Joan Rivers says that when she comes across an ugly baby and can’t think of what to say, she comments on how nice the crib is!
Here is some background in case you haven’t read my earlier posts. My older brother and I were both adopted from The Willows Maternity Sanitarium in Kansas City, Missouri. We aren’t related genetically, but grew up together and are close. As close as two complete recluses can be.
My brother is four years older. After my parents adopted him, they immediately set the wheels in motion to adopt another baby. Single child households were not common back in the late 1940’s – early 1950’s as these were the baby boom years after WWII.
In order to adopt another child, my older brother was taken to a child psychologist and interviewed. I’ve copied what the psychologist wrote about him.
And she was dead on about my brother. From an early age, he showed incredible mechanical genius. He was a mad inventor even as a little kid. My brother made rocket fuel in the basement. He created a mechanical witch that popped out of the clothes hamper in the bathroom to scare me when I got up in the middle of the night to pee. And on and on. Mom said that whenever she visited his elementary school unannounced, he was always standing out in the hall being punished for one thing or another. Honestly, he was just bored. A.A. Hyde Elementary School didn’t appreciate his aptitude and also didn’t know how to handle him with the exception of making him stand in the hall.
In 1951, my parents were given the opportunity to adopt a baby girl (me). One month after my birth, they drove to Kansas City to pick me up. As you can see, I was skinny, very red and hairy. My eyes appeared oversized, much too big for my face.
The state of Missouri has finally changed their laws on Sealed Adoption Records. If both biological parents are dead (and you can prove it), you can petition the Court to receive a copy of your adoption file. (I have written more on this subject in earlier posts)
I finally received a very thick manila envelope of paperwork from the Circuit Court of Jackson County. Inside were pychological evaluations of my parents, letters of reference, copies of receipts, etc.
Luckily for me, Mom didn’t see me through other people’s eyes. If she had known what the home visitor had written, that I was not pretty and not precocious, she would have driven to Kansas City and kicked her in the butt! Once they got us, Mom and Dad were the most loyal parents ever.
Below is copied from a letter that Mom wrote to the social worker in Kansas City. (a copy of her letter was in my big manila evelope)
Her hair is very dark for a tiny baby and her head is beautifully shaped. I have seen pretty babies, but none as pretty as Jan. Now, if we can just teach her all the things that must go with her being so beautiful.
I wish our pictures truly could show you how sweet our baby is, but some day we will be in Kansas City and we will bring her to see you.
Thanks Mom and Dad! R.I.P.
I was born and adopted from The Willows Maternity Sanitarium in Kansas City, Missouri. During its heyday, the Willows advertised “Superior Babies for Adoption”. After searching for newspaper articles that made reference to The Willows, I came across a scandal that involved The Willows in 1924. (If you would like more background information on The Willows, please see my earlier posts)
Miss Lydia Locke appeared at the Willows Maternity Hospital in 1924 calling herself Mrs. Ira Johnson of Hannibal, Missouri. She had references in place and the Willows was satisfied enough with her story that she left with a newborn baby boy. Miss Locke allegedly “borrowed” that baby in order to receive an additional sum from her wealthy ex-husband, Arthur Hudson Marks. In the divorce decree she received $100,000 but was assured an additional $300,000 in case a child was born to her. (the amounts varied depending on the newspaper) She obtained a birth certificate from the family physician naming the baby boy “Arthur Hudson Marks, Jr.”
The Marks were divorced in September of 1923. Apparently Miss Locke was mathematically challenged or unaware of the average gestational period for humans, but in October of 1924 she appeared in New York with the baby. Miss Locke contacted her ex-husband and asked him to acknowledge the baby as his own.
Mr. Marks, not so biologically or mathematically challenged as Miss Locke, employed private detectives to learn how she obtained the baby. The poor little baby, now six weeks old, was ordered returned to the Willows Maternity Sanitarium. The articles don’t say what became of the infant. In any event, he was better off without the looney Miss Locke.
Before adoption became a compassionate process of placing children in healthy homes, it was more like the dog pound. Below is a clipping from 1906 for “The Willows” that reads like a “free to a good home” pet adoption ad.
A Very Fun Holiday Gift for Anyone — DNA Testing for Genealogy & Family Origins. Come on, you know you are curious!
