I was born on Saturday the eighteenth day of October in 1980 at 11:49P.M. in a community hospital in nowhere Iowa. The name given to me at the time was MaRita Beth. I have two older brothers Andrew and Dave. My biological parents’ names are Marie and John.
My biological parents divorced when I was two and I was sent to live with Marie along with Andrew. Dave was sent to live with John. I recall sleepless nights wondering where Marie was only to find out in the early morning hours when she stumbled in that she was out drinking again. I have memories of watching pornographic movies and then being sexually abused by my two older brothers. There were times when Marie left for days or weeks at a time and we didn’t eat or bathe or anything. There were dirty dishes with maggots on them in the sink and unwashed clothes everywhere in our single wide trailer. Very clear in my mind is the memory of the night I had to go to the ER for stomach pain, we tried for a couple of hours to locate Marie, but to no avail. Then John made a call to the local bar and there she was, drinking a way in the back. That night I ended up needing an emergency appendectomy, I was four then. I’ve been told by reliable people that I was sexually abused by John, but of this I have no memory, whether this is a blessing or curse is hard to say. I remember going to AA Meeting with Marie. I also know I only saw doctors when I was sick, which was often, I never once saw a dentist, and by the time the State stepped in I was severely malnourished. I was 8 years old and was 4 feet some inches tall and weighed less than 50 pounds.
My story here takes a twist, unlike most children that enter the system; I was dropped off at the Department of Social Service’s front door by John on a hot July day in 1989. The day has never left my memory even after all this time. There were a couple of cops present, a lawyer, a social worker, a therapist (I think), John and I. That day was the beginning of an incredible 14 year journey, a journey to find forgiveness, peace, love, happiness, and myself. I was dropped off at DSS because of suspected child abuse. I was in five different foster homes while in the system. In the fourth foster home, I was molested on several occasions by the biological son of the foster parents. I don’t know whatever happened to him. He may have served time, not sure. I stayed in one last foster home and then I went to live in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital in their behavioral health unit. I was there for I don’t know how long and for reasons that still aren’t clear to me. From the hospital I moved to Children’s Home Society, a group home for kids that need intense therapy or wards of the state.
During my stay at Children’s Home Society there was a court hearing, which I was present at, in May of 1990, where all parental rights were terminated. After the hearing I was faced with having no parents, the feeling of not being wanted, and being alone in the world with out a friend. That was the last time I saw my parents. I was somewhat bitter about how that day was handled. Marie knew what was going on, but I was told what happened only after she had already gone. The last memory I have of my biological mom is her walking away from me crying and me not being able to do anything about it. By this time John was originally indicted on five counts of rape in the first degree, but instead got a deal. He plead guilty to one count sexual contact with a child under sixteen, with the following conditions: 1) He was to serve three years in a state penitentiary. 2) He repay his court costs within one year of being released from prison. 3) He pay a $15.00 court cost. 4) He waive all rights to his three children. 5) He would have to register on the Sexual Predators’ Registry once released. 6) He receive 161 days credit on time served in Jail. My biological father served three years for a crime he should’ve served way more time for. John was out of prison before my adoption was ever finalized…
On March 14th, 1991 I finally started Public School again. I would be a fourth grader. I had trouble adjusting to the public school setting again, but I managed. Up until that point I had been going to a Private School on the CHS campus.
Later on in May of 1991, I met the Fields. They were to be a potential adoptive family for me. I began to visit them on their farm. On June 11th, 1991, I got some bad news. The Fields had decided not to add any more children to their family, so I wouldn’t be going to live with them. I was very angry, upset, and confused. I couldn’t understand how they could hurt me like that after everything else that had happened to me already. I again felt very unloved and unwanted. I wondered what it was that I did to make people not want to have me as their daughter.
On July 9th, 1991 I got some good news finally! There was a couple (Tim and Mae) that wanted to meet me. I was told that they wanted to be special friends in my life. We met on July 10th, 1991. We started going places like out to dinner, movies, bike rides, and picnics. We were basically just having fun together.
Then one day in August of 1991, we decided to become a family. We were in a TheraPlay session (counseling session) when they asked me to be their daughter. There were a lot of tears of joy and hugs of happiness. We even have this day on video tape to remember the occasion.
I packed up my belongings (for what I hoped would be the last time in a very, very long time) and move in with them, out to my new home. On August 26th, 1991 I was officially discharged from Children’s Home Society. By this time, school was only a week away. This would be the beginning of my fifth grade year.
My adoption was finalized on April 23rd, 1992 and I was eleven and a half years old at the time. We were in my eyes a real family. My parents said we were long before then, but I was afraid to believe it because I was scared they would send me back to CHS. Mom (Mae) and Dad (Tim) me a promise, which was simply this: “They would always love me no matter what, that I would always be their daughter, that they would forever be my parents, and that we would always be a family.”
In September of 1995, Tim moved out of the family farm and Mae and Tim divorced that year in October I think. Mae remarried in April of 1996 and Tim remarried in May of 2001. In July of 1998 Mae was arrested for assault of a minor, the minor was me. We never really saw eye to eye on anything and that night we got into a fight the police were called and Mae went to jail. Mae and I no longer have a relationship really, my life is better without that drama in it. Tim and I still see each other multiple times a year and he will always be my dad. My hope is that one day Mae will understand the damage she did, but I doubt it. She was never ever wrong…
In 2002 I along with my now husband went to see my biological parents, I looked them both straight in the eye and said what I had come to say. Forgiveness for them wasn’t easy, but over the years I’ve learned more about what happened back in 89’ and I’ve come to realize they did the best they could with what they had, it just wasn’t good enough.
The circle of abuse has ended with me; my child (ren) will never know the pain I’ve had to experience. Back in the early days of being in the system I remember a night that was rainy and I was scared sitting in the corner of some foster home’s bedroom, I made the promise to my eight year old self that I was going to make this right. I made something of my life and everyday I try to give back to the kids like me.
I married a good man with character and honor, we have a daughter that has been a joy to watch grow up, and I have a college degree in Criminal Justice. I have a job where I take care of adults with disabilities. I made it right, that is something I celebrate everyday. I know I am where I am because of me and the strength I found inside to not let them win, but also because of the wonderful people that I have come to know on my journey to happy.
“If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to others then you deserve a love deeper than the ocean itself.”~Nikita Gill