family search back in 1982.

After he & I talked yesterday I have done some research and hope we at least may have found some of his brother’s adoptive family members…..waiting for a phone call; also have some potential calls to make if that one falls through. Michael is blood; Gregory would have been blood as well….the least I can for Michael now is what I am doing & hope we are able to find the info he is hoping for.

By 7PM Sunday night, my time, I was speaking to Gregory’s older adopted brother Charles! We spent over an hour on the phone. His family is welcoming contact from Michael. They have memories of him and have always hoped he would reachout to them. Long but short story is that Michael & Cora use to visit Gregory’s adopted family in St. Louis, MO before the adoption was finalized so they knew him. Why they also did not adopt Michael is a very heart breaking story and one that totaly disgusts me!

Gregory was bi racial and the family that adopted him was African American. They had a very close relationship with Cora and knowing she could not truly care for Michael were very willing to adopt Michael. The state of Michigan would not allow it…a black family will not be allowed to raise a white child according to the state and ordered ( via a St. Louis, MO court) Cora to return to Michigan with Michael and had him placed in foster care until he was adopted in 1967. He was never to see Cora or his brother Gregory again! Michael spent roughly three years in foster care before his second teacher took an interest him and she and her husband began the process to adopt him. The family later moved to Oklahoma.

I was able to send Michael this E mail late Sunday evening:

Hello Mike~

Well today’s research has paid off! Yes, I called the person’s number I had a 2nd time this evening and YES it is a connection.

I will let them tell you much of what was told to me as I feel it should come from them. Except to tell you that Gregory never fogot about you and it is felt if he had lived he would have searched you out. It is also felt that on Coro’a probate record Michael Adams is in fact you to give you a clue if you searched.

Gregory’s adopted father (Johnnie) has passed away at 88 in 2008. Gregory’s adopted mother (Elizabeth) is 88 and still living. It is felt she would be thrilled to hear from you.

Gregory’s adopted brother (Charles) is the one I spoke to this evening. He very much remembered you and said you were such a beautiful baby ( it was in St. Louis that you & Gregory were together with rest of the family) and very much wants to reconnect with you. Either he or Elizabeth have photos of you as a baby, your birth mother (my Aunt) and of course have photos of Gregory.

Gregory was married and his wife brought a couple of children from a previous marriage into their marriage. I did not ask many questions on this as I figured I would leave that to you.

The person I spoke with….and he will look forwad to your phone call and gave me permission to give you the information you need to do so. I of course won’t share that information here.

There are still some family in Michigan, one in Decatur IL and also Elizabeth is in Fitzgerald, GA (could not find a phone# for her) where the family is originally from before going to Michigan.

I am very elated I have been able to do this for you and have come out with positive results. I wish Gregory were alive to see this day of you reconnecting with the family and so you could have time to share and make up for the time lost. At least though you will be able to reconnect with the family that would have also adopted you if allowed to do so and still wish to be a part of your life.

Let me know how things go!
Cousin Larry~

The next day I received an E mail from Gregory’s older adoptive brother Charles:

Larry,

I am thankful you called me last night. Needless to say, I was totally surprised to hear the subject, Michael’s search for Gregory.

I will be please to speak with Michael about our experiences with Gregory him. Greg is my very special and much loved and missed brother. My family to this day continually prayed for Michael’s well being and hoped to connect with him someday.

Although, Michael does not know us much after all these years, we are excited to hear of his well being and look forward to speaking with him and sharing photos and conversation. He should prepare to have at least two conversations. Initially he and I should speak and if it is acceptable to all my mother would like to talk with him. She is likely to be able to tell him more about Francis Cora (Kitty) Adams.

We always considered him as a member of our family whom we regrettably lost touch. He is a special man having multiple families and three mothers; birth mother (Cora), an early loving mother (Elizabeth) and the dear mother loved that raised him.

We have a few photo that we will gather, scan and send. However, this may take a few days as my mother is in GA and I am in FL. You can be certain we will honor the request ASAP. In the mean time I will see if I can send one or two sooner.

God bless,
Charles

Michael and I have shared a number of phone calls and E mails in the past two months. He has sent phots of himself, family, my Aunt Frances (Cora) with Gregory’s adopted mother Elizabeth and others….since full names are on each I cannot share them here at this time.

Michael and his wife and celebrating their wedding anniversary in September and are talking of flying to Las Vegas for five days. If this plan pans out I will also arrange to go to Las Vegas for at least a day or two so we will finaly be able to meet face to face…I truly hope it will work out! Then I will be able to share photos of us together.

Fifty-one years of separation but am thrilled that separation is now over. He may not be a brother but he is the closest I have to one!

What is Foster Care Like?

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I don’t think I need say anymore!Click on photo to get the full picture and words.

 

A Suggested Gift for a Found Birthparent

Might I make a suggestion? If you find one of your birth parents and a reunion is planned I have an idea for a gift.

When I met my birthmother for the first time at Newark Airport in 1986, I gave her thirty-six red roses; one for each of the thirty-six years of the life she had given me. This is not the gift idea.

During the time of my search I began putting together a scrapbook. The book included pictures of years she had missed, news articles of some of the  accomplishments in my life and a letter about me, why I searched and that I was happy I located her. Photos I was able to share came from age 11 until present as at that time I had no photos of me prior to age 11; I received some only after she passed away. The photos I used was from old Boys Town Times and Boys Town Yearbooks. The news articles also were from the Times, Omaha World Herald, my college newspaper and New York City newspapers. She would be able to see and read of my life from age 11 until 36 when I met her for the first time.

I also made the same book during this time in the event I searched for and found my birthfather.

As I left her suite at the end of our first day together, I gave her “my book” so that she could view/read it privately after I left.

When I met her the next morning she greeted me with tears, a hug and a thank you. Despite how our relationship ended twelve years later, I believe that book is something she treasured for the rest of her life.

She passed away in October 2001.

25 Years Have Passed Since Finding Birthmother

I was sitting around doing nothing a few days ago and suddenly the thought came into my mind; today, March 25th would be the 25th anniversary since I found my birthmother. First I could not believe that 25 years had already passed. Secondly it caused me to reflect back on my 4 year search, 12 year relationship, the bitter end of our relationship and finally the almost 10 years since she passed away.

Today as I commemorate what was a momentous day in my life it is bitter sweet as I reflect all that passed in the 25 years that have gone by.

I began my search in early 1982 when there was no Internet to make searches somewhat easier for folks. It was a long, costly 4 years to reach this day in 1986. The cost was physical, mental as well as financial.

Shortly after beginning my search I sat down and wrote a letter to my birthmother which I would send if I found her; whether she ever agreed to a relationship or not. I gave her a copy of the letter when we first met but kept the original which later was published in my book:

1st Letter to Birthmother:

http://www.larrya.us/mother1.html

I also shared the story of my search/discovery which led to this day 25 years ago:

 

Search/Discovery:

http://www.larrya.us/discovery.html

Not quite two months after this date we were to meet for the very first time though I was already 36 years old. I was to find out the story I had longed to hear for many years…WHY? I would also learn much more, some I was did care to find out but never the less was part of the reunion experience. Her story, our relationship and the bitter end is shared below:

 Birthmother’s Story:

 

Below was to be the final letter ever written to my birthmother. There would be numerous attempts at a reconciliation on my part but it never was to be; as you read in the previous link. She would never read the letter but eventually I was able to read it to her whether she wanted to hear it or not.

 

Last Letter to Birthmother:

 

On October 23, 2001, my birthmother passed away.

In 1982 I began my search in the valley, never knowing if in the end it would result in my finding her. Today, 25 years ago I reached the mountaintop as I found her. This resulted in a stormy, strained 12 year relationship which ended with me back in the deep valley.

Though I stated my answer many times in the past several years I am still asked, Was the search worth it & do you regret having done it?

Yes, absolutely the search was worth it and I DO NOT regret having pursued it nor any of the things that passed in the years since.

I found out who I was, my heritage, answers to so many questions I had while growing up and most of all I was able to have a 12 year relationship with my birthmother. We were able to experience things we never would have if I had not taken the risk of searching for her. The search and all that followed made me a stronger person. I was in many ways able to put my childhood and most of its heartaches behind me, though at times the wounds do reopen for a period.

I thank God that my birthmother did not chose to have a back alley abortion, which is all that was available back in 1950. I am also thankful that she made the wise decision to give me up for adoption though that never came to be. I am thankful the she was a part of my life, even for a brief period and for the pain she caused.

Today as I commemorate this 25th anniversary I continue to pray that in death she found the peace she never was able to find in life and I raise a glass to her thankful that she gave me life!

60 Years Ago Today!!

Sixty years ago today, in the early hours of
the morning, a young nineteen year old unwed woman
gave birth to her first child…a son.

