Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Six minus one equals three .....

No, that's not an example of the "New Math" we were subject to the 1960's.  I'll explain .....
Some time after my mother's visit home in early 1958, the decision was made that adoption was the appropriate choice for my younger brother and I.  So, with the departure of our father, my family of six became a family of three (that no longer included me).

This is the last time my mother would hold me in her arms:

My older sister looks very apprehensive. 
Was she afraid these people were going to take her away, too?

I've studied this picture a LOT, trying to decipher the expression on my mother's face.  Do I see sadness -- or relief?  Is she not looking at me because she feels guilty, or does she just think my sister needs her attention?

I don't know the truth.  I'm not sure I really want to.

Unlike the majority of the BSE children, we would not be relinquished to strangers; we would be adopted within the family.  My younger brother was to go live with our maternal uncle, and I was to stay with our grandparents.
At the time of relinquishment, I assume we were still living in southern California, but I'm not sure.  What I do know is that, as a child, I loved hearing my grandmother tell me the story of her and my grandfather flying out West to bring us back.  I always laughed when she told me that although I wet my diaper during the flight, my brother made a poopy mess in his.

(Of course, prim and proper as she was, the word "poopy" would never have crossed my Grandmother's lips.  Instead, she would have said my brother had a "B.M.")
Yes, people used to dress up to fly, and you could smoke on the plane!
The uncle that my brother, S, would live with made his home on the East Coast, so he and his family drove in to meet us upon our return.  He and his wife had been married more than a decade and had two children of their own.  Their daughter, K, was nine and their son, G, was five and had Down Syndrome.  Our uncle, the person who excelled at everything, had no doubt been disappointed when his biological son was "defective."  Because his wife had a heart condition, she was not able to have another child, so my younger brother was the perfect replacement -- a healthy, bouncing baby boy, a "blank slate," to raise as their own.
As for me, my mother and I later discussed my placement with her parents and we agreed that I was most likely meant to be a replacement for her.  I would be the good, compliant daughter that she never was, and the sting of failure that her parents felt would be lessened.
Unfortunately, as Robert Burns wrote:
The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy.
This photo is dated August 3, 1958, and was taken in the front yard of my grandparents' home.  That's my uncle in the back, holding my brother (10 weeks old).  In front of him is his daughter, K, and son, G.  His wife is kneeling in front, holding me back, since I kept running towards the camera.
That should perhaps have been a clue for my grandparents that I was a headstrong child, even at that young age (16 months).

My uncle and his family didn't stay long as they were anxious to get home and start life with their marvelous new baby.  
After that, it was just my grandparents and me, starting our own adoption adventure.