“No After School Specials Here” by R.T. St. Claire Copyright 2008 by R.T. St. Claire She didn’t do it because she wanted to give me a better life. She did it because it’s what she knew how to do. When I turned 26, my adopted dad (I never actually referred to him as that, because I was adopted by him and my adopted mom when I was nine months old) died of cancer. That was just about the time that my adopted mom casually mentioned to me that my real last name was something like Van Halen while we were watching a segment of Entertainment Tonight. Me: “You knew that?” Mom: “Of course.” Me: “Why the hell didn’t you tell me before?” Mom: “I don’t know. I guess I never thought to. It’s in the papers.” Me: “The papers?” Mom: “The court papers.” Mom got up and in a minute came back with a fresh vodka martini (for herself) and the actual adoption papers from the court. She’d had them all along, 26 years, and had just neglected to mention it. I was speechless. A few days later I made some calls and found a woman who specialized in finding birth parents of adopted kids. I hired her, and within a few minutes on the phone with her, she was reading me info off of a bootlegged microfiche from the very hospital I was born in. She had lots of those kinds of boots. And she had a record of my un-altered birth certificate. I was instructed by my specialist to find a sympathetic doctor (of which there are many, by the way) who would be willing to write a letter to the court about my fictional, serious illness that only opening my sealed birth record could fix. And that’s what I did. And that’s what they did. It was all so... Underground Railroad. And before too long, I had everything that was to be had. Everything was unsealed. Batta bing, batta boom. I found my half-brothers first. They were both career criminals. Mostly illegal drugs stuff and child molestation. Actually, a lot of child molestation. Then, through them, I got in touch with my biological mother. Unlike every other adopted kid, I had never deluded myself into believing that my real parents were beautiful and wealthy and brilliant. I knew better. I just didn’t know how much better. Yet. You see, my bio-folks were sad people. Sad and broken and dangerous. People that you definitely do not want trespassing into your life. But because in my own, non-identifying information file (the county’s file that is opened on you when your bio-mom goes down there to sign up to give you away, containing info about your folks that is sanitized to the point of supposedly being useless to you in finding them - should you actually want to) it said that my bio-dad was a composer and a musician. As I’d been playing music since age eight, and performing in clubs since age 15, and composing and recording since age 16, I suddenly became very focused on finding him. Him. My father. Not my bio-mom, nor bio-siblings, nor anyone else. Just dad. In the end, I found them all. Except for him. But what I really found is that adoption is a really, really great thing. Because whatever mom’s reasons were, and I really don’t care what they were, adoption clearly snatched me from the jaws of the beast, and delivered me into the loving arms of a very nice, innocuous, middle-class couple. Apparently mom had nine live births, every other one a set of twins. But she only had two of these kids while married, so those were the only two she kept. The career criminals. The bad seeds. Or maybe we were all bad seeds. When mom was still quite young, she had come to L.A. with her best girlfriend, and promptly got knocked up, you know, between rolling drunks and other unsavory illegal activities. Upon finding out that she was pregnant, she promptly called her own mother back home in Tacoma, and mom flew down to L.A. and brought her to the local county adoption offices. My mom’s mom then taught her how to handle these things. And my mom would go on to repeat that drill many more times in her life, almost every time she got pregnant, in whatever state of the union she was living at the time. Not because she wanted to give me (or anyone) a better life. She did it because it’s what she knew how to do. She’s strikingly non-maternal. I once asked her, very non-judgmentally, if she had ever thought about using birth control. She said that The Pill made her “nervous.” I then asked her if childbirth made her nervous. She earnestly replied “Nope.” Mom’s story isn’t an after-school special, or a Lifetime movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney. When I found her, she was living back in Tacoma, and I flew up there several times to spend time with her, to hopefully glean something useful in finding my father. But like she said: “Honey, I’m sorry, but I slept with a lotta guys that looked like your dad. I can’t really remember very much.” She told me lots of details that I didn’t want to know, and virtually nothing that I did want to. She actually seemed kind of sad about that. But then again, her whole life was really sad. Full of brutality, and crime, and abandonment. So in the end, I learned the truth about her and what kind of life I would’ve probably lived if she’d kept me. And in the end I was glad. Glad that I found out what I found out, and glad that I’d never allowed myself to believe that my biological parents were anything other than profoundly fucked-up people leading profoundly fucked-up lives from the cradle to the fucked- up, government-subsidized grave. And it did make me finally appreciate my adopted parents. My boring, conservative, uber- vanilla, adopted parents, who just wanted to have a Norman Rockwell painting life, but instead got me - the bad seed of a bad seed of a bad seed who just wanted to rock and roll. Maybe like his dad?