She spent most of her pregnancy in a home for unwed
mothers as her father would not, as he said, allow a
bastard child in his house.

She was uneducated and unable to provide even the
basic needs for her newborn son.

She did what she thought would be best for
him…because she loved him. She placed him lovingly
for adoption within hours after his birth.

She would not learn for thirty-six years that her
hopes and dreams of a loving home for her son never
happened.

The son instead spent the first year of life in a
hospital nursery and also the nursery of the same home
for unwed mothers his mother had spent her pregnancy.

Despite being a white, blond, hazel eye, healthy
baby…no one came forward to adopt him.

Those first days in a nursery turned out to be
eighteen years of being moved from one foster home to
another or institution…fourteen moves in all.

During those years he would attend many schools, never
have long time friends. He at a time would find his
bed on a back porch and be forced to steal food from
other children at school to dampen his hunger pains
from being fed only one meal a day. He would face the
horror of sexual abuse at the tender age of ten. He would
feel he was worthless and attempt to end his pain
and life before age 11.

Somehow, with the help of a few mentors, hope and a
deep inner faith this baby boy was able to overcome
the years of his childhood. He received a college
education and began a professional career.

At age of thirty-one he suffered a massive heart
attack. He could not answer the doctor’s question of;
“What’s your family medical history?” He was
embarrassed and ashamed for as far as he knew…he had
no family to call his own.

He began a search for the person who he thought would
be able to provide some answers…the mother who
lovingly relinquished him thirty-two years earlier.

The search took four long years. It was a painful,
trying and at times a frustrating journey as he met
numerous obstacles along the way.

He remembers vividly the message left on his answering
machine on April 17, 1986…”This is your mother!”
They would speak a few hours later…a phone call that
would last for hours. His spine still tingles and eyes
tear up as he remembers that day now nineteen years
later.

He met his mother not many months later. It
unfortunately was just the beginning to what turned
out to be a very strained relationship at best. He,
however, had his questions answered.

That relationship ended tragically a mere twelve years
later. His mother, on her own accord this time,
rejected her son and wished him dead as she could not
bear learning her son…her first born…was gay.

Despite several attempts at reconciliation by the son;
mother and son were never to speak or see each other
again in her lifetime. She passed away just shy of
three years after turning her son away.

The son, after time, was able to forgive his mother
and to thank her for not only giving him life but
making the decision she did on the day of his birth.
Despite how his childhood was; it had been the correct
decision.

He also was able to search, find and meet his father
once. His father did not wish for a relationship and
his father passed away four years after he found him.

His half siblings, from both his mother and father’s
side, except one rejected him as their brother. The
one remaining sibling also rejected him after their
mother’s death.

The one foster family whom he considered to be Mom and
Dad, even after he was on his own, are both long
passed away.

So today is this person’s sixtieth birthday.
What should be a joyous occasion remains a painful day
as it always has been. It brings forth those memories
of a childhood he cares not to remember. Acceptance by
his new found mother as well as the rejection.

He has in recent years found and met extended family.
They have welcomed him with open and loving arms.

He will receive well wishes from friends, extended
family and others. However, in many ways he will still
feel alone. There will never be birthday wishes from a
mother, father, brothers or sisters…and his heart
breaks.

Despite those painful memories he moves forward. The
hope and faith that sustained him through these
sixty years continues to sustain him.

Yes, today is that son’s birthday. I quietly wish
him a Happy Birthday, though it may not be.

I know each detail of this person’s life…because I
am that son born sixty years ago.

Yes, today I am sixty! The wounds of the
passed have in many cases healed, however, there are
many that just scabbed over waiting to be broken open
anew…they will never heal.

I however once again…thank my mother and father for
this beautiful gift called life!

Fargo/Moorhead Youth Fill the Dome Project Exceeds Goal!

My blog normally includes articles written by me or others I find on the Internet about foster care, thus the title of my blog.

However I am so proud of the youth here in my hometown community of Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnasota that I just have to share this story beyond our area.

In the fall of 2007 a group of local high school seniors wanted to do something as a gift to their community. They wanted to collect non perishable foods and funds to be given to those less fortunate in our community. Each year since new seniors have continued the effort.

They did not think small but decided to issue a challenge to all the local schools.

Fargo has what we call the Fargodome. It is the site where North Dakota State University plays their home football games and where numerous big time stars have given concerts. The football floor contains 80,000 square feet.

The group decided their goal would be to fill the dome floor with food items. Thus began the FILL THE DOME PROJECT.

Since that first year (2007), though the foor did not get filled, they were able to raise over 60 tons of food and over $60,000 for their efforts for 2007/2008 combined.

This year the set their goals higher than what was reached in the first two years:

Goals for Fill the Dome 2009 include: 
Raise $75,000
Collect 75 tons of food
Engage 7,500 volunteers

Fifty-eight local schools and a few outside the local community were involved in this year’s effort. Each school would have a square on the dome floor to fill with non-perishables.

There is also a square designated for the community as a whole participate by dropping off items on the designated date or to purchase a food bag from Hornbackers ( a local grocery store gain ) which would be collected and taken to the dome on the given date.

Yesterday was the culmination of the 2009 effort. Schools each had a scheduled time to brings the results of ther collection drives as well as the food bags purchased by members of the community.

Early this morning, after boxing, weighing, and placing all the food on a number of trucks for distribution the results were announced:

97.1 tons of food that came in and out of the Fargodome.
$96,000 (and counting)
2311 food bages were purchased by community members at Hornbachers
(Yes I bought a couple)
Over 2,800 people who have signed their name, acknowledging hunger is an issue in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The Fill the Dome Project not only exceeded their goals for 2009 by a wide margin but also exceeded the total of the two previous years combined.

The Great Plains Food Bank distributes food to local pantries and shelters. Of money raised, 30 percent goes to local groups and 70 percent goes to a mobile food pantry to help in rural western North Dakota.

These same youth, in many cases, helped save the Fargo/Moorhead area by filling and laying over 4 million sandbags this srping in the effort to save our area from flooding. Without their efforts our city would have definitely suffered severe lood damage.

These youth make me proud to live in Fargo and continues to give me faith in our next generation of leadership.

Hats off to ALL involved; many less fortunate will not go without in the months ahead!!

 

Some of the food collected yesterday

 

To date (2007-2009) Fill the Dome has raised over: 

Over 156,000 tons of non perishable food items

Over $157,000

I will be nominating this organization next year for CNN’S Heor of the Year!

 Below are photos from the 2008 drive:

http://fillthedome.org/ftd/Photos.html

Story of a Surviving Orphan Train Rider

From the mid 1850’s to to 1930 over 200,000 youth were moved by train across the United States. Many were adopted while others ended up in orphanages or other type of foster care.

In some cases their families knew of the move and in other cases the youth were just removed from the streets and placed on the train in hopes of offering them the opportunity of a better life.

Most would never have contact with their birth families again. There was no such thing as “open adoption” or “reunion registries”.

Today there are but 15 survivors from the Orphan Train days. The following is the story of one survivor.

Orphan Train rider Stanley Cornell’s oldest memory is of his mother’s death in 1925.

“My first feeling was standing by my mom’s bedside when she was dying. She died of tuberculosis,” recalls Cornell. “I remember her crying, holding my hand, saying to ‘be good to Daddy.’ ”

“That was the last I saw of her. I was probably four,” Cornell says of his mother, Lottie Cornell, who passed away in Elmira, New York.

His father, Floyd Cornell, was still suffering the effects of nerve gas and shell shock after serving as a soldier in combat during WWI. That made it difficult for him to keep steady work or care for his two boys.

“Daddy Floyd,” as Stanley Cornell calls his birth father, eventually contacted the Children’s Aid Society. The society workers showed up in a big car with candy and whisked away Stanley and his brother, Victor, who was 16 months younger.

Stanley Cornell remembers his father was crying and hanging on to a post. The little boy had a feeling he would not see his father again.

The two youngsters were taken to an orphanage, the Children’s Aid Society of New York, founded by social reformer Charles Loring Brace

“It was kind of rough in the orphans’ home,” Cornell remembers, adding that the older children preyed on the younger kids — even though officials tried to keep them separated by chicken wire fences. He says he remembers being beaten with whips like those used on horses.

New York City in 1926 was teeming with tens of thousands of homeless and orphaned children. These so-called “street urchins” resorted to begging, stealing or forming gangs to commit violence to survive. Some children worked in factories and slept in doorways or flophouses.

The Orphan Train movement took Stanley Cornell and his brother out of the city during the last part of a mass relocation movement for children called “placing out.

Brace’s agency took destitute children, in small groups, by train to small towns and farms across the country, with many traveling to the West and Midwest. From 1854 to 1929, more than 200,000 children were placed with families across 47 states. It was the beginning of documented foster care in America.

