A Love Letter Written to Karl and Katrina
In the light of the fact that you are going to be 18 November 27, Karl, I wanted to reach out and explain, to the best of my ability, why I had to release you and Katrina for adoption. Katrina is under the legal age to find me, but you are not, at least not as of November 27.
In order to be as clear as possible, I am going to have to start from the beginning, back in 1994 when you came into the world, one early morning in Pipestone, MN.
It was a fairly normal birth- my first, so naturally I was panic stricken. You’re grandmother (my adoptive mother Karen Hilton) was a Registered Nurse, working in the hospital the night (or rather morning) that you were born. In fact, she helped birth you. I lost a lot of blood that day and two people were in labor. Some of the time is hazy given my loss of blood but I do remember your grandmother coming in and looking embarrassed. I asked her what was wrong as she is totally NOT the type to be embarrassed and she explained that in her hurry to get me out of the delivery room and get the next mother-to-be in, she forgot the afterbirth in the tray under the bed I was laying on.
I had a hard time with you, Karl- I’m not going to lie or try to gloss it over. I didn’t have a clue what to do with such a tiny little object and though I realize now- much, much later- that it had to do with support systems and such (which I barely had), at the time, I was just too self-absorbed to figure out what was wrong with the picture and that is why we didn’t bond (then). For weeks, I tried to figure out what to do and then a couple people stepped into my life and at 6 weeks old, you were taken into foster care for the first time. You were fostered by a set of state patrol people, to the best of my knowledge. I was sent pictures and videos and such and wish with all my heart, I still had them so that I could give them to you when we meet next. Unfortunately, I’ve moved around a whole lot and they’ve been lost long ago. Understand this, Karl- you were a good baby and had I had the understanding that I have now, things might have turned out very differently. Unfortunately, understanding comes with loss and time and I had to learn the hard way, as I always have.
When you were 10 months old, I was in the 2nd part of a program, as a condition of getting you back. I had been in Waukesha, WI in a program called New Life for Girls. The 2nd phase of it was my choice- the one in Dover (PA) or the one in Glen Rock (PA). I knew that we had to have time to bond, so I chose option #2, known as New Life for Children and Mothers. The original deal was that I would get you back when I went to the program, phase #2. That’s not what happened. I went to the program and was there about 10 months before we received the phone call to go pick you up at the Baltimore airport. The man who ran the program, known as Grandpa Tate, took me to the airport. We waited until we saw the DHS worker who was bringing you. He handed you to me and all I noticed was that you were soaking wet- head to toe. I have a thing about wet clothes (abhore them- ewww) so I took you to the restroom to change you’re entire outfit. The DHS worker had put your diaper on backward (how, I’ve no idea- I’d think the tape would be an indicator as to what direction it goes but whatever…). I changed you and took you back to “The Farm” as it was called. You were with me for awhile, I’ve no real recollection how long. You started receiving speech therapy and other necessary things and we were doing ok for a minute. Then I started getting wander lust and lost you to the foster care system again- this time in Pennsylvania. The first time I lost you and tried to get you back, I had to ENTER a program to do so- the 2nd time, I had to EXIT it in order to get you back. I did so and moved into a shelter in York, PA. After our time in the shelter was up, the state paid for us to be at a motel while they tried to figure out what to do with us. Eventually, your grandfather (John Hilton) helped us get to IA- Pella, to be exact. He never even came up to see how we were- just conferred to us through a pastor there in Pella. I got a job, your Aunt Joanna moved in with us and we had a place.
