“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.

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

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

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?

6 thoughts on “Adoption

  1. It doesn’t matter why, but you dodged a bullet the day you were adopted. I like to think it is because you were destined for greater things, which you would have never been able to accomplish if not for your true, adoptive, ‘real’ parents. No matter what you label yourself, they loved you like the son that you are to them. Period. And they have always been proud of your accomplishments. Even when they didn’t understand them. They might be vanilla suburbanites, but they still allowed you to be the rocker, bad-boy that was inside your soul. Gotta give them snaps for that. There is no parenting manual for bio or adoptive parents. And they were flying by the seat of their pants… I see them through a whole new set of eyes ❤
    Now i am going to give a certain antique italian rolling pin a hug 🙂

  2. Regent your story resonates. I have my own adopted story from hell you never knew, when we were together. We worked on Wilshire. Gloria AlIred office is still at that location. You I believe lived on Sunset back in the day. Anyway…
    Neglect abandonment physical psychological abuse and molested by male and female. That’s a glimmer into my bio side.
    My adoption was no favorable cure to my story just more insane trauma shrouded in horror they “choose” for me. Replacing me with a daughter who was electrocuted in their back yard and the family shrouded in the Lutheran church and their own demons. Well social services was conned. Or just couldn’t care less I was going into a family of sociopath’s.
    My personal thoughts is foster care is just for insensitive ppl to make money and gain a servant child. That’s how it worked for me. No hugs no love, Thanks for letting me reconnect with you by coming across your story. I have a voice now, so if your curious I would like your take on my story what a journey and quest I’ve lived.

    • Darby – you might be surprised how many times I’ve thought about you over the years since Wilshire. If you want to talk: three one zero, seven one two, seven oh, six oh. My publishing co. #. I’d like to hear your voice.

  3. Hey There, many, many years ago (20?) you caught up with me in Viginia, I had to cut the call short ‘cuz I was on my way out the door..never called you back. you cross my mind now and then, wondered how and where you were. Love your post. Hope your life is good…and after reading your post, I think that no matter WHAT it is, it is better than it would have been… I have a blog on wordpress too:
    would love to her from you

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