I have often expressed a wish to know what my months at the orphanage were like. From the information that Kraig had found in his research about the orphanage and shared with me, plus the interviews he did specifically with the daughter of a nurse and their time there during the time period I was there, and the daughter of another woman who was the night Baby Fold (as it was called) attendant, I was able to learn enough to know that it wasn't something out of Oliver Twist or Little Orphan Annie. In fact, there were rarely more than six babies in the Baby Fold at any given time, and most were only there for a matter of weeks. Since I was there for almost three months, it would suffice to say that a bond of sorts was formed by the caretakers. Although they obviously wouldn't remember me personally after 62 years, I was left with no doubt as to the tender loving care I would have received from them. While I was being cared for in the nursery of the orphanage, this was happening behind the scenes:
(FYI, there were many entries that I didn't include...no thanks necessary!)
8-10-48: In conference with Superintendent and CW supervisor, we are considering this baby for the Ecklunds.
8-13-48: Phoned the Ecklunds today and talked with both Mr. and Mrs. Ecklund. The background of baby girl Crawley was explained to them and both are interested and feel that the background is a match for them. They did hesitate on considering a girl, but it is not a matter of great importance to them as this is their first baby and they were not too set on their decision. Plans were made for them to come for baby Crawley at 3:00 P.M. today. Mrs. E said they would have to buy some clothes because of getting the baby so soon, but feel there is no need for delay as her husband is on vacation and it is convenient to get the baby.
(Later) The Ecklunds came to LBO today for their baby and it was easy to tell they were interested and excited because of things happening so quickly. A thorough picture of the baby's background was given to the Ecklunds and they were accepting of it, though they expressed their disappointment about not knowing more about the alleged father. It was emphasized that the baby was given for adoption because the mother loved her and not because she did not want her. This and other points will be given to the Ecklunds again during our period of supervision and before legal adoption. The Ecklunds do not know what they will call the baby yet, but will send an announcement to the agency. They brought along a lovely 'going home' outfit, and after she was dressed the baby was indeed lovely. During the presentation ceremony by Mrs. Brooks the child 'talked' aloud, but when Mrs. Brooks began to pray she began to cry. As she was placed in Mrs. Ecklund's arms, both Mr. and Mrs. Ecklund expressed their appreciation to the agency. Mr. Ecklund took pictures of his wife and baby as they left the agency and this will be the basis of their explanation to the child of how she came to them.
8-20-48: Received today birth announcement from the Ecklunds. Baby was named Linda Jean.
8-23-48: Phone call from Mrs. Fox who explained that Lillian would like to know the reaction of the adoptive parents to her baby. Mrs. Fox believes her request is a genuine one and a natural one. She wishes to know if they really like her baby and what their response was.
CW wished Mrs. Fox to assure Lillian that the adoptive parents were not only thrilled but most eager to give a home to Lillian's little girl. They unknowingly retained the name 'Linda' which Lillian had given her. Also the adoptive parents have written in explaining how much the baby resembles her and that they have expressed their appreciation to the mother for releasing such a lovely baby for them. Mrs. Fox believes this information will be of reassurance to Lillian. (Note: The first of several coincidences, Lillian had named me Linda Irene, after her mother Rhoda Irene. My adoptive mother's name was Irene. Also, they had not been told that the birth mother had named me Linda, and yet had chosen that name).
9-8-48: Phone call to Mrs. Ecklund to ask about the baby. She admitted that they are very fond of her and have found her to be a real joy to them. .. (misc. notes)... She has been a very easily managed child, eats well and is lots of company for them. The Ecklund's family and friends are all very glad they have the baby and have given her many gifts.
Although CW believes the E's are genuinely happy to have a baby, it was difficult to obtain even the above information from Mrs. E. She was not at all spontaneous in giving the information and CW had to question her on each point. She seemed to lack the usual enthusiasm that most adoptive parents have.
10-17-48: Mr. and Mrs. Ecklund came to LBO today to show their baby girl. The baby spent most of her time on her father's lap, and it could be plainly seen how much enjoyment he has in being a father. Both parents talked with freedom and ease about the baby's adjustment to their home and their love for her. ...(other misc. notes)...
