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. 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 dad 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. Dad 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. 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 many years later. 

Sometimes I asked about my birthmother, though I was careful not to do it too much, somehow aware that 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 mom, wearing an apron of yellow dandelions, leaning on her knees to get down to my eye level, right beside the black breakfast nook table where I hid the egg salad sandwich in the small wooden drawer, rather than have to eat it. ¨Your mom loved you very much Donny. She just couldn´t take care of you.¨ Of all the memories of my mother-a post-Victorian product of the 1950´s- I can´t think of anything she ever said to me with more feeling.

Published on August 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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