Just a Small Town Girl
In the words from one of my favorite Jon Cougar Mellencamp songs – “I grew up in a small town.” Although he might have been going by the name John Cougar at the time he wrote the song, I can’t seem to keep up with his artistic name. I grew up in a small farming town in Illinois with a population of just over 3,000 people.
I was one of the few minorities in the majority-white town. When I say few, I literally mean one of two minorities that lived in the small town. Over the years, we had a few exchange students in high school from other countries who would stay for a school year. But, I was the only biracial child (my father is black and my mother is white) that spent all eighteen years of my childhood growing up there at the time.
I was adopted by a white family when I was five or six years old. The family used to babysit for me when my mother went to work at a local factory. The family that babysat for me would eventually become my adopted family after they continuously saw signs of physical abuse on my body. Burn marks from cigarettes, red slap marks across my face that eventually turned into a bruise in the shape of a handprint. My mother would drop me off unbathed and in dirty clothes, etc. One time, I had bites from a German Shepherd on my legs because my mother went out with her friends and left me locked in the bathroom with the dog as my babysitter until she returned.
Living in a Lonely World
The family that babysat for me eventually took steps to adopt me and take me away from the abuse. I was either five or six years old when my adoption was final. My adopted father had spent many years in an orphanage growing up as his mother passed away at a young age and his father was not able to take care of him and his siblings. I would find out years later that one of the sole reasons they adopted me was because they didn’t think I would be adopted by another family because of my biracial status. And, they didn’t want to see me growing up in an orphanage like my adopted father had to endure.
I was a cute kid if I do say so myself and I believe that I would have been snatched up in a heartbeat by someone like the fictional Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks from “Annie” because he needed to improve his public image and take in an orphan only to find that my charm and personality melted his heart and he finally admitted to assistant that he was in love with her and that they should be married and adopt me for themselves after failing to find my true parents. HA! Okay, maybe I dreamed those things would have happened instead of being adopted by the family that took me in. As they say, I went out of the frying pan and into the fire as a result of the adoption.
Sharing Is Caring
More of my personal stories to come in this section. I share these experiences to continue my path of healing and to hopefully help others that have gone through similar situations or those who might be struggling with their life and asking if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My answer to everyone – is yes. Seek a friend to talk to, or a counselor, or psychologist, or a leader in your religious institution to share your feelings and concerns.
I will end today’s post with my personal knowledge that kids are not born with hate in their hearts. They are taught hate from their parents, relatives, and/or friends. I will never forget when I was in 2nd grade and a new kid moved to the school and his mother brought him to class on his first day at our school. The teacher welcomed him to the class and asked the class to greet him as well. Afterward, the teacher assigned him the seat next to me in class.
I watched as the mother looked on in horror as her son was seated next to me and immediately asked the teacher to move him to another seat away from me. Although the teacher moved him to another seat, it didn’t stop a friendship from developing between us that would last until I moved away to go to college in Atlanta. Throughout the years of our childhood, I wasn't invited to his house for parties or play dates. But, that's okay. I knew the mindset of his parents (or at least his mother) and loved him anyway.
Music played a huge part in my healing process and still plays a big role in my life. I do not own the lyrics are have any ties to the musicians that wrote them. I put a few words or lines from songs in my writing because I associate everything in my life with music and it makes me feel good.
What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failure to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm, or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.
If you see signs of abuse with anyone you know, or are a victim of child abuse, get help right away.
For more information, to seek help, or find out how to help abused children click here: Childhelp.
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