One September morning in 1938, I pictured a medical doctor at almost 7-feet tall cradling fondly in his arms a new baby daughter, as he walked home from the hospital. Such a bitter-sweet time, a gentle giant of a husband and his wife patiently waiting all night for the birth mother, who had had a change of heart, to make that difficult choice whether to place her newborn for adoption or not.
Many years later, I needed to know, “Did that adoptive father toss aside his once precious baby daughter that by all accounts he loved dearly because she was flawed or because she was ‘just adopted’?”
As a trusting 7-year-old in 1961, it seemed like my new father figure magically appeared out of nowhere shortly after my adoptive parent’s bitter divorce. How could I have possibly been able to read between the lines as a young child when he would affectionately say I was the daughter he never had?
With having been placed for adoption at birth as well, it was insulting that my father would only answer, “Oh, she was just adopted” after asking him for an explanation about the mysterious, flighty woman that had come to grandpa’s door back when I was in college.
To learn that she was indeed my father’s adopted daughter who suffered from Schizophrenia beginning as a young adult came as a sense of betrayal. I wouldn’t have loved him any less if he had just been honest with me. Actually, I would have had more respect and compassion for what must have been a difficult situation for everyone involved.
I can’t fathom why the gentle giant would abandon his other family for us. There is absolutely no way his two grandchildren my age wouldn’t have continued to need him as a rock in their lives. They had already lost so much with an absent mother due to serious mental illness. Regardless, if marrying my mom came with ultimatums, which I am sure it did, his cold-hearted choices feel wrong on so many different levels.
I didn’t want to be just his “replacement daughter.”
To be continued…