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I lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas as a small child. My family was impoverished. While there, one day, my Momma brought home the most wonderful of all treasures: A baby girl, Jennifer. Until then, I had a little brother, but no baby sister.
It made me feel so big and strong and important and grown up to have a baby sister. Her name was Jennifer. She was, to me, the most beautiful thing to ever grace our little home. In my small world of sadness, she and my brother were my joy and my hope. I was so excited and happy. She was such a beautiful child; and I loved her with all my heart ... and you know how big a child's heart can be.
I remember playing and quietly occupying myself at Momma's feet there, with Jennifer in her lap. Then, for no apparent reason, I would just stop, stand up and go to Jennifer. I would stroke her tiny face, rest my hand on her little chest, give her a kiss and go back to play. I got to hold her once, only briefly. I looked down at her and memorized every curve of her tiny face and marveled about how special she was and wondered how long it would be before she was old enough to play with.
The joy, though, was short lived. It became clear very quickly that Jennifer was a very sick little girl. Her illness dealt with her kidneys. Because I was so young (6 or 7), I can not be any more specific; but I do know that her condition was undoubtedly life threatening. She required regular medications and treatments.
Jennifer could keep nothing down. She was literally starving to death in Momma's arms. Momma tried to feed her sugar water; and even that got spat back up. As a small child, concerned over what was happening, I would curl up under Momma's rocking chair while she rocked Jennifer, trying to feed her, and weeping. Eventually, I'd fall asleep; but then, many times, I would be awakened by the most bloodcurdling screams I have ever heard in my life; before or since. It was Momma. And she would be screaming: "Jennifer! JENNIFER! Breathe! Don't die on me! Don't you die tonight!"
A destitute mother under an ineffective and limited welfare system, my Momma was left with a terrible choice -- one that no mother should ever have to make. Do I keep my baby girl and hope that she doesn't die in my arms one night? Or, do I let her go so a family with more resources can give her a better chance at living?
One day, Momma left the house with Jennifer ... and returned without her. I met Momma at the door and, as I typically did, looked for Momma second and Jennifer first. Jennifer wasn't with Momma. I asked, "Momma? Where's Jennifer?" Her words ring in my ears to this day: "Jennifer went to go live with someone else for a while, PeeWee. We're not going to see Jennifer again. Not for a long, long time."
I was inconsolable then. I am inconsolable now. As time goes on, the memories and emotions recede; but occasionally, they resurface; and the grief is overwhelming.
Sometimes, I dream about her. We are together, happy and laughing, doing things that regular families do, like celebrating Christmas or Birthdays or just going out to eat. I am so joyful in these dreams, and I'm so very proud of her, and I feel so much love, I think my chest will burst open. Then I awake; and in the insanity that occurs between dreaming and lucidness, I think to myself, "It's been a while since I've talked to Jennifer. I wonder how she's doing? I need to give her a call! What's her phone number again? I think I have that written down somewhere. Where is she living again?" And then I am lucid, and then I remember, and then I weep.
I never got to tell her "goodbye". I never got to sneak cookies to her from the kitchen, or beat up the boys who were picking on her, or show her how to make snow angels, or tie her hair in a knot and blame it on her other brother, or tell her that Mary had a little lamb.
Soon after Jennifer was placed for adoption, my birth family left Arkansas. We made it as far as Kansas, but due to vehicle problems, we could travel no further. It was here, in Kansas, where my brother and I were also placed for adoption. We were very fortunate to have been placed, together, in a very good home with dedicated parents. When they could finally put together the meanings of the words spoken by a 7 year old (me) and realize that we had a sister, they inquired about Jennifer. They were informed that she had been placed with a family in Arkansas.
Ten years after my adoption, I did find Momma again. It was an emotional and joyous reunion. We shared a close friendship. She believed in her children; all 5 of us; and never gave up hope that one day, she would hold Jennifer once again. This was not to be. Jennifer's Momma was taken by cancer several years ago.
I want to find out what happened with my sister; she was diagnosed with a disease called "Emyloidosis"; a biological disorder that affects one in a million (that's a true statistic) and usually persons over 40. It is incurable, progressive and terminal. The body deposits calcium into a random organ in the body until it hardens and fails. Jennifer probably did not survive her childhood.
But I still need to know; and if the most likely outcome is true: Jennifer is no longer among us; I still want to know.
Jennifer was born in 1973, 1974 or 1975. She was placed for adoption soon after her birth; probably within the first 6-8 months; most likely in 1973 or 1974. Jennifer may not be alive; though she was living approximately 1-2 years after her birth, when my parents inquired about her. I must accept that she may have succumbed to her illness. But even so, I need to know. I need to close this chapter in my life. As she was so very young during the adoption process, it is possible that her name is no longer "Jennifer". She would have a history of life threatening (or fatal) medical issues relating to her kidneys. She will most likely have inherited some of our family's traits: Brown hair and brown eyes are very common; as well as slight builds. Most of us tend to be thinkers, sometimes to very analytical, critical, or overthinking. Jennifer probably wrote poetry at some point in her life; talent towards poetry and stories run in the family. Intelligence and creativity are family traits. Most of our family love music. Depression, mental illness, cancer and alcoholism run in the family.
I have tried working through the states; but the problem I encounter several issues with this. I am continually told such things like being referred to registries or "We'll put a letter in her file ... " Well, the thing is, she is probably not even alive to search registries or request files; and if she does live, she may not even know that she was adopted! When I express that I only want to find out what happened with her and not necessarily initiate contact right off the bat, I'm looked at like I crawled out from under a rock; and Lastly, when I indicate I want to contact her adopted parents or next of kin before initiating contact with her (if we proceed there), I'm told I can't do that!
Adoption registries, Ancestry and DNA matching websites are completely dependent on Jennifer or someone close to her registering. It's as much a shot in the dark as this.
I need to know what happened to her. I want to find her adoptive parents and thank them for their compassion, love and courage at taking such a sickly little girl into their hearts and home. In her hour of her most desperate need, some wonderful people, complete strangers, were there for her. I want someone close to Jennifer, and if possible, Jennifer herself, to know how beautiful, patient, kind, gentle, wise, strong and courageous Jennifer's Momma really was.
If you live in or around Fayetteville, AK, maybe you or someone you know remembers something and has a name or a face or a place. Someone out there might be Jennifer. Someone out there knows Jennifer and knows what happened to her and where she is.
We are running out of time.
Please, can you help? All it takes for you to help is to click "share".