My Chosen Baby Story

For as long as I can remember I knew I was adopted. From the time I was 2 years old, I grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, 12 miles west of Boston. My adoptive parents (mom and dad to me, sometimes Ruth and Gorham) had a prepared script for me each time I asked what happened. I asked a lot.  The story goes like this:

One day Dr. Donohue, our family doctor, told us there was a little boy, ready to be adopted, who was almost 2 years old and lived in Boston (that would be me). We got in the car (a 1940´s Studebaker) and drove to Boston. We went to a row house in Dorchester or Quincy, and a lady showed us into the parlour (‘Was it my mother?’- I asked every time we reached this point). No it wasn´t Donny (they always called me Donny). It wasn´t your mother and everything was filthy. The lady brought you in from another room. You wore a dirty brown bomber jacket (in the house?) and had dirty curly blond hair. The first thing you did was punch your father in the nose (turns out that may have been genetic). We decided right then and there to bring you home, and we drove back with you to the house (123 Paul Revere Road). Your sister Carol came in, took one look, and ran off down the street. Your father said ‘what have we done now?’ Carol was just so excited she wanted to tell everyone she had a new baby brother (she´d get less excited later). You were so dirty we burned all your clothes. And you proceeded to have every disease in the books mumps, measles, chicken pox –  you name it. One right after another. You didn´t talk or cry for 6 months and then one day, while you were upstairs,  you asked for a glass of water. (Donny rejoins the world).

No matter how many different ways I asked (and I tried everything – listening intently, hanging on every word, every nuance), the script always remained the same until, many years later, a few more important facts were added. It had the essential points of a classic Chosen Baby Story – I was picked, I was wanted. There was the trip to Boston, the punch in the nose, the dirty clothes. Burning the clothes was a plot twist that was maybe a little over the top, one I didn´t fully understand until 1980.

Sometimes I asked about my birthmother, though I was careful not to do it too much, somehow aware it was sensitive territory – not just the question but the answer. My search for the answer  is what this blog is about – a 12 year search that took me from Boston, to New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, back to Boston again and finally to Michigan. But as to the question about my birthmother, I remember my mother, wearing an apron full of yellow dandelions, leaning on her knees to get down to my eye level, right beside the black breakfast nook table – where a few weeks before I hid an egg salad sandwich in the small wooden drawer, rather than have to eat it. ¨Your mother loved you very much Donny. She just couldn´t take care of you.¨ Of all the memories of my adoptive mother-a post-Victorian product of the 1950´s- I can´t think of anything she ever said to me with more feeling.

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi, I too am an adoptee…and my aparents also had a story they’d recite every birthday. Glad I was pointed in the direction of your blog!

  2. I hope you write more because this is a great beginning. There’s got to be more to this story. The burning of the clothes, well, that’s extreem, but possible. The telling that you were dirty, yeah, I was told the same thing. It adds to the savior mentality and only serves to make the adoptee feel bad about self. Good luck to you and write more!

    • Thanks Joan. I am a little blog challenged but am tryin g to figure it out. So far I have posted My Chosen Baby Story, 123 Paul Revere Road, Earliest Memories, Fast Forward- Return to Boston, Getting Into the Old Howard, and Entering Deadham (posted today). The first 3 have to do with my early child (I am going to return to some other stuff about that in a bit), and the other 3 are about me getting access to my adoption records. I hope you can find them all on the site???? They were all posted in August. Also the blog is in both English and Spanish as I have a lot offriends who only speak Spanish.
      It is a great story (don´t want to ruin it for you!) so stay tuned.
      And I am going to check out your site. Thanks again!!!
      Don

  3. Hi Don-

    Great blog! All of your entries are beautifully written and your story is very compelling. Glad you discovered my blog, so that in turn, I could discover yours. Looking forward to reading your next post and seeing how both your writing and this journey unfold.

  4. ¨Your mother loved you very much Donny. She just couldn´t take care of you.¨ Of all the memories of my adoptive mother-a post-Victorian product of the 1950´s- I can´t think of anything she ever said to me with more feeling.
    My a-Mom was the same about my Natural Mother… with all her foibles she never – Never – said a bad word about my Mother, and yet she was terrified that someday she would come and take me away. I wish all a-Moms had been/were like ours.


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