The Baby Thief

Frances Irene Moore age 6 mos

 I have started to re-read The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond.  I first read this in late March 2016, after returning home from beginning the task of closing out my deceased parents’ estate.  I had known since a young age that my mom’s adoption was sourced from the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis but I knew nothing about the scandal that was Georgia Tann.  I would not have my mom’s adoption file until late October 2017.

At the time, it was hard reading because many of the stories were much worse than the outcome for my mother and her brother.  They were fortunate ones.  My grandparents loved them and were good to us as their grandchildren.

Look at my mom.  That is not an abused child.  She is healthy, almost fat with infancy’s chubbiness.  Well-fed it could be said.  Her mother had taken good care of her.  My grandmother was not unwed.  However, her husband left her 4 mos pregnant and did not respond when my grandmother reached out to him when my mom was not even yet 3 mos old.

For the life of me, I don’t understand.  He seems like a good man.  And yeah, I know he was poor and had other children he was struggling to support.  But what happened between them?  He didn’t even divorce her for 3 years and by then my mom was out of reach and her adoption had been finalized.

And my great-grandfather denied them shelter in the childhood family home.  It is said he resented her marriage.  I would guess what he resented was my grandfather leaving her 4 mos pregnant.

My desperate grandmother fell into the well-connected Georgia Tann’s trap when she sought temporary care for my mom at the storied Porter-Leath orphanage.  She was trying so hard to find a way to support the two of them on her own with few skills.  Tears form in my eyes just thinking about all of this.