Unless I Truly Try

Persistence really does make all the difference in some situations. On Sunday night, my family had a lesson in persistence. We’ve been playing Scrabble on Sunday nights and are finding while it causes our night to run late, the whole family becomes engaged and some of the problematic issues we were encountering trying to watch videos as a family are now gone. We’ve been playing with the tiny board with lock in pieces meant for traveling rather than the large, more traditional board. That small footprint works out well on our cluttered dining room table.

But on Sunday night, my youngest son dropped his piece holder. Most of the pieces stayed on the floor but improbably one piece went bouncing down the stairs to the basement. We looked forever, everywhere, and discussed giving up and playing with one piece missing. However, my son could not accept that. He suggested sending another piece down the stairs to try and determine what happened with the missing piece. I thought for certain we’d end up with two pieces missing. We didn’t lose the second piece but it did show us the missing piece probably didn’t go very far from the stairs. It was then my youngest son, who was definitely the cause of this crazy situation and very upset by knowing that, saw the piece on the floor right under the lowest stair. How we all missed that is something to wonder at. His persistence made all the difference. That word has been on my mind as a writer and I even have a book in our library with that title that I haven’t read.

Today’s story involves the persistent effort of a transracial, internationally sourced adoptee.

I have paperwork from my closed international adoption. The thing is, for many of us, we don’t know how accurate or truthful our information is. I have names of both birth parents and in 2017, I searched my birth mom’s name on Facebook out of curiosity. It was a little tricky because her name is in English but I needed to translate and search it in Hangul. A couple profiles popped up and one of them had pictures. The woman and I share so many physical similarities. So I debated and agonized over whether or not I message or friend request her. I did both. Nothing.

4 years later, I decide to try again. I messaged her this time in Hangul hoping it would help. I’ve been learning Korean since February this year in hopes of being able to communicate. I also changed my profile name to include my Korean birth name in Hangul. This was in March, still nothing. I don’t have the option to friend request her again. I know I can go through other channels to find my birth mom but I’m so discouraged already. It takes so much out of me just to even make the choice to take action. Plus, if this woman is my birth mom and I contact her through other channels, she may deny me anyway.

I know I’ll never know unless I truly try. I know I can’t and shouldn’t assume anything. I know it’ll eat away at me if I don’t eventually do this. I just wish it wasn’t this hard, scary, expensive, confusing, terrifying, and frustrating. My reality is that right now, I wish I wasn’t adopted.

One very good suggestion was this – Have you joined any Facebook groups for ex-pats in Korea? I live in Korea right now and I see people posting in the ex-pat groups looking for information about original families or unknown fathers, there’s enough people in those groups that maybe some information can turn up.

I know that in my own adoption search efforts (both parents were adopted) it did take some degree of persistence and I did not have the international complications to deal with. However, my paternal grandmother was unwed and went to a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers to give birth to my dad. His original birth certificate does not name the father. Thankfully, my grandmother left me breadcrumbs – both in the name she gave my dad and in a little headshot photo with his father’s name on the back. And I did go into some dead ends. My breakthrough came through Find A Grave and his second marriage step-daughter. She confirmed the headshot was the man she knew.

Then, DNA matching really completed the task, even connecting me to Danish relatives still living in that country who had no idea my paternal grandfather had any children. So, a task that seemed unlikely to succeed at first, eventually brought me knowledge of all 4 original grandparents – even against what seemed like daunting odds at first.

Without My Brother

When I first saw this image, I thought of my Aunt Daisy. I don’t think she knew about my dad until after her mother had died. Her older sister did. My cousin, who is the daughter of that older sister is how I came by pictures of my grandmother holding my dad and one of him when he was a toddler.

When my Aunt Daisy’s daughter discovered me thanks to 23 and Me, her first question was – is your dad still alive ? Sadly I had to tell her no. In fact my Aunt Daisy was living only 90 miles away from my dad in the very same state at the time he died. Such a pity. I see him in her photos.