10-19-48: Stopped by at the Ecklund home today and talked with Mrs. Ecklund for the first time since the placement of their baby . The CW had phoned about an hour before, and when she came the baby was neatly dressed and lying in bed. Most of the visit was held in the child's bedroom, at which time the CW observed the child. ...(misc. notes)... Mrs. Ecklund was obviously delighted to show off her baby, but her attitude was still rather reserved. Not once during the interview did she make an attempt to go over and pick up the baby and fondle or cuddle her or to hold her in her lap. ...(more misc. notes)...
3-3-49: CW visited the Ecklund home today. As soon as worker came into the bedroom where the baby was standing in her bed, the child began to shake all over. It lasted for about half a minute. Mrs. E went over to get the baby and picked her up. She brought her into the living room and held her while she told the worker she has noticed the baby having such shaking spells only during the past six weeks. They usually occur when a stranger enters. ...however, they have occasionally occurred when the child suddenly wakens from a nap. They believe such to occur because of shyness and fear rather than any emotional or nervous disorder. She has told their pediatrition about it and he believes there is little cause for concern because of the child's healthy condition. ...(several more paragraphs of notes)...
4-26-49: Worker visited the home today by appointment. Worker ws surprised to find Mr. Ecklund at home and he said he was sorry to be at home but that he was unemployed. He had been laid off about three weeks ago and has been unsuccessful in finding steady employment since. ...(misc. notes)... The couple are seriously considering moving to Fort Worth (Texas) and taking a job opportunity. It is plainly seen the Ecklunds are still young in their marriage and are one of the many young couples facing several changes before settling into an established position. Because of these temporary situations, Mr. and Mrs. Ecklund wish to proceed with adoption as most likely they will go on to Fort Worth within the next month or two.
They told that Linda's quivering spells are now almost terminated. They seldom occur and they believe she is becoming more adjusted to strangers. They have not found her unusually sensitive in other areas and believe now the doctor will give a recommendation that adoption be started.
Worker observed the child to be a happy, alert little girl. She was eager about being into the bookcase and the what-not shelves. Her mother took most of the responsibility for guidance during such investigations. Mrs. Ecklund seemed to be at ease and patient during such investigations, but worker wonders how long her patience will last. Mrs. Ecklund seems to be rather limited and flighty and a person who may not wear well. (In fact, she was an alcoholic who had a history of instability in her youth, and at one point some years later, after I had been removed from her custody, she was described by a hospital where she was committed for evaluation as having the social conscience of a fifteen year old. How strange to me that the worker picked up on this in her!) Mr Ecklund took no or little initiative in assisting his wife during such moments of curiousity. Yet on the other hand, he was affectionate and demonstrative with the child....On the whole, worker would not recommend a second placemement with this couple even though they were financially secure unless the adjustment of Linda proved to be a wholesome, happy one.
5-4-49: Mrs. Ecklund phoned to say they have now definitely considered going to Fort Worth.
5-9-49: Phone call from Mr. Hutchins who explained that the Ecklunds have engaged him as their attorney.
5-13-49: Phone call from Mrs. Ecklund explaining they are planning definitely to go to Texas. The Consolidated Aircraft Company is holding her husband's job open until they can arrive. The only thing holding them now are the adoption proceedings. (Under normal circumstances, adoptions were not finalized until after an entire year of supervision - they were asking for that to be cut short due to the move.)
6-28-49: Letter from Mr. Hutchins, attorney, advising that decree of adoption was entered in the County Court of Cook County on June 22, 1949, whereby Linda Irene Crawley was legally adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Ecklund, and the child's name changed to Linda Jean Ecklund.
8-31-49: Case closed. Child legally adopted.
It's fitting that by coincidence I've finished this post on my birthday weekend. It was on my birthday a year ago that this whole journey of discovery began, the post that told about how I always asked questions on Mother's Day and my birthday, the post which found it's way to Kraig. But it hasn't just been my story, or Lillian's, or Tom and Irene's. It's about all those mother's who have given up their babies for whatever reason, all those hopeful adoptive parents, the children of adoption who long to know who they look like, and about all those boxes with information pertaining to those stories gathering dust somewhere.
Although I've finished going thru the papers Kraig uncovered, and finished with my 'search' for answers, I reserve the right to do one more post on what this has all meant to me, on what my reaction is to some of what I've found out, and most especially on what meeting a man like Kraig has meant to me. So: (to be continued...one more time)
6 years ago