“It’s an exodus, I guess. They called it Orphan Train riders that rode the trains looking for mom and dad like my brother and I.”

“We’d pull into a train station, stand outside the coaches dressed in our best clothes. People would inspect us like cattle farmers. And if they didn’t choose you, you’d get back on the train and do it all over again at the next stop.”

Cornell and his brother were “placed out” twice with their aunts in Pennsylvania and Coffeyville, Kansas. But their placements didn’t last and they were returned to the Children’s Aid Society.

“Then they made up another train. Sent us out West. A hundred-fifty kids on a train to Wellington, Texas,” Cornell recalls. “That’s where Dad happened to be in town that day.”

Each time an Orphan Train was sent out, adoption ads were placed in local papers before the arrival of the children.

J.L. Deger, a 45-year-old farmer, knew he wanted a boy even though he already had two daughters ages 10 and 13.

“He’d just bought a Model T. Mr. Deger looked those boys over. We were the last boys holding hands in a blizzard, December 10, 1926,” Cornell remembers. He says that day he and his brother stood in a hotel lobby.

“He asked us if we wanted to move out to farm with chickens, pigs and a room all to your own. He only wanted to take one of us, decided to take both of us.”

Life on the farm was hard work.

“I did have to work and I expected it, because they fed me, clothed me, loved me. We had a good home. I’m very grateful. Always have been, always will be.”

Taking care of a family wasn’t always easy.

“In 1931, the Dust Bowl days started. The wind never quit. Sixty, 70 miles an hour, all that dust. It was a mess. Sometimes, Dad wouldn’t raise a crop in two years.”

A good crop came in 1940. With his profit in hand, “first thing Dad did was he took that money and said, ‘we’re going to repay the banker for trusting us,’ ” Cornell says.

When World War II began, Cornell joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He shipped out to Africa and landed near Casablanca, Morocco, where he laid telephone and teletype lines. Later he served in Egypt and northern Sicily. While in Italy, he witnessed Mount Vesuvius erupting.

It was on a telephone line-laying mission between Naples and Rome that Cornell suffered his first of three wounds.

“Our jeep was hit by a bomb. I thought I was in the middle of the ocean. It was the middle of January and I was in a sea of mud.”

With their jeep destroyed and Cornell bleeding from a head wound, his driver asked a French soldier to use his vehicle to transport them. The Frenchman refused to drive Cornell the five miles to the medical unit.

“So, the driver pulled out his pistol, put the gun to the French soldier’s head and yelled, ‘tout suite!’ or ‘move it!’ ” Cornell recalls.

Once he was treated, Cornell remembers the doctor saying, “You’ve got 30 stitches in your scalp. An eighth of an inch deeper and you’d be dead.”

Cornell always refused to accept his commendations for a Purple Heart even though he’d been wounded three times, twice severely enough to be hospitalized for weeks. He felt the medals were handed out too often to troops who suffered the equivalent of a scratch.

His younger brother served during the war in the Air Force at a base in Nebraska, where he ran a film projector at the officers’ club.

As WWII was drawing to a close, Stanley Cornell headed up the teletype section at Allied headquarters in Reims, France. “I saw [Gen. Dwight] Eisenhower every day,” he recalls.

On May 7, 1945, the Nazis surrendered. “I sent the first teletype message from Eisenhower saying the war was over with Germany,” Cornell says.

In 1946, the 25-year-old Stanley Cornell met with his 53-year-old birth father, Daddy Floyd. It was the last time they would see each other.

Cornell eventually got married and he and his wife, Earleen, adopted two boys, Dana and Dennis, when each was just four weeks old.

“I knew what it was like to grow up without parents,” Cornell says. “We were married seven years and couldn’t have kids, so I asked my wife, ‘how about adoption?’ She’d heard my story before and said, ‘OK.’ ”

After they adopted their two boys, Earleen gave birth to a girl, Denyse.

Dana Cornell understands what his father and uncle went through.

“I don’t think [Uncle] Vic and Stan could have been better parents. I can relate, you know, because Dad adopted Dennis and me. He has taught me an awful lot over the years,” Dana Cornell says.

Dana Cornell says his adoptive parents have always said that if the boys wanted to find their birth parents, they would help. But he decided not to because of how he feels about the couple who adopted him. “They are my parents and that’s the way it’s gonna be.”

Stanley and Earleen Cornell have been married 61 years. She is a minister at a church in Pueblo, Colorado, and is the cook at her son’s restaurant, Dana’s Lil’ Kitchen.

Stanley Cornell believes he is one of only 15 surviving Orphan Train children. His brother, Victor Cornell, a retired movie theater chain owner, is also alive and living in Moscow, Idaho

All They Want for Christmas!

Almost fifty-eight years ago, in the early hours of one
morning, a young nineteen year old unwed woman gave
birth to her first child…a boy.

She spent most of her pregnancy in a home for unwed
mothers as her father would not, as he said, allow a
bastard child in his house.

She was uneducated and unable to provide even the
basic needs for herself yet alone for her newborn child.

She did what she thought would be best for him. She
placed him lovingly for adoption within hours after
his birth.

She wished for him the best; a loving, nurturing,
stable family and a home to call his own.

Instead he spent the first year of life in a hospital
nursery and also the nursery of the same home for
unwed mothers his mother had spent her pregnancy.

Despite being a white, blond, hazel eye, healthy baby,
no one came forward to adopt him…he was NOBODY’S
Child!

Those first days in a nursery turned out to be
eighteen years of being moved from one foster home to
another or institution; fifteen moves by age eleven.

During those years he would attend many schools, never
having long time friends. He at a time would find his
bed on a back porch and be forced to steal food from
other children at school to dampen his hunger pains
from being fed only one meal a day. He would face the
horror of sexual abuse at the tender age of ten.

Each Christmas, as he heard the carol, “All I want for
Christmas” he would change a few of the words so his
birth mother’s wish for him would become a reality.
All I want for Christmas is a Mom and Dad to call my
own! That this would be the Christmas a family would
adopt him and call him son!

His wish never became a reality. Christmas, the most
joyous time of the year for children, became a time of
anguish and pain for this boy. The pain continues even
now. 

He aged out of the system at eighteen, thrust out into
the world whether he was ready or not.
 
Somehow, with the help of a few mentors, hope and a
deep inner faith this baby boy was able to overcome
the years of his childhood. He received a college
education and began a professional career.

At age of thirty-one he suffered a massive heart
attack. He could not answer the doctor’s question of;
“What’s your family medical history?” He was
embarrassed and ashamed for as far as he knew…he
still had no family to call his own.

He began a search for the person who he thought would
be able to provide some answers…the mother who
lovingly relinquished him years earlier.

The search took four long years. It was a painful,
trying and at times a frustrating journey as he met
numerous obstacles along the way.

He remembers vividly the message left on his answering
machine on April 17, 1986, “This is your mother!” They
would speak a few hours later…a phone call that
would last for hours. His spine still tingles and eyes
tear up as he remembers that day now nineteen years
later.

He met his birth mother not many months later. It
unfortunately was just the beginning to what turned
out to be a very strained relationship at best.

They never developed a mother/son relationship; even
saying they became friends would be stretching it.

This relationship ended tragically a mere twelve years
later. Painfully it happened on Christmas Day 1998,
the first and only Christmas he would ever spend with
any immediate family. His mother, on her own accord
this time, rejected her son and wished him dead as she
could not bear learning her son…her first born…was
gay.

All the anguish of the unfulfilled Christmas wish of
the past years came flowing back to him. He would
spend that Christmas night alone in a hotel, crying
himself to sleep. After all these years he realized he
still did not have a family to call his own and
probably never would….he was still NOBODY’S CHILD!

Despite several attempts at reconciliation by the son;
mother and son were never to speak or see each other
again in her lifetime. She passed away just shy of
three years after turning her son away.

The son, after time, was able to forgive his mother
and to thank her for not only giving him life but
making the decision she did on the day of his birth.
Despite how his childhood was; it had been the correct
decision.

He also was able to search, find and meet his father
once. His father did not wish for a relationship and
his father passed away four years after he found him.

His half siblings, from both his mother and father’s
side, rejected him as their brother.

The one foster family whom he called to be Mom and
Dad, even after he was on his own, are both long
passed away.

What should be a joyous occasion remains a painful day
as it always has been. It brings forth those memories
of a childhood he cares not to remember.

He has, in recent years, found and met extended
family. They have welcomed him with open and loving
arms. He has even been able to share Christmas with
many of them. Yet, pain, rather than joy, is his
holiday season…there is still a hole in his soul!