I am told my paternal grandmother never really got over “losing” my dad to adoption. It certainly wasn’t her intention to give him up. His father was a married man, still un-naturalized as a citizen at the time my dad was conceived, having immigrated from Denmark. I would guess my grandmother never told him – IF she even was still in contact with him at the time. But without a doubt, she did know who his father was and it is thanks to her own effort to leave us breadcrumbs that I know who my dad’s father was. She quietly handled her pregnancy through the Salvation Army home for unwed mothers at Ocean Beach CA. It was such an appropriate birth. My dad, a Pisces, the son of a Danish fisherman, who himself was in love with fishing and the ocean. Their resemblance to one another makes it unmistakable and lately, my reconnecting with Danish relatives still living in Denmark due to our shared genes is the proof, that didn’t exist back in the day. She obtained employment with the Salvation Army and migrated with my dad in tow to El Paso Texas, where she was pressured to give him up for adoption at 8 months old.

My slightly increased risk of breast cancer probably comes from my paternal grandmother. The day she was due to be released from the hospital after surgery for breast cancer, she suffered a fatal heart attack. I have a smidgeon of Ashkenazi Jew which I suspect comes from my paternal side – if not my grandmother, then my Danish grandfather.

It still amazes me that after over 60 years totally clueless in the dark, I know so much about my family origins. Never would I have predicted that such a possibility would actually become real.

Abortion Prevents Adoptions

I once had an abortion. The timing of my pregnancy was all wrong (and significant drug use was taking place), the father to be all wrong (not interested), the progression of the pregnancy was all wrong (see drug use above) as breakthrough bleeding was occurring. My sister-in-law gave birth to a son with severe birth defects. While I cannot know if her desperate attempts to hide her high school, out of wedlock, pregnancy played a role, it could have. I know when my first husband discovered I was pregnant at a time when he had an active case of hepatitis (most likely also drug related) he feared our child would be compromised. I stuck with that pregnancy and she is as close to perfect as any of us are (we do all have our individual health related challenges in life).

So, I was grateful for the ability to have a safe and clean, medically provided, mental health counseling included before the procedure, abortion at Reproductive Services in El Paso Texas in the mid-1970s. Honestly, it has haunted me. Not because I think it was the wrong decision but because abortion is such a contentious issue. For a long time, I didn’t tell anyone I had had one.

I am old enough now that whether abortion was outlawed or not, it would not affect me personally. I am wise enough to think, instead of trying to control women’s bodies, men could choose to control their own. For one by not promiscuously pursuing sex. Young men could be given vasectomies that are reversible when they become mature enough to be responsible as fathers. That’s a winning option in my perspective.

I loved the passion in Paxton Smith’s speech because I see my own self when I was that age. I have always been an outspoken person. I loved to debate the boys in my Algebra class in high school (I also had a coach for Geometry class who made it more understandable). I gave impassioned speeches at pep rallies on occasion. I am still outspoken as anyone who follows my Facebook page surely knows. Paxton has said the most meaningful reactions to her speech have come from concerned fathers who fear for their own daughters’ futures.

Paxton Smith had pre-written a speech on how TV and media have shaped her worldview, which had been approved by school administrators. But when it came time to address the graduating class of Lake Highlands high, she switched course. Her nervous emotions are plain to see before they reach that level of impassioned anger. I recognize how that feels.

Texas’s new “heartbeat” measure ranks among the most extreme abortion bans in the US, blocking the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy – before many women and girls even know they’re pregnant. The bill, due to come into force in September, doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest and allows private citizens to enforce its provisions through what could be a torrent of expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.

Abortion or Pro-Life issues are the hot button for evangelical Christians. It is not lost on me, what the Salvation Army in El Paso Texas told me when I was researching my dad’s adoption through them – they had to close down their homes for unwed mothers (a method of channeling infants to prospective adoptive parents) after Roe v Wade passed because there were simply not enough clients to keep the enterprise going. Another factor is the societal acceptance of single mothers – I know more than one who is doing a fantastic job raising their children – both genders included in this number. I don’t know if the Salvation Army took “donations” from prospective adoptive parents in exchange for infants but it would not surprise me if they did. Adoption is a lucrative business at any level of charitable intent.

Evangelical Christians are very interested in taking heathen babies and converting them to the faith. True, it may simply be emotional, adorable baby feelings that they think causes them to be against abortion and Pro-Life. However, just like Mitch McConnell’s nefarious agenda for our government’s institutions, the powers that be in the Christian hierarchy seek to increase the number of the faithful in part through adoption.

