Adoptee -- Mary Ann Rumbo
REV. W. A. NICHOLAS SUPERINTENDENT
Where Did I Come From?
By Mary Ann Rumbo
I would like to find where I came from, for many of the same reasons many adoptees express-it is our common bond. I want to know if I have siblings, half or whole. I want to know who my birth mother and father were. I want to know my racial and ethnic background and who I look and act like. I resent that someone knows about me, but I am not privy to that information. I believe anyone over the age of 21 has a right to their genetic and social facts of life. That being said, I have nothing but respect and certainly love for the mother who gave me life. I also respect the institution of adoption.
I also loved my adoptive mother and father, Bessie and Clinton Crabb, very much. They were 47 and 60 years of age at the time of my adoption. I know they had a lot of courage to take a three year old to raise. Sadly, my father died when I was 7.
Bessie once told me that W.A. Nicholas (longtime head of WTCAS in Abilene, Texas) took me to some churches in Breckenridge, Texas, stood me up in front of the church and asked anyone interested in adopting me to come to a Mrs. Mackey's house that afternoon. Besides Bessie and Clinton, three couples came: a minister from the Christian Church and two couples who were in the grocery business. Mother said that I “went to” her and so they adopted me! (Growing up, I knew and still remember some of the other’s who came to my adoption party…) My adoptive father died in 1936, and after my mother became ill we moved to Austin to live with relatives. In 1939 we moved back to Breckenridge, where I graduated from high school in 1945. After graduation I returned to Austin to attend Seton School of Nursing, where I met my husband, Noble L. Rumbo. After our marriage we moved to Galveston where he attended the UT Med. School. After serving his time in the service we lived in Tahoka and O’Donnell, Texas where he practiced medicine. In 1963 we moved to Richardson, Texas where my husband practice medicine for many years and where we now live in retirement.
Hearsay and Records
I will now tell you about both the "hearsay" and actual records that I have…
I have seen a paper from a Taylor County record stating that I was a "dependent and neglected child" living in the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Hooser on Vine Street in Abilene, Texas, with several other babies and children, I believe I lived here prior to my adoption; I do not have a copy of this paper. I also believe this may have been a boarding house run by W. A. Nicholas and the West Texas Children’s Aide Society, from where I was eventually adopted, but I can’t confirm this.
I have a birth certificate dated 1944 with my name as Mary Ann Crabb and listing my parents as Bessie E. Crabb and Clinton E. Crabb. The city listed is Abilene, Texas. An unknown number on the edge of the certificate is 13489. My date of birth is listed as 2-1-28. This certificate came with the following rather strange note from Bro. Nicholas:
"Thank you, Mary Ann, for being so good as to merit such a document as this Birth Certificate, from Austin, Tex. You will ever live worthy of it, I'm sure. One of your many friends, W.A.N."
I also have a deed of adoption from West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Assn., filed in Breckenridge, Stephens County Texas, giving my name as Maxine Cartright. It is notarized by James G. Harrell, and signed by B.G. Grant, County Clerk, dated February 28, 1931. (In another place my name is listed as Maxine CartWright.)
I have a letter from the Texas Department of Health stating that a search of the files in Austin showed an "amended" birth certificate and adoption papers but no originals. This letter was obtained by order of Judge Herman Jones in 1980. The number on the adoption affidavit was 15340. I have never found a record of my birth in Austin, Texas, in any of the books of the Records office.
In the late 50’s, my Noble and I went to Abilene to search for my birth family. We visited Nick Crane, the adopted son of W.A. Nicholas, then deceased. He took us to the place he had stored the WTCAS records. We found my parents' applications and letters of recommendation. He went to another filing cabinet and looked for my papers prior to adoption. He said he could not find them under Crabb or Cartright. He went on to say that Bro. Nicholas, while he was in a nursing home, gave him a list of some records to pull and bring to him, unread. According to Nick, those records were burned.
We then went to see a lawyer named Smith who said he recalled my having been in his office with my birth mother and seeing her play with me. He said he had considered adopting me himself, but since he knew both my mother and natural father, felt it a bad idea. My birth mother signed some papers saying she couldn't care for me and that my birth father was married with other children.
The problem with this information is two fold:
Where was I for the next 2-3 years?
What became of the papers my birth mother signed?
Several years later, my husband and I tried a second time to find lawyer Smith, but could not find him, or even the building we remember visiting!
I hope I haven't used up your patience. Anyway, thank you for reading. Any help in my quest will be deeply appreciated. I have registered with the Texas Voluntary Adoption Registry.
Maxine, Mary Ann, Cartright, Crabb Rumbo