135 Years, 135 Stories title image

21 Years Later

TANYA, South Carolina

“Could this really be her?”
“What if it is really her; what will she ask me?”
“I’m not ready; I’m scared.”
“What if she is upset with me?”
“What if her life was horrible?”

What if, what if, what if … I could share a thousand more what ifs that ran through my mind on Sunday, March 16, 2014, while I waited on my daughter to call me for the first time in twenty-one years. I had released her and her brother for adoption when I was seventeen years old. Although I knew that the choice I made was the best one for all of us, over the years when I thought of my children, I still prayed that they were growing up in a healthy and happy environment.

By the time I was 15 years old, I had been sexually abused by a number of my mother’s adult boyfriends, friends and/or drinking buddies. There was many times during early childhood that I would wake up in my bed with an adult man standing over me, fondling me or positioning my body for sex. Where I come from, there were scores of absent parents; my mother was one of them. She also was a very physically, and verbally, abusive woman. She frequently found refuge from the pain and torment of her existence in a bottle of liqueur. I grew up feeling as if I was a major inconvenience.

On November 12, 1993, many events were taking place that day. A mother was bathing her baby somewhere. A child was in school waiting on the recess bell to ring so that she could go and play with her friends. At a hospital, a new mother was giving birth to a bundle of joy. As for me, I was signing adoption papers, praying that I would see my kids again. Jasmine was nine months old and Joseph was twenty months old. They had no way of understanding that this would be the last day that they would see me for a very long time, possibly ever. How do you prepare yourself and your kids for a final visit? Jasmine drooled and laughed as she sat on my lap. I laughed as I played with her; she was trying to grab a piece of paper I was holding. Joseph stood by us looking around the room. Maybe he could sense (even at that young of an age) that I was leaving them, handing them over fully to a new life.

I met Myron at a party. I had not too long ago turned fifteen, and a friend of mine invited me to a birthday party. It felt really cool to be going to a party. I was usually reserved and really introverted. I did not have much self-confidence growing up. I had a mother who had no idea how to nurture and love herself, so there was no way she could help me learn ways to love me. It was easy for me to be drawn to the advances of a nice looking guy that showered me with attention. The plus this time, was that he was young, like me. I really liked that, because it was usually older men that approached me. It was almost as if I had this invisible sign on my forehead that said, wounded dove waiting on next possessor, will it be you? With Myron though, I would come to feel important. His family opened their arms so that I could be a part of their fold. I found myself wanting to be around him more and more. His family was poor like mine, but they had more love. Myron was seventeen, and I was fifteen, when our paths crossed. We loved as hard and as fierce as we knew how at the time. Sadly, it wasn’t enough. Soon we parted ways.
Shortly after, I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

Jasmine Simone was born in February1993.
I signed the adoption papers in November 1993.
I found her in March 2014.

For both of my pregnancies, I attended school, and lived, at the Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina. It was during my second pregnancy, that I knew I could not return home. I moved to Carolina Youth Development Center after I gave birth to my daughter. From there, I had to learn to create a new life.

The call came in around 5:30pm. I knew that it was likely Jasmine because I did not recognize the number. I was SO nervous and scared. My youngest daughter was sitting by me. She saw a host of emotions from me that day. There was one point when I sat in my chair and cried and cried. My youngest daughter stood by me, hugged me, and rubbed my arms all while I heaved from release. When I answered the call from Jasmine, I did my best to keep calm. I was excited. Then I heard the hello. Through the phone I was hearing my own voice. It was as if life had pressed the rewind button, and I was speaking with myself.

“It is great to hear your voice. I can’t believe it!”
“This is really you?”
Then the biggest question of all flowed from my lips.
“How was your life growing up?”
My lips couldn’t help but quiver as all the emotion in my heart bubbled up through my vocal cords.
“Were you happy?”
Jasmine’s response…
“Yes, I feel I was really blessed.”

The breath that I did not realize that I was holding was released. Jasmine and I then started talking about the amazing things she has going on in her life. We talked about her two sisters, and brother, that I had later in life. I told her how I had informed them about her and Joseph many years prior. I was able to tell her who her birth father was, and that we were connected on Facebook. Within twenty-four hours the kids and I were headed to Georgia to have a reunion with Jasmine and Myron. It was so surreal. I hadn’t seen Myron in almost twenty years. Here we were together again, with our daughter. I had to force myself to stop hugging her. I remember her scent. I couldn’t help but to inhale as much of her scent as I could without seeming weird; at least I hope I accomplished not seeming weird. I kept my tears at bay as I introduced Jasmine to her three siblings. We shared a hotel room together after a long day of meeting family and meal gatherings. At one point, when everyone was asleep, I stood up and looked at my children. One noticeable person was missing, Joseph. As I stood there, I was in awe; four of my children lay sleeping. They were breathing deeply in a relaxed and easy manner, with love encasing them.

Joseph Anthony was born in March 1991.
I signed the adoption papers in November 1993.
I have not found Joseph yet.

Tanya Robinson