A Necessity ?

Over time, I have come to understand that there are so many problems with adoption that generally speaking I am not in favor of the practice. I am pro-family preservation and anti-unnecessary adoption. I believe that most adoptions are not necessary.

What are the answers to such questions as – “what would happen if there weren’t adoptive parents?” and “what if no one adopted.”

Babies are highly in demand and sought after. There are 40 waiting hopeful adoptive parents to every ONE expectant mother/baby.

Looking at it as a business person, I know the dynamics of supply vs demand. This is real reason a domestic infant costs so much to adopt. This is why, if you are wanting to adopt, you often have to wait YEARS for a baby.

The honest truth is – these babies aren’t “in need.” They won’t age out of foster care. They won’t grow up with “nowhere to go.”

Adopting these babies isn’t helping anyone except the couple wanting a baby to adopt. Seeking to adopt an infant in the United States is always a 100% selfish desire.

Most of these original mothers relinquish their babies for purely FINANCIAL reasons. If they had more money/support/resources they would keep their child.

A woman who simply doesn’t want her baby is RARE.

The babies you are seeking to “save” don’t need to be adopted. They have a mom and extended family. These family only need financial support (and sometimes treatment for emotional issues and even professional services) and they could stay together.

Most newborns end up placed for adoption because of a TEMPORARY situation that feels like a permanent obstacle.

In Australia, where women (and families generally) are supported. Overall adoption numbers have declined 50% over the past 25 years— from 668 in 1995–96 to 334 in 2019–20. Adoption rates have steadily declined since 2004–05, with 2019–20 marking the 15th consecutive year of decline.

Compare this to adoption in the US where it is a major industry. About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year.  62% of babies in domestic infant adoptions were placed with their adoptive families within a month of birth.

While there truly isn’t a shortage of children to adopt (if someone is determined to do so), there is an acknowledged shortage of babies/toddlers available for adoption. With reproductive freedom for women (yes, the availability of birth control and abortion) and the end of social stigma for single mothers (I know more than one), this is the cause of a shortage of infants available for adoption. A large supply is never coming back. When I was seeking to know more about my dad’s adoption, the Salvation Army told me they had closed their unwed mother’s homes because there wasn’t enough demand to sustain them.

There are over 100,000 children currently in foster care right now, who are available for adoption. Their parents’ rights have already been terminated. Those kids NEED homes but many will age out of foster care because most prospective adoptive parents want babies. Many children in foster care actually do WANT to be adopted. They seek stability, which they will never have in foster care.

The Baby Saver

Debbe Magnusen CEO Project Cuddle

I don’t know, I have conflicting feelings about this woman (she signs her own self as The Baby Saver on a post I saw) and her organization, Project Cuddle. On the one hand, she has found her calling and who can argue with saving a baby in danger of being abandoned ? On the other hand, it is a method of being something like an adoption agency, who doesn’t identify themselves as such, who doesn’t sell babies but seeks donations to fund their organization.

They have Rescue Families not adoptive parents. Their official line is this – We are not an adoption agency or facilitator. We charge nothing to the girls who come to us seeking assistance nor to our vetted “Rescue Families”. We are a non-profit charity. Our only goal is to help each girl or woman make safe, legal decisions regarding their pregnancy and subsequent baby.

They don’t pick babies up from dumpsters. Project Cuddle says – We help frightened girls and women find safe and legal alternatives for their baby’s future, so that abandonment need never happen. A girl or woman will never have to leave a baby in a dumpster, at a church, lying in some back alley, or anywhere else for that matter.

In day’s of yore, they might have been referred to as a home for unwed mothers, much like the Door of Hope that my paternal grandmother went to in Ocean Beach CA – after she discovered she was pregnant and that her boyfriend was actually married to someone else.

Child abandonment appears in many different forms. It can apply to a minor who is left without appropriate supervision for an extended period of time. That is the kind of situation that brings Child Welfare Agencies and the courts into the picture. Project Cuddle’s mission is officially preventing baby abandonment by supporting an unwed pregnant woman with prenatal care, maternity clothes, hospital delivery and a family waiting to adopt her baby.

