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Re: “Read the Anna Mae He Ruling — From the Source

I understand people's and the court's concern for justice, but what is more important from my personal experience, it Anna Mae's psyche. Over the years I see the battles over children as property. I was once the object of such a battle. My biological mother gave me up at birth for adoption. I am not certain that my biological father knew she was even pregnant. He's another mystery in my life although I know who he is without knowing him. My biological mother's brother and new wife suggested to my biological mother that she would regret this decision, and offered to care for me until she got herself on her feet. So I came home from the hospital after about one month to live with who would become my parents. At first there was "Mama Kitty" and "Mama Doris", but as Doris faded from my life, and me moved from Michigan to Flordia, I only had one mom, Kitty. Doris was pretty inconsistent in any efforts to maintain contact. When my parents, and now little sister (who was also a "collected child") would visit our home state of Michigan, I would spend a night with Doris. It was always frightening. My earliest memory of a dream was seeing my parents lying on hospital tables and emptied down a trash shoot. It was when I was nine years old that the visit to Michigan changed my life. Doris was angry with my parents because they broke down on the highway and called her for financial assistance. By the way, she told me this story. She felt she had to help her brother with a $100.00 because they had cared for me for nine years. She decided that she would remove the conflict for herself. The evening we arrived in Michigan, she came to take me for a night as was the manner. On the drive to her house, she told me that I would not be returning to my family, and that I would be living with her. My brain screamed, but the compliant nine year old child sat silent. She kept true to her word. I didn't get to return to my parents until one year later when they filed a lawsuit against her for custody of me and they won. A very odd decision back in 1962. My life has never been the same. The insecurity and fear I feel inside never left. Everything in Doris's world was foreign to me. She spoke English and was culturally similiar, but my life went from being a member of a family with a dog, sister and parents I knew, to a life shattered. To the outside world, I look fine. I made good grades and had a special friend named Nancy Bolton who was my best friend. She'll probably never know how much I need her and her family. The brother and sister down the street with whom I played. It all looked fine. I imagine that no one ever knew what pain I carried inside. My sense of safety and identity shattered. The effects of this event live today in me as a 53 year old woman, wife, mental health counselor. I was kidnapped, held hostage against my will, and had no voice to speak this. When the judge in California took me into his chambers and asked me where did I want to live, I told him with my mom. He responded, "Which mom?" I didn't understand what he meant, so I couldn't answer. I remember running up the aisle of the court room to my mom's arms, crying in her lap. Apparently the judge saw what I was unable to articulate for him. My mom was the one who had loved and cared for me for nine years. And he let me go home. I would like to say that the story had a happy ending, instead just a more complicated one. The loss of one year damaged more than myself, it damaged my relationship with my sister with whom I was raised. She would lay under the dining room table in our home, afraid of being taken away also. She has never trusted me as when we were children. My mom had difficulty with the personality transformation I had made in one year, not to mention her assertion that it was my fault because I hadn't runaway to return to them. Before this time I was not a child who would have run away from home, why would anyone question my inability to runaway later? It's a ridiculous concept, and one that troubled me as I watched the young man who was kidnapped face people, who could have no idea of what such an experience was like, struggle with disbelief that he didn't runaway. How pitifully little people understand of this experience. It may sound arrogant but I liken it to what someone who was interned in a German concentration camp experienced. I have friends who's parents survived these experiences. I lost everything that identified my life, my family, my pet, my school, my clothes, my toys, my friends, my world. I had nothing but a few clothes and a Barbie doll left of the existence that had defined "me" as I connected to the world. It is a lot to lose. As I had been left on my own to fend for myself, I was more detached. I was depressed but my family would have never thought of that back then. I just remember the silky blanket that I didn't want to give up that my mom finally threw away when I was at school one day. My mom was caring for some kids, and I was extremely jealous of her giving them attention. I even took one of the boy's favorite toys because I was so angry at his being there. He also like the heels of bread, and I began hoarding them in my drawer so he couldn't have them. They just molded. I was in trouble again, more obvious signs, but still no one knew the depths of my pain. For all the troubles of that time, and the times to come which are unimaginable, I managed to grow up in the sixties and seventies without doing drugs or alcohol. I have a great husband who understands that leaving home for a vacation is anxiety producing for me, and that I will spend the night before not sleeping and will run things over in my mind many times to make sure that I will have a home to which I can return. As I get older, leaving home gets harder and harder. I bring my experiences to my work as a mental health counselor. I understand rape, physical and emotional. I understand physical and emotional abuse. I know how children adapt to situations to survive. I know what it means to be kidnapped and afraid. It took me years to manage the belief that everything that I loved either left me or died, and that I was to blame for the loss of my family. I am better able to use my experience of life to help others improve the quality of their lives. This is how I learned to thrive. I wish Anna Mae the best that she can make of the life that she will now have to live. Maybe justice for the parents was served, but I believe based upon my personal experience, the best choice would have been to leave Anna Mae with the family she knew and allow the biological family to share custody so that she could have had the wholeness of both relationships. The judge committed a crime against Anna Mae as far as I am concerned.

Posted by Genevieve Davis on 03/11/2007 at 7:30 AM
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