A few days ago, while making my daily post office stop after work, I received a letter from the Tennessee Department of Children's Services in Nashville. I was confused at first, then it dawned on me, like a brick to the forehead, what it had to be about. I hopped in my truck and drove nervously back to the trailer, pulled in the driveway and turned off the engine. I ripped the envelope open, removed the letter and with trembling hands, began reading...
If you've been reading my ramblings since the beginning, then you know the story about how I lived (briefly) with an ex-convict, fresh from prison, in a trailer park back in Chesapeake, Va. You'd know how we eventually ended up living in a car, a Volkswagon even, for a few months, how I'd sent The Amazon to live with Ma in Richmond at my Aunt Martha's house (she said there was no room for me, seeing how I was the bad seed and all) and how I had to trick him in to dropping me off at a friend's house to visit, when I was actually meeting Ma for a ride back to Richmond and a bus ticket to go live with my best friend Lyn in a pretty log house on the outskirts of Chattanooga.
If you didn't know all that, you just got the Readers Digest Condensed version.
What I never told you was, when I got to Chattanooga, I confirmed what I had already suspected with a visit to the Hamilton County health department.
I was pregnant.
I was 23, my four year old was living with relatives because I couldn't provide her with even a roof over her head, by boyfriend, who by now had realized I was gone and was making threatening phone calls to everyone we knew, trying to find out where I was, was a crackhead and when I'd told my family I was pregnant four years earlier, I'd been called every version of slut ho-bag known in the English language and had faced multiple attempts to be made to have an abortion.
The thoughts of admitting I had been stupid enough to get pregnant again terrified me the most.
So I stayed in Chattanooga, I worked for Handy Andy Pantries, then got fired when I started showing and went to work on third shift at Dunkin' Donuts. That's how I ended up dating David, the K9 cop, who had a kinky fetish for pregnant women.. and girls who were only two years older than his son.
I took young and stupid to astronomical new levels.
Because everything happens for a reason, I had a hard time finding an OB-GYN that took Medicaid and ended up having to drive over to the next county for doctors visits. The doctor was older, with a kind face, the most non judgmental Christian I'd ever met and when I told him I was considering giving the baby up for adoption, he revealed that he just happened to go to church with a couple who desperately wanted a baby.
Say what you want, to this day I know he was sent to me.
Details were exchanged, a lawyer was hired, LOTS of papers were filled out, no money changed hands. I never met the couple, I didn't want to.
When the time came and I had to go to the hospital for a C-section, no family, no boyfriend, just Lyn and her irrational fear of hospitals, I've never felt more alone in the world. I remember waiting for the anesthesiologist to give me my spinal and breaking out in a case of the shakes that put the DTs to shame. They made me lay under heated blankets for a long time until it stopped. I reckon it was my first taste of panic attack.
When they took her from my belly and I heard her cry, tears rolled down my cheeks and the doctor told them to knock me out.
I woke up with the good doctor holding my hand and very calmly telling me how she was strong and healthy. Later that day he came in and asked me if I wanted to see her. He told me that she was still mine, I could see her anytime I wanted. I hadn't signed anything yet.
And so I did. Lyn came to visit and she sat with me as I held my baby girl. Lyn held her some too and shared the tears.
October has been a hard month for me since.
Anyways, I did give her up, but I made sure the attorney always knew how to contact me. Her parents sent me gifts in the hospital and later, sent me pictures, through him.
So the other day, I sat in the truck in the driveway and I read the letter, called the number, verified who I was and listened to the social worker explain that the daughter I'd placed for adoption was now 22 and wanted to contact me.
I turned into a blubbering idiot... and of course I told her I wanted to see her.
Now I wait for more forms to arrive, this time to outline my conditions for contact and Lord knows what else. She said there were six pages.
A part of me is scared, but another part.. a much bigger part.. feels like I'm finally putting a big, ugly part of my life to rest.
And I can't wait.