Letters from Boston, Notes to the Past

An Inside Look at the Thoughts of a Pre-Birthmother in Progress

Twenty five years after I sent these letters along to my best friend in NYC,  they are returned to me. Inside, these envelopes hold my deepest thoughts and fears experienced on the road to becoming a birth mother.

Letter from Boston dated 8-21-87

I describe my leaving home:

“Morning comes, Mother comes in, says Goodbye before going to work; a major accomplishment should be noted- the warped bitch is still alive. Claud has not murdered her – 10 points for Claud’s self preservation. Ok, Claud lays in bed and waits for Grandpa to leave. He finally does and Claud starts to get dressed”

I was forbidden by my mother to be seen by my Grandfather who came over every day to watch my brother until he went to camp. I was supposed to be “at work” so I had stay in my room and not move from my bed until he left the house.

I talk about the trip, arriving, describe Boston, I forgot that the baby was so young. A 7 week old adoptee in the house I am living in:

“The baby is 7 weeks old – They adopted her from the place.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 8-24-87

I write more about the baby. I find it amusing that I am, clearly, already really good with kids, even almost newborns.

 “Joan’s moms is here for a visit until Labour Day-ish. It’s funny because she is such a typical grandmother to the baby and right now, Kari, ( that’s the baby) can’t stand it. It must be annoying having someone sing in your face! I feel good though, because Kari’s gotten use to me and she’ll shut up when I tell her too and no one else will make her stop”

I guess I always had a thing for adoptees?

“I feel frustrated because I feel like this is it. It will never be over and now I’m OLD and I really can’t have fun anymore without looking stupid.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 9-2-87

This is the letter that I describe the forgotten phone call with my mother on my first night in Boston.

“The latest in the warped saga of my mother’s rapidly decaying brain – it’s really BAD if you understand what it means.”

My mother, according to the letter, must have taken advantage of my absence and snooped in my room. So she called in full on freak out mode that I was a “drug addicted, alcoholic, sex crazed  sinning maniac”. I  was  a bit “wild” before the pregnancy, but I have NEVER been an addictive personality, NEVER had an issue with any abuse in any of those areas and can still name all my previous partners of my whole life on my fingers and toes. I shall not run out of digits in this lifetime.

Anyway, apparently there was a threat of her moving to Arizona with my brother which I was not pleased about. She could not bare to watch me “ruin my life ” and if I could not promise to “cut out my destructive horrible sinning ways”, she was out of here. My mother was actually quite narcissist and my “look” of 1897 goth/punk was a major insult to HER. My various “addictions” according to her were that cause of my “horrible appearance” and I only liked NYC, went to clubs, wore black, had friends and died my hair because I was so messed up or something.

I talk about planning to get my brother way from her by age 14, so  I could “help him stay sane – he won’t be able to run away to me – she gets worse – he’ll NEED to run away to me” I am taken aback by my true concern for my younger brother. The real hatred of my mother that I somehow managed to get past and forgive her so much that I forgot how bad it as. Oddly enough, my mother was away from my brother by that age, but because Cancer took her and, by then, that was a bad thing. It was only seven years after, but a far cry from this letters “choice“;

 “I keep my home, I go crazy, I kill my mom OR I stay sane, I have no family,  starve to death”

I also mention the “Jean” whom I had always remembered as my “counselor” but here, I call her “the nurse”;

“Jean, the nurse, said it’s important to the baby -when it gets older, to find out that the mother named it instead of just ‘baby”.. so that means I have to name her even though I didn’t plan to. I did sort of.. Just need to, OK?”

 

Letter from Boston dated 9-8-87

I talk about boring things, shopping.. a pair of pants that I do remember falling in love with and eventually buying to take home post-pregnancy. “We went to three malls!” I give Laura lots of relationship advice; it’s actually not bad advice. I am not sure how I am so wise/ I think I forgot that I had a brain then too and used to use it! I am surprised to see that I quote Scarlett O’Hara in full:

 “Think of it all tomorrow..after all tomorrow is another day”.

I guess the denial gene was always with me.  I also ask if people accept the “official lie”; however, I have no idea what the “official lie” of where I was, actually was.