They remind me a bit of the old Salvation Army (that is where my paternal grandmother went for help). Project Cuddle says – after the mother has delivered, Project Cuddle continues to assist her in establishing a plan for her future. We never judge any girl or woman that calls us for help.

They do claim NOT to be promoting surrender or adoption – The decision to give her baby up for adoption is entirely left to the birthmother. This can be as quick as two days or take as long as twenty years. Hmmm, really ? 20 years. Isn’t the baby a legal adult by that time ? What mother cuts ties with a baby she has been involved with that long ? Never mind, I’m certain it happens. Parents and children do become estranged in some families. I wonder just how non-coercive Project Cuddle is about moving a baby into an adoptive family. They do say – the more open a rescue family is towards things such as sex, ethnicity and drug exposure – the more quickly they may be matched with a birthmother choosing surrender.

I don’t know. I continue feel squeamish about this whole “project” – while at the same time recognizing there is a need for mothers and their babies to have the support when they need it. When society doesn’t deliver that support, individuals with a savior complex often do step in. You can learn more about Project Cuddle at their website. However, from a comment thread I have read – all is not 100% as it seems. The terminology is exploitative and deceiving and there is every indication that “counselors” do coerce the mother into surrender, regardless of how much they try to say otherwise (this comes from some real life experiences that are now being openly shared).

A Disconnect

I’ve been reading about infant development lately in a book titled Healing the Split – Integrating Spirit Into Our Understanding of the Mentally Ill by John E Nelson MD. I often reflect on my own mothering of my daughter at the age of 19. Though the love was never lacking, I was not as good of a mother for her as I might have been, had I know how to be a good mother.

I believe some of that comes of the slight disconnect in my own parents as regards their parenting of us. It is not their fault, they were both adopted. Oh, they were good parents, not abusive, and we knew they loved us but there was something missing in them and it affected their parenting of us.

What was missing in my parents were their natural mothers, who carried them in their wombs and gave birth to them, may have breastfed them. I know that was true with my dad. I don’t have a record of that for my mom. She was taken to an orphanage for temporary care by her own financially desperate mother and put on a formula. My dad was allowed to stay with his mother and continue to nurse for some months as he accompanied her when she was employed by the Salvation Army, through who’s home for unwed mothers she had given birth to him.

I was reflecting on this as I sat out on the deck overlooking the field at my writer’s retreat. I was bundled up in a cozy jacket as the temperature is not more than the mid-30s and drinking warm tea.

I was thinking about how my mom took my bottle from me at 13 months to give to my newborn younger sister. My mom intended no harm, she didn’t know better. We can’t do better than we know how.

So, as I was drinking the warm tea, I imagined mothering myself. I imagined being warm and cozy in the soft embrace of my mother, drinking in the warm, nourishing liquid.

In that moment, I forgave my mom and had to extend that forgiveness to myself. I can acknowledge that I might have done better if I had know how to do better and in realizing that, I can acknowledge that my own mother would have done better had she known how to do better.

My late life sons (born when I was 47 and 50 years old) have benefitted from having a better mother in me. Certainly, I did have previous experience when the first boy was born and I had a huge amount of support from my in-laws who came every day for the first 4 months and only stopped when my husband begged me to ask them to back off.

My husband was always a good and nurturing co-parent as he did not become a father until he was personally ready to commit to that responsibility. When the second boy was born, he doubled down on the attention he gave the older boy, that he suffer less from the loss of attention of his mother, due to a newborn in the house.

It was a situation that I had to rectify when the younger boy was about 2 or 3 and the older one about 6 as he was acting out a lot to get my attention. With sufficient attention from me, that behavior quickly ceased and the younger boy benefitted from having more dad time.

Hindsight doesn’t replace ignorance but ignorance is not willful neglect.

Erasing History

I think if my mom was here, she’d say much the same.  When I found a cousin on my paternal grandmother’s side, she immediately noticed something that had escaped my attention – my grandmother’s name was not on his adoption papers – the Salvation Army owned him.  This is the enduring legacy of adoption and I am simply VERY fortunate I was able to track down who ALL 4 of my original grandparents were – not for lack of the powers that be trying to obscure it.

