before he had a name

By: ewhite422

Apr 08 2010

Category: Uncategorized

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He was born, “Baby Boy Wells,” on this day (I won’t say how many years ago) in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston.  (And for any of his friends in the oil field who love to tease him, that is NOT his picture above).  His mother told the attorney handling the adoption that her husband had died the previous October and that she had no way to care for an infant, in addition to her two small children, under age six, and work full time.  So she gave him up.

Dorenda and Symond (Buddy) Doughtie were eager to receive him into their hearts.  After graduating from Rice University, they married and hoped to start a family right away.  But their plans to have a baby were delayed, until after they adopted Brooks.  As so often happens, the adoption suddenly cured anxiety to conceive, and Dorenda gave birth to a daughter a year later.  Brooks and little Dorenda were the apples of their parents’ eyes.  Brooks never felt any less their son, even after he discovered he was adopted.

That is why he never looked for his birth mother.  He never wanted to hurt his adoptive parents’ feelings.

So, after both had passed away, I asked Brooks if he would give me permission to look for his birth mother.  Being the insatiably curious type, I just wanted to know about her, and if she were still living, I wanted her to know what a wonderful human being her son is.

I nosed around the internet for a couple of weeks with no luck.  The adoption records were sealed.  Finally, I found a company that claimed they had extensive databases and could find birth mothers, even if the record had been sealed.  I paid my $150 and waited.

It was 7:30 AM on one December morning a few years ago when I received a call from the woman handling my search.  “I’ve stayed up almost all night!” she said, “And I believe I have found your husband’s brother!  I talked to him by phone just now, and he’d like you to call him.”

My heart was racing.  I hung up and dialed the number in East Texas.  I won’t use his name, because I want to respect his privacy.  He sounded shaken when he answered the phone.  “I never knew that my mother had another child,” he said.

“Well, it might be a mistake,” I offered, sensing that I had perhaps trodden on ground I had no right to be on, just because of my curiosity.

“No, it sounds like something my mother would do!” he insisted.  “She was tough, practical, and headstrong.  I could see her making a decision like that.”  He proceeded to tell me about her, that she was a teacher, the kind of teacher that kids refer to as the one who influenced their lives for good.  I was sad to hear that she had passed away, so my dream of telling her about her son would not come true.  Still, I was happy to know about her and marveled that Brooks had been a school teacher, too.

“Can you tell me about your father?”  I asked.  “What did he do?”

When I heard his answer, I almost dropped the phone. 

“He grew roses for a living,” he replied.

“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, “Brooks LOVES to grow roses!”

Both of us were silent for a long time.

“Does he love old things?  Does everything he owns have a story behind it?”  he asked.

“Yes!” I cried.  “I am constantly trying to get rid of old clothes, old magazines, and old boots.”  The only thing that has helped is that, as he gets older, he forgets where he put them, and then I can act sympathetic when he asks where they are (after I’ve thrown them out).

“You can’t remember where you put them?” I say innocently.  I admit to being bad sometimes.

We ended up meeting Brooks’ probable biological brother.  They liked each other.  And they do look somewhat alike.  The brother sent a picture of his mother, and she looks exactly like Brooks would with a woman’s wig.  I’m convinced that she is the woman who handed over her baby on this day, more than 50 years ago.  The two men are not as curious as I am and have resisted my entreaty that they do a DNA test.  I don’t know why not everyone is as curious as I am.  It can be maddening sometimes.

Even without the test, I am convinced.  And so on this day, I give thanks for the birth of my husband and the woman who did what she felt was best for him, although it must have broken her heart.  Brooks’ birth mother did call the Doughties several times, asking to know about his wellbeing.  It made Dorenda worry that somehow she would try and take her baby back, so she asked her not to call again.

Life is complicated.


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