He will receive well wishes from friends, extended
family and others this holiday season. However, in
many ways he will still feel alone. There will never
be Christmas wishes from a mother, father, brothers or
sisters…and his heart breaks. His eyes still tear up
when he hears, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

Despite those painful memories he moves forward. The
hope and faith that sustained him through these many
years continues to sustain him.

How do I know each detail of this person’s life?  I am
that son born to the unwed mother almost fifty-eight years
ago.

The wounds of the passed have in many cases healed;
however, there are many that just scabbed over waiting
to be broken open anew…they will never heal. The one
that will never completely heal; a Christmas wish
never to be!

Why do I share these memories with you? It is not to
obtain any sympathy for I survived my childhood and
will survive it all and continue moving on with my
life.

I share it because of the thousands of “legal orphans”
stuck within our foster care system today awaiting
their forever family to come forward…to call them
son or daughter.

Many people have asked me over the years, “What did I
want the most as a child and what do kids in foster
care today want?” The answer to that question is no
different today than it was for me as a child; “A
family and home to call my/their own!”

Millions of children soon be thinking of the holiday season and will write their wish list to Santa this year. In most cases the one wish of foster children will not be written or vocalized. They will hold it deep within their hearts as many have been too
disappointed on Christmas’s past. 

They will awaken Christmas morning bright eyed and
wishful only to have their little hearts broken yet
again…there will be no family or home to call their
own. They will lay their heads upon their pillows, if
they are lucky enough to have even a temporary home,
tears within their eyes but yet a hopeful heart that
maybe, just maybe, next year!

As we begin to think of baking gingerbread houses,
decorating our trees and homes, buying gifts for loved
ones or sending a card to a friend; I ask you to think
of the children in foster care that would love to be a
part of your holiday planning.

It is far too late to make their wish come true this
year in most cases, however, if you begin working on
it now it could become real for yet this Christmas.

If you are unable, for whatever reason, to bring
another’s child into your life as your own please do
something to at least brighten their holiday season a
bit.

Many will find under a tree, as I did so many times,
only their semi-annual clothing allotment from foster
care and maybe a toy or two.

Visit your local agency; bring a gift or offer to host
a party; anything to make the holidays just a tad
easier for them.

No, their Christmas wish won’t be fulfilled by these
gestures, but it might bring a smile to their face for
at least a bit.

Clothes, toys, candy etc will last just a short time;
a family and home can last forever.

Won’t you consider being a forever family to a foster
child in need of one and make their Christmas wish,
their everyday wish, a reality. On this Holy Night of
the year let them once and for all sing, “I am Home
for Christmas!”

Next month, Novemember, is National Adoption Awareness Month…though it is now only October it is never too early to start the process.

Make the Christmas season a time of joy for a child,
after-all Christmas is for kids!

Peace!

Family Medical History…What About Adoptees?

Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona in 2005 began an initiative to encourage supposedly ALL Americans to learn about their families’ health histories. This would be a way of promoting personal health and preventing diseases.  He has even collaborated with others to offer a new web site and free computer program to help families collect and record this information.

Dr. Carmona stated, “The bottom line is that knowing your family medical history can save your life. Millions of dollars in medical research, equipment and knowledge can’t give us the information family medical histories can.

However, how are the millions of adopted across the country who have their records sealed suppose to obtain the information that Dr. Carmona says could save their lives?

Many question why adoptees search for their birth family or at least information about them. Most of those who question come from people who were raised by their birth parents. They knew their heritage. They had extended family to share their lives. They knew of potential medical problems that might arise in their lives.

They have little to no understanding or appreciation for those of us who have gone through life, without any of the above or the void it left within us. They do not know what it would be like not to have any of the above.

Through the first thirty-two years of my life I did not care about birth parents, family, heritage, medical history or any of that stuff. I had enough issues involved in just growing up and making something of myself, without having to spend time contemplating that bigger picture.

I should note, to this point of my life, I did not know even the names of my birth parents.

1982 changed all that!

I suffered my first heart attack. I still remember the doctor asking, “What is your family medical history?” I was embarrassed when I had to respond “I do not know!”

I am one of the fortunate ones. I was not adopted, but was placed for adoption at birth. I rode the merry go round of the foster care system for eighteen years. After my heart attack and embarrassment of not being able to answer doctor’s questions I began searching for the answers.

Even as one who was not adopted, many closed their doors and records to me during my search. I can only imagine the extreme difficulty adoptees have in getting the answers which could save their lives!

I know adoptees who have been searching for years, without success, to find the very basic of information; a birth parent name. This is due to he laws concerning adoption still on the books in many states.

I have known adoptees, even when the release of medical information about family could have saved their lives, were refused their request for information. This is wrong and has absolutely no justification.

Every child, at some point, questions who they are, where they came from and so forth. Most are able to have the answers easily provided by a parent or other member of their family. Adoptees or many children of the foster care system, such as I, do not have that available to them. For adoptees in particular, of my generation, it is denied them by law. We are expected to go through life never knowing the answers to those questions. Many are even ridiculed for entertaining such questions.

Why, when millions around the world who were raised by their birth parents do genealogical research to learn more of themselves and their heritage is it considered normal? When an adoptee or person in my situation does the same it’s considered abnormal? Seems hypocritical to me!

I now know my family medical history. This, however, came about only after eight long and costly years of searching for my birth family before the days of Google, etc.

My search was, in comparison to adoptees, relatively easy despite the length of time it took.

My search had its ups and downs. My initial search to just find the information needed to locate my birth Mother to get medical information, took four years. It would take another four years before I would find and meet my birth Father. They have both since passed away. During that time, I learned how to be a detective; to ask questions, which to most would have appeared stupid. I even had to learn to lie to just get the information I wanted.

I found my birth Mother, my birth Father as well as siblings. None were very cooperative in answering my questions about family health, heritage or genealogy. If they had been, it might have saved me sixteen more years of research.

My search went far beyond my original intent. The question is; WHY? Why did I go beyond the original intent of getting simple medical information? Why did I want to find my birth Mother? Why did I ever want to meet her? Why did I want to know my roots? Why take twenty years spending great amounts of time, energy and money researching my family history? Why look for living members of an extended family?

I searched for the answers to all those questions because I am like any other normal individual. More importantly, I had the right to know! I searched first for information; then to fill a void in my life. I would like to think if the search had ended with just information, I would have been satisfied. Of course, knowing all I do today, it might not have been. Each person searching needs to know when enough is enough for them.

I have found most the answers to my questions. The void that was in my life has been filled. I now feel I am a whole person; I know who I am and where I came from. I am now in the position that children raised by their birth parents are in. I no longer have to feel different or abnormal. I found far more information about my family genealogy than I ever expected to. I found and met members of my extended family. I can now see in pictures family resemblances and say…see I belong! In learning about my great grandparents, aunts, uncles and Polish people as a whole, I learned, in so many ways, why I am the person I am today.

This is why I and others search, the desire to be made whole. The desire to know, that even when your birth parents may reject you…you still are a part of a family and a heritage. I had a good life prior to beginning my search and have done well during the search. The end result of my search just has made it better.

Since the 1970s, some states have opened up their adoption laws, opening Adoption Registries. Many adoption agencies now enter into open adoption agreements. However, in many cases, the adoptee is at a distinct disadvantage if they choose to search for their birth parents or any information that might identify who they are.

Though things have improved in the past twenty or so years, much more needs to be done. Most state Adoption Registries require both the birth parent and the adoptee to grant permission for identifying information to be shared with the other party. If consent is not given or if nothing is on file indicating either way, any requests for information will be denied.

Current laws, even with updates, still play havoc for those adoptees from the 1930s, 1940s and even 1950s. In many cases, the birth parents or adoptee, do not know the new laws regarding Adoption Registries. Also, the birth parents or now adult adoptees have passed away. Even in death, information cannot be given. In most cases, the law that supposedly was “in the best interest of the child” has become, “best interest of the birth parent, dead or alive.”

I firmly believe ALL have the right to know who they are, where they came from, family medical history, family heritage and genealogy, no matter the circumstances under which they came into this world.

To those who are not adoptees, or from a situation such as mine, I ask you; “Knowing all that you know today about yourself, family, family medical history…how would you have liked to have all that information kept from you? Would it leave a void in your life? These are the conditions under which adoptees are expected to live. In truth, you know you would not like to live this way; why would you expect an adoptee to be any different from you?

To birth parents, I have a message. We understand, in most cases, your decision to give up your child was made only after a great struggle within yourself. We know what a painstaking decision it was that you made. We know you made that decision because of the love you had for your child, and that you wanted what was best for him or her. I ask that you continue to act in the best interest of your child, who is now an adult and no matter how good a good a home they went to, or how well they have done in life, may still feel incomplete. PLEASE, file information with your respective state Adoption Agency from which your child was adopted. Give your consent to have it released to your child when they reach adulthood. Let them fill the void within their lives. Without your consent this information will never be made known to them.

