Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And So It Begins

Sometime in late December, 1961 or early January, 1962 two people I don’t know anything about hooked up somewhere in western Pennsylvania and made a baby. In September of 1962 that baby was born and she was me and that’s the end of the part these two people play in this story. I have, throughout the years, come up with many dramatic, romantic and tragic stories about how all of this came to be, but the truth is probably a much simpler matter: Roe v. Wade was still in the future and this woman had enough sense not to pursue a back alley abortion.

The next three months were spent with more people I don’t know anything about. Foster parents who saw to it that my basic needs were met.

Meanwhile, in another part of western Pennsylvania, the woman who would become my mother was making some difficult choices. She was only in her mid twenties and she had already suffered through more miscarriages than any woman should have to endure in a lifetime. Her doctor had warned her that another attempt at pregnancy would be more likely to result in her death than in a baby’s birth. Her heart and her body were at odds. She knew in her heart that she was destined to be a mother, but her body had had its final say. She would not be making a baby. She mourned the babies she would never carry, and then let her heart win. She and the man who would become my father made the decision to pursue adoption.

Just a few days before Christmas, the call came. The adoption agency had a little girl for them. Were they interested? Indeed they were. When they met me, before any papers were signed, the man who would be my father did a little inventory. Fingers and toes? Check. He was an informed consumer. He was not going to accept delivery of damaged goods. Apparently I passed the inspection, because they signed the paperwork and got the gears in motion.

Most parents get nine months to anticipate the arrival of a baby, but my parents only had a couple days. And they were a couple days right in the midst of the general Christmas hustle and bustle. In just a couple days they had to acquire all the things a baby would need - a crib, diapers, bottles, clothes, blankets – no baby showers thrown by friends or sisters or aunts or cousins – no time for it. (Fortunately, in 1962, babies needed far fewer items than they do now, so this task was less oppressive than the one which you might be imagining.)

They got everything together in time to accept delivery of their infant on December 18, 1962. One week before Christmas. I went home for the first time at the age of three and a half months. I knew love for the first time at the age of three and a half months.

Apparently when they met me for the first time – inspection day – I had been dressed and groomed very nicely. When they picked me up to take me home, I was wearing a dirty undershirt with a medal of a saint pinned to it. False advertising! They were not delivered the same degree of cuteness that they’d been promised. Lucky for me, grooming and clothing are issues easily rectified, or I might have been returned before my warranty expired.

As it was Christmas, of course they viewed me as the best gift ever. I was placed under the Christmas tree to illustrate that fact in a more tangible manner. Unfortunately, I was allergic to the tree (a pesky allergy that persists to this day). The symptoms that developed as a result of this threw my new mother into a panic. The final papers weren’t yet signed and she was pretty sure they were going to take me away, since the first thing she did upon bringing me home was to allow me to get sick. It doesn’t work that way, of course, but try telling that to a woman who’s been through what my mother had been through to find herself in the position of parent. She was rather understandably distraught.

My sniffles cleared up, the adoption was finalized, and we were a little family of three.

Each year I celebrate the anniversary of that adoption - a day which doesn't mean anything to anyone except me, my mom and my dad. It means the world to us.

13 comments:

Shannon Baskind said...

Not to horn in on your warm and fuzzies, but it means an awful lot to a few other people, too. ;-)

Tammy said...

Aw, sweet of you to say so - thanks...

Swine said...

Mom and dad done good. I'm very glad to know their daughter. But a Christmas tree allergy? Really? Dood, that's frakked up.

Swine said...

You know what? Right after I posted that it occurred to me that maybe your parents tried to raise you to be an ass -- in which case they failed miserably. They didn't done good.

Tammy said...

Aw, everyone's being so sweet I'm gonna have to abandon my Scroogy attitude soon. So stop it. (Stop it some more...)

Tammy said...

Oh, and Swine? Thanks for celebrating with me, dude.

♥ Joanna said...

So so so sweet.
I really enjoyed reading that. My fiance was adopted at age 8, along with this brother at 7. They didn't know what it was like to have a family until then. My fiance doesn't know this, but I celebrate his adoption every single day. I wouldn't have my beautiful daughter had things not gone as He had planned.

Unknown Mami said...

Tammy, I did not know this part of your history. I'm so happy the three of you found each other.

I'm sorry to hear that you are pretty much allergic to Christmas.

Ginger said...

Hey Tammy,
I'm a little adopted girl, too. Instead of foster care, the doctor who delivered me took me home to his house for ten days. They made a bed out of a drawer, and when my adoptive parents came to get me, the first thing I did was pee on the bedspread. How's that for a first impression!

Our stories are similar - a mother who miscarried too many times, not knowing who my birth parents are, etc.

It's weird how sometimes that leaves me completely insecure about who I am.. and now to the latest post..

kys said...

I didn't know this. Happy adoption day. I'm glad the 3 of you found each other.

Cheryl said...

What a great story. I love your mom and dad to pieces. I'm still not going to cry.

Tortuga said...

My son was officially adopted on December 22. We used to celebrate the day but for some reason, we stopped. I still take time to remember it though, and he calls his biological mother (my sister) and they chat.

I am so happy you have that day to celebrate your joining a family.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I loved your story. I adopted 2 of my 5 kids. On all of their birthday's I tell them their birth stories (whether they want to hear it or not). I know my adopted kids would like to know what their bio parents were thinking and feeling before their births and I can only tell them the after. But I never fail to tell them that my heart doesn't know the difference between them and their brother and sisters that I gave birth to. Perhaps someday their birth parents will be able to tell them what they want to know. Unfortunately it's probably not the same as what they want to hear. I tell them what I know to be true, which is, their bio parents wanted them enough to bring them into this world and then loved them enough to give them to parents who could love them and take care of them. Whatever the reasons, we are the lucky ones!