Today’s adoption story (is not my own but I can relate) –

“This is a strange life. Looking back over it now I feel that I was propelled into constructing a life that has been totally separated from who I am. This was deliberately done by the State and its agents once they had got their hands on me and my brother. They stole me from my mother’s arms and then proceeded to lie about who I was, about where I had come from about my ancestry. They deliberately falsified fundamental documents about my identity. The moment that I was born I was unborn. They removed my mother’s name and the name that she had given me from history and acted as if they had never existed when they did exist. They did so on the basis that this history was inconsequential and as such could be wiped like one wipes a blackboard clean.”

“I have had no choice but to struggle with the circumstances of my birth from the very beginning. I was thrust into a battle between life and death, truth and lies, reality and State manufactured fiction. I was born a pawn on the chessboard of the States so called battle for public morality. I was the symbol of the transgression, of the fact that sex outside marriage existed. But no one talks about this fact, no they still see adoption as that of being rescued from a mother and a family that chose not to care for you. It was no such thing. The State set in motion the theory of Closed Adoption through its adoption practices and through the whip of economic compulsion tens of thousands of mothers gave up their babies. There was no money to keep them and no public support or support from their families. All they received was righteous moralistic outrage as their pregnant daughters were sent away.”

I say I can relate because –

My paternal grandmother was unmarried and had an affair with a married man.  I would suspect she didn’t know he was married when she first started seeing him in the mid-1930s but I think she probably did know by the time she knew she was pregnant.  Self-sufficient woman that she was, I don’t think she ever told him that she was expecting his child.  None of his family knew he had any offspring until I turned up.  DNA proved to them I was actually related.  My grandmother did know who the father was.  She gave my dad his name as a middle name and put his photo next to one of her holding my dad at the Salvation Army home for women and children in El Paso Texas that employed her after she gave birth at one of their homes in San Diego California.  She applied for employment and they transferred her to El Paso Texas with my dad in tow and that is where he was adopted.

Continuing with this man’s emotional story –

“I feel tired today. I feel tired full stop. For my entire life I have been struggling to deal with the circumstances of my birth. From the very beginning my heart was wounded. When you are given away, rejected, abandoned, it is personal. It hurts. When you are forced to live in a society that acts as if the wound does not hurt, it is suicidal because there is no outlet for the pain. No acknowledgment, no sorrow, nothing but silence. Your life is built on this silence. Holding in the hurt, trying to act as if you belong when you have been permanently displaced, always blaming yourself for how you feel because the whole system has set you up for self-blame. From the very beginning no one listened to your cries for your mother. From the very beginning you were met with silence. From the very beginning your most vital needs were ignored and your heart was hurt. You were separated from your emotional needs and your heart was born under an avalanche.”

“From the very beginning it all felt like it was your fault, that you had done something wrong, as if you had had brought this situation upon yourself simply through existing. From your first breath you were struggling for your life without love. There was no beauty in your birth, instead they had turned your life into a fight for survival and no one took any responsibility. They just left you to it. And that set the pattern of your life, of the life that they had created for you, you were abandoned, rejected and left to it. No one checked on how you felt. No one asked if you were struggling. They just left you on this hard road all on your own having to work out how to survive on your own. A road populated with strangers. And you lonely and you knew what the world could do.”

“Even though nobody said anything your birth set the path that you would follow as you tried your best to come to terms with it by outrunning your hurt heart. You felt that, in the silence, that this pain, this sadness that you felt in the world always must have been a sign that something was wrong with you. And there was, but no one would tell you what it was. And so in the absence of an explanation you labelled this hurt, this feeling as meaning that there was something wrong with you and so you locked up your heart and who you were. It was clear that you had to become someone else, you had to not be the person that you had been born to be. And you were right. They did not want the person that you were born to be. They did not want your ancestry, your mother, your personality and who you were deep inside. No, they just wanted a blank slate, a void, a nothing who would be exactly what your adopted parents wanted you to be. They called this attachment. You attached by disassociating from yourself, from your thoughts, your feelings and your emotions. You were to become “as if born to” these adopted parents and their names would be writ large on your birth certificate.”

There is more, much much more.  I won’t go on but adoption hurts.  Loss of identity hurts.  No family history hurts.  It even hurts children like me who’s two parents were both adoptees.

