I wrote a version of this in an e-mail to my church . . . they have been asking for pictures of people with their adoptive families, and while I am not necessarily the poster child for “isn’t adoption great?”, I thought I would show an uncharacteristic level of gratitude for once and say something GOOD about my childhood. but I liked what I wrote in that e-mail about the baptism thing and decided to tweak it here for your reading pleasure . . .
May 9, 1970. I was almost 4 months old and had been with my adoptive parents for just over two weeks. Because we were Roman Catholic, this was a dedication ceremony (I still have the book that the priest is reading out of in the picture) and not my “baptism”. THAT had happened in what I could only imagine as, and would later describe as “a room full of nuns”, as I was baptized when I was a few days old by the adoption agency, the Catholic Home Bureau. I had thought about the nuns a lot, but hadn’t realized until I wrote this earlier tonight that it was probably very much of a “mass production” type of operation, me along with who knows how many other little bastard children being given the Sacrament of baptism as quickly as possible, so as to save our nameless little heathen souls . . . what is it like to be ushered into God’s covenant in a room full of strangers? to be dedicated to God in a place where there is no human present who is dedicated to you? I feel sad for that tiny baby, surrounded by all those nuns . . . but this day was different, and there were people who loved me present–I have the pictures to prove it. My godparents, Steve & Irene, were/are great people–my Aunt Irene especially (can’t you tell that by her fabulous hair and dress?! LOL) . . . she was truly a godly woman (she had almost become a nun!) and was a beautiful example to me of unconditional love, something that I found to be in short supply when I was a kid . . .
and this is me, since you can’t see my face in the other picture, with our dog at the time, Flash. Over the next eighteen years, my mother and brothers never missed an opportunity to remind me that “we had to give Flash away because YOU cried”. do I already look appropriately guilty in this picture? I was trying to do it right . . . or maybe that look on my face is really saying, “I’m terrified of this ferocious dog and screw all of you if you want to spend the rest of your lives wishing you’d sent ME back instead!!!” only problem with that second theory is that he doesn’t LOOK all that ferocious . . . the rest of the theory is solid, however, since my mother pretty much TOLD me when I was 15 that she wished she could have sent me back . . .
(I am apparently in the “poor me” mood . . . I think I’d better go to bed now before someone thinks I’m bitter or something . . . )
maybe I am just way too much of a Freudian . . .
but is it just me, or does this picture speak volumes about our respective roles in my family of origin?
I love my brother Kevin (the King of Hearts)–even to this day, he is a great guy and he has been a great brother–but he was obviously the star . . . and my brother Michael? a bum, apparently (and yes, that’s what they told him, how they made him feel, and what they STILL think of him). and I’m just raggedy . . . cute as all get-out, but still raggedy . . .
the entry in my baby book reads, “you won two prizes for your costume” . . . really, it was my MOTHER who “won”. any creative thing I won as a child, I always felt like such a fraud because SHE was the one who had done all of the work.
the outfit I’m wearing is the actual clothing of a life-sized Raggedy Ann doll that my fabulous gay uncle had given me for Christmas the year before . . . of course, I didn’t know he was fabulously gay until about 15 years after this picture was taken . . .
thanks for joining me on memory lane. come back again soon!!!