Adult adoptees, who search for answers, do not mean you any harm. They do not want to disrupt the lives you have since built for yourselves. They just want and need answers to questions to which only you can unlock the door. Even if you do not wish for any type of relationship with your child, provide the information that would allow them to be whole.

My search was satisfied when I was able to sit with my birth Mother and find out the true story of my birth; the gut-wrenching decision she made to give me up, and why; my true Polish heritage and the vague medical history that would allow me to better care for myself.
I would have been satisfied if she had just provided me these facts in a letter and not agreed to meet me. I would have had the basic information I desired.

The fact she agreed to meet me, despite how our relationship turned out, was above and beyond what I had hoped for or expected during my search.

Twenty years ago, I knew nothing of my birth mother, my heritage or my family medical history. Today, I know more than I had ever expected to be able to know. Even though I feel I have had a successful life to this point, it is only today that I can declare…I am whole! I finally have a sense of belonging, of knowing who I am. I am finally proud of who I am, where I came from and of those within my family who came before me. I am proud to be able to proclaim my heritage is
Polish!

This is why I searched. This is why anyone would search. To any adoption agency employee, state Adoption Registry employee, or more importantly, birth parent who may read this…allow adult adoptees to have the thrill I have had. Allow them access to the information they may need or want to fill in the blanks in their lives. Allow them to become whole! This is vitally important for adoptees of earlier generations. They need the information while it might still be possible for them to meet the birth parents whom for whatever reason, had to give them up. If the birth parent or adoptee is already deceased, then the adoption records should be opened without question.

My question now to Dr. Carmona is, “Will he join the battle for open records?” He sees the importance of ALL to have their medical history available to them. Does he truly believe ALL or will he allow millions to continue to have the doors to this information closed to them?

Dr. Carmona addresses only one of many reasons adoption records should be opened to adult adoptees. There are numerous other reasons. However, if one’s life can be saved through family medical information or diseases fought or even prevented…this should be enough reason to open the sealed vaulted doors.
  
It is OUR information locked behind the vault doors and we have a right to it!

For those privileged to have their family medical information and wish to organize it, print it out and have it added to your doctor’s records for you; you may download it at: http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory.
The program is called “My Family Health Portrait.” 

My web site: http://www.larrya.us

My Story in Newspaper

I was fortunate that during August/September 2004 a reporter and photographer spent several hours with me to prepare articles sharing my story in my then hometown nespaper, “Midland Daily News.”

To my surprise when the articles appeared they were on the front page of the October 3, 2004 (Sunday) front page on top of the fold. The newspaper has a subcription of 42,000.

I have placed them on my web site, there is a link at the bottom of the first  page leading to the 2nd article.

 The URL is: http://www.larrya.us/midland.html

Since I am still receiving E mails almost 3 years later from the articles I thought I would also share them on my blog.  

A Search Guide for Birth Parents/Adoptees/Foster Youth

I created this special tips blog for adult adoptees, birth parents and some foster children, as I am a strong proponent of “open records.” I believe every person has a birth- given right to know who they are and where they and their ancestors come from.
If states will not pass open records laws for adult adoptees, they should have the right to search if they so choose. I do not believe this right should be extended to minors.

I also include foster children because of my own situation. I was placed for adoption at birth, but instead ended up in the foster care system until I aged out at age eighteen. I had been totally disconnected from my birth family. Sometimes a foster child’s search can be as difficult as an adoptee’s.

I wish many of the tips I am including here were available to me at the time of my own search. However, despite my limitation, my search was successful.

The tips listed below are not listed by importance, only you can determine which might be important to you and what priority it is given.

TIPS
1. Create a search journal. This may assist you in keeping track of the steps you have taken in your search.
2. Discuss the search with your adoptive parents. They may be willing to assist you in your search or be able to provide you with necessary information. Remember to let them know that you love them and your need to search does not, nor will not, affect your relationship with them. This will help them to not feel threatened by your need to search.

3. As early in your search as possible, if you have a computer with Internet access, join adoption and genealogy newsgroups and/or support groups. They cannot only provide resources to search, but may also offer moral support during your search process.

4. Locate your amended birth certificate. Write your State Office of Vital Records for it.

5. Obtain a copy of your final decree of adoption. Write the court that finalized the adoption for it.

6. Obtain your petition to adopt. The same court that finalized your adoption should have this as part of their records.

7. Contact the adoption agency that placed you to obtain non-identifying information. You may possibly receive information you might not expect.

8. Contact the law firm or attorney who assisted in your adoption for the same reason as above.

9. Contact your delivery physician again for the same reason as above.

10. File a waiver of confidentiality with the adoption agency, law firm and courts. This will allow your information to be released to a birth parent or sibling in the event they are searching for you.

11. Apply for medical records from the hospital where you were born ONLY IF you have the name of your birth mother and/or father. Adoption should not be mentioned as you may find this avenue immediately closed to you.

12. Attempt to retrieve your original (pre-adoption) birth certificate. You may not receive it, but you have nothing to lose by requesting it.

13. Formally petition the court to open your adoption records. To forward identifying information, the court will need a reason. An example would be a medical reason. Unfortunately this has not proven very successful, but again, an avenue to try.

14. Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISSR). Also, if the state in which you were adopted has an adoption registry, register with it. This allows the registry to release information if family is looking for you.

15. Check both county and state records for marriage or divorce records for either birth parent. If you know the names of your birth parent(s) this will be a very useful tool, especially if your birth parents were in fact, at one time married.

16. Learn about the adoption laws for your state. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse.

17. Check county or state death records for birth parents and both grandparents. This record will include who provided the information on the certificate, as well as the funeral home involved. The funeral home could provide you names, addresses and possibly phone numbers of survivors. Requesting my paternal grandfather’s death certificate, on a hunch that he was deceased, is what unlocked all the doors for me in the search for my birth mother.

18. Send for a copy of Where to Write for Birth, Marriage, Divorce, and Death Records available from: Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

19. Write to Adoption Regulation Unit to access your adoption records.

20. Order a copy of The Guide to Genealogical Records in the National Archives from: The National Archives, Washington, DC 20408. You will also want to check the tips I provide for genealogical research, as some of them could be useful to you.

21. Find maps for the area where you are searching.

22. Create a profile of the hometowns or regions where each of your birth parents is said to have been from.

23. Create a list of all the libraries in your area and the areas where you are focusing your search. They will be a good source for finding obituaries for family members who may be deceased. The obituaries will list survivors which may lead you to your birth family.

24. Check local newspapers from where you were born for birth announcements. Your local library usually has old newspapers going back several years.

25. Check local newspapers from the area where your birth parents were born for their birth announcements.

26. Check local newspapers for wedding and engagement announcements for your birth parents.

27. Check in old city directories to try to locate your birth parents or other relatives. These can be found at many local libraries or historical societies. I tracked my maternal grandfather for over thirty years using this resource. When his name suddenly disappeared, I then requested a death certificate from the state.

28. Check in city directories to match an occupation to a name. Some older city directories actually listed companies where people worked. Finding out where my paternal grandfather had at one time worked led me to my birth father’s sister and eventually to my birth father.

29. Cross reference city directory information year by year.

30. Check in city directories to locate old addresses of birth parents and possible neighbors. Former neighbors of a birth parent may be able to tell you where they might be now.

31. Check phone books and national telephone directory discs for birth relatives.

32. List yourself in the telephone directory of the area where you were born, and in the area where you live now. An unlisted number could lead to a dead end for someone who might be searching for you.

33. Check any possible surnames against a book of name deviations.

34. Speak with your local librarian. They will prove to be invaluable in directing you to many of the resources in this guide.

35. Locate all churches of the faith of your birth parents in the area where they were living at the time of your birth and where they may live now.

36. Check local churches in the area where you were born for any baptismal, marriage or death records.

37. Check local churches in areas where you believe your birth parents may have resided for their baptismal, marriage, or death records.

38. Join a local or national search and support organization, and sign their registry if they maintain one. Support of others during the very stressful search process will prove invaluable to you and they may also be able to provide tips and clues for you to use. One group that proved very helpful during my search was ALMA (Adoptees Liberation Movement Association). Most major cities have a local chapter.

39. Create your own library of search and reunion books.

40. Advertise in adoption search magazines. Be sure to list your “birth name” if you know it as well as your “adoptive name.”

41. Advertise in newspapers where you believe your birth parents may now reside.

42. Order a copy of How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military 1-800-937-2133.

43. Contact old neighbors for forwarding addresses and other possible information.

44. Visit old neighborhoods in person to locate past acquaintances of your birth parents.

45. Check with former employers about possible forwarding addresses of birth parents.

46. Check old high school and college yearbooks in the areas of your search.

47. Check with high school or college reunion chairman about the current address of a birth parent or request a list of entire class.