You were a precocious child. I’ve been a smoker for years. One day, at our place in Pella, you walked up to me while I was smoking a cigarette and grabbed it out of my hand and put it on your tongue. Then you walked away as though nothing had happened. I had you in a high chair once and turned away to do something and when I turned back, you were sitting there with a big kitchen knife in your hand- dang near gave me a heart attack! I took it out quick and made sure they were ALL up. Another time, you laid down to take a nap with me and when I woke up, I thought I’d peed the bed because you got ahold of a small kitchen knife (that I’d put up on a shelf that no normal person could get to ) and slit the waterbed I was sleeping on lol I was so mad!! You did stuff like that- no biggie- any 3 or 4 year old coulda done it- and you did it! 😉
Please forgive me, because so much time has passed and so many events that most of the following years are a jumble of time and space and I remember almost nothing of consequence other than intentionally releasing you into foster care rather than have you homeless with me while in Pella. I remember you were with me in Chariton (by then I was pregnant with your sister, Katrina). Chariton is in Iowa, as well, by the way.
When I was 3 or 4 months pregnant with Katrina (you were in yet another foster home), I decided to make a major life change. I broke up with her father, Marty Dean Shivers (who wants to know her, BTW), and went to Bethany Christian Services in Pella. They connected me to a program in Washington, IA (before hand, I didn’t even KNOW there was a Washington IA) called Concern for Women and a maternity home, then known as The Elizabeth House, run by a wonderful woman named Donna Phillips. She called me the same afternoon I went to Bethany and invited me to come to The Elizabeth House the following week. I talked to my ex father-in-law and he helped, along with the couple I was staying with (another story-my life is full of such stories) and the following week, I packed up and moved there with no intention of moving back to Pella, which I never did.
For months, I sat in that house, followed the rules (the only mother there, only the house mother was there besides me and we didn’t get along) and did a LOT of praying and soul searching. When I was about 7 months along (I guess), I re-certified as a Nurses Assistant and got a job at a nursing home in town, directly across the street from the hospital that Katrina would be born in. By then, I had left The Elizabeth House, had moved in with Donna (Coralville, IA) then moved in with a couple named John and Virginia Wenger in another town near to Washington (Wayland). While I was waiting for Katrina to be born and between shifts at the nursing home, I constructed a blanket for Katrina for when she was born (no idea if she still has it but I made it just the same). After she was born, I hand stitched her name and birth date on it.
Near the end of my pregnancy, I decided to go to college. I wasn’t allowed to as a teenager, my parents feeling it was better if I just took a class and became a nurse’s aide (was one when I was pregnant with you, too, in Tyler, MN) BTW, just so you know, I had fully intended on calling you Malachi Jon Hilton but your natural father, John Michael Harron (AKA Shadow) talked me into your name which is his paternal and maternal grandfathers, I believe. Anyway, to get back to my original point, I decided to go to college and so I drove to the college campus in Washington, IA and registered for classes. I had saved up enough money from my job to move to Coralville and had spoken with the staff of a HACAP in Iowa City and had been assured I would be able to leave you (when I got you back from foster care) and Katrina at the school while I was in school. I started classes when Katrina was about 7 weeks old. Donna went to bat for me, driving me down to Pella to talk to the caseworkers watching over you and assured the PTB’s that you would be safe with me- that I was getting it together, which I was.
For 10 months, I put you both in headstart. I went to school, doing 15 credits and was determined to make a go of it. You and I finally started bonding as parents and children ought to. Then one day my FIP check was late, bills were piling up and I took out my anger and frustration on you- no excuses here, water is WAY too far over the bridge for that. A few days later (this is in Dec 1999, BTW) I got a phone call from HACAP saying that they thought Katrina had an ear infection, which she did (I was very paranoid about that- she had constant ear infections and I freaked if I even SUSPECTED). I left class, went and got her, took her to the doctors and got her medication. I returned to the school to get you- and ran into an army of police and DHS workers (trust me, once you’ve been involved in the system, you recognize trouble immediately!) Anyway, they brought up the incident where I had laid hands on you- swatted you on the butt and they took you both that night.
Now, what happened next is the truth, and I want you to understand why I made the choice that I made. It will likely sound like crap- I assure you, it’s as close to God as I’ve ever been.
