But I Didn’t Cry

Jan 3-18, 1998

Once upon a time there were two brother...

We done all the things brothers do...played, 'n' fought, 'n' teased our little sister. There was just the three of us, leastwise when we was growin’ up. There’d been three others before us, but The State took ‘um.

Mamm and Papp wasn’t drunks or nothin’ and they didn’t hardly fight much a’tall, but Papp only worked as often as he had to and Mamm couldn’t hold a job ‘cause she couldn’t hardly hear after a fever “burned out her ears” when she was ‘bout 8. So, we moved whenever the landlord got onto us and Papp would work a day or two here or there and Mamm would take in laundry, and we got along okay.

When I got big enough to go off to school, Mamm looked real sad, and sometimes I’d catch her peekin’ round the corners to watch us kids play and she’d be cryin’. Papp said not to worry, he wouldn’t “let ‘em do it again” (whatever that meant!) but he still only kept a job a few weeks at a time in good weather and we still moved a lot.

One night, Mamm took me and Bubba into her room and told us about those other kids. At first when she talked about them, she sounded almost glad! She said they lived in nice houses with big yards and had pretty store-bought clothes and shoes and all the good food they needed to grow up big and strong...Seems like when the oldest kid got big enough to go off to school, the authorities noticed that she ate crackers for lunch a lot of times and rarely had socks, even on the coldest days. By the time she was in the third grade, things hadn’t got no better and The State stepped in. That’s when they took ‘um.

Mamm said that one day, we might go off with The State People, too, and if we did, we wasn’t to cry or be afraid--they’d take good care of us. She told us, too, that no matter what anybody said, we was always to know that her and Papp loved us and always would.

That night in our room, Bubba and me sat on the floor, and thought about what Mamm said. We decided we needed to divide up our toys so we’d know which ones to take with us. We each took the ones that was ‘specially ours, but the ones we played with together was harder to figure out. Even at that, it didn’t take long, and we went to bed quiet that night.

The next day my teacher told the class to read a story but she took me to the principal’s office--I hadn’t even done nothin’ wrong! The State People was there a’ready and when I asked, they told me that Bub and Sissy’d already left. I couldn’t he’p bein’ afraid, but I didn’t cry. The new folks they put me with was real good to me, and I did live in a nice house with a big yard, and have lots of clothes and stuff. But I never saw Mamm or Papp or Sissy or Bub again, and I didn’t never get my toys, neither.

HINT: Even when a birth home is lacking in amenities and an adoptive home is pleasant, the transfer can be painful. Many people deal with this pain by denying it exists.

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