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Published Tuesday February 22nd, 2011 at 1:55am

by Teresa Summers

Teresa's Story
My life story, I was taken away from my birth mother at age one in a half and put into foster care, my birth mother had 3 sets of kids taken away at three different times, in other words she kept having kids after the first 2 sets of kids were taken, I was the last set taken with a total of 4 kids in my group. I was told we were taken because my birth mother was on a lot of things that made her unstable. She left the kids home alone at midnight, men came in and out of the home and she got charged for neglect and abandonment.

When I arrived into the Smith's foster home on Carolson Ave, in Indianapolis Indiana, I was just a baby, the first person to hold me from what I was told was Betty, Betty known as Pamela Jean Bryant had told me she was the first, she said I was a beautiful baby and looked like a porcelain doll. I grew up in the Smiths foster home being scared all the time, my foster dad did terrible things to me and I felt like I was not safe.

Betty would always keep me by her side and I followed her everywhere all through the house, I felt safe with her there. My foster mom was very abusive to my foster sister Betty and would do things that hurt her. My foster sister Betty would always take care of me and if I got hurt she would always give me a Band-Aid after cleaning me up. Betty taught me how to read and how to draw, she also drew a lot of pictures, that is what she liked to do and I would always sit and watch her so she worked with me on drawing. I also had a older sister named Tammy who was already placed in the Smiths foster home before I had arrived. I always fought with her, we never got along.

My birthmother only visited me one time in the foster home, when she came and sat me on her lap and said she was my mommy, I kicked her and fought with her and then my foster mom made me sit against the wall. Before my birthmother left she whispered in my ear that she loved me and that she would come back for me and said I was also Cherokee Indian. That was the last time I saw her as a child. I use to run away a lot and started running away at the age of six, I would not go far I would just go to the end of my street or tell kids on my school bus that it was ok if I came home with them and would sneak off the bus and walk with them into their house. Whenever I did this and they had to come look for me, my older sister Tammy would always get beat. I think they wanted her to watch out for me.

I saw a lot of things bad things happen to the other little girls in my foster and I tried to help them and keep them by me also but I could not help them and they cried when my foster dad did things to them. Betty my foster sister moved out of the Smiths foster home to go live with one of her friends and I was so mad and scared and always waited by the living room window for her to come back, she never came back. I was still waiting for her to come back at age 9 I was wishing and hoping she would come back and take me with her. I was the last one to live with the Smiths, I was their last foster child, then while playing with a little girl down the street my best friend named Betsy, her company noticed me and Betsy's mom Judy told them I was a foster child. I would always feel safe down at Betsy's house her mom was so nice to me, I would always just walk in her house go through the living room and into the kitchen and just stand behind her while she was cooking at the stove until she turned around and noticed me, I never said a word I just stood there. Judy would turn around and say oh there's Teresa! but I did frighten her always.

Well her company was from Michigan and that's how I ended up being adopted and then became related to my friend Betsy. As I got older into my teens I wanted to know who I really was and where my real family was, I was never happy. My adoptive mother told me I would not be happy until I found my birthmother and decided to help me search. My adoptive father was not very supportive at all, he called my birthmother every name in the book and asked me why would I want to find her, she did this she did that. He did not understand I need to know. I decided to write Oprah a letter to see if she could help me with my search for my birth mother, she did respond back, I wrote her in 1988, My letter was not chosen.

I'm writing now because now after seeing the story on Oprah and her sister who was given up at birth I feel like she might have a little better understanding on what it's like to go through foster care and adoption. I may even help her to understand her sister, because during her show at the end when Oprah was telling her mother to just let it go when she looked at her sister I don't think she was quite feeling her pain. It took her sister a lifetime and two rejections by her birthmother to just let it go, her sister is a very important person and it matters what her birth mother has done by giving her up and rejecting her twice.

My adoptive mother took me to Indianapolis Indiana to help me find my birthmother, we did locate her. My adoptive mother went up to her door and told her who I was and she said that she was not my birthmother, we knew it was her so she gave her the number to where I was staying and about 4 months later she called me. I was 22 years old when I got the call, I asked her many questions that she refused to answer and one was who my real father was. She was angry and would not answer my questions. When she said she was not my birthmother it killed me inside, she rejected me not once but twice. The first was when she made her promise to come back for me and never did and the second was when she said she was not my birthmother. I continued to search for my birth family despite being rejected by my birth mother.

My second search I was trying to find my foster sister who took care of me and kept me safe, she was my hero because I do believe it she was not there that I would not be her today. She made me feel safe, she was like a big sister and also a mother figure to me and I remember her as Betty. During one of my visits when my adoptive mother took me back to Indiana to visit my foster mom, I heard them saying that my sister Betty was in Playboy. There was a magazine there that they would not let me see, so I knew this for a long time. I thought of my sister Betty for a long time because when she went away to another home I felt unsafe. As I got older I wanted to find her so I told my Ex husband which is also my best friend that she was in playboy and told him to go on the sight and help me find her. So we were looking for my foster sister Betty and we came across a photo and I said that's her! That's her and he said yea rite, I said let me write her. So I wrote to her on the playboy site and asked if she was Betty from the Smiths foster home and told her it's me Teresa and she replied back to me and said, Yes it is Betty from the Smith's foster home and was surprised that I found her after all these years. Our letters kept getting more and more interesting as we learned about each other all over again.

