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Denise's Story
Denise's Story

An Introduction

How do I start to tell you about what happened to me, when so many parts of it are buried, deep inside. I have to find the courage, somehow and somewhere, and force myself to let these feelings resurface. I've got to heal from all of this, because, God only knows, I've held a lot of resentment throughout the years towards a tremendous amount of people and I don't even think they know who they are. Some are faceless, even to me. Some are even nameless. They were individuals who touched my life, who forced me to make, because of circumstances, life altering decisions. Some of these decisions were reactionary on my part. ie: a decision made by me was because of a decision made by them. I want to tell you, too, that I've always felt that things happen for a reason. Usually we're not privy to what those reasons are and we can only guess. Maybe we become more compassionate because of these experiences. Maybe our tolerance of other people reaches a higher level, maybe it's just to teach us a life lesson or be able to understand and empathize. Perhaps it's so we appreciate all that we do have, right at that very moment in time. I am not bitter or resentful any longer. I believe this to be a truth about myself, otherwise, how in the world could I open up and bare my soul in such a public forum as the internet? I guess that's what life is all about, tho'. Having experiences, growing and learning from them, sharing them with others and then moving on.

The Beginning.....

It was the fall of 1969 when I met Paul. I was 18 and a freshman at college, majoring in art. I loved to sing. I mean, I LOVED to sing. I would go for hours at a time, singing along with my record albums. Trying to mimic their style, or to reach the high notes..............ouch! I loved my art classes at school, too, because it gave me a chance to be creative. To draw or to my opinion, what could possibly be better than that? I was on top of the world! Even though we had scattered somewhat, our close-knit five some from high school kept in touch. My classes were going well at college and then...................the phone call!!!

We met in the most unusual of circumstances. Over the phone!!!! Paul was 18 and a freshman at a local Toledo college majoring in Electrical Engineering. He had found my phone number in his wallet, not knowing how it had gotten there. He called the number out of curiosity and guess who answered? After a two week marathon of phone calls, exchanging pictures and getting to know one another, we decided it was time for a date. After a year and a half of *constant togetherness* and *falling in love*, I found myself pregnant, with the anticipation of marriage looming. It was not to be. You see, I was Methodist and Paul was Catholic. I was from the city and Paul was a good ole boy from the country. [I never could figure that last one out?] He was the oldest of 7 kids [and therefore, set the stage for the rest of them] and his parents were very strong people. Little did I know how their strength and influence over Paul would affect ME for the remainder of my life.

What do I do now? I spoke with Paul and the talk of marriage was discussed. He led me to believe that things were going to work out for us. Sometime later, Paul said he'd talked to his parents and they thought we shouldn't get married. Alone and with my emotions right at the surface, I determinedly drove the 40 mile trip to his parents' home to try to convince them otherwise. What a disaster THAT turned out to be. [ i remember thinking, while in the car on my return trip back to toledo, how I NEEDED to remember what happened during that encounter with Paul's father, [his mother refused to talk to me] how he belittled me, how he destroyed my well-being, and my faith in myself, how I COULDN'T forget how i was made to feel, so i WOULD NEVER do that to anyone else] I went to my parents and there was ABSOLUTELY no support coming from either of them. Oh, in the beginning, when the *possibility* of marriage was still in the talking stages, they offered a room at their home for the two of us, help with babysitting, help with groceries, etc. while Paul finished school. But, when I received that final, "NO, we're NOT getting married", from Paul, my whole world fell apart. What do I do now? Where do I go? Oh, the disgrace and disrespect my parents felt for me was overwhelming........."You've ruined your reputation, how could you do this"? "How can we ever face the neighbors"? "How could you be so thoughtless"? The looks of total disgust from my Dad were probably what un-nerved me the most. To a certain degree, I had always idolized him. And now I was *letting him down* in the worst way. I was letting them BOTH down. They each asked, "What are you going to do now"? i don't know? "Get an abortion, I suppose"? NO!!!!, i could never do that! "Go through with the pregnancy and then adoption"? no, i don't know, i don't want to think about this, i CAN'T give my baby up, it's part of me, i love it......... i still love paul, oh, damn it, paul, why?, why?, why? couldn't we have just gotten married, then i wouldn't be faced with all of these horrible decisions on my own"Well", my parents said, "you know you can't POSSIBLY live here"? why? said i could before? oh...........ONLY when there was the possibility of marriage?......i see..........but it's not fair. You know..........this is your grandchild, too? "No, it's not"! For the simple fact that we won't acknowledge it, if you're not married! We'll go check out the Maternity homes and see what they have to offer. I'm sure they'll cost a fortune, but, we'll figure out something...........oh, Denise, how could you let this happen"? to be continued............

Denise's Story, Con't.

