The doctor asked, ‘What is THAT?’ The attending doctors presumed my enlarged clitoris to be a penis and my fused labia to be an empty scrotum; they erroneously assigned me ‘male’. That was what doctors did during those days.
The birth mother screamed, ‘Get rid of IT!’ Out I went with the trash.
Anger issues? You bet!
The ‘Birth Registration’ records my arrival on 23 Jul 1956 at General Hospital of Paterson, New Jersey. That document does not identify my birth parents or any other vital statistic recorded on the typical birth certificate.
The woman who instructed me to call her ‘Mom’ gave that birth document to me in 1979 and reminded me what she told me while growing up: she had only one natural child, Kathy (two years my elder). This mom made it clear throughout my life that she was ‘one and done’ with Kathy, that I am not the natural child of her and my dad, and that Kathy is not my natural sister; my mom refused to say much more about this matter.
My mother came from her own rough experiences. She talked of being the only minority student at her school; school-mates bullied her as ‘that Mexican girl’. She quit high school at age 16 and left home. She did not speak about why her family forced her out and what made her the alcoholic that she became.
How could I not forgive her?
The man who instructed me to call him ‘Dad’ was that male who required a son for his heir; his wife wanted only one natural child and that first-born child was a girl.
That man frequently told me he ‘always wanted to adopt more children’; I was his only adoption. If my dad really wanted to ‘adopt more children’, then he failed that when he refused the opportunity to adopt cousin Steve. I’ll give my dad absolution for not ‘adopting more children’ because he and my mom divorced; the 1960s was a time when single fathers could hardly have adopted any child.
My dad’s DD-214 documents his military service. The military drafted him from high school, sent him to basic training, and delivered him to the Pacific as cannon fodder during WW2. He survived, so the military sent him to Japan to serve on the occupation force. Then came Korea. The military sent him back to armed battle; they awarded the Bronze Star to him. My dad did not speak of his experiences that must have destroyed him.
How could I not forgive him?
My mom and dad instructed me to identify Kathy as my sister.
Kathy suffers in her own way. Our parents used her as their tool to further their abuse against me. They goaded her to bully me, beat me, torment me, and sexually molest me.
- She ran me into a playground slide which cracked my skull.
- She slammed the car door on my finger.
- She pushed me down on the patio which broke my jaw.
No child did what Kathy did (from age five to age eight) without the direction of an adult. They beat her if she failed to satisfy them. Sadly, Kathy lives in denial of her own childhood abuse.
How can I not forgive her?
The coldness of this adopting family bothers me. There were horrors behind the closed doors at our home. Why would they adopt me then treat Kathy and me with callous disregard? These parents used us children as their target for their abuse.
My dad beat me, but he did not need to get drunk to do it. He devised his own form of child-care – he tied me to a chair and stuffed a handkerchief in my mouth to keep me quiet so he could take a nap.
My mom did nothing about my dad’s child-care methods; Kathy laughed at me at our parents’ behest. My mom frequently got smashed drunk and beat Kathy and me.
One morning I went to my mom as she lie sleeping on the blue sofa at the TV room. ‘Mom, I need you to tie my shoelaces, please.’ I did not comprehend at my young age that she was out cold – drunk from another bender; she would not be tying my shoelaces that day. Kathy came to my rescue that morning; she took time to teach me to tie my shoelaces. Kathy, if only you could have been kind more often.
Perhaps it is the quandary of adoptees to question their parenthood. I obviously lack the same appearance as my mom, dad, and sister. They all have black hair, black eyes, dark skin, and square faces; I have brown hair, green eyes, light skin, and a long face. My dad was tall (6 ‘ 2 “) and my mom and sister are short (5 ‘ 3″); other cousins and relatives of my generation (both male and female) are shorter than average. I’m tall (5′ 11″).
I kept a photo cube at my desk at work. People would ask me about the images in that photo cube. I would identify the photograph of the 10 year old girl riding her bicycle as me. ‘Naw, that’s not you.’ was the universal reply. ‘You’re correct, I’m kidding. That is my sister – we’re not biologically related.’ Strangers could see the obvious lack of familial resemblance.
Nevertheless, I try seeing my image at the possibility of familial relationship. In some ways, my appearance has some similarities to the wife of my mother’s older brother and her daughter – they both have brown hair, light skin, and long face; I see pictures of her daughter (my cousin) and we have similarities. Crazy things happen in families. Could we be related? I otherwise never sought any biological family. That idea was taboo at home. Besides I saw little point seeking a family who rejected me without knowing me.
I discovered papers referring to my status that my mom and dad are not my natural parents; I saw those papers for the first time while I was browsing through leftovers of my dad’s personal effects (September 2014). I acquired those documents as cast-offs following my dad’s death (1989). I wrote about this to Kathy and asked for her comments. She replied that she wants nothing more to do with me in the last e-mail she sent to me (September 2014)