Letter from Boston dated 9-14-87

I write this letter in the doctor’s office and complain about giving blood, peeing in a cup. Then more misery. I have no idea why I am talking about moving to Buffalo:

“I don’t WANT to go to Buffalo. I can’t even spell it and it snows too much. I don’t want to starve and live with cockroaches. I can’t be independent and live on my own for 2 1/2 years before I get money. I’ve tried that before. It sucks. I WANT to be on Long Island and besides, HER house is MY house. It’s not fair. Maybe I can get her committed to South Oaks  (the local mental hospital) forever. I wish to God that I had a normal family- at least one normal parent. I HATE dealing with absolute sickies. I wish I knew what to do.

I sent my grandfather a card for his birthday, so last week he sent me a really nice card plus 25 dollars. It was really depressing because he’s all worried about me and he thinks I’m in some mental place. It’s not fair, because I’m fine and he’s too old to worry and I hate my mother for being so mean.

I ask you, why are people mean? I hate people who are mean. They should die. So anyway, I wrote a thank you note to Grandpa and tried to convince him I was fine and to not believe her and to tell Matt I miss him. It made me frustrated, anyhow, as of yet, she STILL hasn’t tried to call me. It’s getting me worried as in WHAT is she up to? I don’t want a new home. I want a real mom.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 9-16-87

“I actually had two therapy sessions yesterday- 2 hours with Jean at the agency and then I talked to Jerry in NY on the phone. Jean gave me a book of adoption-related-type-sit-and-cry-your-eyes-out-poems. The idea being to start being miserable/ dealing with loss of child now. They are VERY SAD -at  least the ones I really relate to.

Anyhow, we were talking about when I get to see the baby.. that’s what I really like about it up here. I decide what’s best. So I’m going to be able to hold her and feed her and have pictures to keep forever. And when we start looking at perspective parents, I get to say what I want her mommy and Dad to be like- so I get to make sure they went to Woodstock, etc. Liberal parents – NO YUPPIES- mellow, not high strung dick heads.. even If genes count a lot..she won’t be  stupid trendy air head. That would piss me off if 20 years from now she finds me and she’s got a god damn pony tail on the side of her head. Not my child. No way! “

Note: I have always dislike side pony tails… just a pet peeve. Of course, I didn’t need to worry about a side pony tail, and even if I didn’t really pick mellow parents, Max did return as himself. Not a yuppie, not an airhead, but a true genetic mutant like us all. It’s so weird to hear myself talk of “20 years from now” and know that was five years ago!

“So at least, I’ll make sure she’s got a real chance. And even if her father is a dick, he has good genes too. That makes me feel better. So I have to make a list of all the things that are important to me as parents. Jean said I could do this and she’d make sure the agency went along with it. She’s really good because she is really concerned with me.”

” Then I talked to Jerry- made me feel better about my parents- I’ve really given up on them… You know how I have said for the longest time that I don’t feel like I really have a father, well, my mother has joined that category officially. Depressing as I might find it, I don’t have real parents. Parents are SUPPOSED to stand by you, support you even if they do drive you crazy, My parents don’t do that. They are mean and malicious. Can’t trust them coz they twist things and lie. Jerry said that the only reason I am not crazy now is because I rebelled and kept my identity. All the time that they said I was being horrible, I was only being strong. I only HOPE my brother can be strong enough. I can only hope I can get close enough to be able to help him. So as I said, today, I feel better. I don’t feel horrible. I don’t know what I am going to do… still. And I might go home and milk my mom for all she’s worth, but I tell you, I’ll NEVER trust her or open up to her again. That’s it. The walls are up.”

And then I go into a long mushy tribute thanking Laura for being my best friend and being there for me when no one else was.

Laura and I circa 1986 ish

 

” I would never have been able to withstand my parents power over me… I would be either neurotic nerd forever  – a pawn of my parent desires – or I’d be dead – another teen suicide statistic”

More drivel and the it ends with this:

 “PS Could you send 2 or 3 good pictures of me up here – I need them to give to the yet unnamed baby.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 9-19-87

Clothes, hair, fat, then;

 “Guess WHO I heard form today? My mother’s stupid ‘boy friend” Tom. Thrill-o-city for me! I thought maybe he called for a REASON ..ie; maybe gay mom was worried/ curious/ or dead ( wishful thinking) but NO! he called out of his own free will to see “How I was”. Isn’t he kind and thoughtful?  I do not trust him, this human peni, at ALL. I mean first of all he’s probably a double agent for bitchbreath herself.”