The amazing thing is that I recognized her face, her new name on the playboy site was Pamela Jean Bryant, she was 1978 centerfold, I also found out she had been in many movies and 80's films. Movies I watched and thought I had seen her, I know now it was her. We reunited in May of 2000, it took me 23 years to find her. That was my first reunion with my sister Pamela, we had a few more visits after that. She never thought of me as her foster sister, she thought of me as family her sister.

I just now after 43 years have found my birth sister, Laura who was adopted out at birth this past Thanksgiving 2010. She is the oldest so far that we know of, there are 8 siblings all together, Laura is 56 years old and looks a lot like me, we talked on the phone, at first she was shocked to know there were so many of us. My birth mother passed away in October 30, 2009 and Laura my sister called the funeral home where she was cremated wanting to know things about our health history and asked about others. So when I called they told me she had called and I contacted her. I felt sad when at first all she wanted was just information on health history and what ran in the family. But now that I am talking with her she is getting closer to me. I hope to reunite with her soon. I was able to reunite with my birthmother's best friend Patricia and she told me some good things about my birth mother, the photo I sent is of her and I.

I also hope to reunite with my birthfather when I find him also. After 43 years I was able to get a copy of my original birth certificate after all these years of it being sealed. I found out my birth father's name is Ronnie Lair and I was born in Marion County Indianapolis Indiana. Ronnie was 32 at the age of my birth.

I believe that all birth records should be unsealed in all states once an adoptee reaches the age of 18 at least. Because it is a basic human right to know who you are and where you come from and to know your own health history for yourself and for your children. It's not fair to keep that information from adoptee's because it also effects your side of the family when you have children or when you get sick with an illness. Adoptees' children also have a right to know who their side of the family is and it should not be kept from them either, it's not fair to them to only know one side of their parents family. It's hard being adopted sometime's, especially when going to the doctor's and not being able to fill out a health history form. I have had one handed back to me and the nurse tell me that I forgot to fill in the lines, she had said it out loud with a waiting room filled with people and I had to tell her that I'm adopted and that I can't fill it out because I don't know my health history.

It's hard not knowing who you really are of where you come from, it feels like being a kidnapped child. And you feel like you have to pretend that you don't have other family knowing they are out there somewhere. You have to pretend that they don't exist and you don't have other family but the one family who has adopted you. When you're adopted as an older child, you're expected to just be happy with your new family and forget about the rest. I have had to do this and it was very hard. I was an older child when I was adopted and my mind was already set how I was going to be. I was very difficult for my adoptive parents to raise. I had a lot of rejections so I could not bond with my adoptive parents. When they said they loved me I pushed them away. I still am having trouble with this today. When my adoptive mother what to hug me and tell me she loves me, she doesn't realize how much it hurts me inside. It's a constant reminder of my birthmother telling me she loved me and not coming back for me.

When I found my birthmother and did finally reunite with her, when she hugged me I felt like a dead person reached out and grabbed me. I felt nothing, there was no bond and I could not tell she was my birthmother. In these photos are a photo of my birth mother Nancy Albright, closson and a photo of my sister Pamela Jean Bryant during our reunion, My birth brother who passed away, named

My biological brother Bruce Allan
Bruce Allan, who I never met. A copy of the letter back from Oprah Winfrey. I would like to tell my story, I know it will help others especially the ones who have been waiting a lifetime just to find their birth family. It is possible, I found my biological sister who was adopted out at birth with a totally different last name, also my foster sister Betty known now as Pamela Jean Bryant.

I am very excited to have found my oldest sister, but I'm very sad now because I was going to contact my sister Pamela to tell her about finding Laura and found out that my sister Pamela has passed away.
They said she died of a severe asthma attack. She had it on December 4th 2010 and they come to the house and took her to the hospital and she passed away the very next day on December 5th 2010. I'm very sad, she was my sister and mother figure, and she kept me safe and protected me when no one else did. I miss her she was my angel a long time ago. She wrote about being in foster care in her playboy magazine, she was in 7 different homes. She said out of all the homes she had been in that, The Smiths the one we were in together was the worst. That's why I call her my angel; she saved me from my foster parents. She raised me from age 1 in a half to 9 years of age. She is a big part of my life and I don't know how it will be not hearing her voice ever again. I'm very sad, but I still need to tell my story because I know that's what she wanted me to do.

There is so much more to my story, this is a part and hope my story will help another foster child or an adult adoptive child and give them hope to keep trying and to not give up. The photo of the four little girl's are the last set of kids my foster mom had taken in, the little girl with the blue beret was found in the dumpster, my foster mom called her the dumpster baby, I remember her mother came back for her. I am the one in the upper right hand corner in the photo. They were only there for a short time, I have seen many kid's come and go in my foster home.

Thanks for reading part of my story,

Hugs and much love, Teresa