Dirty Little Secrets

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Dirty Little Secrets

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Posted: 9/18/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My whole life, I felt like a dirty little secret. When I was six months old my mother left me and my older brother and sister. She just abandoned us one day and I have grown up without even an image in my mind of what she looks like. I have always imagined that she went off to another state and reinvented her life. I imagine that she got remarried, had another family, and forgot all about us. Not a soul has ever come looking for us, so I figure she must be either living happily ever after, or dead.

Being abandoned makes you feel like trash, unwanted, unworthy, and ignored. Since I was just a baby, I often wondered if I cried too much, or ate too much, or if somehow I was the straw that broke the camel's back. A part of my life has a huge gaping hole in it. I won't be able to move on until I know why she abandoned us. Why didn't she come back? This is something I need to do to satisfy my conscience.

After she left, my older siblings tried to take care of us. Whenever neighbors asked where our mom was, they always said she had gone to the grocery store and would be right back, or she was inside taking a nap. After a few days the food ran out and we hadn't changed our clothes, so a neighbor called the Department of Children and Families. We were placed in an orphanage for over a year, until finally a relative on my dad's side came looking for us and eventually adopted us.

All we know about our mother is that her name was Sandra Good-Allred. She was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. When she left us we lived in Los Banos, California. It was 1964, and she was supposedly married to my dad in Reno, Nevada the year before I was born. He split right before she did, so it's not like he's around to answer all our questions. It's rumored that my mom's father owned Bush Canneries in Oklahoma City at one time, and she had two brothers.

With this information, my brother, sister, and I researched different companies, and finally decided that Search Quest America was our best bet. I called and submitted our information in August of last year. I worked with Julie and she found my birth family on September 10th. First, Julie found out her real name was Sandra Dashiell. Then, she located her still in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but found that she died in June of 1996. What happened between 1964 and 1996? She was married to a man by the name of Wesley in 1966 in Fresno. This was just two years after she left us. From this marriage, my half-sister Kellie was born in 1969. Kellie lives in Yukon, Oklahoma.

When Julie first contacted my sister, we expected Kellie to be dumfounded, maybe even skeptical about us. In fact, Kellie shouted with excitement and screamed "My sister finally found me!" It turns out that she always knew she had a brother and two sisters she had never met. She even knew our names were Dougie, Lori, and Tina. She said the family talked about us often and have looked for us many times over the years. From her tears and excitement, it was clear we were never forgotten and we were never a dirty little secret, as I had imagined. To my surprise, Kellie is one of five half-siblings we will have the opportunity to get to know. I called Kellie back right away and it has been such an emotional, heartwarming experience to learn that I have always been loved and wanted, and that our being taken away was the single event in our mother's life that she has lived every day trying to make up for.

In 1964, after my birth, my mother suffered from postpartum depression, a diagnosis that was never official, as studies of postpartum depression came much later. She was overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, being overwhelmed, socially withdrawn, and anxious. Although I will never have the chance to speak with her one on one and hear the why's from her, my siblings tell me that she was truly suffering and felt she was a danger to us. She wasn't thinking clearly at the time, and when she came back to find us, we had already been removed and she was not able to get through all the red tape to get us back. Although I can't excuse her for her actions or her absence, I can accept that she was suffering and irrational at the time, and did not intend to abandon us forever. I also truly believe that she looked for us, and based on how she told our siblings about us, I believe she loved us and hoped to be reunited with us someday.

This knowledge has changed my perspective 180 degrees. Understanding why she left helps me lay all my doubts and fears to rest and try to move forward with my life. I am grateful that I have so many siblings to get to know, and that the rest of our family has also welcomed us home. This has been a journey of discovery for me, and I want to thank everyone who had a hand in making it possible. This might not be a perfect story, but it's my story.

Written by Mica Burton on Tina's behalf.

Client ID#277294
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