I worried a lot more than I recall over what to name the baby.

“For I have  named the kicking monster in mine belly. She, ( god help me she better be a she) is to be known as… (tada) Aisa. ( don’t think of the faggy rock group coz I know you are- so STOP. Thank you) But it’s nice and it’s African and it means “life” and besides her parents will probably name her something like “Susan Agnes” after some dead aunt or something. And I couldn’t wait anymore. But I had to find a name that didn’t remind me of a person already that I know, coz then I’d imagine my child like that person. So it had to be a totally new name since I’ll never ( maybe) see my baby grow into the name and make it hers. Asia is clean.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 9-20-87

” I’m really NOT worrying about who knows at all… I’d just rather not have to explain myself to some people who are stupid and rude enough to ask questions about my decision when they really don’t give a flying fig. I was just curious as to who does know so I know who to fabricate more “big lie” details if (when) I go “home” Just sometimes you wonder who’s really saying what behind your back..if anyone really cares.. if they notice if you’re even gone”

” I have decide that IF my mother hasn’t become a human being by the time I go home, I will not go home. Meaning =- if she doesn’t call- she hasn’t yet – and act nice, I’ll go back to NY, but I WON”T tell her. I’ll find someplace or something somehow and just one day, clean my room out of everything that’s mine.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 9-25-87

A very long letter about mostly nothing. I am planning for the child birth classes and mock that I will learn to “breath” because I have been breathing my whole life already. Oddly enough, I also complain about me feet getting flat and not having the what I now call our “peg toes”.  With illustrations!

Letter from Boston dated 10-2-87

At some point during the week in-between I received envelope form my mother. No note or anything, I report, just received:

 “One envelope from ( get this) my dear mother, open envelop – envelope contains unopened envelope of my pre-admittance forms from the hospital – no note, no nothing- in other words, she just sent me my mail. Queen bitch or what?”

Talk of maternity clothes, shopping, trinkets, being fat and then post labor class, great fear of giving birth.

“This will be an ORDEAL with many hours of PAIN..I mean I am very fat, there IS a baby inside me and it has to come OUT! I don’t like this game anymore. I want to stop.”

Apparently, my labor class was private with the teacher, Joan, the adoptive mom who I lived with and Jean, the “nurse”.  I totally recall it being a “class” with other people and pillows. I must have made that memory up completely.

Letter from Boston dated 10-5-87

Ok this one is actually really funny. The weekend before we had gone up to New Hampshire for a “Fall Foliage Tour”, which I DO remember, with friends of the couple I lived with, which I do NOT recall at all. It’s a very snarky letter where I complain about driving in the rain and getting lost and having no breakfast. What I DO remember from that trip was going to the outlet stores and finding Benetton shirts. I know I bought the shirt I wore home from the hospital.

Letter from Boston dated 10-5-87

“I have to go to the agency tomorrow. I think I am going to have to look at the albums. That’s how you pick the parents, the couples make albums of pictures and what they do etc. It’s weird..since they got into the agency you know they: 1) are sane – they have mental checks and all.  2) they have much money- they have to pay all these fees  3) they have to have good marriages and homes and jobs and all that so all I have to decide if they’re what *I * want.

So I want to find parents that I would want. I mean, she has good genes – besides the fact that’s she’s bound to be an ape child who is short with brown eyes and hair and broad shoulders, but hey, I have lived with THAT my whole life  – If heredity stands for anything, she’s got the blood NOT to be an airhead. ..I have to find the PERFECT environment for her to grow up bimbo-free. I hope they know what they are getting into because I’m going to be a real PEST. I think if they went to Woodstock, they’d be too old, but they have to be liberals; anti-defense, anti-war, anti-Reagan, pro-choice, etc etc.. in other words, cool-politically and they have to live BY a city, not IN a city, but BY one so she won’t be afraid of it, but she needs trees as well as culture and they can’t be prejudice. They have to be open minded. I don’t know how I am going to find mellow parents. I just hope she never has “hell at home”.

