A few days before I sent the letter to the ‘likely’ match I had been thinking over the idea of my adoptive parents destroying the paperwork from my adoption. It just didn’t ring true to me. My adoptive parents carefully kept any and all records, for many decades beyond any possible usefulness. Long story short, through a nagging intuition and some dumb luck I found a locked box that had been among my father’s possessions we stored in my basement after he died. I vaguely remember thinking at the time that we should open it in case there was anything important, but it is a sturdy box that would potentially have required a locksmith to open. For whatever reason (being overwhelmed with his last few weeks of decline and death, and then all the funeral arrangements) we just packed it up. So that night, driven by an odd urgency, I rummaged through the stored boxes and found it.
I brought it upstairs and found a hammer and chisel, ready to try to force the thing open, but then I remembered a key ring I had of dad’s that I had put aside because it had the key for the storage locker we are renting for the bulk of things we took from their house several years ago when he moved into the retirement home. I found that, and lo and behold the key was on it. My heart was pounding. I just knew I was on the right track. There were a few things in there – photos of mom and my brothers, defunct stock certificates, letters to the bank, and a small plastic folio that contained the adoption papers for me and my brother.
I read through everything carefully several times, but sadly there was little information beyond what I already knew from the OBC. The most interesting things I learned were that I was placed in my adoptive parents’ home on March 14, 1966 and the adoption was finalized (coincidentally, I presume) on my first birthday – December 27, 1966.
Two facts about this timeline:
First, I was 11 weeks old when I was placed in their home. I had been living in the Foundling Home for 11 weeks. Why the delay? Was that standard procedure? Where was my mother during that time? Who cared for me? What was my experience like there? I can’t help but think that for infant me that was a double whammy – taken from my mother and then taken again from whomever had been caring for me as a newborn – though I suppose it was not a single person, but rather whichever nurses were on duty. I am horrified at the idea of doing that to a newborn baby.
Second, either my mother had not given me a name or it was not recorded. So legally speaking I did not have a name until I was a year old. This irritates me on a childish level – either my mother chose not to give me the one single thing she could have given me, or the system denied her the right to do so. The former makes me sad and the latter makes me angry. I think I would prefer to be angry.