Daughter of China White

I have some time, so I thought I’d talk about my parents. I’ve mentioned them before in this blog, though I’ve never gone into detail. I feel like writing so…that’s where we’re going tonight!

Firstly, it’s important to note that before my parents knew each other, my father was married to another woman. Together, they had a son and a daughter. My brother is 25  years older than I, and my sister is 22 years older. My father, being the manic depressive and drug addict that he was, ended up on the streets, homeless.

My parents both met on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles whilst living on skid row. They were addicted to heroin, crack, alcohol, among other things.

March of 1992, I was born in Los Angeles with heroin and crack in my system. After being nursed back to health in the ICU, I became a ward of the state. My mother still had some time to serve in jail, and my father as well. I spent the first 2 months of my life in foster care. My paternal grandparents adopted me when I was an infant.

My mother visited frequently for a few months. Then, one day, she was gone. She left without a trace- no note, no contact information- nothing. (My brother had sacrificed a lot to help our dad come off drugs and off the street. He worked closely with a social worker on skid row. After my dad died, my brother was in contact with this social worker again, and the worker told him that my mom had died months before.)

My father was around, though not very much. He came around for holidays, for my birthdays. Then, right before my fourth birthday, he died. I remember my aunt crying and trying to explain to me what had happened: “Your dad went outside in the cold without a jacket and got very sick.” The truth was, he wrote a long, lugubrious suicide note and pumped himself to death with heroin. Official cause of death: cardiac arrest.

Funny enough, I never grew up resenting my parents. Even as a child, I help them both in high regard, appreciative of the fact that they gave me a better life in the care of my grandparents. Sure, I went through my angry moments every Father’s and Mother’s day. In the end, I always carried immense love for them.

March of 2013, I received an interesting Facebook message from a woman in South Carolina that read, “Hi, I’m sorry if I have the wrong person. A good friend of mine by the name of ____ is looking for her daughter. If this is you, please write back.”

I was stunned. So, I wrote back and we exchanged contact information. On my 21st birthday, 12 PM, I received a call at my work. It was my mom. I listened to this woman cry on the other line, blubbering out mixed emotions and spewing past regrets. I was finally able to tell her what I’ve always imagined telling her, “If you really are my mom, I want you to understand and know that I forgive you. You did the best thing possible for me and I love you for that.” From my lips  to her ears, I felt 21 years worth of regret unravel back into the atmosphere.

My mom is originally from Georgia. She moved to California sometime during the late ’80s. It was such a wonderful experience to finally hear what really happened- where she went, why she left. She decided to check herself into a rehab facility after I was born. In her mind, it was better if she left without a trace. She was trouble back then, and I agree. It was a very responsible decision. She went back and forth from prison time, to rehab, to the streets. She moved back to the south almost 9 years ago to give herself a new start. She got clean from drugs, moved to South Carolina, and found a steady job.

Since meeting her (though not in person, yet), I’ve learned so much about my maternal family, about my dad, about his severe depression and YEARS worth of suicide notes, I’ve learned about my mother….so much. I am very close to her now.

She still lives in SC, although at the present time, she is getting out of a violent marriage. So, if you have any positive thoughts to share, I’d appreciate some for my mom. Hopefully, this is the year we meet.

So, there’s a quick glimpse into my early life. What was originally a heartbreaking story has now turned into a happier ending.

-SJ

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