I was born in Los Angeles County Hospital one minute after midnight on September 7, 1956, to a single woman who had told her family and friends she was going to the hospital for gallbladder surgery. When her sister found out about the pregnancy, she arranged for my adoption with a couple from her workplace. My adoptive parents were working in the yard of their new home in the “burbs” of the San Fernando Valley when they received the call from my biological aunt about a baby. They brought me to their new home and named me Kim Rae Sparkman.
My wonderful dad loved to tell everyone that he found me under a rock in their new yard. He also told me repeatedly that he had bought and paid for me, so I was a Sparkman. As boorish sounding as these statements were, they gave me the only sense of belonging I ever had. He died when I was 20 and so did the light in my mind’s eye.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the term adopted carried very heavy connotations. Society branded adoptees as unwanted, undesirable, bastard, damaged goods, dirty secret, mistake, etc. These terms caused longstanding damage to those of us adopted in the dark ages. I was the “adopted kid” within my own family as well as my neighborhood. Movies depicted the adopted child in a dark light. Look a little different from others in your family and you are either the mail carrier’s or the families best kept secret. Thankfully, adoptions today are born out of a benevolent love, which respects all involved.