I literally can't remember when I first learned that Mother and Dad weren't my birth parents--it was just something I knew.
Mother and Dad always said that they brought me home when I was three days old because they wanted me so badly. Originally they had been scheduled to adopt a different child but as soon as Dad saw me in my crib at Quintard Hospital he told Mother, "That's our baby!" and started crying.
Fortunately they were able to make the switch.*
[From my personal collection]
Mother and Dad then went about formally adopting me and I always believed that they had done so. However, that wasn't what happened and I didn't learn the truth until I needed my birth certificate to apply for a marriage license. Mother had to produce it then and the name at the top was "Baby Girl Slater" not Patricia Ann Currey as I expected. Explanations were needed.
It turned out that the State of California had denied their petition to adopt me, giving two reasons: First, my birth mother hadn't signed the final release papers, and second, the welfare worker handling the case didn't consider the Currey household a suitable place for a baby. Part of the reason was the relatively advanced age of the Curreys (45 which was old for the time) but mostly because they were still bereaved by the loss of their only child who had been killed during an air raid over Tokyo in 1945 and whose remains had not yet been identified.
The Curreys hired a lawyer who was able to trace my biological mother to Iowa and furnished her married name.**
[From my personal collection]
But then as far as I know the Curreys didn't pursue my adoption any farther. and except for a home visit when I was about two years old from a different welfare worker responding to a false report that I was being abused,*** I remained with the Curreys until I got married in 1966.
Imagine the distress Mother and Dad had to have felt over the years--they had a child whom they loved very much but I could have been taken away from them at any time and they would have had no legal recourse.
That situation certainly had its effect on me--not only were the Curreys over-protective of me, it was the sole reason I was sent to St. Rita's School and later to Rosary High School. The public school would have demanded my birth certificate before I entered kindergarten but the Mother and Dad were able to explain the situation to the Catholic school principal who was more understanding.
When I applied for my first passport in 2005 the information I had at hand wasn't sufficient and I applied for a court order to un-seal my adoption papers so I've seen the official file.****
*That little girl became the daughter of the woman who was arranging these private adoptions. Mother and Dad stayed in touch with the family over the years and I always was aware of how we came to know them.
**Mother gave me this letter right after she handed me my birth certificate. Of course having this information was enormously helpful when Christine began her search for my biological parents.
***The visitor warned (off the record) that the complaint had come from someone close by and Mother blamed one of her sisters-in-law who had openly resented my presence in the family. (This part of the story was known to me from the beginning also.)
****And I was able to convince the U.S. State Department to issue my passport.
© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.