I’ve tested my DNA at both http://www.familytreedna.com and at http://www.23andme.com Because I am adopted, I used the Family Finder test at familytreedna to verify my paper trail. I waited until I knew who my biological father was and even until I had talked to his son on the phone. In fact, I never had to bring up the subject. His son told me that a DNA test would prove my theory and said that he would be willing to take one. I ordered the test for him and it proved correctly that we are 1/2 siblings.
But DNA testing can show so much more. It seems like everyone I talk to believes that they have some Native American blood. I thought I did also as I have dark hair and eyes. And my complexion is “olive” or “ruddy”. I had to look up the definition of ruddy to make sure I was using it correctly & I am. But I found that my ancestry composition is 99.9% European and .1% East Asian & Native American.
(of a person’s face) Having a healthy red color.
At 23andme, it is about finding your relatives, but also about your health & how your genes determine your chances for disease. Under “My Health”, 23andme has the following categories — disease risk, carrier status and drug response.
One of the most interesting things I discovered is that 3.1% of my DNA is from Neanderthals. That puts me in the upper 98% percentile. Average Northern Europeans on their site have an average of 2.6% Neanderthal. Being in the upper 2% is like being in an exclusive group like Mensa, only with much more hair. I always wondered why my toes made my feet look like they belonged to a Hobbit. 23andme also sells t-shirts that correspond with the correct Neanderthal percentage.
23andme recently acquired new financing that allows them to permanently lower their test from $290.00 to $99.00. This is an incredible bargain. Their goal is to attract one million new customers this year. That will make matching with relatives so much easier.
I’ve copied the following from 23andme’s Press Release of Dec. 11, 2012.
23andMe Raises More Than $50 Million in New Financing
Company Sets Growth Goal Of One Million Customers, Reduces Price to $99 from $299
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – December 11, 2012 – 23andMe, Inc., the leading personal genetics company, today announced it has raised more than $50 million in a Series D financing. Participants in the financing include Yuri Milner, a new investor, as well as existing investors Sergey Brin, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, New Enterprise Associates, Google Ventures and MPM Capital. This investment will help the company achieve its growth goal of one million customers.
The Power of One Million People
Expanding the company’s ability to reach and serve one million individuals supports 23andMe’s goal to revolutionize health and wellness. It also will accelerate 23andMe’s ability to create a powerful platform that enables researchers around the globe to make meaningful discoveries significantly faster than is currently possible. With this expansion, 23andMe, which currently has more than 180,000 customers, will aim to:
- Enable groundbreaking research by creating an exponentially larger collective of actively engaged, genotyped individuals;
- Help accelerate development of new treatments;
- Improve understanding of wellness and disease prevention; and
- Broaden access for people seeking to manage their health and well-being through direct access and greater understanding of their own genetic data.
“A community of one million actively engaged individuals will be transformational for research. A community of this magnitude will improve researchers’ ability to quickly answer questions about genetic function and the role of environmental factors. In addition, it will enable researchers to understand medication efficacy and side effects, in both medications that exist today and medications are that are in development,” Wojcicki added.
Broadening Access: Lowering Price to $99
The Series D investment, combined with rapidly decreasing costs associated with genetic testing technologies, enables 23andMe to reduce the price of its Personal Genome Service to $99, effective immediately. The company will continue to evaluate optimal pricing strategies.
The investment also enables 23andMe to expand the necessary infrastructure to support growth in its research and operational capabilities, including product development, genetic research, software development, recruitment and marketing.
My daughter called me tonight and we talked a bit about my blog. I said that I am trying to be sensitive since I am dealing with the lives of my very much loved relatives. Adoption as it pertains to me was due to babies being born to unmarried mothers. It was a hidden event during the forties, fifties & sixties. And since then, everything has changed. My adopted mother, Harriett, was very aware of this change in social mores and wrote me this poignant note in 1995. I clipped out the center part of the letter as it revealed too much personal information about one of her friend’s unmarried granddaughters who chose to keep her baby.
My parents never concealed the fact that I was adopted. All of the announcements contained the word adopted and it was never a secret in our family. Harriett & Ray were such great parents that I am surprised that Harriett would ever have any doubts in her skills. As a parent, though, I know I have many regrets as to my parenting skills (or total lack of). But as immature as I was, at least I got a chance to grow up with my daughter . And I am still sorry that I never created a fabulous baby book — but of course Nanny (Harriett) did that for me.
From 1940 until about 1970, up to 4 million mothers in the United States surrendered their newborn babies to the adoption process.
I’ve copied the text below from Wikipedia
Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the original parent or parents. Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations.