 

It’s A Matter Of Responsibility

Artist Delphine Boel

One of my guilty pleasures in life is not an obsessive but a casual interest in royalty.  So I could say that this blog is simply for fun.  The artist looks like a “fun” person to me but it is about a lot more than fun.  It is about how men so often plant their seeds wherever they wish to and don’t take any responsibility for it.

I’ll never know entirely what transpired between my dad’s parents.  His father was a married man and unless he was simply hiding the truth that he fathered a son, he never knew about it.  I give him the benefit of the doubt regarding that because my grandmother was a very self-sufficient woman and it is likely she just handled her pregnancy very quietly, turning to the Salvation Army’s home for unwed mothers in San Diego (actually Ocean Beach) California.

And I won’t judge King Albert II of Belgium either.  Maybe he knew and hid it and maybe he didn’t but he does know now.  DNA has been a miracle at revealing familial identities for children conceived out of wedlock and adoptees alike.

Delphine’s mother, Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, said she and Albert II had been involved in an 18-year-long affair before he was crowned king.  The Belgian aristocrat also claimed the royal had been a presence during Ms Boël’s childhood.  Speculation surrounding an illegitimate child of King Albert II sparked in 1999 after the publication of an unauthorized biography of the monarch’s wife, Queen Paola.  This sensational claim prompted a royal scandal and growing gossip surrounding the court.

Ms Boël first publicly spoke out and claimed she was the love child of King Albert II in 2005.  She could not open court proceedings until 2013, after he abdicated in favor of his firstborn, King Philippe, and lost his immunity to prosecution.  Despite the launch of the legal case against him, the former king initially resisted court orders to undergo DNA testing.  He only caved in when told he faced fines of £4,500 (€5,000) for every day he would push back the test.

After he “learnt the results of the DNA tests”, Albert II acknowledged Ms Boël as his fourth child.  King Albert’s lawyer issued a statement on January 27 reading: “Scientific conclusions indicate that he is the biological father of Mrs Delphine Boel.  King Albert has decided to put an end to this painful procedure in good conscience.”

The love child’s lawyer described this royal admission as a “relief”.  He continued: “Her life has been a long nightmare because of this quest for identity.  She wants to have exactly the same privileges, titles and capacities as her brothers and her sister.”  Reports suggest a victory of Ms Boël in court could see her children become eligible for a royal title – much like the other grandchildren of King Albert II in the line of succession to the throne.  But the former monarch’s lawyer says the court has no power to hand out titles and only a royal decree would make Ms Boël a princess.

An Interesting Adoptee Reunion

Robert Spencer and Sleepy LaBeef

One look at the two men pretty much confirms the father/son relationship.  It reminds me of when I first saw a picture of my own dad’s father – a man I never expected to identify because my dad’s mom was unwed and gave birth to him at a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers in Ocean Beach CA.

In Robert’s case, one could say he is fortunate he was adopted.  His mother, Agnes, was a follower of Jim Jones who led his congregation known as the People’s Temple to commit mass suicide in Guyana.  Robert’s mother and 4 siblings all died in that horrific event.  I actually stumbled on Robert’s story looking into some information I encountered about Jim Jones adopting children.

Jim Jones was a charismatic white man who preached racial equality and socialism.  When he moved his followers to the South American jungles of Guyana, which is a multiracial country, he planned to build what he called a “rainbow utopia.”  When Robert was 10 years old and living in Hayward CA with his adoptive parents, they had to break the news to him that his mother had died in the sad tragedy.  His birth mother, Agnes Bishop Jones, was the eldest adopted child of Jim Jones and his wife, Marceline.

Robert turned out to be a fine man.  He is employed as a park ranger in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a firefighter in the summer. He also volunteers at his church and labor union.  For years, Robert shut the door on his family connection to Jonestown.  Eventually though he became consumed by questions about why he’s helpful, why he’s tall, why his skin is olive and why his eyes are clear-blue.  He didn’t want to replace his adoptive parents, who he says loved and raised him. But he says there was “something about that biological connection” that he was desperate to experience.  He wanted to know more about his mother, Agnes, and about her life in the Temple. One big question that nagged him: Why wasn’t he with her and his siblings on that fateful day?

