Thursday, January 14, 2010

At Last I Know Who I Really Am

We have a saying in our family "Always stay sober, you never know who you are going to run into". Social networking intrigues me and it is proving to be a bonanza for getting reconnected with Hope Babies. Hope Cottage has a Facebook page - some people have found us just by searching Facebook with the words "Hope Cottage".

A friend of mine who is a teacher at a local private school joined the Hope Cottage Facebook page. Within a few minutes of his joining, one of his former students posted that his mother was adopted from Hope Cottage. The student was so excited to find the Facebook group that he immediately contacted his mother, told her about it and posted a scan of her adoption story on the group page. His mother has given us permission to blog about her story, so here it is. Originally written by John E. Frook and published in Family Circle in 1987, the story of Shannon Kincaid Frazier, one of our own!

Number 182,164. That's all she has to go on: a number hidden in one of the ten dictionary-fat books in which every child born in the state of Texas in 1959 was logged in by surname, alphabetically, and assigned a birth-certificate number. From Aalbers to Zworykin - 247,248 names and numbers.

But Shannon Kincaid Frazier has no name with which to begin her search. She will have to go at it the hard way - find 182,164 in one of the books and then backtrack across the page to the name attached to it.

Shannon and her sister-in-law, Liz Frazier, had been at it for about three hours. They had split the year into A-K and L-Z, and by now each of the young women was into her second volume.

Suddenly Liz whispered, "182,164!" "Uh-huh," Shannon replied. Parrish!" Liz exclaimed. "Donna Gayle Parrish!" Shannon, absorbed in her search, still didn't respond.

As Liz said later, "It was a name that meant nothing to me, but my heart was pounding to beat the band. When Shannon finally looked up, all I could do was point. She came around to my side of the table. I had my finger pressed down hard so the name couldn't get away. She didn't say anything for a couple of minutes. Then she let out a scream: "Donna Gayle Parrish!"

At age 25 Shannon Kincaid Frazier, the adopted daughter of Patsy and Dr. Billy Paul Kincaid, had found out who she was.

She had wondered about this - about who she really was - since a summer morning when she was 10. She remembers the exact moment - she was sitting in her mom's bedroom and the conversation turned to babies. "When I have a baby, will I die?" she had asked. She knew she was adopted and assumed her birth mother was dead. Why else would a woman give up her baby?

Shannon, my mom said, your mother isn't dead. I have something I think you'd like to see." And she took down the strongbox and handed me a letter.

It was a one-page genealogy of "Baby Girl Kinkaid (sic)" prepared by Hope Cottage, the Dallas home for unwed mothers that had placed her for adoption: Mother: curly brown hair, blue eyes, round face, 4'11", 105 pounds; smiling, pleasant, manner, generally happy, Irish descent, excellent student, two years of high school, sings, plays cornet, artistic. Father: dark blonde hair, brown eyes, 5'11", 5 years of college, good singing voice, intelligent.

"After that, I looked for them everywhere," Shannon says. "I tried to imagine faces from the features and characteristics."

Shannon has only happy memories of her childhood, of being looked after and loved in large measure. And there is nothing in her adult personality to suggest she was ever damaged psychologically. She is an accomplished painter, a country-rock vocalist, a sometime bit player with television and film credits. She considers her marriage blissful and her young son, Obie, a godsend. And if that's not enough, she is, as they say in Texas, as pretty as new paint.

Still, until the day she learned the name she was born with, she had never quite been able to shake the feeling of incompletemess, of unfinished business.

To be continued...

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