The *Home*

Once the decision was made that I go to a Maternity Home, the next question was.....where? You see, to stay in my hometown would be disastrous, someone might see me! So, it was decided that I go to an out-of-town *Home for Unwed Mothers*, [for the sake of MY reputation]. Paul was totally left out of any decision making. In fact, all communication was cut off between us by both of our parents. They said, "It's for the best". However, if you feel a need to talk to him, you can do it through the lawyers.

The search began and my parents found a "Home" up in Jackson, MI. and one in Toledo, OH. Our first visit was to the *home* in Jackson, MI. In every sense of the word, there was nothing about it that resembled a *home*. It was an old, isolated house who's exterior was further diminished because it was a typical fall day, rainy and windy and cold outside. I always felt the rain represented tears being shed for me and my situation because I was so unhappy We went inside to talk with the Director and then she took us for a short tour. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. I mean, NO noise. "Where is everybody, I asked"? The Director said, "Everyone is at school". Everyone?, "Yes, everyone else is of school age so you would be the oldest girl here". that did not set well with me "But what would I do all day"? The Director informed me that there was a shopping mall not too far away, and of course, I could take some art classes. "ART"? "Oh yes, dear, we have these little craft classes that you could take to keep you busy". "Of course, the instructor only comes in twice a week, but I'm sure you could find other things to occupy your time while you're with us here". We went upstairs on that note.

The upstairs..................I didn't think it could get much worse....................I was wrong. I will never forget the impression the halls and rooms left with me, even after all of these years. I can remember the feel and foreboding atmosphere they exuded. We stepped into a stark white, clinically clean, antiseptic smelling room that had Doctor's instruments and a cold hard steel examination table. "What's that for? I asked. "Oh, all the girls have their weekly exams in this room". not me, I thought

We left, and I cried all the way home. All 125 miles of it. Oh, I can't stay in that place. Who would visit me? I'll be so isolated and alone there. And I'd be the oldest? Nobody to relate to, nobody even close to my age. What will I do to keep myself busy? When am I ever going to stop crying? And Mom said only one phone call per week? I'll never make it

I cried for five solid days about that place. My Mom and Dad finally listened to my feelings about the *home* in Jackson and we reached a compromise. I could stay in the local *home*, i didn't care WHAT it looked like, I'd be close to my friends and I could call or they could come over to visit me. but IF I wanted to come back to the house for a visit, it had to be at night, when it was dark. I had to leave early enough in the morning so the neighbors wouldn't suspect *my condition* and I wan't allowed to answer the phone. "why not"? "Because your Mother can't remember what story she's told to whom. You're either up at your sister's home, away at school or working. She simply has too much on her mind to keep track of the stories". I truly think I would have agreed to ANYTHING, as long as I was able to remain in my hometown. "Oh, and one more thing," my Mother said, "We're going to the jewelry to buy you a wedding band to wear, because you're starting to show".

Denise's Story, Con't.....

Moving in, counselors and more........

Moving out of familiar surroundings and into a new environment was difficult? scarey? frightening? lonely?..........all of those and more. I was unceremoniously dropped off and ushered inside what was to be my *home* for the next several months. I was shown to my room and I unpacked. They left me alone for awhile and the tears began, and once they started, they didn't stop............... for a long, long time.

I remember looking out of my bedroom window at night, towards the college where Paul was and thinking how much I wanted to talk to him, to let him know how lonely and scared I was. I felt unwanted, unloved and isolated. Even at dinner, there were separate tables. "No-salt" and "salt". If your ankles were swollen, guess which table you sat at? Guess which table I sat at?

I participated in activities that were generated because we were coming into the Holidays. You see, I moved in on the 24th of Oct , so I had to make it thru Halloween first. Then Thanksgiving, then my Uncle's funeral ............ my only Uncle..................the Uncle that I adored. My parents forbid me to go to the funeral. why? why can't i go? "Because," my mother said, "the other family members don't know about your condition and it would be an embarassing situation". for who? i wondered? Christmas came and went, then the New Year was right around the corner. I kept thinking how I'd be bringing a *new* life into this *new* year. What would the new year hold for either of us?

As days turned into weeks, I met other girls, but I kept my distance. Most of them were younger except for one very special gal that was in her late 20's. Ann and I became roommates, soulmates, card partners, confidants and friends. Because we were able to share so much together, it made the days tolerable. I was also befriended by one of the sweetest ladies put on this Earth. Bea, a social worker that would visit the *home* quite often, became my friend. She guided me and told me I was special. We would talk into the wee hours of the night. Actually WHAT we talked about became unimportant, it was the mere fact that she cared and took time for me. She respected me, when my self esteem was at its lowest and she never judged me. She held my hand and gave me encouragement when I needed it the most. Bea has remained a life-long friend. She was my angel........... in disguise.

