Little Branches...

Part 1
Page 1 Like the tender little branches find protection from the strong winds, I wanted to give the new little babies a chance for a good start in life. I knew I might not have each baby very long and that reality was my biggest concern. How would I deal with the loss, if I had a baby for several months? How would it effect Carol Ann and would Charles be able to handle the crying that was bound to interrupt his sleep? I decided that I only wanted brand new babies, knowing that their needs were, feed me, change me and hold me. I could do that very well. I thought of my role as a mama bird to her baby birds…. I would be a human nest, but would anybody understand my motives, I thought. The money the welfare would pay us, was not my primary reason. But it was, for other people I had talk to, who take on that kind of a major responsibility. As I recall the interview with the Welfare people, it went very well and I thought they liked us right from the start. The questions they ask were not hard to answer, and the bottom line was, how soon could we bring a new baby to your home? Of course they needed to come out and make an inspection. No problem for us. We had prepared for this intrusion and Charles was just as excited as I was. Carol Ann was telling all her little friends and I knew they were envious. I was told that they would furnish baby clothes, all medical expenses, and there would be regular visits with a welfare worker. "We better buy a baby crib, Charles said" and what about bottles, Carol Ann said, we will need all that kind of stuff too"…Yea! You guys are really thinking, so it's all settled, I'll go next week and get everything we need. It was hard to keep this excitement under control and I wanted to let my girl friends know about my plans and how different things were going to be around our house. Along with these changes, were frequent visits with Beck. He was very lonely and started coming over two to three times a week. Poor guy, he acted so lost and I didn't know how to relate to him. So we just watched TV until he would leave to go home to the empty little garage house. It wasn't long until he quit coming around and when we went out to visit him, I was greeted at the door by a stranger. She looked to be around fifty years old and her two teen age daughters were peering out from behind the bathroom door."I would like to pick up some of mom's things, I told Beck" He looked at me funny and I couldn't wait to get out of there…. I never went back and Beck disappeared into the past. I put the experience along with the other pain and gave it to Sarah…. Several weeks later I heard that the lady was an old friend from Beck's past and had read about Mom's death in the paper. She contacted Beck and then just moved in, lock, stock and barrel.

"Don't worry about it, she will help Beck get over the loss and everything will be just find, Charles said, who knows, they might even get married" For the next few nights, I went to sleep, thinking about another little baby…. Behind the silence. Page 2 Altogether, I had five babies and one little three-year-old girl, named Tressa. Each baby was totally different. The first baby, Danny, was tiny and very cute. A little boy with a pug nose like a button. Then came Big John…he weighed eleven pounds and his hands and feet were huge, he had no hair, and he took his formula in big gulps. But then, he slept better for long periods of time then any of the other ones. Little Mary Lynn was a real beauty. She was seven months old when they brought her to us. She had big brown eyes, olive skin and light brown hair that was in ringlets after her bath. As always with each new baby, we were given a brief history of the mother but not the father. The reason for that was the mother didn't want to reveal who he was, or just didn't know. With Mary Lynn, we were told that her mother was a schoolteacher, around thirty years old and she couldn't continue with her teaching career and take care of her baby, so the choice to give her up was necessary. This beautiful little girl was tested for her IQ and she was in the very high level. Also, she was completely potty trained, could turn the light switch on and off. She was not with us for very long and secretly I envied her new parents. It was a big surprise when we were told by our social worker that they needed a special home for a little baby boy, who had been left on a church door step, and she would be coming to take Mary Lynn to her permanent home. I had just read about it in the newspaper only 2 days earlier. I didn't know just what to expect but I told Charles and Carol Ann the news and they were sad to know we were losing Mary Lynn, but excited about the new one coming. Shocking, is the best word to describe my immediate reaction, when I opened the door to see an officer holding a bundle in his arms. The social worker introduced him and she took the bundle from his arms and placed him in mine….."He has no name, she said, so we have been calling him "Little Tony", because we have found out that his mother is Mexican and we are not sure, but his father may be Negro. When I lifted the blanket and saw this little abandon baby, tears come to my eyes. Oh God please let me give this little one the best care I can. Very little information was available about Tony except they knew his nervous system was not developed and possibly, he had been exposed to drugs. For the next few weeks, we hovered over Tony like brand new parents do with their first child. We all took turns feeding him, and Charles didn't say a word about his dark skin. He looked more Negro then Mexican. When I took him out with me to the market or drug store, I could see strange stares from people in the check out line. Cute baby, is he yours? Or how old is THE baby? And one lady just come right out and ask if my baby was BLACK. We became very attached to Little Tony. After his bath, I would put him on our big bed and hold him by feet, raising his legs up and down real gentle and sing to him. I gave him the nickname of "Loving Spoonful"…Someday, your going to break some girl's heart, I thought. At two months old, I felt it was safe to take Tony to church with us. His feeding and sleeping hab-

