Nicole, late 50s
I was a black market baby. The couple who facilitated the adoption—they knew my biological mom, and they knew the people who became my adoptive parents. My mom wanted $350 for me. Putting me up for adoption, I guess, was cheaper than getting an abortion. That’s all it took: $350 and a signature for my life to change. I was three months old.
My adoptive parents had been married for over twenty years at the time they decided to adopt me. I was six when they told me, and then things started making sense. My adoptive mom was not a nice lady. She was verbally abusive and, later, physically abusive. She hadn’t wanted children—my dad later told me that she’d had four abortions that she’d passed off to him as miscarriages—but my adoptive father was a sweet man, and I could tell that he really loved me. He made it bearable.
My dad didn’t find out about the abuse until much later. She used to call me a “garbage can-baby”—had me convinced for a while that my biological mom had thrown me away and she’d found me in the trash and “rescued” me. I had really low self-esteem. I didn’t have nice things like the popular kids did, and I got picked on and bullied all the way through high school. I was not loved by the only woman I’d ever known as “mother” and I didn’t feel worthy of love, so I made a lot of bad choices.
Before I finished high school, my mom kicked me out of the house. I went straight to work and my boyfriend at the time let me stay in his parents’ garage. He would bring out scraps of food. I hid there for three months until his grandma found me. Then I went to live with my cousins. They told me I could stay as long as I finished my high school degree—so I went back to school. Three weeks in, the principal told me I couldn’t continue going to school there because my mom had refused to release my records. Around that time, I also found out that I was pregnant.
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