Then I go on to describe the day of Kari’s Christening, which I was there for and all the planning, etc. This part is about the family members coming to visit;

“People are so weird! I guess they don’t know what to DO with me -so I had to endure people, mostly old, saying gay things like ‘oh, so this is Claudia, how beautiful she is” -pinchcheek- Like I am NOT THERE. It’s ok if they do that to THE BABY, but it’s like they should say “Ken, Joan, how LUCKY you are. You don’t have a gross and ugly pregnant girl living with you.”

Then later on;

 “My bit at the agency was uneventful. I told them my “mellow parent” desire, so they are looking. Actually what Liz, ( agency owner/director) wanted to know was WHERE I was going to go – which is a VERY good question! I have 4 weeks to hang out here- then baby fun-. I’m almost hoping she’s late so I don’t have to go home yet. But I have NO HOME to go to. My mom mailed me more hospital stuff, but THAT’S IT. I have no real money I can get without dealing with her, I have no “auxiliary places” to live. It really sucks. I’ll die if I have to work again to support myself and live alone, especially when I just decided that I hate doing that.  Know what I want, but I can’t get it..unless I go home and practically KILL myself, but I am LOST , I don’t even know where I want to go to school. Nassau’s out since I won’t live at home. I really don’t know what to do. Lost between a rock and hard place. I’m almost tempted to just give up on almost everything and start over somewhere. I don’t think it’ll be any harder. I just feel sometimes that nothing will ever be the way that it should.  Things seem OK and then the rug gets pulled out from under me again. I try to go forward, to catch up, keep my feet steady, but something always pulls me down, keeps me back. I try to make it good, at least make it seem OK, but it’s not and I’m not fooling anyone..times like this, you just want to go home and get everything together, but I can’t.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 10-14-87

I am at the doctors again. I can’t cross my legs anymore. I am fat. I still do not know what to do when I am not “a hippo anymore”  I report taking a cab back from the doctors. I don’t know why.

Letter from Boston dated 10-20-87

Fat, complain, hate my hair, going shopping.. this part is interesting:

 “We went to the pumpkin farm today. Poor Ken and Joan NEVER went to a pumpkin farm before. They didn’t even know where one WAS.  But I solved that and I taught them how to find a perfect pumpkin. I am so proud of me. Another family saved.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 10-22-87

It’s “Black Monday” and the stock market crashed. Apparently I also caught my toast on fire, but did not burn down the house. I did not know that this happened on the same day in history.

” I go to the agency. Talk about depressing! We had to go over all these horrible forms which I’ll have to sign. All official shit. No turning back. ” You understand that you are giving up all rights as a mother and you will never see your child again” I don’t want to sign THAT! It’s so horrid. Until today, it didn’t seem so very real. I feel like it’s a bad dream and I’d like someone to wake me up. There’s no choice. There’s no way out. And I don’t think I like this at all.   I’ve always thought about it and felt I could do it fine, but now I can’t image really going through with it forever  and I have to. It sucks. I hope I can just stick I tin a box deep deep down like I do with everything and not think about it.  As long as I don’t think about it, I’ll do OK, If I can just do it and stuff it in a box. Sorry I’m just really upset about it tonight.

On a lighter note, either Liz or Jean form the agency is going to call my mother because I refuse to. The whole purpose being to find out if she plan to make my life very miserable or somewhat passable. She’ll probably lie, but at least I am not calling HER -as if I wanted to”

 

Letter from Boston dated 10-26-87

I went to the original Filene’s basement. We toured the hospital. Another phone call I forgot:

“Speaking of mother dear..Good old sweet-crazy Marina called me. She had talked to “mom’ a couple of times to see how I was, just because she IS a nice person, but of course “mom” didn’t know or care. So Marina got the number an called herself. Show’s who cares more about my welfare. Anyhow, my “mother” told her, Marina, that she (“mom”) was very HURT that I haven’t called her! DID I LAUGH! I told Marina whatfor and what my “mom” could DO with HER pain.”

 

Letter from Boston dated 10-26-87

Went to Harvard Square where I report  about real “preppies” and the ratio to “cool” kids, my joy at finding a Village Voice to read, back pain, sweaty feet

Letter from Boston dated 10-28-87

“It’s the end of October, which means it’s ALMOST November. In case you didn’t know, in November, Asia comes to greet us. May I say that I am really starting to panic.. I don’t like feeling panic-y. I never panic, but I must say; NOW I am and I don’t like it.”