Beginning in the 1940s and 1950s, illegitimacy began to be defined in terms of psychological deficits on the part of the mother. At the same time, a liberalization of sexual mores combined with restrictions on access to birth control led to an increase in premarital pregnancies. In most cases, adoption was presented to the mothers as the only option and little or no effort was made to help the mothers keep and raise the children.
All of that said, I was an extremely lucky newborn and was adopted into a loving and secure family. While I was searching through old photographs today, I found the cross stitch picture that my Mom made for us. They truly felt this way about us and we never doubted their love or loyalty.
My Granny Kelley (Mary Romick Kelley) had three sisters. Granny was the only sister who married. Granny (Mary) married Forrest Aaron Kelley in 1909. Nell, Lida and Edna chose to remain single and were “old maid school teachers” as they were called back then.
I have been working on putting together a “Page” family tree to include all of the family I gained through being adopted into a wonderful “Leave it to Beaver” type of family. Mom was never up making breakfast without being nicely dressed like June Cleaver. I was one lucky little “orphan” or “gutter snipe” in the words of the Willows Maternity Home. Ray & Harriett Page picked me up from The Willows on May 11, 1951.
Back to the Romick sisters — Nell (1874-1939), Lida (1887-1959), Edna (1889-1977) and Mary (1878-1963) were all trained as school teachers. There weren’t a lot of other choices back when they were young women.
The story from my mother (Harriett Kelley Page) was that Samuel B. Romick wasn’t an easy person. (By the way, my mom Harriett was named for her grandmother). Harriett Kenworthy Romick (Samuel’s wife) waited on him & he always took the best pieces of food first. Whether or not this had anything to do with his daughters deciding not to marry, we’ll never know. And perhaps that sister Nell preferred fishing & other male activities over crocheting or embroidery — who knows what those times were like for women who refused to fit the girly mode. Women had so few options. Or perhaps men shuddered at the other three sisters’ names. Mary is definitely a nicer name than Nell, Lida or Edna.
But I did find some interesting information about him today. If you have read any of my earlier posts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of http://www.findagrave.com. I was searching for Samuel B. Romick and found that the volunteer who photographed the Romick grave site in Wheat Ridge, CO (a suburb of Denver) also went to the trouble of finding his obituary. That is so way beyond just being a volunteer. Thank you Wednesday, whoever you are.
Birth: Dec. 21, 1841
Death: Mar. 15, 1924, USA
Beaver City Times, Mar. 24, 1924 Samuel B. Romick, for fourteen years a resident and merchant of Beaver City, died at his home, 2205 ———————— 17, 1924. A man of good habits and strong ———— meaning of sickness until four years ago, when hardening of the arteries began sapping a life already extended well beyond the allotted span of “three score years and ten.”
He was born December 21, 1841 in Harrisville, Ohio. At the very beginning of the Civil War he enlisted serving in the army of the Potomac. Being captured at the battle of Stone River, he experienced and endured for several months the terrors, hardships and scanty food of Libby prison. He was in the famous March of the sea under General Sherman, and could fully appreciate the battle song, “Marching Through Georgia.” In his last days he seemed to live over again the scenes, struggles, and victoires of that testing period and when he could no longer speak he frequently gave the soldiers countersign.
He was in active business life for about fifty years, first in Iowa, and later in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, retiring four years ago at Onadarko, Okla.
He was married in September 1873, to Miss Harriet Kenworthy of Oskaloosa, Iowa, who survives him, and is joined in mourning by four daughters: Misses Nell, Lida, and Edna, of Denver, who are popular and efficient teachers in the city schools, and Mrs. Mary Kelley, wife of Dr. Forrest A. Kelley of Winfield, Kans. His only living brother, Philip A. Romick, of Onadarko, Okla., could not be present at the funeral.
He had long been a member of the Masonic order, and it was especially fitting that he should be laid to rest in the section of Crown Hill Burial Park reserved for Masons, where every new grave is an added consecration to a spot already made sacred by the “broken columns” of many of the brethren. Honor to his memory.
My father, Raymond F. Page, was one of the nicest & most honest men I have ever met. He grew up in the oil fields of central Kansas. His father, Fred Page, kept the oil pumps working for their owners and didn’t make a lot in return. Ray was born November 8, 1913 in Lincoln County, Kansas to Frederick Copeland Page and Myrtle Revella Shaver Page. He died June 22, 1998 in Wichita, Kansas. Raymond F. Page was my adopted father.
