Welcome to my first blog post on MyAdoptedLife. I thought it would be fitting to begin this blog on the 43rd anniversary of my conception, which occurred on my birth mother’s 20th birthday. After reuniting with my birth mother two years ago and my birth father only eight months ago, I learned this past July where and when, right down to the day and place, that I was conceived. For a girl who spent 41 years feeling magically poofed into the world, the first known anniversary of my conception is a big deal.
With this post, I recognize both my conception day and my birth mother Lana’s birthday, Happy Birthday Lana! And to you my readers I introduce myself and the players upon the many stages of my adopted life.
THE SETTING: March 24, 1969 – My conception takes place on the banks of the San Bernard river, in a 1948 Spartanette trailer under a misty Texas moon.
Act 1: According to the story, having worked up some heat swinging on the dance floor to Credence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 hit Proud Mary, the birthday girl and her new beau make a beeline to one family fishing camp, along one Texas river, on one fateful night. Perhaps inspired by the song’s calling lyrics “rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.”
Curious to verify my birth parents’ poignantly dusty memories, I check out Wikipedia to learn more about this song. This night was the first and last time they would be together, a one-nighter between friends, could they really remember what song they danced to so many years ago? And there, like it knows why I have come, I read, “The song was released as a single from the band’s second studio album …[it] became a hit in the United States, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March, 1969.”
You can’t get much more likely than that! So of course I search YouTube and find this rocking awesome live 1969 performance of the song. This hip-gyrating foot-tapping listen puts me right there in the car with them, headed to the river, March 24, 1969 – a time of free love, youthful rebellion, fast cars and rock and roll.
“Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ on the river… People on the river are happy to give,” I see the young couple racing through that steamy spring night. She is snuggled up close in the front seat. Radio on, beer cracked and cold. Her new birthday bracelet clinks with each swig of courage she takes. She wonders how this guy ever thought to buy such a nice gift.
In my mind I am there with them. I witness yellow car lights parked against the foggy night, resting across still water. I hear car doors shut and the engine sigh upon a humming riverbank. I watch the glowing tips of two cigarettes bob among the grass like two nervous fireflies. I feel the wet night upon her cold shoulders. I hear his voice, “It’s just over this way.” I grasp the security of the trailer daring them. I sense the warmth of their bodies drawing them. I feel the urge of their passion compelling them – to create me.
My 26-year-old birth father would not learn he had created a life on this night for 42 more years. At 69, long after the invention of the personal computer and the Internet, he would receive an email from his past. She would eventually tell him about me, about how she thought I had been created by her ex-boyfriend; the man who had raped her two weeks after her birthday. The man who in a heated fit had “taught her a lesson” after learning a not-so-close friend, aka my birth father, had hitched a ride on “his” river boat queen.
Lana is her name. If by chance she thought Proud Mama was speaking to them the night I was conceived she was probably right, but the lyrics are eerily ironic now: “You don’t have to worry cause if you got no money people on the river are happy to give,” … your baby a new home.
Jerry is his name. For him, never knowing about me simply meant he “never lost a minute of sleepin’ worry about the way things might have been.”
Ben was an acquaintance of Jerry, the guy accused of rape and the last man Lana was with before learning she was pregnant with me. Lana says this is why it took her almost two years to give me Jerry’s info; that she never considered Jerry to be the father. I have yet to contact Ben and have no way to verify Lana’s statements about this. At this point, with DNA tests complete, I am not sure it is necessary to bother Ben for his take on a truth that now seems irrelevant.
When Lana sent me the birthday bracelet for Christmas last year, she insisted she didn’t know why she’d held onto it for 40 odd years. I think somewhere deep inside her heart she knew Jerry was the father. Sometimes our brains come to believe the stories we tell ourselves, memories change, fade, morph into what they need to be so we can bear them. I can understand that.
Perhaps the 20-year-old, traumatized by the angry sex forced upon her, found solace in the idea that the baby belonged to a bad man – people would understand, they would not judge, they would pity rather than persecute. If I had to guess which guy was the guy, I can see being drawn to the later account. And during a time with no DNA, when no one could ever really know the truth anyway, wasn’t one truth as believable as the other?
Now, thanks to advancements in science and technologies enabling search reunion registries, Facebook and affordable DNA testing, the majority of truth can be sorted out as it has been for us.
Act II: This is where our story begins, mine, Lana’s, Jerry’s, our extended families. We are not without our challenges. We travel at times on turbulent waters. The past is hard to realign with the present, it can’t be reclaimed or rewritten; if not understood, it must at least be respected. Lana and I shared a very rough road at the start that we are still trying to navigate. Still I am excited to pick up 40 years later and begin again, rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ in reunion.