The thing is that by the time I became a full fledged teenager. All of those childish questions became angry teen ones. Confusion set in and haunted me often. Why aren't I more like them? WTF is wrong with me? By 12 I realized that I was out of the ordinary. Shouldnt I agree more with them? Shouldnt I share a few... a couple... ONE view with them? Rebellious, out-of-control and wild. Those were the words I heard my parents refer to me as more often then not. So why was I so odd? They had raised me since I was just an infant. Well then I went out and perfectly screwed up. I was pregnant by 15. Being adopted also makes you at least 50 percent less likely to ever give up a child of your own for adoption. I just could never imagine giving my own child away to ponder the things I had been dealing with. I could also never imagine wondering where my only known blood relative was. There was no question about keeping my son. I didnt do too bad though, I quit school, got a GED and was in my own apartment and attending college by age 17. It was a hard uphill battle but thankfully my life had already been that, so it wasnt out of the ordinary or particularly taxing for me. My son started school not long after I restarted it. We did our homework together most nights. But I also had other homework to do. I was always told that I could apply for a birth parent search when I was 19. So at 19, I did just that. A lady who had been present during my adoption was my go-between. I remember the first time I talked to her, and her saying, 'Oh yes, I remember you, you were the redheaded baby'. I live in a city of 100,000 people. I couldnt have been the only redhead child ever to go through their system. WOW, 19 years later, she remembered me. That is one incredible social worker, or I was a terribly memorable child.
By 20 I had found them. They came to my apartment together, although they hadnt been together since before I was born. And I spent several hours talking to them. Even then I knew, that although as an errant teenager, I would have KILLED to have these parents, who I could tell right off would have never offered me discipline, judgement or limits to my freedom, lord knows what the hell would have happened to me. So there it was, the empty place I had so long known, gone. Well, for a moment I thought it was gone. But there was still a lot left unexplained. My mother, she was.. well she was the late 40's version of me. My father, his girlfriend at the time I met them was 26. And here I thought, well, I am home. But then, there was STILL something missing. The years went by and I spent as much time as I could with my mother. I remember one day in particular that I went to visit my mother and her mother. A grandmother I had never had. Within minutes of meeting my granny, she offered me a beer. All 95 pounds of her. I sat and watched her drink 12 beers that day. And although I am not a huge drinker, I still felt rather comfortable with her, and with life, knowing that at age 85, she was still swilling down beers like the wild kid I knew myself to still be. As we were sitting there on her front porch an unassuming preacher walked up to us. Immediately he began preaching the virtues of abstaining from alcohol and other vices. Immediately, my mother stood up and declared "Get yourself and your god the fuck out of my yard!" I looked over at my granny for reaction to this and seen her giving the preacher the bird and glaring. Oddly, I beamed with pride at this. And my granny and my mother and me had a good damn laugh. I got a little closer to home as I listened to them talk about how annoying it was for these 'christian sob's' to be pushing their beliefs at every Tom, Dick and Harry they came across. I also met my sisters, who are both afflicted with FAS. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. And little by little I began to see how much of a miracle I really was. My mother had Fragile X syndrome, a gene that I also carry. It is very similar to downs syndrome as it normally afflicts the person with severely reduced intelligence and handicaps in most basic skills. My sisters were both greatly affected. Both were 4 to 7 years older then me, and had the intelligence and personalities of most girls around 12 years of age. Of course I lost a bit of respect for my mother with that knowledge. At age 15 and pregnant in the height of my drug abusing days, I still ceased all drug usage and even stopped smoking when I found out I was pregnant. But, a silent voice reminded me, 'you didnt walk in her shoes.'
Six years after I met my mother, I had to bury her. I didnt feel cheated though, not for a moment. Actually, I felt lucky. I had gotten to meet her in the best moments of her life. I didnt have to see her struggling within herself those years after her kids were taken from her. I didnt have to watch her be abused by her ex-husband who was the father of my sisters and brother. I didnt have to beat up kids around the neighborhood for calling her retarded and I didnt have to see the look of shame Im sure she would have held if I had been forced to hear such things said about my own mother. I got to see the self sufficient woman she had become in the end. The one that she had to struggle to get, a struggle much stronger then what people of average intelligence have to go through. She had her own apartment and took care of herself most sufficiently by the time she passed away. She was 56 and I had known her for 7 years by then. A couple of years later, my granny also passed away, at 95. She went to her grave still drinking a case of beer a day and smoking at least 2 packs, all 95 pounds of fire that she was.
Some kids dont have 1 mother or 1 father to love them and here I had 2 full sets, at least for a moment. And as I attended her funeral and cried for the loss, my tears were not for myself. They were for the mother who had lost her children, the mother who had probably spent countless hours wondering if her children were okay. Had the families who took them been good ones? Were they being treated well or horribly? I cried for so much wasted time she must have spent wondering if she made the right choice, if being mentally handicapped was enough reason to have said 'I cant take care of these 4 children anymore, I need help.'
Yeah Mom (I did call her Mom, it didnt seem right to call her Momma. I had a Momma who had been there, who had worried where I was all night, every night. Who had suffered in her marriage because of my childish selfishness. She had paid the price of motherhood, she was a Momma, she was my Momma) you did make the right choice, you made the hardest choice, that in the end was the best for your children. I still love you, I never once hated you, I never once questioned why you had done it and that was before I met you and seen the adversity you had to cope with.
RIP Edith Strothers Boyd