48. Contact a private investigator or consultant. I suggest this only if all else leads to a dead end. Investigate any investigator before hiring them.

49. Request from the court that finalized your adoption the appointment of a Court Investigator. The CI will attempt their best to locate a birth parent or sibling. However, they will only be able to provide non-identifying information directly to you. They will ask you to write a letter to the person found without identifying information. All communication will be through the CI. Only if the person found agrees to have contact made can the CI then assist in a reunion or the exchange of identifying information.

50. Leave no stone unturned…you never know where you might find the gold nugget of information you have been looking for!

Might I make one more suggestion? If you find your birth parents and a reunion is planned here is an idea for a gift. Make a book which might include pictures, any news articles of accomplishments and possibly a letter about you, why you searched and that you are happy you located them.

When I met my Birth Mother for the first time, I gave her a red rose for each of the thirty-six years of the life she had given me. As I left her suite at the end of our first day together, I gave her “my book” so that she could read it privately after I left. When I met her the next morning she greeted me with tears, a hug and a thank you. Despite how our relationship ended twelve years later, I believe that book is something she treasured for the rest of her life. She passed away in October 2001.

This guide of tips does not guarantee success. It is a tool to use in your search and not an all inclusive one at that.

I hope you will find it useful and I further hope your journey will in the end meet your goal.

Was Search for Birth Family Worth It?

Having done a successful search for my birth family, but a not so positive reunion…I still say the journey was worth it!

I began my journey years ago after suffering a heart attack at age thirty-one and having to answer the embarrassing question from the doctors about family medical history with a, “I don’t know.”

I was placed for adoption at birth, but ended up never being adopted. In the first eleven years of life I was moved to three institutions and eleven foster homes before finding stability at Boys Town, Nebraska.

Though I was fortunate to have my birth mother’s name from the start of my search, it still took four, long years of searching before she was located…it would take another four years before I found my birth father.

My birth mother was an alcoholic and still years after my birth, harbored the hatred toward her father for forcing her to give me up for adoption. Her life had not been an easy one. I believe she also resented the fact that my life turned out better than anything she could have been able to offer me, such as a college education and good career.

She had four more children after me. She did raise those children and was unable to offer them the opportunities I had been given.

My birth father ran when he found my birth mother was pregnant as he had done once before while serving in Germany during W.W.II. He had one more child after my birth.

Neither reunion was a positive one. After twelve years my birth mother gave me up a second time because I am gay. She wished I had never been born and that I would die of AIDS rather than her having to bear the burden of being the mother to a gay son.

My birth father was always distant and cold. I only met with him once for an hour out on his back patio.

Both have since died.

My five half-siblings rejected me.

I was able to thank my birth mother for at least giving me life and also thank her for her decision to give me up the first time. Her decision was a wise one.

She also was able to provide the needed medical information.

She provided just enough information for which I have after several more years of searching, been able to locate extended family and spent my first Christmas with a number members of my “real family” in 2002. This Christmas past I met yet another twenty-eight entended family members. They have welcomed me with the openess and love my immediate birth family could not.

I have also discovered my heritage and have been able to trace my great, great maternal grandparents roots back to Poland.

Yes, it took years of searching and yes, the reunions were not all positive. Yet they provided the answers I was looking for and finally answered the main question of WHO AM I?

I went into the search expecting little to nothing to result…I found far more than I could have ever expected.

I share all this to let you know…despite the ups and downs of the journey…I found the journey was worth it and I would do it all over again.

If you are considering a search you may have fears as you search, but don’t let them stop you…even if you end up with a rejection or a negative reunion…you will end up a far stronger person…I know I did.

Hopefully, during your search, you will find that as you grow as an individual, you will also become stronger and develop realistic expectations for what you may discover during your journey.

If you have made the decision to search, please remember these few items of advise:

1. Think about the reasons you want to reunite with your parent, child or sibling.

Remember, they have a family and so do you. You can’t turn the clock back or expect to fill the role that you have not played all these years. You are adults, strangers with genetic ties, coming together to build a relationship. Be realistic about the role that you feel you can play in their life and vice versa.

2. You must go into the reunion with realistic expectancies, not fanciful hopes.

If you make someone out to be perfect, you are guaranteed to be disappointed. People get hurt when they have unrealistic expectations, and those expectancies are dashed. These unrealistic expectancies can set you up for failure. It is not what happens in people’s lives that upsets them, it’s whether or not what happens in their lives is what they expected that upsets them. Don’t allow yourself to think that everything in your life will suddenly be resolved overnight once you reunite, or you will be let down.

3. A reunion is an event, but the relationship is a process that needs time to unfold.

You have to really work to build a relationship and you have to be patient. Start out with the goal of finding something that is comfortable for everybody, and don’t put any pressure on yourself.

Allow a natural evolution of things to take place.

Like all relationships, expect your relationship with the person you have reunited to go up and down. Your best chance for having a good relationship long term is to take it slow and move at a measured pace. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Be patient and let it unfold naturally, so that it will be lasting. You don’t want to do anything that would cause this coming together to separate you again.

Why Search for Birth Family?

Why search? Why not leave the past alone? What do you hope to gain from your search? These were just a few of the questions asked of me during the course of my search.

Most questions came from people who were raised by their birth parents. They knew their heritage. They had extended family to share their lives. They knew of potential medical problems that might arise in their lives.

They had no understanding or appreciation for those of us who have gone through life, without any of the above or the void it left within us. They do not know what it would be like not to have any of the above.

My search went far beyond even my wildest dreams.

The question still is; WHY? Why did I go beyond the original intent of getting simple medical information? Why did I want to find my birth Mother? Why did I ever want to meet her? Why did I want to know my roots? Why take twenty years spending great amounts of time, energy and money researching my family history? Why look for living members of an extended family?

Every child, at some point, questions who they are, where they came from and so forth. Most are able to have the answers easily provided by a parent or other member of their family. Adoptees or many children of the foster care system, such as I, do not have that available to them. For adoptees in particular, of my generation, it is denied them by law. We are expected to go through life never knowing the answers to those questions. Many are even ridiculed for entertaining such questions.

I searched for the answers to all those questions because I am like any other normal individual. More importantly, I had the right to know! I searched first for information; then to fill a void in my life. I would like to think if the search had ended with just information, I would have been satisfied. Of course, knowing all I do today, it might not have been. Each person searching needs to know when enough is enough for them.

My search had its ups and downs. My initial search to just find the information needed to locate my birth mother to get medical information, took four years. It would take another four years before I would find and meet my birth Father. They have both since passed away. During that time, I had to learn how to be a detective; to ask questions, that to most would have appeared stupid. I even had to learn to lie to just get the information I wanted.

I found my birth mother, my birth Father as well as siblings. None were very cooperative in answering my questions about family health, heritage or genealogy. If they had been, it might have saved me sixteen more years of research.

I have now found most the answers to my questions. The void that was in my life has been filled. I now feel I am a whole person; I know who I am and where I came from. I am now in the position that children raised by their birth parents are in. I no longer have to feel different or abnormal. I found far more information about my family genealogy than I ever expected to. I found and met members of my extended family. I can now see in pictures family resemblance’s and say…see I belong! In learning about my great grandparents, aunts, uncles and Polish people as a whole, I learned, in so many ways, why I am the person I am today.

My search was satisfied when I was able to sit with my birth Mother and find out the true story of my birth; the gut-wrenching decision she made to give me up, and why; my true Polish heritage and the vague medical history that would allow me to better care for myself. I would have been satisfied if she had just provided me these facts in a letter and not agreed to meet me. I would have had the basic information I desired.

The fact she agreed to meet me, despite how our relationship turned out, was above and beyond what I had hoped for or expected during my search. Of course, because I found out I was Polish and because my grandfather was ashamed of this heritage, I continued my research to find out as much as I possibly could about my family. I wanted to know why and when my ancestors came to America, what they did with their lives… I wanted to be proud of them. I have achieved that goal.

My only real regret is that I waited so long before I began to search. If I had begun at age eighteen or twenty-one, I might have been able to meet many aunts and uncles who were still living at the time. By the time I did begin my search and found all eleven children of my great grandparents, they were deceased. What a missed opportunity on my part.

I have been privileged to get to know some of my extended family and they have added so much to the picture. Through them, pictures and stories have been shared with me. You can only imagine the intense feelings I had when I saw the pictures of my birth parents, great grandparents or other family members or the first time; the feelings when I walked through the homestead my great grandfather built with his own hands 112 years ago; the feelings when sitting with an 89 year old first cousin and hearing stories of my great grandparents, her mother, aunts and uncles or the feelings when being able, at the age of 52, to spend my FIRST CHRISTMAS with family I could call my own.