Despite Bea's friendship, the staff members at the*home* were guided by an unwritten policy of brainwahing all of us into giving up our babies for adoption. This process of brainwshing was carried out, too by the caseworker assigned to me by the Adoption Agency. She would visit each week, never once, missing an appointment. I always believed her mission in life was to coerce me into thinking that, without help, it would be next to impossible for me to raise my baby by myself. She NEVER gave me any kind words of encouragement. She NEVER said, "You can do this"! Our conversations always took on a negative tone because IF she gave me options [outside of adoption] and I actually concidered keeping my baby, she would be out of a job. how can i give up my baby? i love my baby, i feel it moving inside of me, it's a part of me. "WHO would watch the baby, if you were working? Your parents?" no, i would have to do it alone, i don't have their support "WHO would get up at 2AM to feed the baby? How would you afford to buy anything? Will you go back to work? What about college? If you started dating, would that boyfriend accept your baby? i don't know, i'm still not sure and i' don't want to make any decision until i've really sorted this all out "But, Denise, what options do you really have..............?

She worked for the Adoption Agency and it was her job to be sure that I GAVE up my child for adoption. How else could she counsel me in any way than what she was taught to do? I just wasn't going to give up so readily, what she wanted..........this precious baby growing inside of me. Deep down inside, I KNEW what I needed to do. I knew it would be difficult, at best, without my parents' financial and emotional support. I knew out there, somewhere, there was a couple just waiting for my baby. When it came right down to it, I only hoped and prayed I would be making the right decision. Yes, I'll give her the answer she's looking for. I'll tell her what she wants to hear and I'll go through with it, even though it will tear me apart inside. I was determined to drag my decision out as long as possible..............and I held out til a week before I delivered. During the third week of January, I told my caseworker that, out of love, I'd be giving her a precious gift.

to be continued............

Denise's Story, Con't.....

The miracle of 24 Janurary 1972

It was around 9AM and Ann and I were playing cards. All of a sudden, the strangest feeling came over me. A small grin spread across my face along witha look of's starting I thought. The point of *no return*. The contractions were sporadic at first, then in the late-afternoon they took on a life of their own. "Let's wait a little while longer", Bea said. She was right there with me, along with Ann, whose own time had come and gone, but was back at the *home* for the 2 week *recovery* period.

Early evening was upon me, and I thought, how much longer can this go on? Bea was getting ready to go home. bea, will you go with me to the hospital? .........why? "Because the nurse's aid has to go with you", but i'm her first! ..........she doesn't know me.........please? ......... i need you............ I'll keep in touch by phone, everything will be fine.

Not long after that, we took the ride to the hospital. Things began to change around 8:15PM and I knew something was wrong. The nurse's aid attending me didn't have a clue and was as scared as I was. Bea walked into my room, oh... oh... you're here, oh, bea something's not right...... assessed the situation and took charge. [Thank God Bea defied *the rules* about not coming to the hospital to be with me]. The hospital staff had basically ignored me because I had my *own* nurse's aid with me from the *home*. They literally forgot about me. When Bea returned with the Dr., he was shocked at the progress I'd made, and I was immediately whisked away to the delivery room.

Before I delivered my son, I vowed to myself that I wouldn't "touch" him. I always had it in my mind that I would LOOK at him, just not touch him. I had been "advised" that IF I touched him, it would make the giving-up just that much harder to do. but why, it's part of me......why shouldn't i touch the baby? or hold it? or feed it? or spend time with it? Because it's that much more difficult to give up. ok, i won't put myself through any more than i have to........why add one more thing?.............i WILL look at my baby after it's born, tho', i have to see who i'm giving will only be for a moment, but then i'll know

In the delivery room, when they brought him over for me to see him, I instinctively reached out and stroked the soft skin of his belly with the back of my fingers, felt the most wonderful rush of motherly love and told the nurses that, "Yes, I will be having him in my room for visits and feedings". It was one of the most important decisions I ever made. I listened to that inner voice say, "This is something you HAVE to do no matter how hard it will be later on." I had to give myself those 5 days to talk to him and explain to him how much I loved him, with all of my heart, that we would have a few days together and then be re-meeting at a later time. I told him how he was going to get two parents that were going to love him so much, that they were going to provide a good home, and teach him things that he needed to know to become a good person. I fed him and changed his diapers. I took his clothes off and checked every inch of his beautiful warm, little body, to be sure that everything was OK. Not only was he OK, he was perfect. I had brought into the world the most beautiful, wonderful little boy and I had to give him away. In those 5 days of whispering to my son, I was convincing myself, along with telling him, that it was the right thing to do. I had to talk myself into giving up the most important person in my life. how can i do this? oh, i ache, already, just thinking about it, how can i part with this baby that i had helped to create thru the grace of God? how can God not like my son, just because i wasn't married? how can my parents not want this beautiful, healthy grandchild, just because i wasn't married? there is no sense to any of this. how can i do this and not fall apart at the seams? how? Because I love him, because there is somebody out there just waiting to give this precious bundle more love than he'll ever be able to handle. Because I have to. Because, deep in my heart, I truely KNOW it's the right thing to do, even tho' it will be the hardest thing I'll ever have to do in my whole entire life. The decision was made, now I had to carry thru with it. How do I walk out of the hospital, knowing I might not ever see him again? Faith.......... I have to have faith that God would not allow that to happen. I have to have faith in my caseworker's ability and expertise in picking out the parents "I" would choose for my child. oh, God, please let them be good and kind, whisper in their ear to raise him the right way, knowing he's adopted and that i loved much. whisper to them that he is so special, that he is loved by so many. tell them not to forget me in all of this. that i am, and always will be, a part of my son's life, no matter where i am. please answer my prayers, God, let everything work out all right.

