Rewriting The Past

Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation. — Edward R. Murrow

I had answers to some of the most basic, vital questions.  I knew the identity of my biological mother: Margaret Michaels.

I knew the identity of my biological father (thanks to DNA): Jackson Summer.

As you know, I have never actually spoken to Margaret.  The last “contact” I had with her was the self-bloated letter I received from her over 20 years ago.  She has no desire to meet me or to even carry on a conversation via letter or e-mail.  I have respected that.  She never disclosed to anyone, including her mother, my biological father, or her siblings (4 of them) that she was ever pregnant.  The only people in her “world” who knew she was pregnant and relinquished a child were the prison personnel (and presumably other inmates), social workers and hospital personnel.  It is also possible that her stepfather knew.  According to the story from the social worker (my non-identifying story), he was the one who turned Margaret in to the authorities, which resulted in her arrest.

So was it true that none of Margaret’s family came to visit her during her stay at the Greybar Inn?  She was there for 3 1/2 years (sentenced to 10).  If anyone came to see her during the first 3 months of her incarceration, they would have surely guessed she was pregnant (or she really liked the prison food).  I guess they could have come to visit after December (she was arrested in September) and not known she was ever pregnant. That makes a little bit of sense.  Margaret’s mother (my grandmother) was actually pregnant at the same time as Margaret (let’s get all the complicated details together, here). Remember this tidbit from my non-identifying story?

Baby Christopher is the 3-month old half brother.

Margaret’s mother (my maternal grandmother) gave birth to Baby Christopher (my uncle) about the same time that Margaret was arrested.  And it was Baby Christopher’s father (Margaret’s stepfather) who turned Margaret in. Margaret’s mother was busy raising 4 young children while Margaret was out partying, getting pregnant and getting arrested.  You follow?

Jackson Summer didn’t know Margaret was pregnant.  Jackson claims he doesn’t even know who Margaret Michaels is. More likely, he doesn’t remember. There were drugs involved. Drugs can alter memories, for sure. But Jackson does remember Marion Michaels. His first love. He’s still in touch with her.  Jackson even told Marion about me and our curious DNA match and about this mysterious Margaret person who has the same last name as Marion.  According to Jackson, Marion was not able to provide any information that would be helpful to us.

If you’ll recall, I mentioned that I have been in touch with one of Margaret’s siblings.  We even talked about getting together to meet and talk.  I was hopeful that she could fill in some of the odd-shaped blanks hanging out there.  She was very clear that Margaret did not want to discuss the matter and did not want to be involved in any contact with me. She also confirmed that their mother (my maternal grandmother) still did not know about me.

Well, our meeting has not happened (yet).  Real life and busy schedules got in the way.  In the meanwhile, I started this blog to help me sort through it all.  My aunt read the blog.  She expressed her disappointment with the information I was putting “out there” in the cyber-world for anyone to see (even though I’ve changed the names of the key players).  We had an e-mail exchange about it.  She asked me to “Please stop.”

And you know what’s ironic?  Before the blog, this aunt had asked me to share the information I had discovered about my biological father through the DNA match. She wanted to know what I had learned about my biological father.  I believed she was sympathetic to my plight and genuinely interested.  Without hesitation I told her about the DNA match and gave details that Jackson had shared with me, in the hopes that sharing the information may lead to more sharing on her side of the family.  Absolutely not.  I’ve since asked my aunt specific questions about Margaret and their mother, and I’ve made a request for some specific health information that would aid me in making a decision about my future. She never answered any of my questions.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand that she owes me nothing.  I’m beginning to see a pattern.