This is why I searched. The desire to be made whole. The desire to know, that even when your birth parents may reject you…you still are a part of a family and a heritage. I had a good life prior to beginning my search and have done well during the search. The end result of my search just has made it better.

Twenty years ago, I knew nothing of my birth mother, my heritage or my family history. Today, I know more than I had ever expected to be able to know. Even though I feel I have had a successful life to this point, it is only today that I can declare…I am whole! I finally have a sense of belonging, of knowing who I am. I am finally proud of who I am, where I came from and of those within my family who came before me. I am proud to be able to proclaim my heritage is Polish!

This is why anyone would search.

Why, when millions around the world who were raised by their birth parents do genealogical research to learn more of themselves and their heritage is it considered normal? When an adoptee or person in my situation does the same its considered abnormal? Seems hypocritical to me!

I firmly believe ALL have the right to know who they are, where they came from, family heritage and genealogy, no matter the circumstances under which they came into this world.

It is OUR information locked behind vault doors and we have a right to it!

First Letter to Birth Mother~

Baby Larry

Baby Larry at 3 days old…taken at hospital nursery to be placed in the “Babies Available for Adoption Book.

A letter I wrote to prepare to send to my birth mother if I found her. It was not necessary to send as I found her and we connected via a telephone call.

Dear Mother~

 It was a decision of a lifetime, that with what was known and felt at the time, was a proper decision. I will not judge you. I will never tell you what you did was wrong. It will never be my place to say. I was not mature or old enough to know.

Never say you are sorry; never tell me that what you did so many years ago was wrong. I know in my heart that if you are like I know myself, it was what you thought was the right thing to do.

I will not confront you. I will make this as easy and safe for us both as possible. I just need to know that you are alive, what life has been for you since we parted. I may not have enough time to find you before you depart this life for a better one, but know that my prayers are with you.

I will defend you and your decisions in life as any son would. I will hold your memory true, even if all I know is your name. I will never defile your name, your circumstances or your decisions in life.

I know that I too have made many mistakes, but I have no regrets. Each mistake has made me a better person, turned me a different direction, and made me care more for life than I ever would have before.

If you feel guilt, I will tell you that I feel that you should not harbor any. I have led a good and fulfilling life that I am proud of. Your decision has made my life today what it is. True, it would have been different, but I cannot say it would have been either better or worse. I am a product now of what I have lived and experienced.

To you, mom, I pledge my gratitude for giving me all that I have. I have lost nothing now. Now that I know who you are by name; the only thing I would ask in addition, is to know you. I have many of your attributes. I hold every thought of you to be precious as gold.

I do not know what you look like; I do not know what you sound like. But to me, you are my guardian angel and have helped me through life without conscious awareness of you. I know you talk to me. You always have. You pray for my safety, happiness and well-being.

For the last 32 years, we have been connected. Sometimes I listened to you, sometimes I didn’t. You are my “gut”, my instinct, my heart and my thoughts.

Tonight I raise my glass in praise of your bravery, your life, and all the decisions you made.

Cheers to you mom. You did well.

Your Son

Questions for My Birth Mother

This was written from the time I began searching for my birth mother until her death…a period of over 20 years.

 Did you know what it was you gave away?  What was it
to you?  Was it a mistake perhaps that could be erased
by a simple act of false generosity. 

Was it easy for you or did you lay awake at night
tormented by the few options life had left for you? 

Was there a sense of great relief or regret when I was
no longer a part of your life? 

Did you look back as you walked out the door? 

Were you alone in the final hour?  Did you regret the
decision when it was over? 

What does it feel like to lose a part of oneself, not
to death, but to a future of unknowing? Were there
tears of joy, or sorrow, or both, or neither?

Did I cry?  Did I understand the totality of the
decisions made on my behalf?  Did I latch on to
anything that was willing to comfort me, or did I know
you already in my inner being and long for you with an
invisible bond?  Do you know what I felt when you
left?  Not even I can know the pain of separation from
a love at that vulnerable age. 

You were my first love and my first lost love.  Truly
a tragedy to have learned one of life’s most difficult
lessons at hours old. 

Was it similar to the loss of my first love when I was
a teenager, or even worse?  The body protects itself.
Perhaps to truly feel that kind of loss would cripple
my capacity to function. 

You gave up a lot. I have struggled to like myself
throughout the years.  Rejection in the conscious life
allows you to rationalize ones feelings and soften the
blow.  It is easy to see both sides of the story, and
make excuses for what might have been.  

But my first rejection came when I was without a
defense.  I cannot blame myself for I did not know
myself, and to blame one’s mother seems too painful.
Blame sits by itself in the middle, no one wanting to
look it directly in the eye.   Later on we all take
small pieces of this thing called blame.  There is
enough for small pieces to be taken for a lifetime and
more. 

There is not hate, but an open wound of unknowing. 

If you knew me would you do it all over again? 

I have part of you with me.  Only you could identify
what it is that I carry.  Is it the way I smile, the
way I cry, the shape of my eyes? 

You do not carry a part of me.  You have only memories
of a baby who was losing the life support it
desperately relied on.  How sad that your last memory
of me was on the surface, perhaps a health happy baby,
but on the inside was a spirit whose very soul was
being ripped apart. 

If my heart knew then what I have felt over the years
in my inner self, I would have died that day.  A body
cannot take that kind of pain in a single blow. 

You probably thought you did what was best for me.  I
have no way of knowing, but life cannot be compared to
what is and what could have been. 

Life with you ended when I was removed from you, but
the pain of your anguish as you decided to give me up
was not in isolation.  I felt you touch me
differently; hug me differently, as if this was a
guilty hug and kiss, not an embrace that is filled
with the wonder of things to come. 

Was I wanted in the womb?  When you felt me growing
was it like watching a beautiful flower develop with
the anticipation of the final glorious bloom, or was
it a dreaded anticipation of weeds overtaking a
well-tended garden. 

Was I a prisoner in your womb taking in all of your
despair and anguish? 

What went through your body and entered my sacred
home?  Was the foundation of my marrow a blend of
happiness and optimism, or was my body at its very
soul begun with despair, fear, regret, and
embarrassment? 

To answer this question I must know that moment, in
your deep unconscious when you knew, really knew, that
I would not be yours, but given to another. At that
point my psychic connection to your psyche felt a
rift.

Was there a slight tremor, shock, or disturbance that
alerted me to set up a defensive wall.  When was it,
before I was born or at the moment of my birth?

At what point did the focus of my life turn from
drawing in as much love and goodness as I could, to
defending my inner being from pain.  Can you do both
at once?  I know I can’t. 

Did you look down on me with loving eyes, longing
eyes, or eyes of sorrow?  When I looked into your eyes
did I see love or loss?  Were there tears of joy or
sorrow? 

I would have known the difference, must have known the
difference because all I saw and felt were the eyes
and tears.  No other distractions interfere with the
need of a baby to connect with the soul if its mother.

I saw the tears and hollow eyes.  I transported
through my look into your eyes my need for you and
what I got back was not acceptance but resistance. 

Have you ever wanted something so bad and felt with
your whole being the need to encompass that thing?
This is what I believe that I had when I was born, a
tremendous desire to belong, and a sense of attachment
to the security of love. 

How long can a person go without a sense of security
before natural defenses go into place?  One minute,
one hour, one day, one week, one year? 

I lost that from you somewhere between my development
in the womb and your decision to give me to another. 

Was my birth a final cleansing of your body of all
that was sad, disappointing and degrading?  Was I
purged and then removed from the last connection to
you as the umbilical cord was cut? 

Was there ever a connection after that, or did I go
from being a part of you into a world void of
attachment.  Did you reach for me as I was covered in
your blood and fluids, or did you look to the side and
sigh with relief that I was finally out of your life.

I was not chosen. You choose ripe fruit, fresh fish,
and a good car. Chosen is an excuse for abandoned.

I had many foster parents. However, none adopted me to
save me from a life without parents, but they in most
cases did all they could do.

They tried to love me, nurture me and did the best
they could with a damaged soul. You can restore
some of the harm done to the soul of a child, but you
can never replace it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the foster parents could have
put into my spirit the excitement, desire,
anticipation and deep love for my life ahead. They
were too late. By one day, by one week, by nine
months, they missed the opportunity to influence a
virgin spirit.

The holes in my spirit must have been many, and one
set of foster parents filled many of them, but you cut
me too deeply in parts.

The surface healed, but the deep wounds fester every
once in a while. Those are the times, like now, that I
wonder who I am, what I might have been, who you are,
and if you know what you gave up.

Now I am an adult. The turmoil of my youth is behind
me though forever ingrained in my memory. Today I can
make my own decisions.

Should I look for you? What would I find?

