After my 11 days in Our Lady of Victory and Father Bakers Home, I was brought to my foster home, which would,two years later, become my forever home. My foster parents were white and had four biological children who were at least six years older than me.
The story goes that they all gave their First Communion money to help pay for my adoption. At that time, the Black Social Workers were trying to have the laws changed so that Black children could only be placed with Black families. Also going on at this time, so I was told much later in life by the man everyone was told was my birth father, that Catholic Charities was “shipping little mixed babies to Mexico.” So with all of these dynamics all in play, it is almost miraculous that I ended up where I ended up. Being adopted by this family with their little children pooling their money to help.
For the first two years of my life, we moved about five different than times. I don’t really know why and I never really asked, all I know is that in August 1972, our family settled in Rushford, New York.
This is Rushford
Rushford is a small, all white town in the middle of Allegany County, New York, which is also almost all white. But as a little girl, the whiteness of my environment never seemed like that big of a deal. I just liked living in the middle of the country.
It was about this time that I started asking about being adopted. My mother tells me that she came home one day and one of her kids had told me that it’s not born from her belly. Apparently, this upset me quite a bit. So she asked me if I wanted to pretend that I was born from her belly and I said yes and went away happy. That was that. Life went on in Rushford.
We had cats and chickens, ducks and rabbits and even a couple ponies at one time. Our house was located on a dirt road on top of a hill with no neighbors for about a mile in every direction.
Here’s what it looks like in the back yard.
As a little girl, my days were preoccupied with playing out in the yard- whether it be summer, winter, spring or fall. I loved to be outside. Aside from that, I have no real memories of my early childhood. I don’t know if that’s normal or not. But I do remember that I have always loved cats and chickens and wide open spaces.
This was my cat, Star.
Star was the first cat I remember having. I think she had kittens in my dresser or toy box. I don’t remember what happened to her or her kittens, but I don’t remember having another cat until I was in high school.
My parents’ oldest son kept chickens. I remember every day going out and checked on the eggs. And one day I put them into my pockets to bring them and forgetting they were in there used my hip to push open the front door. What a big mess that was! Lesson learned. But it didn’t deter me from getting chickens now that I am grown and have my own home and my own family.
My kids told me to write about chickens today. They absolutely love our chickens and our cats. I am happy because I am able to provide them with the joys of country living, but in a multi-cultural setting. The unfortunate part of being a transracial adoptee raised in racial isolation is that you often cannot keep hold of the things that you loved as a child.
I could never share my childhood home with my children because I knew what would waiting for them down the line as they grew older. (And I did try but that’s for a different day). However, even with that being said, I am thankful to have experienced the short years of living in the country that I did have because it taught me about who I am and helped me know the perfect place for my family is a perfect mix of country living and multiculturalism.
In end the I can have my cats and chickens and my kids aren’t racially isolated and to me that’s the happy ending. But wait…. I jumped ahead too far, this is just the beginning. From my early childhood came school days and my growing awareness of being different. Hope you will continue on this journey with me.