Monday, April 5, 2010

Orphanage Pt 2

As I told you in part one of The Adoption Story that Keeps on Giving, I received an email from Kraig xxx last May after I had mentioned Lake Bluff Orphanage in one of my posts about adoption. He and a friend were doing research on the orphanage, and he was interested in my story. He also had a dvd that he sent me of the early days of the orphanage, filmed about ten years before I was there in 1948. I didn't mention it here at the time because I was going to wait to see how things turned out, if he finished the documentary, etc.


Over the last ten months, Kraig and I have exchanged many emails, both about my story and about his documentary, and then this last Christmas(2009) I wrote to see if the documentary had been finished on time and how it went. A couple of weeks ago, March 2010, I received the following email:


Linda, How are you? I've taken about a 3 month break from the film documentary to concentrate on my full-time work. Now I've got a 6-week block of time I'm committing to getting back on it. I was wondering ....


1) Did you ever find out who was your biological father? If I could find that out for you, would you care to know? I'm not sure I can get it, even if it's available without a court order , but I thought I'd ask.


2) You said in your original post that, "I would have loved to have had at least one photo of that time, either of someone holding me in the orphanage, or especially of Lillian holding me before she signed therelinquishment papers." If such a photo existed, would you allow me to find it for you?


The reason I'm asking all this is some of this information MIGHT exist. I use the word might, because I don't know quite yet, but I'd like to find out for you. You usually need to have a lawyer or a person who specializes in adoption searches do this for you, which can cost in the thousands. I'm happy to find out for you at no expense. I've come across a person on the "inside" (so to speak) that has become a pretty good friend while I've been working on this project. She's pretty good about getting me what I need without all the red tape that you might have to go through yourself. I've read different "posts" from some adoption websites that complain that nobody returns their calls, or they come to a dead end with finding what they need from this same organization that holds all the files. Here's a chance to try to gain any info that might be available for you very easily.


Here's what she wrote me that I would need from you to, pardon my French, cover her "ass" ... 1) A letter from the original person(s) - (that's you) stating: their name (and adopted name if it is different from their name now), their adopted parents' name, their birthdate. 2) A letter form the original person(s) stating that they are "granting XXXX permission to release any and all biological information related to the adoption that took place through the Lake Bluff Children's Home to Kraig xxx". Let me know


Well, as you can imagine, this was quite exciting news! Not that I have any illusions about what he could find, but just the idea that there might be some nugget of information out there that has escaped my attention would be a bonus addition to my story!


For example, as I told Kraig in one of my emails, referring to the letter that Homes for Children had sent about my mother in 1978, the letter said that "the record shows of no further contact with her after signing the relinquishment." Yet I have it from two sources that this is not the case. When I first contacted my aunt Helen, when I told her what my birth name was and when I was born, she screamed "oh my God, you're Lillian's oldest daughter, the one she gave up for adoption! We were told that you had died in a fire!" She's the one who told me that Lillian and her mother had called to check on me, to see if I'd been adopted, and were told that I had died in a fire. And the older lady I spoke of, who said that every May 15th Lillian sat at her table talking about the baby she gave up for adoption, said that Lillian never got over that she had been told I had died in a fire. But, as I said before, I believe this was not an uncommon practice back then" (to give the death story to the biological parent, or to not give all aspects of the information to an adoptee).


Also, the orphanage letter said that "we have no information about the putative father except her report that he was 23 years of age, had dark hair, and probably had graduated from high school." My question has always been 'would a 19 year old girl, away from home and across the country for the first time, be able to go thru an unwed mothers home and this adoption process and not share something else in the course of the conversation, like that she came to Chicago from Texas because that's where he was from, and he either rejected her or she couldn't find him?' And 'really, she didn't even mention that he was in the service at the time, like in the Navy and stationed in Galveston, this during a time when so many young men were in the service?' I guess it's possible, but if there was even a small notation answering these questions, I'd like to know about it. And what if she had actually said his name, Don Miner, and the adoption guy who wrote me had chosen not to give it?


In other words, if this current 'inside' person that Kraig talked about is able to access my records and the information contained in them, I would love to see it. On the other hand, if nothing else is there that I don't already know, then no harm is done in trying. Right? And let me make it clear here, I am not expecting anything, only indulging in some wishful thinking, and I'll not be overly disappointed if nothing comes up.


I had another nice email from Kraig that I'd like to share with you, but it's too long for here. I'll try to do that another time as it shows a lot about the character of the man who is offering to do this, as well as his acknowledgement that I had already, indeed, obtained a lot of information on my own or from the orphanage guy, and wasn't sure himself exactly how much more there could be. I've got my permission letter printed and ready to put in the mail. In the meantime, we will just have to wait however long it takes for any new information ...or no information!