I walked out of the hospital, tears streaming down my face, deep, uncontrolable sobs coming from a place I didn't even know existed. I have to go on, now, I have to put what has happened, in the last few days, on a back shelf. I won't ever forget, how can I? I'll just tuck those thoughts away, and pull them out once in awhile when I need to think of something wonderful. That's what my memories of my son provided for me. A complete peace of mind, knowing he was growing up in a home filled with love and patience, goodness and care................

to be continued............

Denise's Story, Con't.....

Thoughts of searching and letters un mailed.....

The worry about my son was so overwhelming sometimes, but I was incapable of changing anything about the adoption, so I coped with the decision I'd made and my life moved forward. I ALWAYS knew I would search for him and try to find him someday. However, the reality of finding him was always just a dream.

As different events filled my life, thoughts occasionally would turn to my son. 10 months after I married, the birth of my 2nd child, Tiffany, gently reminded me of my firstborn. His January 24th birth date was always the most difficult memory for me. It would have me wondering about his location? or if he was he OK? was he healthy? was he happy? As I looked at other children, I'd always look for similarities in the baby I'd left behind at the hospital. can you hear me whisper to you? can you tell that I'm thinking about you right now? oh, how i ache to hold you once again and to tell you that i love you, more than life itself

I wrote a letter to the adoptive agency in 1982 inquiring about my son's health. The adoptive mother included a message in the caseworker's response to me. "the child's adoptive mother asked that we let you know he is a bright child, very happy and healthy". Reading an actual fact about my son gave me such a warm feeling. That one and only factual statement sustained me for 14 years. Other letters were written and never mailed out. It wouldn't be fair to try to make a contact and possibly disrupt his life. I made a mental promise to the adoptive parents and I will not go back on my word. I'll stay in the background, quietly loving him. When he turns 18, then I'll start my search.

Several letters were written and tucked away for future mailings. Thoughts found their way to paper, then were quietly filed away. 18 years came and went. During that time, I had remarried, experienced the birth of twins, Danielle and Benjamin and saw to my parents' needs during a series of heart attacks and surgeries that prevented them from caring for each other without my support. Another year, beyond 18, slipped by.

I wanted to begin a search but so many obstacles kept getting in the way. Especially the constant thought of rejection. What if I did try to find him now? The possibility of rejection prevented me from taking any further steps for another 2 years. My father died in 1993 and my Mother moved in with us do to her failing health. Persistent, inside voices told me to act and I mentioned to my Mother that I was seriously thinking about searching for my son. She stopped me mid-sentence and said, "Yes, Denise, if you find him, I want to meet him". After all these years, those were cherished words I never thought I'd hear my Mother say to me. It was not to be. My Mother's death, in April of 1995, put me into a tailspin. The void of her presence in my life was unbearable and my world fell apart. I'd lost my mentor and my confidant and to help bear the pain of her loss, I started spending a tremendous amount of time at our 4th generation owned family home.

During the visits, I discovered the art of searching in regards to Genealogy. Now that both of my parents were gone, I had to find the answers to all of the which-ancestor-is-this? questions. It became theraputic to make a discovery then solve the mystery of who the relative was. The internet became an important resource of information. Every Genealogy link I proceded to, an Adoption link would be close by. strange, I'd never given any thought of them being interrelated before. The overwhelming quantity of ongoing searches by other adoptees and birthparents gave me the courage and strength to begin my own quest. regardless of the outcome, the rejection, or the consequences of my search, I've reached a point in my life to take this risk.........if there's rejection by my son, so be it, ........time is going by too quickly and i can't waste another moment........i will begin my search in earnest and i will accept whoever i find. this is my son............who i love with all of my heart............

to be continued............

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This page was created 4 Jan 1997
Design and updates of this page are by Denise Frederick
Copyright 1997, Denise Frederick
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