Ray received a full scholarship to attend Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas during the Depression. The scholarship was provided as long as he kept one of their buildings clean. In return, he got to sleep on a cot in the basement. While at Southwestern College he met my mother, Harriett Kelley. Harriett was a Home Economics major who attended college while living at home with her parents. Life was a slightly easier for the Kelleys. Her father (Forrest Aaron Kelley, M.D.) was a physician in Winfield and often received food as payment during the Depression.
Raymond F. Page & Harriett N. Kelley married on June 11, 1939.
From left to right, Fred Page (Ray’s father), Robert Kelley (Harriett’s brother), Reva Shaver Page (Ray’s mother), the minister, Ray Page (the groom) and Harriett Kelley (the bride), Mary Romick Kelley (Harriett’s mother), Forrest Kelley (Harriett’s father), Nadine Page (Ray’s baby sister), Earl Page (Ray’s brother), Patricia Kelley (Harriett’s sister) & Margaret Kelley (Harriett’s sister).
My father was a bit old for World War II. Right before he was to be drafted into the Army, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp in hopes that he might have a better chance of survival. Ray had already graduated with a degree in Business and Accounting from Southwestern College and because of this, he was taken into the Marine Corp. at a higher rank. Luckily for Ray, his main wartime duty was to be a pay officer in Hawaii. The younger men called him “Pops”, and he spent his time in Hawaii making sure they all received their pay on time.
Last Monday night I did it again! I tripped in the basement and broke the left leg! I don’t have a “Teenage Ninja Turtle” cast yet. I’ll post a photo update after I see the Orthopedic Surgeon on Friday. Below is a photo of the ugly black walking boot I am currently wearing. I am stuck here at home with my leg elevated until I see the Orthopedic Surgeon and hear his opinion on what kind of cast I will need. I am hoping that they have updated their choices of cartoon characters. Bummer! I could never walk & chew gum. I probably score in the 99% of the world’s clumsiest people.
Both of my biological parents are dead. I wish I had met one of them to hear the story of how they met, why Grace Britt took the train to Kansas City to give birth to me and much more. The one thing that I know they had in common was drinking. Unfortunately, it was also the cause of both of their deaths.
My bio. father, Bill Engle, was born on April 1, 1919 in Montana and died on December 27, 1966 in Bay Head, NJ. I’ve talked to my 1/2 brother and 1/2 sister on the Engle side and, although they didn’t know that I existed, they weren’t terribly surprised. Their (& my) father was an avid horseman and polo player. He could even ride a horse standing on its’ back. Bill was a pilot, was in the Masonic Lodge and a character. His son volunteered to have his autosomal DNA tested. I had already had my DNA tested at http://www.familytreedna.com and the test proved our 1/2 sibling relationship.
When Grace met Bill, he was married and had a family. Whether she knew about his family or learned about it later, I’ll never know. Bill’s wife has also passed away. If she was alive, I’d never write this in a post. But it certainly explains Grace’s going to Kansas City on the train. Men aren’t always honest and, as the saying goes, “all is fair in love and war”.
Bill Engle was a military man and served in both WWII and the Korean War. During Korea, he was in the armored tank division and was hit by a tank tread. After coming back to New Jersey, he started a successful real estate agency called “Town & Country”.
I wish I knew more about him as he was a character. It was his wish to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Below is a photo of Bill Engle taken from a Graceland College yearbook.
My adopted ancestors came to Kansas in covered wagons & first lived in sod houses. David Shaver (1846-1936) was one of twelve children born to Silas and Elizabeth Shaver. He was born and grew up in Laurel, Indiana. At the age of 17, David enlisted in the Union army in Company M and A of the Sixth Indiana Cavalry and served until the end of the war.
In September 1871, he came to Kansas and took a homestead about eight miles southeast of Lincoln, Kansas. My grandmother, Reva Shaver Page, was one of David’s daughters. Reva was the mother of my adopted father, Raymond F. Page. Reva lived in Kansas from 1891-1983.
Reva’s brothers Clem, Ray and Carl all went together to fight in the Spanish-American War.
The following is what Grandma told me — from left is Clem (Clement Montfort Shaver, 1867-1903), Ray (Raymond Steven Shaver, 1871-1905) and Carl (Carl Waltz Shaver, 1874-1954). The man standing on the far right was a friend and I don’t know his name.