Let me add, too, that one of the reasons I find this whole situation so fascinating is not just because of my story or what information might be in it for me. But just think about it - orphanages in the United States are pretty much a thing of the past, at least on a large scale like Lake Bluff was. Most cities have gone to the foster home system. So for hundreds of thousands of adopted children who are now adults, there is a box in some attic, warehouse or basement collecting dust, and containing information that they may never be able to access because it's not permitted under the rules of the system. Information that could complete the fabric of their life, could answer their questions. What a shame.

20 comments:

Jerry said...

From a casual reader's viewpoint, this is a terrific detective story. But as in all true mysteries, people's lives are wrapped up in this in such a profound way.

Both you and Kraig are detectives of the first order. Kraig truly seems like a selfless individual dedicated to helping others as he pursues his goal.

This is a wonderful story that is unfolding. I'm am a bit stunned to learn that it was routine to provide a death story to the biological parent.

dana said...

It never occurred to me that orphanages ARE a thing of the past!!! All that information, helter skelter in the dark ages.... so sad and VERY scary.

Mattenylou said...

I appreciate how you keep us updated, your story is often in my thoughts.

I wish you well in your detective work, it's too bad all this stuff is just sitting out there, somewhere, when there are so many that would love just a teeny bit of this info.

Jeanie said...

It is so amazing to me that the death story was commonly given to biological parents. How many possible reunions has that thwarted? It is incredible that you have even the possibility of gaining additional information this far down the road. It sounds like you are well prepared for whatever information may or may not come your way. Even so, I know it must be emotional for you wondering if there are more answers. I'll be hoping for the best outcome for you and that it doesn't take too long.

Bernie said...

I am wondering if the foster system is any better than the orphanges were.....Linda I want for you what you want....if you need and want to know more than by all means follow your heart and allow Kraig to help you. I found your story heartbreaking in one way yet I was so proud of what a wonderful wife and mother you became in spite of all that had happened to you.....you are a survivor and made the best of your situation where many others would have folded under the pain of these hard times.
You are an inspiration and such an honest and beautiful lady. Sending you many hugs......:-)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

What an exciting find. I can't imagine the wonder that must occur for all those involved in an adoption. The hours spent pondering. I hope you find what you seek, Linda.

I'm struck that such a horrible story was told to Lillian. I had no idea. I suppose they thought that wasn't cruel? Your comments regarding the boxes of information, stuffed in places where they won't be found. Perhaps writing stories such as yours will make others wonder what gets settled in forgotten boxes. Never know what will become of your words and thoughts. Might open doors for others.

kobico said...

Will you look for your biological father if they have his name? I know only one person who was adopted who had no desire to seek out his biological parents, no curiosity whatsoever about them.

I wonder how long it will be before Kraig knows whether he has more information for you!

Michele R said...

It is amazing how this invention of modern day (internets) have unearthed so much about the past. Kraig's reaching out to you and his continued correspondence and research is amazing!

Wine and Words said...

It's like the story of every adoptee is scattered...blown about on the winds of secrecy, and so much energy on our part to harness the wind.

I'm excited for you. I hope he is able to find all he intends, and all that you need.

Wendy said...

Crazyness. About them telling your mom you died in a fire. I still can't conceive of that. How much guilt would you feel as a mother, especially considering how many women make this decision in order to give their children better lives, to think that your choice had actually killed your kid. People who would make that decision to lie like that were only trying to make it easier on themselves (maybe not needing to deal with a distraught mother changing her mind), as opposed to trying to make it easier for anyone else involved.

lakeviewer said...

You must feel on pins and needles, waiting for the next piece of information to be discovered. Your story will help so many others keep the faith.

Lorna said...

Linda, I am excited for you to find out whatever nuggets are out there, waiting for you to find, and that you have someone on the inside, in the form of Kraig, to help you. I love how supported we humans are!

Timoteo said...

That was totally weird, demented, and cruel that people would falsely tell a mother her child was dead. Well, it WAS a weird era back then, as I am reminded of when I think about many of the adults I knew as a child!

I'm happy that your story is still being written--if you're happy about it, of course.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Another part of your incredible story! I do so hope this one turns out well, and it's a happily ever after ending!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Wow, amazing stuff. Thank you for sharing this with us. I remember orphanages very clearly, and I also remember feeling so bad for the children. Can't wait for more on this.

Lynne Countenance Jewelry / BeadyIze said...

What an amazing story, Linda! I hope you'll find out more about your past. It's hard for someone who was not adopted to fully appreciate what you're dealing with, but I can begin to imagine. Best of luck!

glnroz said...

intriguing,,, have you checked out that "Shutterfly" website?? :)

Ginger said...

That would be so cool to find out something about your birth father.
Would you meet him if he was still alive?
I can't imagine not knowing my parents and family background. I sure hope you can find out something.

5 Kids With Disabilities said...

It is amazing how much has changed through the years. Orphanages have been replaced by foster families. My kiddos have had such bad experiences with foster families that I think an orphanage would be preferable. Not all progress is good...
Lindsey Petersen

Redspect said...

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Help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!
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