Today, May 29th, would have been the wedding anniversary of my adoptive parents, Richard and Reva Beard. Eighty-five years ago, they created a bond that lasted their lifetimes and resulted in my orphaned self landing in a wonderful home.
OK. I was adopted at age five. and you’d think I’d be over it by now. Yes, in many ways I am happy and grateful to have been raised by Richard and Reva Beard.
The two Ohio natives, Richard and Reva, married right before Richard was drafted to serve as clinical psychologist in WWII’s China-Burma-India theater. After Dad ended his 18-month overseas stint, were finally able to adopt. Instead of the envisioned newborn baby, they took on five-year-old me and my 17-month-old brother Johnny. My original mom, Velma, had been abandoned by her sailor husband after the war ended. She, in turn, deserted my brother and me, leaving us alone, then in a series of foster homes. It was a dismal beginning to life.
When along came Richard and Reva. Johnny and I were “the chosen ones.” We went from rags to riches, both materially and psychologically. We were given every advantage that Dad, on a college professor’s salary, could afford. A downside was that Richard couldn’t talk about my life before adoption. As young adult author Cornelia Funke said “In lieu of facts, fantasy rushes in.” I imagined that I was somehow to blame for my original mother giving me up. Either I wasn’t good enough or she was a monster. Either extreme was uncomfortable. And of both extremes were not true. The circumstances were just that. Circumstances. Many adoptions, I’ve learned, happened after WWII. One report stated that after Armistice Day, in the U.S. alone there were 150,000 children needing placement. Lucky for my brother and me, we landed in a good place.
For my version of what it was like growing up in an age of mostly closed adoptions, check out my autobiographical book, The Goodbye Baby- Adoption Diaries (available from Amazon). Whenever I asked about my “other mother,” no one could say a word). The silence might have been a sign of the times, the 1950s. Certain unpleasant topics were, to use a metaphor, swept under the rug.
Four decades after I asked about my birthmother, I was able to meet her. For many reasons, it was not a rewarding reunion. Of course it was good to meet that original parent, but it was verification I needed. My adoptive parents were and are indeed, the REAL PARENTS.
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