The A-Files

"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are." – David McCullough

The "home" for unwed mothers I was interred in is no longer in existence. It was run by St. Joseph Hospital and located near DePaul University in Chicago. I am still amused by the fact that it was also once a convent. Convent, turned home for "bad" girls, turned Theatre Annex for Depaul. Jesus, Pregnancy and Acting.  Hmmm, interesting.

I had to be interviewed and accepted to the "home". Never knew what it was what they were checking for. Was I desperate enough? Alone enough? Abandoned enough? Perhaps pregnant enough? Was I feeling bad enough for my "sins"? Did I look like I might produce an attractive healthy child that would fetch a good price on the adoption market?

I wonder what the file they kept on me said. Did I classify as a pathetic slut who deserved to have her child taken from her? Was I one of the ones who had "potential" that would be better off without my child?

What exactly DID the director write in my files? What did she say about me? Is there a document somewhere in some ones archives or basement that talks about the 17 year old girl that came from 900 miles away, alone, wearing black stretch pants and a black and red checked over sized shirt? Did they notice my clothing? My eyes?

Did they notice ME at all? Or was all attention on my bulging stomach? Did I even exist? Did they look right through me?

I know now that every one around me in the home (except me) knew there was something "wrong" about the "agency" I was working with.  Of course they did not tell me but did they write in my file?  Did they make a notation, perhaps in number 2 pencil, that said "another baby to be sold by Kurtz? Another clueless mom?"

What did they know? What did they write about me?

A friend of mine, who also lost her child to Kurtz in the same year, stayed in a Crittendon "home" in southern IL.  She recently got copies of her twenty year old file. Complete with assessments, intake forms, letters and notes.

I cannot imagine how triggering that must have been for my friend. Yet at the same time, I suspect it would also be healing. To know, finally, what had happened to you when everything was being kept from you. When mail was being withheld or opened by "house" mothers, when calls were screened, when your whereabouts tracked.  To finally be able to read, see, find out the truth of what others were doing to you when you were completely unaware and totally vulnerable.

I think I want to know. I want to see my own file.

I wonder where it is?

5 Thoughts.

  1. You actually have a right to your file in its entirety.
    That said, I’ve never worked up the courage to contact my own agency for my file. Even thinking about it now makes my stomach turn. 🙁

  2. Jenna – I found the old director online and mailed her an email and snail mail asking about the location of the files….gulp. Time will tell!

  3. How horrific, revealing and perhaps healing it would be if there were any record of me at that time. I was almost sent to a Crittenton Home, but my recollection is that it cost too much, so my parents went another route. Contacting an adoption attorney in another state, who placed me in a private home to wait out the pregnancy. The recollections of everyone who knew me at the time are sketchy and unreliable, especially when it comes to my state of mind. I’ve never thought of contacting the attorney, if he’s still around, to see he has any files on me. Probably not, since it was 38 years ago. Another mom told me she got her labor & delivery records from the hospital, and I tried to get mine, but they were so old, I was told they were in some storage building on micro fiche. Hence the facts are left to my imaginings…

  4. *grumpy face* I have been trying to get my records for three and a half years now! Funny my daughter got her info isn’t it? Frakking makes me so angry!

  5. When they merged in the 90’s the records probably ended up here.
    St. Joseph Hospital Madonna Center
    1114 W. Grace
    Chicago, IL 60613

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