Bernice Dittmer 1989
It was my maternal adoptive grandmother who first made a big fuss over our Azaelas when she visited me in Missouri in 1989. She wanted her picture taken with some. She grew up in this state a bit further to the west. When my oldest son was born, I began a tradition of Mother’s Day photos with my sons among the Wild Azaelas. Yesterday, I saw my first blooming bush so there should be some still in bloom come Mother’s Day later this month.
As you can see, even in old age, my grandmother was a stylish woman. She adopted my mom and her brother from Georgia Tann, who became embroiled in a state investigation shortly before her death. Initially, it was simply that she was overcharging adoptive families and pocketing the extra money but as time went on, it became clear there were much worse accusations of exploitation of the adoptees original parents.
I received my mom’s adoption file from the state of Tennessee in October of 2017. My mom had tried and was denied in the early 1990s before the laws changed but no one told her when that happened and so she died knowing nothing about her origins. She had said to me that as a mother herself, she would have wanted to know what happened to her child but when she was trying to get her file, she was told that her mother had already died. The end of her hopes for a reunion were the reality.
Georgia Tann lied to my adoptive grandmother about my mother’s origins. That is plain in the record (which thankfully is mostly accurate except for some fudging about my mom’s original parents that was decidedly not true). It also seems that my adoptive grandmother got her children according to her exact specifications and I think it is likely that she paid for them in some manner.
Like many adoptive parents, she was very happy to have children and become a family. When she visited me in 1989, the story she told me was still not accurate. My mom was already 52 years old by that time.