Adoption

Adoption Story was featured in the Chicago Tribune

I was adopted, and I’m going to tell you my story. Just like all stories, the details are altered by the storyteller. I realize I’m wrong on some facts, but this is my version …  I can’t figure out why people don’t realize that when reading the bible.

For the sake of the story, My birth mom is Maria. My parents are Pieter and Susan Witteveen. I have a brother and sister named Jon and Kelly. And I have a brother by birth named Mark.

Back in 1974, Pieter and Susan already had two children, Jon and Kelly, before I came along, and due to health complications, the doctor advised that Susan not have more children. Susan was torn; she wanted more kids.

My parents were (are) very religious and they were active in the community and church. They fostered a little boy before they met me, and they prayed for the chance to possibly adopt a child in the future.

One day, Pieter was driving to town, and he saw a cute, young girl hitchhiking. She had big curly black hair, and she stood maybe 5 feet tall. Pieter pulled over to pick the girl up. She was visibly pregnant. They talked a little. Her name was Maria, she was 16 and she was going to a friend’s house. Pieter dropped her off where she needed to go, and gave her Susan’s phone number and explained that the next time Maria needed a ride, please call Susan and she’d take her wherever, no questions asked. “Please don’t hitchhike again, it’s dangerous,” Pieter told Maria.

Pieter and Susan did not hear from Maria for some time.

They did, however, hear of a young girl in the community who was pregnant and needed some help. It appeared her home life had become very difficult. It happened to be the same girl that Pieter picked up hitchhiking. Through a church-affiliated organization, Maria and the Witteveens hooked up and were in contact.

A couple months after I was born, the Witteveens got a phone call from Maria. She told Pieter that she was at a trailer and the people there were putting my health at risk, so she asked if they would come pick me up. As I know the story, she wanted to stay and party and leave me with the Witteveens.

During the next couple years, Maria stayed with the Witteveens, and they acted as a sort of foster guardians for me. They had a social worker on the case.

Part of the deal of being my guardians was that the Witteveens had to sign a contract that said they would not eligible to adopt me. My dad had been reading a religious book about keeping promises and being contractually obligated was a godly virtue.

So despite the fact that Maria was thinking about putting me up for adoption, the couple who were already giving me the most love and affection weren’t going to be considered as possible parents.

In the meantime, Maria was a free spirit. She would disappear from time to time. She would hitchhike to Michigan, to California, all over the place. The social worker would stop by the house, and tell my parents, “If Maria isn’t here by the end of the week, we’re going to have to take Jeremy out of your foster care.”

As my parents tell the story, “Miraculously, Maria would call to check in, and we’d wire her money or a plane ticket to come home,” just in time for me to avoid being taken and thrown into the system.

Susan says things like, “Maria and I would sit out on the front porch, crying, talking about the painful decision whether to give up Jeremy for adoption or not.”

Through the help of a little prayerful mediation with the state, the hand of god swooped down and changed everyone’s mind and let me be adopted by the Witteveens.

Open adoption wasn’t allowed back in the 70s. But Maria lived close to the Witteveens, and she explained that she would run by the house hoping to catch me playing in the yard.

My parents never hid that I was adopted from me. I knew from an early age. They explained that I was chosen, and that made me special. They told me I was Puerto Rican, but that meant that it was why I didn’t look like the rest of the Witteveens, with their light complexions and fair hair. I was always singled out in public with my family, but it was okay.

When I was 18, my parents sat me down and told me parts of the story that they had left out. They told me it was my decision as an adult, if I wanted to start communicating with Maria. I did. We started a letter correspondence.

When I was 20, I drove to Florida to meet her and her son Mark. It was amazing. When you don’t know who you got your genes from, and then you finally find out, it’s like the best Christmas present you’ve ever opened. I met Maria and my grandmother and my step grandfather during that trip. My grandmother was incredible. She made me my first Puerto Rican meal and coddled me like I was 2, and she just changed my diaper and needed a nice hug.

After I met Maria, her son Mark, my grandmother and step grandfather, I was introduced to other family. I have four (I think) uncles and one aunt by birth. Maria’s youngest brother is Anthony, and he invited me to his wedding back in 1996 or 1997. There I met Bob and Dwight (I think) and Teresa. Uncle Mark and I met on Facebook recently.

I’ve also met cousins that I never knew about. It’s a long tangled story.

My parents think it was a miracle that they got me. Not to devalue their views, but I don’t think it’s any more a miracle than Glenn Beck getting awarded a $50 Million contract from FOX news to be a complete douchebag on television. People get lucky. I got really lucky. I may not win the State Lottery, but I won a life lottery when I was adopted by the Witteveens.

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23 thoughts on “Adoption

    1. I was told his name. Robert Briggs or Biggs. I can’t remember now.

      The story of my conception is that Maria slept with a dude she liked in a trailer whilst the dude’s girlfriend slept in another room.

      While I was writing this story, I had a sudden rush of a bad feeling that my step grandfather is my “birth father”. I say it, because my step grandfather is named Robert (his son is Bob from last night’s fb debacle).

      Pieter once told me that Robert might have gotten fresh with Maria a couple times and it’s why there was trouble at home.

      I’m sure that might start more questions.