You are forever a young beautiful woman in my mind. I
never picture you pregnant, and wonder what that means
if anything. You are always thin, without child.

I think of who my mother is often, but not my father.
I do not know why I am not drawn in the same way to
know who my father was. I knew you!

I don’t know what I knew, but I knew you enough to
want to know more. I don’t want to find an old mother
who has gone through life.

I want the mother that was young and optimistic and
whose future I could have shared. Perhaps that is the
fantasy, to go back and find the person and relive
life.

I missed you, I needed you, and I have now begun to
look for you.

I search, hunt, inquire, but have hit so many
roadblocks along the way.

There is a deep need in me, a need to be wanted and
loved. You failed at meeting this need early on, and
for me to look for you is painful.

If I find you, the wounds will remain but just maybe
you will be able to answer  the ever-festering
question of why you didn’t want to know what you gave
up.

I have known loss. My foster Mom and Dad died in
recent years and it has deeply saddened me.

That loss is deep, and reserved only
for those who we have truly known and loved. To feel
that too often would be overwhelming.

That is the problem with my pain for you. I feel it
over and over again. You are at the core of my very
being.

I will only lose my foster Mom and Dad once. I lose
you every time I search for you and fail.

I don’t know if finding you would make any difference,
but I do know that not finding you continues a cycle
of hope and pain that is demoralizing and weakens the
fragile self that I am. You surely gave up a lot.

I thought more about the need to think of you as a
young person in the prime of your life. It is because
when I think of you, I see myself as a child, not the
man that I am right now.

If you were young again you could take me back. Then I
would grow up with the smells of your hair and body,
the energy and radiance your body gives off and the
pattern in your eyes that is unique only to you.

To see you as an older person means to admit that you
have stuck with your decision and I am finding you
after the rejection. To find a youthful mother means
there is a possibility of reversing the tides,
and erasing bad memories.

Will I ever be able to see you as an older person who
is in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s? I don’t know.

I thought as I grew older I would see you age
as well. This hasn’t happened yet, and I guess it
probably never will. I can’t imagine what other life
event could change your picture in my minds eye other
than seeing you in person.

My birth father has yet to make a big dent in this
stream on consciousness. Did he stay with you? Did you
have other children? Did he see you as a mistake
and leave, making the same assumptions about me?

My only way of knowing my father would have been
through your interactions with him. Was he loving and
kind, or distant and insecure? When he touched you
with me in your womb, if he did, was there a fusion of
love that I may have felt, or was there a charge of
anxiety and sorrow? You both gave up a lot.

I was in you, and lived as you did for nine months.
How much of whom I am today is determined by those
nine months I will never know, but I do know it has
something to do with who I am.

I remained in a nursery for almost a year after you
left. I of course have no memory of it, but the nurses
were my surrogate mother. Out of necessity I bonded
with them. Felt their arms around me, focused on their
eyes and began to attach.

But this was not to be my final security blanket. I
was taken from a second love, and placed with one
family after another.

We know from experience that it is best to leave baby
animals with their mother until they can be weaned and
are more stable. I guess this logic doesn’t apply to
children who are moved from family to family at an
indefensible age where ego and vulnerability are
wide-open wounds.

I lost my first love, and then my second love all
within the first year of my life. What does the body
do to avoid pain? It had autonomic reactions and
functions that perform unconsciously.

Starve a body of food or water and it goes into
crisis mode and begins to preserve what it has in
storage. Starve a body of love and a maternal
connection, and what does the body have to fall back
on in storage at birth. I guess nothing.

Perhaps the womb experiences, but those are weak at
best. My gut tells me that foster kids are in an
unconscious state of self-survival where their
very existence and identity must be at risk from the
very day they lose their mother.

Years of searching have come to an end. I have found
you, met you and have gotten to know a bit about you.
I have not felt the elation I dreamed so often I would
feel.

I did not find the young, beautiful woman I hoped you
would still be. I found a older very embittered woman.
I found a woman whose mind, heart and soul remained in
1950 while her body moved forward with the passage of
time.

While, tough not easily, my life marched forward you
remained stationary in life. You were filled with
hatred towards your father, my father and even me. You
allowed this hate to swallow you up in self-pity and
control every step you took since that day long ago.

We never developed the relationship I had searched
for. I didn’t search for a mother as those years of
need had long passed us by. I hoped for a friend in
whom I could share my inner most thoughts and
feelings…a friend of whom I could ask those many
questions that still yearned for answers from my
childhood.

For twelve years I struggled and fought for a
relationship with you beyond one that I would deem an
acquaintance though connected far beyond. You fought
me every step of the way, making sure there was a
certain distance between us.

You never asked questions about my life. Anything
shared was at my initiative. A few times you seemed
interested while most times you stared in a distance.
 
To most of my questions of you; you either changed the
subject or gave as little as possible.

At one point I took your statement of, “I wish you had
never been born, my life could have been different,”
as how you truly felt from the depths of your heart.
You blamed what turned out to be a life of misery for
you on everyone but yourself. We were all the reason
for your failures…even when we were not present when
you fell.

Despite all this I continued, in every conceivable way
I could muster, to strive to get beyond the day we
first met and build a relationship with you.

The fatal blow came on that Christmas night too
painful still to reflect upon.  Though you bore me
within your womb for nine months you could not bear
knowing the son you gave birth to as he is. You wished
me dead because you gave birth to son that happened to
be gay.

The abandonment of childhood you had no control over,
this time you did. You were in complete control and
knew exactly what you were saying and doing.
All the wounds of childhood were again opened wide as
if freshly inflicted. Nothing I said or did caused you
to change your bitter heart.

That bitterness and hate filled heart went with you to
the grave a few short years later.

Now you will never truly know the son you gave birth
to nor will I know that mother you could have been.

Do I sound angry or wounded?  Do you sense that I
hurt?  Do you really care?  Who you are?

I am.  I think.  I breathe.  I have become.  What have
I become?  A whole person made up of many parts.

I became without you. I must now continue to become
without you. We both have lost!

My web site: http://www.larrya.us

Maybe

This was written one night after a person challenged why I was searching for my birth family at the age of thirty-two having never been raised by them.
 

So this is what I know. I was given away when I was born. That’s the cold hard truth. Call it relinquished if you’d rather, but the facts remain.

Maybe I was wanted and loved, maybe I was resented and a terrible burden. Maybe I brought joy to somebody’s life for the five minutes that she held me and still cherishes that memory to this day. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was born on time. Maybe I was early. Maybe I was an easy delivery. Maybe I wasn’t.

Maybe I look just like my father. Maybe a little brother out there is a computer enthusiast, too. Maybe my mother is tall like I am. Maybe I’m German or Irish or Danish. Maybe I would have grown up in New Jersey or Florida. Maybe my father likes to sing. Maybe a little sister that I’ve never met is afraid of heights and thunderstorms. Maybe my father loves scary movies and maybe my mother cries when she feels overwhelmed.

Maybe I was taken from my mother against her will and she never recovered. Maybe she was talked out of having an abortion and has regretted her decision ever since.

Maybe my mother and father are married. Maybe they only met once. Maybe I broke them up. Maybe they miss me. Maybe they don’t.

Maybe I have brothers and sisters. Maybe I have an uncle who shares my dry sense of humor. Maybe I have an aunt who loves to cook as much as I do. Maybe my mother loves to read her Bible. Maybe my father is generous to a fault. Maybe someone else in my family is a writer. Maybe my sister is oversensitive. Maybe my brother is stubborn.

Maybe I’m a dirty little secret that no one would even dare speak of. Maybe my mother has been desperately searching for me for years.

Maybe my mother has long thick hair. Maybe my sister is diabetic. Maybe my brother loves Mexican food. Maybe my father dreams of going someplace tropical and maybe he’s already been. Maybe my mother likes to read. Maybe my father likes to sit alone outside and look at the stars

Maybe my mother died in childbirth. Maybe she’s in perfect health today. Maybe she doesn’t know who my father is–and maybe he died 5 years ago.

Maybe I would love them at first sight. Maybe we’d bond immediately. Maybe I’d rub my brother the wrong way. Maybe my sister and I would be the best of friends. Maybe my mother would break down and cry tears of joy. Maybe she would reject me all over again. Or maybe, I would reject them.
Maybe I’m nothing like any of them. Maybe we’re just alike. Maybe I’ll never know.

Maybe I should just be content with knowing things worked out as best they could. Maybe I shouldn’t care about my past. Maybe I could stop caring if I knew anything at all about it.

So there it is: a whole lot of maybes and one cold truth. Maybe I’ll find out the answers someday. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be happy with what I find. Maybe I won’t.

Either way, I’ll have the answers to the questions that so many people take for granted every single day. I’m not wrong for asking and I have the right to search until I find them. And THAT is what I know.