This will be my last blog entry with excerpts from my book, Insane Roots. I am happy to announce that I have signed an official publishing contract and my published memoir will soon be in stores! Thank you all for your support. Please stay tuned for the upcoming release dates.
Even though life was really great at my godparents’ house, I thought about my mom a lot. Eventually, I started to doubt the story about her being in the hospital; it just didn’t match up. We were never able to visit her, she never wrote and I was never able to call her when I wanted too. Whenever I voiced these concerns, their answers were very vague. They never acted as if they were trying to deceive me, but more like my questions made them uncomfortable and they were quick to change the subject.
Then one night, after dinner, Maryellen & John took me in to the kitchen to talk. For a while, they just stared at me in a long serious gaze.
Until, in a low comforting voice, John looked at me and said, “Tiff, honey, we need to talk to you about your mom.”
Just then I felt something click. I looked up at them and said, “She’s not in the hospital is she?”
“No…” Maryellen replied, “She’s in jail.”
Oddly, somehow I wasn’t surprised. I never remembered her being in jail before, but it still didn’t seem to startle me at all. However, what they told me next, knocked me on the ground.
First they explained that my mother had actually left me at the hospital and arrived at our apartment to be met by the police and arrested on several charges. My godparents stepped up as my foster parents and I was then placed in their care. All of these arrangements had been made during my close to a month recovery in the hospital. Completely under my nose and at no time did they ever let on that something was amiss? That is strength in its truest form.
After it was clear that I had grasped this, they went on to explain how there was a bit more to my mother than she let on. Quite a bit more actually. Turns out, my mother, the neglected youth, has not one, but two sets of parents. I am not sure why, but it never seemed odd to me before, maybe because most kids have two sets of grandparents and up until that point I had only seen either set a handful of times. I never really gave much thought as to the fact that they were both her mom and dad. I knew that they both lived in IL and we never visited with them together, but outside of that I had not given it any thought.
Here is where it gets crazy.
Maryellen and John explained to me that my mother had been adopted when she was very young by the cousin of her birth mother. The events of which have always been a bit fuzzy for everyone. There are several stories and I don’t know if anyone but those involved really know the truth. What we do know is that mom was the only one given away out of 6 children. Her adopted mother was not able to have children, but she wanted them desperately. Her and her husband adopted my mother when she was two. They always told me it was because she had an eye condition that her biological parents could not afford to fix, so they offered to adopt her because they could. There are other versions of this story, but no one really knows which to believe. Regardless of what is true or false in the case of her adoption, it is clear that the entire situation did a number on her psych.
On September 18th, 2 days after my 10th birthday, my mom was deemed by the courts as an unfit mother. So, when she was done serving time, she was going to be released in to the custody of her adopted parents. In addition to this, she was granting them custody of me when she was released as well. This meant I had to leave. I had to leave and go live with people I barely knew.
I slumped down in my chair and went over everything in my head. At the time, I thought it was the worse news, but I tried to focus on the positive. At least I would get to see my mom soon. She would be held in a facility close to my grandparents’ house until her release and that meant we could go visit. I didn’t care if it was in a jail, it would just be nice to see her.
Maryellen and John reassured me that I would still have a little time with them before I had to leave and I was starting to warm up to the idea of a new adventure, until they told me the rest.
After my mom was arrested, her entire cover was blown. As it turns out she had been on the run since before I was born. She went AWOL from the Army and then left for New York some time in 1980. Shortly before I was born she met a woman whose identity she stole and had been using up until her recent unfortunate incarceration.
She had been operating under a completely different identity for the last ten years. The name we all knew her by and the name on my birth certificate belonged to a totally different person. Not only was she several years older than I thought, but apparently her birthday was in August instead of October. I was learning my mother’s name for the first time. At this point, I was speechless.