This is the beginning of my story. The part where I enter the world. It’s a condensed version–a quick introduction. I hope to share more details as my blog grows. If you haven’t already, check out my “About Me” page to get an idea about what makes me tick and why I’ve decided to share my story.
I have changed some of the names in order to protect certain individuals who fear their privacy will be invaded by the telling of my story. But seriously, I doubt that any lives will be torn apart by my mere existence in this world.
I was born on December 15, 1963. At the time of my birth, Margaret, my birth mother, was 18 years old and serving a 10-year sentence in the California Institution for Women (CIW), a female-only state prison located in the city of Chino in San Bernardino County, California. She was incarcerated on a felony drug conviction. I was also led to believe that my birth father was also arrested. According to the “story,” the two strung-out lovebirds were arrested together and both were convicted. At the time of Margaret’s arrest, she claims she was not certain that she was pregnant. She had not told any of her family members about her pregnancy. She did not tell my birth father that she was pregnant. It was her dark secret. She was determined to keep it a secret during this tumultuous, uncertain time in her life.
I was identified as “Baby Girl Michaels” on my adoptive parents’ legal papers. Michaels is Margaret’s last name. When I started this journey, I had no identifying information about my birth father. My guess is that he was probably never told of Margaret’s pregnancy, my birth and subsequent relinquishment to the county adoption services.
Margaret served about 4 years of her sentence and was released. The adoption records were sealed—it was the law in California. Margaret was promised “privacy” (I have a real problem with that word in this context) and secrecy in exchange for choosing adoption. She was certain she was walking away from this dark time in her life and, if she tried real hard, she could all but forget the whole experience (the drugs, the arrest, the conviction, prison, birth of a baby . . .). She was, in her mind, “reborn” as an adult and started a new life.
By this time I was a toddler, now named Laureen, running around barefoot in my cozy home in San Bernardino, California. Henry and Lilouise (known as Hank and Little by their friends and family) were doting parents. All was well in my world. I even had a big brother. Little could not bear any children of her own and so she and Hank had adopted a boy two years before I entered their lives. Tommy had red hair and freckles. I was a brunette with brown eyes, like Hank and Little. I was often told I looked like Little. I always thought that was funny, but it made me feel warm and fuzzy anyway.
By all accounts, I had a normal childhood. Little was a stay-at-home mom and she tried her best to do what she was supposed to do–raise her kids. Hank worked at the phone company. My brother was in the Boy Scouts. I tried to hang out with the Girl Scouts for a while, but I really didn’t fit in. We went on family vacations, sometimes camping–The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Giant Sequoias up north. My brother and I fought all the time. I had two best friends that I met in grade school. We are still friends to this day. Normal, normal, normal. Right?
When friends or acquaintances find out that I am adopted, their first question is usually some variation of, “When/How did you find out that you were adopted?” I think they’re looking for some kind of drama . . . but it wasn’t like that for my brother and me. We just always knew. And we were fine with it. We were chosen. I remember my mother used to sing to my brother and me:
I see the moon, the moon sees me;
The moon sees the one I long to see.
God bless the moon and God bless me;
And God bless the one I long to see.
It seems to me that God above
Created you for me to love.
He picked you out from all the rest;
Because he knew I loved you the best.
[Lyrics adapted from Jim Brickman’s “I See the Moon.”]
For a child, this explained it all. And it was all good.