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Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

But what many don't realize is that the "secret" hangs over your whole life like some Damoclean sword. I mean, do you really live in terror that your adopted daughter or son will someday come to call? Some do. Some adoptive parents don't tell their child he or she is adopted, sometimes with devastating and unintended consequences--that the child feels less loved or less a part of the family. My brother and I always knew and it was no big deal. My mom and I, though, had another nature vs. nurture talk yesterday afternoon and she actually told me that she never felt "competent" as a mom. Really? Seriously? I thought she's done AWESOME. I mean, not that my brother and I were or are angels by any stretch of the imagination, but the woman's going to get a high-five from St. Peter when the time comes. But, nature DOES trump nurture. The genetic component is incredibly dominant. It's why I have to correct something Chad put in the article. I was 4 months old when mom and dad got me. At that time in Kansas, the state would not put newborns up for adoption like that -- not until after 3 months of age, because they did cognitive and mental testing to ensure the infants weren't retarded (their word in 1964). Only after those tests were infants put up for adoption. So, thanks also to the foster family in Lawrence who had me for 4 months or so (after the nurses finally gave me up). If any of the nurses are still alive, I'm sure they'd get a kick out of the fact that my parents kept the name THEY gave me in the hospital.

One other happy (and slightly weird and disturbing) note. Well, it's happy in that I spent over an hour on the phone yesterday to Debbie House -- the daughter of A.T. and Jean House -- the couple in the story who found me at the laundrette. What an absolutely WONDERFUL woman and we hit it off IMMEDIATELY. What was weird and slightly disturbing, though, was when she said there was something she had to SAY to me. And it was this: I was born in the early hours of November 16, 1964 on the floor of that bathroom. On November 16, 1963 -- one year to the DAY earlier -- Wallce E. Grover, Jean's father and the owner of the laundrette, in the early morning hours, arrived at the laundrette, walked to the back, hung up his coat, and died instantly of a massive coronary no more than three feet from where I was found. So. the emotions of the House family that day a year later were already shredded because of the anniversary of Mr. Grover's death. I cannot imagine what was going through their minds when they walked in and found a crying baby ..... (I'm also an author. It's saying something when my truth becomes even more bizarre than my fiction)

January 16, 2013 at 11:39 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

I'm registered on I also took the advice of the person who suggested DNA testing at 23andme. That was mostly for my son who is keenly interested in his genetic background (it must be a "15-year-old-thing"). I had hoped Topeka, KC, and Wichita would pick this up on the wires and run it in case she (or he) is still in Kansas somewhere. It could happen. I was at grad school in North Carolina when I met this guy from Shawnee Mission ... and we've been married for 17 1/2 years.... so, Kansas never gets too far away from you when you're from here.

January 15, 2013 at 10:53 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

Thank you! I admit, when I got the address, I poked around your neighborhood using Google Streetview. I was STUNNED to see the laundrette. The neighborhood looks like a well-kept, pleasant place.

January 14, 2013 at 10:02 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

The nicest thing about this article is that now, no, we don't necessarily have to meet. I just always wanted to say, "Thank you." It's been an awesome life overall. I don't know the circumstances of any of what led up to her decision. I really do hope she (and he) found peace with it. But, if they ever had guilt or dismay or terror that something horrific happened to that kid, no. It didn't. It's good. Thanks for the beautiful life. (But, seriously, who does play piano? LOL!)

January 14, 2013 at 10 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

Yeah, well, that's stunning. Please don't think Roe v Wade meant that no one was having abortions BEFORE then. I'm pretty sure abortions pre-dated that ruling. "for whatever reason" are not MY words, they are CHAD'S words. I'm pretty clear on what the world was like in 1964 -- and unwed and pregnant was something to be terribly ashamed of at that time. What Chad DIDN'T put in the story was the rest of our conversation. Yeah, EVERY adoptee wants to believe that their parents wanted them desperately but just didn't feel like they could provide the kind of life they wanted for them. When I talked to Chad I also mentioned that I didn't have a clue about the circumstances -- was this an accident? Am I the product of a rape? Incest? I don't know, but I DO know that the woman had the compassion to leave a way out for me, and I ended up with beautifully loving (and patient) parents who never believed I was anything other than a Knowles or a Linn (my mom's family). So, yes, I suppose Roe v Wade could've provided another way out, but I'm sure it would have bummed out my parents ... and husband ... and my kids... (and for the record, Roe v. Wade was 1973. Apparently, the same year the Kansas SRS came into being)

January 14, 2013 at 1:28 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

I've thought about a DNA test. But, like you said, there has to be someone in the database to connect with -- and that may not be likely in my case. Still, it would be worth a shot, and my son, 15, is very interested in what I'd find. What I wouldn't have found, though, is that Dr. Godwin has thought about me, or that Brad and his sister had TALKED about me. There is something incredibly humbling about realizing that, for 48 years of my life, people I haven't had a clue about have stopped and spared a thought for me at different times. I'm in awe ... and grateful.

And I still wonder ... who was the musician (I play piano), and who was the writer (I'm an author), and who had the interest in particle physics? (don't get me started). My older brother is also adopted, and was adopted under far different circumstances (no abandonment in his case). We were raised by the same parents and are completely different people. If anyone out there wants to do a nature vs. nurture study, look at the two of us.

January 13, 2013 at 6:16 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

And one more thing by way of explanation -- the timing of this. I love my parents like crazy. I always thought that poking around about my distant past would be rude and disrespectful to them. Well, until I was home visiting in October when mom, dad, and I had this exchange:
Mom: I don't know how you stand it. I would have to know SOMETHING.
Me: What?
Mom: What?
Dad: What are you two going on about?
Mom: Her, Kenneth, finding out something about where she came from.
Me: You wouldn't MIND?
Mom: I don't know how you've stood it. I couldn't have --
Me: Oh, for cryin' out loud .... ♥

January 13, 2013 at 12:29 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawhorn's Lawrence: A tale of an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat

I don't think anyone was more surprised than me, Ron. I KNEW about the 1986 case, and that was why it was such a stunner when the pre-adoption birth certifcate arrived in the mail. The first article Chad sent (the Nov 17, 1964) is pretty cold, clinical reporting. Not only was there MY case, but it mentioned another: "A similar incident occurred a few years ago when an infant was left in a crib on a local resident's doorstep. That baby, too, was in good health, and was adopted later by a family from another city. The real parents were never found."

I know Chad was a bit incredulous at my theory -- the university student, an unwed mother -- and I got a kick out of the "for whatever reason," but I think we have to remember: it was 1964. Pregnant out of wedlock was a shameful thing in 1964. That was when girls were "sent to visit her cousin" should such a thing happen. I'm sure she was scared. And, after you give birth, let's face it, hormones are running amok and you're not thinking right. I'm sure she didn't have clue on how to swaddle a newborn so it would stay put (my son was a regular Houdini when it came to getting out of blankets). Fingers fumbled for a dime. Whether it was her or someone with her who did it--it was an act of compassion. She, or they, didn't just close a door and walk away. Remember, 1964. No cell phones, no smart phones, no 911. That dime told me more than anything in that story. And my older brother, also adopted, had filled in another bit two years ago when he laughed and said, "Oh, c'm on ... you're 46 years old. You never counted back 9 months from your birthday?" "Why would I do that?" I asked. He chucked, "Amy, it's Valentine's Day."

January 13, 2013 at 11:44 a.m. ( | suggest removal )