I think perhaps Margaret is “bullying” her siblings. Maybe not in a schoolyard, overt kind of way, but definitely subliminally.  From what I can figure out, they are worried that the knowledge of my existence will “crush” their mother (my grandmother).  What information exactly, I wonder, is going to crush my grandmother?  The fact that Margaret had a child?  No . . . that can’t be. Seriously, I haven’t lived the kind of life that can be deemed a disappointment to anyone, in my own humble opinion. It’s gotta be the 50 year old lie. That her daughter, Margaret, never told her she had a child. Surely, she knew that Margaret had been in prison. That “disappointment” had already been felt, processed, and dealt with.  I would think. Perhaps there is more to the story that I don’t know. Margaret’s sibling wrote:

We do not know the circumstances leading to her pregnancy; it may have been quite traumatic.

She also mentioned several times that some of the information I’ve published wasn’t even true.  What!?  Not true?  You mean the story that I know and live every day about my identity and how I came into this world is riddled with untruths, cover-ups, and lies? Imagine that.  No seriously, why don’t you try to imagine that? I’ve lived this way my entire life.

So tell me something new.  Like the truth. There are people that actually know the truth, but won’t tell me.  Imagine that!  

So here are some theories.  These theories, of course, include questions or lead to more questions.  They were either drummed up by me, or by friends and relatives of mine in an attempt to fill the odd-shaped holes. Anyone out there good at solving mysteries?

About Marian

  • Is Marian is somehow related to Margaret?  A half-sister?  Remember–they have the same last name, and Margaret never really knew her biological father.  Her mother and father were separated and/or divorced (perhaps she wasn’t even married when she gave birth to Margaret at age 18!) when she was just an infant.  Marian and Margaret grew up in the same town.  Marian claims she knows nothing about Margaret or me.  It is unclear whether Margaret knows Marian.

About Margaret

  • It’s clear the story she gave the social workers about my biological father was not true.  It could have been an outright lie to mislead, or she could have simply not known exactly who the father was, so she described several individuals.
  • Why did Margaret’s stepfather “turn her in” and have her arrested?  How and why was he involved to the degree of having her arrested?  I have not mentioned this before, but Margaret’s stepfather was a well-known and recognizable figure in the community where they lived.  He was probably in his late 30’s at the time of Margaret’s pregnancy and arrest–and his wife (Margaret’s mother) was pregnant and about to give birth).  Did he know Margaret was pregnant?  Perhaps he suspected she was pregnant and knew about the drugs and didn’t want Margaret to continue with the drugs while pregnant? I wish I could contact him.  He passed away in 2006.

About Jackson

  • Jackson says he was never arrested.  So who was the man who was arrested with Margaret?  Was that made up, too?  I suppose that was something that Margaret could have told the social workers, but I assumed that they would have checked that fact–the arrest records would have been easy to find and confirm. If they knew his identity, wouldn’t he have to sign the relinquishment papers?  Apparently not.  The information I have simply states, “We have no information about your birthfather following his arrest.”

About “The Deed”

  • How did Jackson and Margaret come to meet and get together?  They lived in the same town, but went to different schools.  Both were obviously exploring the counterculture of the 1960’s via drug use. They most likely knew some of the same people. Obviously, Jackson doesn’t remember knowing her, let alone having some sort of relationship with her (even if it was only a one night stand).  Perhaps there was some sort of coincidental meeting “up North” when Margaret claims to have gone to San Francisco for a short time and Jackson was living and working up in Big Sur (hibernating up in the mountains to detox).
  • Perhaps my aunt was right about there being some sort of traumatic experience that led to Margaret’s pregnancy.  Rape?  Yikes.  I don’t even want to consider that.  I don’t know Jackson very well (hardly at all, actually), but it just doesn’t add up. Of course, Margaret was most likely involved with more than one man (who was she talking about when she described my biological father to the social worker?). Perhaps there was a traumatic incident of some sort and Margaret thought I could possibly be the product of it, and she made up a good portion of the information to hide the awfulness?

I suppose that’s enough conjecture.  Do you have any ideas?

The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.  ~Thomas Szasz, “Personal Conduct,” The Second Sin, 1973

Next up: Something interesting about Margaret.

