Listening to the not-so-good advice of my biological father I put my son up for adoption when I had him. On the 3rd day at the hospital I went one way and watched as he went with the foster care/social services worker. I cried thinking at the same time it would be the best thing for him. He was placed in a foster home. His name was “Alex” while in foster care. He had his first seizure at 2 weeks old according records from his pediatrician. His foster parent described them as ‘tremors’. He was sent through a whirlwind of tests to try to determine the problem. In the meantime, I was living with my biological father, working at one of his businesses and going to college. I was the inventory clerk, secretary, assistant to office manager, delivery driver, maid/custodian all at an astounding rate of $75 per week. Not to complain…I mean he did purchase a brand new vehicle for me to drive to and from home/work/school, he was funding the college courses and I was living under his roof. I was living under the assumption that I could go through with the adoption and be able to go on with life. Well with about 4 days or so left ( of the 30 day revocation period) I told my biological father I wanted to go back and get my son. He was engulfed in rage. He couldn’t believe I would give up such an opportunity as the one he was affording me. My heart couldn’t do it. So I had made my decision. He took the car, the books, the keys, and even my shirt….yes my shirt. Here I was barely 20 years old, at a tire dealer/shop full of nothing but men (with the exception of the office manager who was older than my mother at the time).
My father made me take off the shirt of his I put on that morning. I was standing there bra, short khaki skirt, shoes and NO SHIRT. One of his younger employees saw the entire thing and offered a shirt and a place to lay my head that night. I had hardly any money to my name and dead set on getting to the county social service office about an hour away. So I sought out a ride. I asked a friend if she could take me and I would give her the last $10 I had in my pocket. YES!…on the 29th out of the 30 days I had to revoke the paperwork, I made it. I signed the paperwork to start the process of regaining my son.
Next step, stability. I went to the local battered women’s shelter and asked for help. They took me in and agreed to help me get my son. I did what they asked of me in order to satisfy the list of requirements (according to social services). With one visit between the time I signed the papers to the day I got him back. I did it. I was a mother again. Yet had no clue of the coming events in our lives. Some say to prepare for things like this…mentally, emotionally you can’t. He ended up in the hospital early on after I got him back. Not being able to hold anything down. They mentioned early intervention. I had no clue what that really meant. I applied at the local housing community for a place to live. I got it. Then in the coming weeks he was to and from the doctors. That’s when life took another turn for me. This whole time I managed to stay away from the sperm donor, bio-father of my child, the abuser. I heard from him. In my young mind I never thought by calling others he would manage to find where I was. Well he did. I agreed for him to come down. This was hours away from where he is from. He showed up in the early morning hours via greyhound. For a while all things were good. Thought maybe it was just being by ourselves and away from family influences. We moved out of the apartment and moved into a home with two other people. Both of us working making sure the baby would go to the doctor. We thought we were in a good place. I can’t remember exactly what went down but remember an argument between him and one of the roommates. We had to go. I may or may not have blocked things out of my mind in order to not relive them. We moved into a local hotel. Unfortunately this place was more known for its customers than the amenities or accommodations they included in your stay. He worked, I worked. Not enough money to cover the costs. So I would go to the restaurant I worked at morning and lunch shifts. He would go to whatever job he was hired to do. I would then go to work at night, the night desk clerk at the hotel we were staying in. I remember being so tired.
Wait,I feel like something’s missing. I recall on November 13 1994 10-11pm, 34 degrees and it was raining. We (yes we) were living with his mother, again. The power had been out for weeks. The house was an old plantation home. I do mean OLD. 17 rooms, not all livable. Plastic sheeting on windows. Woodstove downstairs in the middle of the house. Fireplace in each room. Honestly there were rooms in the house I never even laid eyes on. Slave house next door. Another up the path. At least that’s the story told. The elderly lady that fed me turnips while pregnant actually worked for the plantation owners that originally stayed in the now dilapidated home we resided in. The house caught on fire. Outside the one bathroom in what I would say was the “mudroom”. A gas generator, darkness, drugs, and old “lighter wood”. Gas spilled, a spark, a damp blanket and that was it. No turning back. No stopping it. Ashes from the ash pile were used and God knows what else. The one family member I didn’t get along with came running upstairs and said, “Get the fuck up the house on fire” I dismissed them…thought they were playing or just being the person they were. Something else said GET UP. I did. Ran downstairs. Remember turning left to look at the door frame of the bathroom glowing with an orange fiery background. Panic set in. My son was just over a year old at this point. There were at least 3 other little ones there along with a few other family members. I ran back upstairs in a panic to try to grab whatever I could. No lights, in the middle of no where. The panic intensified. I then gave up and ran downstairs and just in time. The fire had spread. We all ran out the door, cold, wet, no shoes, running up the path to the next house for help. The bio father/abuser ran past us running to the elderly lady’s home banging on her door, yelling her name, telling her the house was on fire. There were at least 3 different fire departments that responded. One of the trucks got stuck in the mud.The water truck ran out of water so they hooked it up to the pond. You could see the glow of this massive fire miles away. We sat there in the rain watching the firemen bust the windows out because any hope of putting it out was gone. It was too far gone. Everything we owned. I recall the sounds and smells of different items burning up. At the end …the brick fireplace from the four connected stood up by themselves. The rest of the home all fell down in rumble and ashes in the basement. I remember my mother and step father coming up there the next day. I called them of course. They turned the corner in the path and there it stood. My mother in tears. How did we manage to make it out of that alive she asked? It wasn’t our time is all I could think.
“God wasn’t done with me. My son needed me and my daughter was waiting for me.”
As I stated in the beginning my memory is spotty. I get bits and pieces and somehow have to puzzle them back together so just don’t focus on the time frame of the events…just the events themselves. Our journey continues on my next post. I hope you pass this on to someone who may need to read this and know they aren’t alone. There is always an end and a new beginning. It is just the struggles between them where your strength is at its best. Thank you for letting me tell my story, our journey.