  1. I don’t know. I think the Witteveens would know. I’m thinking about asking them. I am talking to Tina about it now.

    Yes, Uncle Bob and Maria have the same mother, different fathers.

    Uncle Bob’s ‘s dad is Robert. He was the military man that Bob brought up last night.

  2. The one who might have messed with Maria. Wow. I can see wanting to know, and not wanting to at the same time. My mom’s stepfather abused her as a teenager which is why she married my dad @ 18 and left England. Didn’t want to be on the same continent as the bastard. Her mom didn’t know.

    Q2 – You were raised in a religious family, went to Christian schools (you posted that on twitter) so when did you become an atheist? How does that go over with the rest of your family?

  3. Deep down I always had doubts. I announced it to my brother about 2 years ago.

    I’ve been in the closet since college when I experienced a major heart break, because “God told” my ex-girlfriend to breakup with me and get married in less than a year.

    When someone tells you that god told them to do something and he didn’t tell me when I was such a strong christian, you completely throw that shit out the window.

    After reading “The End of Faith”, I decided I qualified as atheist. I’ve never said I was atheist to my parents, because they are afraid to hear it, and won’t let it come out of my mouth.

    They plug their ears and scream, “La la la la la la!!!”

    It makes for some really weird dinner table conversations, though.

  4. There were other circumstances that led to my godlessness, but that one was really big.

    Allowing myself to think rationally about the bible was another huge factor.

  5. I can see why you wouldn’t bring it up much with family. “God told me to” is such a cop-out. Sucks that you had to be hurt like that :(

    How did you end up in Chicago? Where else have you lived?

  6. Must have been quite difficult allowing yourself to go there, re the bible. Almost like deprogramming yourself from a cult.

    1. Deprogramming was difficult.

      I was telling Julie (rationalbehavio) that the hardest part was to stop praying on airplanes at take off and landing. Now it’s easy.

      I know the bible better than anyone I know. I can rattle off the books of the bible in 30 seconds.

      Religion is an addiction that is handed to us before we can wipe our own asses. Of course it’s going to be hard to let go of after 20 years of conditioning.

      I need to know your story next.

      1. My dad is like you with religious knowledge.

        I’m so glad I didn’t have religion forced on me!

        Tell me what you’d like to know, although I probably won’t get to it til later. Going out for a few minutes right now.

  7. I grew up in small-town USA, and after interning on a film set in college, I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. I made some short films. A friend of mine wanted to get into acting and said that Chicago would be a good jumping off point before moving to LA or NYC. I ended up falling in love with Chicago and staying here.

    In college, I spent a summer in Montmagny, Quebec working in a factory that my dad imported furniture from.

    I also studied in France for one semester.

    I spent four months in the Philippines under the guise that I would join my brother Jon as part of the family furniture business.

    There’s a long story here about my dad Pieter and how he fucked around with little filipino girls, but I was miserable in the Philippines. I was offered some freelance work back in Chicago, and moved back here in 2003, opened my business doing graphic design, video and photography full time.

  8. I think my dad secretly wanted me to marry a Filiapina so that he could live vicariously through me.

    When you come from a religious background, and your dad is all high and mighty your entire life, then you seeing him getting down with an underage girl who isn’t your mother, it tends to really piss a guy off.

    I’m pretty sure my dad thinks it’s his fault that I’m godless. He expresses how much he regrets about his life a lot, and how it might have affected us kids.

    It definitely didn’t make me godless, but it certainly made it easier.

  9. So you grew up absent of religion? or not being forced on you?

    Where did you grow up? When did you decide you were atheist? Are you atheist?

    Where have you lived?

    Are you married? Divorced? Single? Kids? Step Kids? Grandparents? Great grandparents? Bra size?

    Just kidding about the last one.

    HONK!

  10. Gonna have to do this in parts:
    Grew up pretty well without religion although it was discussed (many different religions, that is) My mom took me to an Anglican church when I was around 4 once or twice to make her mother happy. I didn’t go to any kind of Sunday school, just listened to the rambling. My favorite part was when they put the candles out. Don’t ask me why. As I said, it happened only a couple of times, so she wouldn’t have to lie to her mom.

    I decided consciously that the whole god thing was bullshit when I was around 7 or 8. I remember thinking about it and it made no sense to me. I was a very logical kid. I was fascinated by religion though, from the outside. About how people behaved because of it, what was done in the name of it, etc.

    **
    back in a bit

  11. I have my dad to thank for making me such as thinker as a kid – he would ask me stuff like “How do you know that this isn’t all part of someone’s dream?” “What if our universe is just a speck of dust in another world?” If he had any kind of philosophy, it most closely resembles the Gaia theory. Enough about that. Next:

    I was born and raised in Toronto. The only other place I’ve lived is London (UK) for 6 months or so, years ago.

    I am separated en route to divorce (m. 14 yrs). No big rush, we’ll get to it eventually.

    No bio kids, two adult stepdaughters. I am my 14 year old nephew’s legal guardian. (My only sister died in 2003)

    Parents both alive, three grandparents were dead before I was born, one died when I was five.

    Bra size …. ha

    1. And you’re currently living in Toronto, now, right? I think that’s what you said. I guess I could go look on facebook.

      Well, I think you’re just peachy and have enjoyed getting to know you.

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