Since both his mother, Agnes, and Robert were adopted, it made searching for blood relatives that much harder. The only biological child of Jim and Marceline Jones, Stephan Jones, who survived the 1978 tragedy because he was on the other side of the small South American country playing basketball when his father’s suicide order came down.  He was 19 years old at the time and had spent his entire life in the Temple.

Robert and Stephan met in person in 2014 at a reunion of Jonestown survivors, friends and families in San Diego.  People there began asking questions about Robert’s claim that Agnes had put him up for adoption. They believed him, but it raised a red flag because Temple members didn’t put their children up for adoption to outsiders.  Some people at the reunion began to speculate that perhaps Jim Jones was Robert’s biological father and he just wanted to “make that go away” by putting him up for adoption.  DNA testing by Stephan proved that Robert was not Jim Jones’ son.  That was actually a relief even though it did not answer his identity questions.

Eventually, DNA led Robert to his father, Thomas LaBeff who was born in Smackover Arkansas in 1935 (same year my dad was born). He now lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  He is a recording artist for Columbia Records under the name Sleepy LaBeef.  His music is a mix of American roots music – blues, country and rockabilly.  The only explanation for Agnes and Sleepy getting together was that she was one of the fans taht would come backstage to meet the musicians.  Sleepy admits, “sometimes we were not as responsible as we should have been … and so things happened.”  Best guess was a Nashville night club, possibly Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge or The Honey Club.

Though they look a lot alike they are very different people.  He’s a Democrat and they are all Republicans.  They’re Pentecostal and he’s not.  But he has been warmly welcomed and has “family” now.  Of course, he’s thankful to Agnes for giving birth to him in the first place and understandably thankful she let him go.  Thanks to being given up for adoption, he can tell the rest of that story of how he is a “rock ‘n’ roll baby.”  He is also at peace now.

Married Men !!

A woman asked for advice regarding this situation –

Advice needed for revealing an unplanned pregnancy with a married man at the worst time in your life, and facing judgment and disappointment from others. Is it better to get it over with or hide as long as possible? I know it was wrong, and I deserve the judgment thrown my way.

The good news is that this woman is determined to parent her child.

I responded with this –

I would never say you “deserve” any ill effects. I do not know the entire story. My parents were both adopted. My dad’s mother was unwed. She had an affair with a much older man who was an immigrant, not yet naturalized though he did become a citizen later on. I doubt she knew he was married when she first started seeing him. In my younger days the same situation (though not a pregnancy) happened to me. His disloyalty to his marriage was entirely 100% his issue as far as I am concerned in EVERY case of this.

I do NOT recommend my self-sufficient grandmother’s solution to you. She went to a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers. She never told my dad’s father. I do share this with you because since I discovered who that man was (something I never thought was going to be possible since he was un-named but my wonderful grandmother left me breadcrumbs in her photo album which a cousin I discovered happily shared with me) – my dad was so very much like him – in appearance and interests. What good friends they might have been. It is a sadness for my own self that they never had the chance.

I wish you good resolutions. My heart’s mind will hold you gently for the best outcome. HUGS !!

Another person responded – People are going to judge no matter what. So do whatever gives you less stress and more peace.  I would encourage you to tell him so you at least figure out where he’s at and don’t have to guess or wonder.

Someone else added – The father should know about his child, but I don’t see why anybody else has to know who the father is.

And another reminded her – He deserves to know. But you have the ultimate decision. Don’t let him talk you out of keeping the baby or into adoption. He can chose not to parent the child.

Someone else added – I would recommend disclosing it to those who need to know (in this case, the father). The fear of all the possible reactions can be debilitating. Better to just be upfront and tell him. It isn’t really other people’s business to know who the father is unless you wish to disclose it. I don’t see why you need to volunteer his marital status to your friends and family. Your child has a right to know who his/her father is. Acquaintances do not.

My favorite was what this woman shared – This is me! I told my baby daddy. I have a wonderful 16 year old whose father decided he would be involved about 7 years ago. I have been open and honest about his beginnings and have no shame. People will think what they will and I can’t control that. My son is an honor student, lettered in lacrosse in 9th grade and plays high school hockey. I’m bursting with pride about this kid! Have your baby and celebrate your child loud and proud!