Let’s Try This Again

There. Note the little girl standing in the front of the first picture. She’s my First-Mom.

Two pictures of little girls taken about 40 years apart.

That picture says a lot about the reasons I was given for being relinquished. The woman in the photo is my First-Grandmother. The man was not her husband. He’s not my First-Grandfather either. First-Mom was a bastard in what is apparently some pretty hard times. She was called white trash, worthless, and generally thought of as never being able to amount to anything. I was told she wanted to spare me all that.

Well obviously she did spare me the hard times. The little girl in the sailor suit never lacked for a thing. She had everything that her First-Mother had dreamed of as a child and more. But even with the best of intentions, she couldn’t spare me being a bastard.

People never out and out called me white trash, they wouldn’t dare. They never called me bastard to my face either. But I always knew they were thinking it. I always felt that “we’ll wait and see how she turns out” attitude. No, they didn’t say it out loud like they did to my First-Mom, but they thought it. My experience was subtler, like I had committed a crime but somehow got off on a technicality.

I wonder what she would think of the fact that I, and many like me, have come to embrace the title of bastard? Would she be horrified or see it as vindication? I just don’t know.


22 thoughts on “Let’s Try This Again

  1. embrace the title of bastard? ugh. personally, there should be no such thing. but, i understand your point. its like me embracing slut, crackwhore, birthmother…even though I am not and never was any such thing.

    i hate labels.

    they are for cans.

    lovely picture. you were quite adorable! i am sure you still are!

  2. Wow – you look exactly alike. I might have to be inspired by this and do a similar post it you don’t mind. My first father was a bastard and had a really tough life growing up due to poverty. The odd thing is that when his mothers husband was committed to a mental institution she kept him, the bastard, who was a baby at the time, and put her other, older children in an orphanage. When she got remarried the first thing her new husband did was go get the kids.

    My father knows I embrace the bastard title – I think he understands – my mother doesn’t know and would probably be horrified. I like embracing that title – it’s my great big FU to the world for thinking adoption is normal.

  3. Addie,
    Well done.

    A powerful depiction of the reverberations of our and our ancestors choices, limitations, lives.

  4. Suz,

    Just for the record, I never really embraced crackwhore, it was just a phase. (kidding)


    From what I can tell, yes she had a very rough life.


    I am your muse.
    Wow, it strange what people do, sounds like your f-step-gandfather (there’s a mouthful) was a hell of a guy. The guy in my picture did raise, but never adopted (couldn’t afford to?) my first mom.
    I think you have to be a bastard to understand embracing the title.


    I’m hearing a movie announcer voice in your post.

  5. I think you were both gorgeous. I also think both pictures capture a moment remarkably.
    I’ve been reading your blog but have not made it through all of your archives. Are you in contact with your first family?
    Those picture leave me wanting to know more.
    Please keep writing.

    BTW: I’m a a bastard and proud of it. I’m just waiting for Mia to send me my card. 😉

  6. Thanks everybody for the compliments, I think Mom was much better looking than me.


    I’ve had very limited contact with my first-sibs.

    The picture makes me want to know more too. I’ve heard a limited version of her story.

    Make sure you get the coupon book along with your membership card. Tuesday is bastard discount night at IHOP.

  7. kim kim,

    We already made you an honorary bastard and Sargent At Arms in the Benevolent and Pontificating Knights of St. Gerard.

    And yes, your bastard (but only if she wants to be called that, membership is optional) is the loveliest.

  8. Dory – Calling yourself a bastard is a “great big FU to the world for thinking adoption is normal” Yeah. I love it.

    Addie – That picture not only makes me want to know more but it’s also thought-provoking.

    And isn’t it sad how everyone thought of us as bastards behind our backs despite the fact that adoption was supposed to prevent just that? My a-hole abrother (a “real child”) used to call me “defective” and told me I “came from the wrong side of the tracks.” This, to my face, and with nary a “Shush!” to him from my dear amother.

  9. I’m loving the photos – and yeah – I wanna know more.
    There’s so many stories in those pics – I just know it.
    You’re a wonderful writer Miss Addie.
    (and a beautiful person as well)

  10. Addie…thank you for sharing these pictures of you and your mom. With you, the generational “bastard” cycle stops for your family. I agree with Poss, this picture of your mom as a child nearly begs of many yet untold stories. I am sure you could write a book.

  11. I don’t know either (what your first mom would think) but she’s beautiful, and deserved to have raised you. Maybe she’d understand the reasons quite well.

  12. I love this picture. I love the look on your mom’s face.

    You inspire me – I really want to reclaim bastard but so far I am only comfortable with “second choice child” but I’m getting there.

  13. I keep wondering if the word will ever lose it’s power. With all the single and unmarried moms out there doing a wonderful job with their kids, it shouldn’t be so awful, but it is.

    I know what you mean about people saying stuff behind your back, and thinking, “Well, we’ll wait and see how she turns out.”

  14. Looking at these pictures and reading your post made me cry. It was very moving Addie. I wonder what your mom was looking at? You two are identical! WOW. Amazing.

    Tuesday at IHOP, cool! Was I supposed to be passing out cards? Nobody told me that was in my job description. Am I going to be fired now?

    “We are very sorry to inform you that you are not doing your job as a Bastard so…YOU’RE FIRED!”

    How cool would that be?

  15. Julie
    I’m sorry you had to hear that, it had to hurt, bad.




    get me a deal. I want a big advance.


    somehow I do think she would get it. I want to think that maybe we think alike, but who knows?


    Just let us know when you are ready, there’s a secret initation and everything.


    I think more the people who “get it” say it, it will lose it’s power.


    Sorry hon, you have been appointed for life.

  16. Addie,
    Wow, family resemblance and genetic mirroring is just plain scary (except if you are not an adoptee). I’m continuosly obsessed with observing this in other people’s families since I don’t have that on my own. Most non/bastards take this for granted.


  17. Wow – my own post? I’m flattered. But, you guessed wrong. My mom and dad do watch that show because they have made comments about Bucket, but Petunia is a nickname someone gave me when I was young. It is NOT my birthname–although it is different.
    Your post has unfortunately unleashed the “mean girls” 🙂

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