The night they took you I fell apart. Some might have drunk themselves into a stupor- I didn’t. I went to school- couldn’t bare the thought of going to our apartment alone. I walked into the school and just stood there, unable to get a thought in order. I had begged and pleaded for them not to take you- but they did what they did and I was helpless to change a thing. Anyway, I stood there until my favorite teacher came down the hall; he was surprised to see me as he knew I had kids. I literally fell on the floor and burst out crying. He sat down on the floor with me and just held me while I cried. For two weeks straight- I kid you not- I cried and cried like I’d never stop. I know for a fact that I cried more during those two weeks before Christmas more than the entirety of my whole life.
I kept returning to my bedroom in the apartment looking at the presents that I had put up there to give you at Christmas. The police department had taken me out as part of one of their programs and had loaded you two up. I never got to give them to you, rather had to give them to the DHS workers the day that I lost you forever.
They set up monitored visits for you and Katrina. I met them regularly- I always showed up- had every intention of getting you both back. Then one day I had a conversation with God. Rather, should I say, one NIGHT.
A week before Christmas 1999, I was yet again crying. As a sat there going about in my mind what to do (my lawyer was state appointed and could have cared less whether or not I got you back so he was NOT going to fight for me), I asked the Lord what I should do. His response, for once, was quick and straight to the point. He reminded me that I had work to do, that I had tried my best to be a single mother and that it just wasn’t working. As an act of love for you and Katrina, I was going to have to release you both for adoption. It was inconceivable that I release one and not the other- you two were bonded and I was hell bent that you were not going to be separated. He (God) said to me, “How are you going to do the work that I’ve appointed you to do if you haven’t healed from the wounds of your own past (NOT referring to you or Katrina but rather my own exploits with foster care and adoption by parents whom I never bonded with)? I heard Him loud and clear and for the first time in 3 weeks, I experienced a peace that I’d never known- a peace that all these years later, is still there. He also promised to give me more children (you have a brother named Ishaq Shalom Hameed). He also made this promise, hence this letter: I will bring you and your children back together before Jesus returns. To this end and allowing for him to do as he will, I am setting this letter forth.
Let me demonstrate how precisely the Lord kept his word and arranged for your adoption, Karl. As always, they set up court hearings where the father and mother of the children could have their say. Every month, this meeting took place. Every meeting, your father came all the way from MN (btw, this had been happening since you were taken- bef0re my conversation with the Lord-and every meeting, Katrina’s father came up. Following my conversation with the Lord, there was ONE more meeting- I never had to show up for most of them but did, this one was different in the sense that both fathers HAD to be there- or have their rights terminated for good. I had already signed and thus did not have to be there. I sat there in the court room and listened as the judge called for both your fathers by name…neither one showed up. That terminated their rights right there. Then the judge turned to me, who had shown up and complimented me on my strength and asked me if I had any requests to make. I stood up and said this: I have two requests- one is non negotiable: both my children ARE to be adopted together and I would PREFER them to be adopted into a Christian home. See, I knew that God was going to take care of you but if the judge allowed me to speak, even though LEGALLY I had no more say, I knew that I had to ask what I had wanted to ask- and demand what I wanted to demand.
Karl, it’s important that you know how much I love you. How much I love your sister. I’ve been barred by law from coming to seek you out and I’ve honored that, though it hasn’t stopped me from making comments and putting your name out there connected with mine (on the assumption that your names haven’t been changed, at least the first- I assume the last has) so that if/when you get curious, you know my name as I’ve married and divorced (3 x married, 2x divorced). The last name I have now is the only one you need worry about as this marriage is very different then the previous two. My husband, Raphael Hameed, is a good man and knows all about you, about my past and has, in fact, been instrumental to my healing. He’s also the father of your brother (I don’t deal in this 1/2 blood crap- you all proceeded from my body, thus you’re brothers/sisters) Ishaq, whom we all call Ish.