its were good and I could leave him in the nursery. Everything went well and I took him every Sunday after that. We had him for about three months and for weeks after they took him; we talked about him and how much we loved him. "Lets not get another baby for a while", Charles and Carol Ann said. I agreed and it very quite around the dinner table. Charles went to work and Carol Ann went to school. I made a matching mother and daughter outfit for Carol Ann and I……. Page 3 The kids in the neighbor were growing by leaps and bounds as was Carol Ann. She was active in school sports and took part in church programs. I remember watching her fix her hair and of course every hair had to be just perfect. She's just like me, I thought. Summer was getting close. Soon the weather would start changing and I looked forward to another vacation. What about going up the coast, I mentioned one Saturday morning? Sounds great to me Charles said in his usual matter a fact way. When the phone rang, Carol Ann raced to get it as her girl friends picked Saturday to call so they could make plans for the beach or some other place exciting…. But, this time, the call was of an entirely different nature. "Mom, it's the social worker and she sounds excited, wants to talk with you" The voice on the other end was slightly low and I wasn't sure if I recognized it. "We were like to know if you and your husband would be interested in taking into your home, a little three year old girl. Her name is Tressa". The words were music to my ears. The women went on to tell me that this little girl had some problems and we would need to come into their office to talk with them and then later they would set up a time for us to meet Tressa. "Let me tell a little bit about this little girl" the social worker said…. Tressa's parents are not her biological parents. She was Tressa adopted as a baby from a local doctor, a friend of the family. Not long after, they were told they could also adopt a little boy who was also born to the same mother…. But had a different father. The same doctor assisted in this exchange. Problems developed between Tressa's adoptive mom and Tressa. The mom was very strict and made Tressa sit for long periods at the table…. Along with spankings and other types of abuse until there was a personality clash and the decision was made…."Either she (Tressa) goes or I go" was what the mom told her husband. It was settled, the mom brought Tressa in and just gave her up…. Period. That meeting lasted all morning and we were told that we could come back the following Saturday and meet Tressa, and take her back home with us. When we walked in the room, Tressa was throwing books and some toys across the room. I had brought along a little baby doll and when I gave it to her, she slung it half way across the room and it bounced up against the door. I looked at Charles and he gave me a funny…. Oh shit look and sat down on the big sofa. I thought for a minute he was going to yell, "lets get the hell out of here" but he didn't

Finally, we got her calmed down, gathered her things together and headed for home. She was quite for a little bit and then she started singing. We were speechless and I couldn't wait to see how Carol Ann would react to this wild child that we brought home to love and help adjust to a new mommy and daddy and sister. Many adjustments would have to be made, not with Carol Ann, nor with Charles, but with me. I had to make decisions about many things and I knew it would take a lot of patience on my part to adjust to a three year old sassy little girl who at times was very hateful and later very loving. I ask God to help me…..and he did. Page 4 As time went bye, we got more information about our new little brilliant three-year-old. Her one physical problem was a major concern of the Adoption Agency. We had been told about her one missing ear but we didn't get details about what she would need to have done in the future. For us, this was not hard to deal with because there was perfect hearing in the right ear. After she had been examined by the Agency's doctors, the diagnoses was positive that hearing channel was not permanently closed and later, with the proper operation, it could be opened and an artificial ear could be grafted on…thank God for the promise of this possibility. Our routine was fairly smooth, with lots of giggling and tickling. Tressa loved to play in the den while I sewed. I gave her little pieces of material and she pinned them together for clothes that she put on her baby doll. She memorized words to songs better then an adult. I marveled at her concentration level. When I told her about putting some curlers in her hair, she added her own words to mine, turning my five words into a long sentence. "Ok mudder, (her name for mother) put some curlers in my hair, so I can be pretty like you, and then we can go to the store and buy candy for sister and me. I had decided to keep the baby crib in our bedroom and let Tressa sleep in it. She never climbed out, but she could have. I believe she was told not to without permission from her adoptive mom. She would play with her doll when she woke up early, and there was a strange routine she went through that I watched as I choked back the tears…..She would spank her doll, saying over and over, bad girl, bad girl, and then she would hug her doll and rock back and forth. Early one morning I woke up before she did and just laid in bed for a while. She woke up and moved the blankets around to make a place for her doll to lay. Suddenly, she reached down and picked the doll up, kissed it and hugged it and began to sing, "Happy Birthday to You"……. She NEVER spanked her doll again. My trips to the doctor were becoming more and more frequent. And to add to the pain of the long drive to Pasadena, I had to take Tressa, which was hard to control when other kids were in the waiting room. I was a nervous wreck by the time I got back home. I lost my temper a couple of times and spanked her, which I felt so bad about. We took our vacation early and headed up the coast to Pismo Beach. The weather was great and we all had our bathing suits on by nine o'clock every morning. Charles had a ball with all the kids on the beach. He was so handsome and he knew it.