14 thoughts on “Rewriting The Past

  1. I feel your pain, even though I am not adopted my father is a mystery man I never knew. I too have been told things about my father that DNA has disproven. I cannot understand why anyone would make stuff like that up, but perhaps our mothers or others felt it was better than nothing or the truth? I want you to know you are not alone in this journey.

    • Thank you, Helen. Because of the fact that there are still people alive that KNOW the truth, but won’t tell me, it drives me crazy. I am sorry you are feeling the same thing.

  2. I wish you could get more DNA to help confirm things. From your bio aunt, from Marion…sounds like neither would agree, but it would help a lot (at least you might offer to pay for a 23andme kit to be sent to them both). As for your aunt’s “turn-around,” I think it’s pretty reasonable that she wanted to know what you found out about your bio dad but doesn’t want you putting it out on the internet. It’s your choice, not hers, but I can see why she is making that distinction. I am very glad to hear you’ve changed names in your posts.

    And yeah, I speculated that the pregnancy might have been caused by rape. There is just too much anger in Margaret over your existence (and your bio dad has no memory of her at all). It’s also possible that she was raped about that time and didn’t know if the father of the baby was the rapist or not.

    Either way, there are secrets you don’t know about yet and you might need to promise your aunt to keep some things from your readers in order to learn them (which is okay; you *need* to know this stuff, we are just curious bystanders).

    • Thank you, Cyndi! You are so right. I would love to have more information and would certainly promise to keep sensitive disclosures to myself. Thank you for reading–and understanding!

  3. Your story has me hooked! I know this is a bit far-fetched (but things are not what they seem here)…are you sure Marian didn’t have a child with Jackson that she never told him about? …is it possible that both Margaret and Marian gave birth at approximately the same time, and placed children through the same agency, and in some bizarre mis-handling of paperwork or something else you got the nonID for Margaret’s child, rather than Marian’s? I am confident Margaret did have a child – just not 100% sure that it was you. Unless Marian, Margaret or your aunt were wiling to take a DNA test, a bizarre scenario such as this couldn’t be ruled out.

    • The more I think about it, the more likely something like this is possible. Two women, last name Michaels, from the similar area… if they both had a child around the same time, it’s likely that they would have been adopted out through the same agency.

      Here’s a couple things that I thought of (more as a historian who likes tracking things down than as a person with any experience):
      – request an informational copy of a birth certificate with the mother being Marian Michaels, the baby being female, and the dob of birth the same year that you were adopted (http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Pages/AthorizedCopyvsInformationalCopy.aspx)
      – look for photos of Marian: facebook, old yearbooks, whatever (without asking Jackson for them). Do you or any of your sons look remotely like her? If so, maybe that’s a possibility.
      – your adoption was official when you were two months old, so it’s possible that you could have been switched with another little girl and no one was around to identify the mistake. In which case, your last name may not be Michaels at all but could be someone that Jackson knew back in the day. Do you have any idea of where you were for those two months? It might be possible to find records of little girls that arrived at that location or through that agency between December & February….
      – maybe it’s a total long shot, but you might also put in a request for a birth certificate for Jackson as the father and see if he was identified for a birth around the time of your birthdate.

      Just some thoughts. Best wishes,
      Abigail

  4. There seems to be something really fishy about your maternal side. Have you checked vital records on these folks, and on Marian, to confirm their lack of relationship to each other? Your mom theoretically lied to her mom – maybe she was in on an even bigger lie – taking the fall for Marian.

  5. I am almost sure that your Grandmother who knows nothing of your existence does know deep down of your existence. Without having the actual confession of Margaret or seeing you first hand she holds a denial of your existence. A mother knows without a word or sign. Just as I knew my daughter was pregnant weeks before she even told me. My dreams and thought of “pregnant” consumed my sleeping and awake hours. Not knowing what it meant until four weeks later did I understand what it was all about.

  6. Pingback: An Apology . . . | Adoption: My Truth

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