I report that my cervix is soft. We also went to some discount department store where I found the sad little bear that I had with Max in the Hospital pictures.  I drew a picture of him in the letter.

“….and I find this bear in a bin with all these crappy T-shirts. You can tell he’s been around. There is only one and he looks so..sad. The unloved bear, He’s this ugly-blue, gross feeling patterned material. Looks like he’s hand sewn. He’s under stuffed – like an old matted down pillow. And he has this price tag pinned to his face, So I start to make fun of him to Joan and then I realize how VERY sad he is. And all he needs is a home and some love because you know he’s been stuck at Calvert’s forever and he thinks no one wants him and he has no friends and all these grubby kids come an drool on him…so I bought him.

He was suggested retail price of $2.50, Calvert’s price of $.99, marked down to 49 cents. A very sad story. And when we went to check him out, the girl working recognized him and said that he had been around forever. I am quite take with him even if Joan keeps making fun of him-I yell at her. His name is Vincent., I was going to mail him to NY, but I think I have to keep him. I’m getting sentimental over some ugly sad bear.”

I forgot his name was Vincent. I forgot where he came from.  I have him upstairs in my “Box of Max”. He still makes me sad. It’s so very obvious to me that I was completely identifying with this forgotten sad bear.  Or maybe I need to “keep” something.

Letter from Boston dated 10-29-87

 “I am getting a big fat report on perspective Asia parents so I’ll give you full dirt on that.”

It was two pages, hardly a big fat report. Also worth noting, when I looked at this “report” 15 years later, it was so obvious that they had prepared it FOR ME. It wasn’t a regular “parent profile” like I have ever seen before. It mentioned their political bents because I had already told the agency how important that was to me. The parent profile was created to appeal to me.

I then complain about being tired, and in pain and my legs giving out when I walk. No recollection there either.

“I guess I can’t complain coz there is only two more weeks left. Which is good or bad, depending on how you look at it.”

There is another envelop posted 11-5, but it’s empty. So my last letter is dated Halloween 1987. I left out the part about Halloween candy.

” I got a written type report on Asia’s mom and dad to be. I have to Ok it if I like them and all. It’s really hard to tell from all this. I’d rather be invisible and spy on them..but one can’t do that. Besides, I don’t think I’d OK anyone..umm..ok, you can raise my child. I feel like I should be there and tell them what they have to do. Not stuff like how to diaper her, but STUFF, I guess, like traditions that I grew up with, MY way, but they’re gonna do stuff THEIR way. I guess that’s what makes Asia THEIR kid..not really mine. …They sound nice”

There’s a later dated part from 11-3-87- I can’t believe it’s only 11 days before he is born and I am JUST NOW deciding on his parents!  I had thought those conversations were much earlier on. I mean, what if I didn’t like them? No wonder I seem to have just somehow “settled”, I think I am just done and ready for it to just be over. I sound defeated.

“I get pictures and stuff- well actually letters from the people, who seem like they’re going to be Asia’s parents. They have a cat; so they must be good people. They’re very…real. Seeing pictures makes them seem so real. Not figures of my imagination or perfect parents. They are just regular, basic, nice looking people. Anyway, I feel better seeing this stuff on them. They look so…. cute and happy, like they’d be so nice and cute with Asia. There was pictures of them and all their families at Christmas with Christmas decorations and everyone’s all dressed up and they look so NORMAL..and for some weird reason that makes me feel so very much better,. I guess because we’re OK .. and we didn’t’ have especially “cool’ parents so like If everything is basically just average, she can be whatever she turns out to be. I can’t explain – I guess she’ll just take what she gets- just like us- and she’ll be Asia. Anyhow, that’s about all. I’ll show you all the stuff when I get back.

Now, It’s just up to Asia.”

Of course, “Asia” was Max.

My next post will be about what I have learned from my own letters from Boston. How does this insight change m view on what went down 25 years ago.

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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine, Adopt-a-tude.com, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

3 Comments on "Letters from Boston, Notes to the Past"

  1. Those are incredibly sad and eye opening. It’s interesting how your relationship with your mother seems to me to have dominated your thought process regarding adoption.

  2. Ah. Claud. Much love.
    -rox

  3. i teared up at the writings about “Vincent”! how sweet and sad.

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