Carol Ann's two little dogs', Cokey and Tina, were Tressa's playmates when Carol Ann was in school. We had a large back yard, all fenced in and she would run from one end of the yard to the other, while they chased her. I can still see her with her little cowboy hat on which she sometimes refused to take off when she took a nap. Charles and I talked about adopting her and we decided to look into the possibility. When we took Tressa in for a routine check up, we also had a conference with the Adoption Agency people. It was impossible to adopt her because we were not catholic. This was a requirement written in her personal folder. She must be placed in a home where the parents would raise her up in the Catholic faith. "Well, we tried, but it doesn't make sense to me" Charles said as we pulled out of the parking lot. "I think they are full of shit and I may go back and tell them so sometime". Charles and Tressa My silence was familiar to me. I wondered about this strange rule but I knew that they had to follow it too the letter. Page 5 As time went by, I think Tressa adjusted very well to us and showed less and less signs of frustration. She loved her bath, and played make believe with her dolls. She would pretend to be their mommy and read them stories from her books. When Charles came home, she ran to him hollering "Daddy, come see what I made today" and I could see the close bond that was forming as he picked her up in his arms. I think there was a tinge of jealousy with Carol Ann. She was becoming a young lady and whenever she needed help, she turned to me, and not her dad. It was going to be hard for all of us when the time would come for Tressa to make the change to new parents, and I knew it that time would be soon. It was late afternoon when the call came. "We have a family that would like to adopt Tressa and of course we will need to let them meet with her as soon as possible."…"I will give you all the details when I come to take Tressa to the park on her first visit with them". …."Can you have her ready, say, around ten in the morning"?…." I will explain to her about who these people are, why we are taking her with us and that she will be coming back home to you until the next visit". Don't worry about a thing, we will make this as easy on all of you, as possible, were her final words. I sat down and let it all sink in and told myself it would be fine. Be mature, no tears, at least in front of Tressa. But really, down deep inside, I wanted to scream. ……When is there light at the end of the tunnel for my desire to hold on to what doesn't belong to me. Somebody else had taken what belonged to me, and the pain was forever coming up into my heart. That night I cried and I knew it would happen again tonight. Charles and Carol Ann were so happy to know that Tressa would never have to go from family to family and what made it even better, was the fact that her new parents already had a little boy

Page 6 "Lets get your things together, Tressa, and put them in your wagon, that way, we can pull it to the door. Your new mommy and daddy will be here today and they are very excited about you becoming their new little girl". We went from room to room, gathering up books, dolls, and her little tennis shoes that were sitting by the back door. Toothbrush and favorite blanket were clutched in her little arms. I sat her up on the living room couch and put my arms around her and began the heartbreaking good bye that I had rehearsed. "Now listen sweetheart, we want you to always remember that WE love you very much", and when you go to sleep in your new little bed tonight, you say your prayers, just like I taught you" Ok? I told her how much her new parents loved her and wanted her to be their new little girl because they didn't have a little girl to love. She clung to her doll and rocked it back and forth. Like a piercing siren, I heard the doorbell ring. "Hello Treesa, your brother is waiting in the park, do you have all your things ready?" I remember the social worker's words as if it were yesterday. Tressa turn around pointing to her wagon and with one big swoop, I grabbed her up in my arms and gave her a big hug. "Bye Mudder, I got to go to my new mommy and daddy". And she put her hand to her mouth and through kisses as she skipped down the sidewalk to the waiting car. I watched through the curtains, as they drove away and out of sight. I stood frozen behind the door and sobbed…………..Behind the silence.

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