Not a miner's daughter
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The Empty Pages

The Empty Pages

For those of you who are praying and following my story—so far, I’ve managed to piece together that my maternal grandmother by adoption had two brothers that were both married at separate times to a woman named Doris that lived in Reno, Nevada. Aunt Doris was living right there in my hometown throughout my adoptive mother’s increasingly “volatile” marriage to my alcoholic first adoptive father, as well as my two older brother’s births, and mine as well. My maternal grandmother, by adoption, married this woman’s cousin, my maternal grandfather, by adoption. All had grown up together in Idaho and were very close friends.

Doris passed away at the age of 104 in 2003 in Reno. She would have been 65 years of age at the time of my birth. I sure wish she were still alive. It feels strange that by proxy she was related to me, but I never knew my adoptive mother had any relatives living so close when she was going through such a difficult time in her life. I can’t imagine why I have no memory of this woman, unless I was hidden from her too. My first adoptive father’s relatives from back east shared with me in a phone conversation in recent years, “We received birth announcements for both of your brothers, but to this day have never even seen a picture of you.” Long after the fact it was like, “Oh, by the way we have a baby girl,” strangely nothing about adopting me or how I came to be a part of their family.

It shouldn’t be the first pages of anyone’s Baby Book—to learn that the delivery doctor took me out of the hospital late in the evening and just literally handed me as a newborn to a couple of his choosing, most-likely as a payback for something they had done for him. “My new parents” were definitely not in any position to raise a child for a number of different reasons. And just as disturbing is why they already had another newborn two months older than me in their possession with no placing agency or any involvement by the state. I know in my heart my late mother who gave birth to me would have wanted a better life for her baby—not one equally or more unstable than her own was at that time.

Sometimes, I wonder, “What difference would it make to know the truth at this point in my life?” I want my beginnings to no longer feel so dark and sinister. Is it just a coincidence that the doctor’s wife’s nickname was Jo and his daughter’s name was Ann? But frustratingly, my adoptive parents and the doctor who delivered me went to their graves refusing to even tell me the truth about my name.

I still don’t know the answers to my heart’s desire, but I am not giving up. Thank you to my friend, you know who you are, for your understanding and willingness to keep steering me a little closer in my search for significance. I want to believe that my great Aunt Doris would have answered this simple question: “Is there any truth to hearsay that I was named JoAnne after my adoptive mother’s “mystery” favorite aunt’s newborn that passed away at birth?”

It would mean so much to me to find out I was named after a special little girl. One of my passions is making a difference in children’s lives and it would give me back a piece of truth that I have lost in this lifetime. I need a namesake as closure.

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9 Comments
  • A great start to writing your life story and possible book. I admire you for your courage and determination to understand what is your true life story. You have helped many people on their roads to discovery and it seems only fair that you should resolve your own questions.

  • Lindi says:

    Never give up.. One day you will know the whole truth, if not in this life, then in the next. Family Secrets.. So damaging and elusive.. Love and hugs.. Lets write a book together~

  • Roz Larson says:

    Speaking of baby books, I’ve been helping put together LifeStory books for children being adopted out of foster care. It’s a book to call their own with their story in it from as much as the foster care and other people involved in their life can supply. It’s a great project run by the Portland Assistance League. Anyway, you still have a lot of questions to be answered!! I DO think there is something to the fact that the Dr was related to a Jo and an Ann. but what do you know about his newborn??

  • Laura Nappi says:

    Knowing that your so called family is reading this, I am telling them right now. WE WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH!!!!!!!!

  • You can certainly see your skills within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  • JoAnne says:

    Roz, what a wonderful idea about the LifeStory books for children being adopted out of foster care. Are you doing the artwork? I wish I could have had a picture of my birth mother while growing up. What could it have hurt, especially when she died when I was a little girl?

    In answer to your question, the doctor who delivered me had just moved to Reno from a small town out in the middle nowhere in August of 1953; I was conceived in October of 1953. My bio brother and sisters said their family knew the doctor from his years of interaction with the mining community, but that he did not deliver any of them.

    This doctor had strong connections to the covenant and the Catholic hospital; my place of birth. It’s not clear if he had hospital privileges at the only other hospital in town as well where my adoptive mother worked as an RN in Neonatal. I’ve always thought it would be interesting to talk with a nun that watched the doctor take me out of the hospital or a nurse from the other hospital to see if the doctor was delivering babies there too. The doctor’s daughter named Ann that was the age of 11 at the time of my birth said I did not come to their home.

    Still on a search to see if there really was a baby that died named JoAnne on my maternal grandmother by adoption side of the family.

  • JoAnne says:

    I would love to write a book with you Lindi. Lets brainstorm and come from a totally different perspective about how we can help make a difference in this generation of adoptees now from our own “painful” personal experiences. I don’t want to see any other young adoptee feel the way I did and have know one to turn to when my adoption felt so wrong on many different levels. I feel cheated–both of my mothers were not at a place in their lives where they could have raised me with the love and nurturing that every child deserves.

  • JoAnne says:

    I love you my friend, Laura. Yes, I know some of my so-called family is most-likely reading my posts. I am not afraid to keep it real; they can’t hurt me anymore. Some day I will be able to put it into words how it has made me feel…ganged up and bullied as an outsider because I was adopted. My parents would have never told any of my relatives the honest to goodness truth regarding all their secrets and lies. We were a family all about image and they are just carrying on where where my mom and dad left off.

  • JoAnne says:

    Courage and determination I take as such a high compliment Sue. Thank you. I can’t believe how far I come in this journey. I’ve learned so much about myself through even the most painful parts. Remember when I used to not even know what I needed or wanted from anybody? It feels good to be able to say out loud now what has hurt me the deepest, but that the truth didn’t break me. I hope I am an encouragement to others to never give up on life on those days when it seems so unfair and wrong.

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  1. So sad, what a terrible experience. and I know it was only one of many for you. Love you friend!!!
  2. This fills me with sadness: “No child should have to continually try to make a parent love them.” What a tragedy that your mother was not able to accept love from you. My guess is that deep down, she didn’t feel lovable, and she had to cover that shameful fact up with a bunch of br…
  3. It’s insane that these findings were made but nothing was done about it. All these years later, you are still waiting for the wrongs to be righted.
  4. I love you❤
  5. I hope you are able to find more on the first chapters of your life. How twisty things became when people had to hide things…ugh. Sad.