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Last month, I visited my birth city, Detroit. I was born here and lived in the city less than a year. My family moved to Boston and later to St. Louis. Despite that short period of time, I am forever connected to the Motor City. I was, quite literally, made in Detroit.
I also was relinquished for adoption in Detroit, a topic that I explore in my new memoir on the American adoption experience. More specifically, I was born in Crittenton General Hospital, a facility that was created to serve single mothers in 1929. By the 1940s it had transformed into a maternity hospital that promoted adoption as the most suitable plan for single mothers. Like thousands of other babies born at the hospital, I was surrendered to an adoption agency, placed in foster care, and eventually adopted by my family.
My birthplace was torn down in 1975. I examine the legacy of my birth place on the website for my book. The hospital location in central Detroit, a few blocks off of the John Lodge Freeway in central Detroit, is now the location of the Detroit Jobs Center and a nursing home. There is no memorial or marking indicating the building that stood on the property for decades earlier, serving literally thousands of patients, mostly mothers and infants. If a person did not know the story of the hospital and its role in promoting adoption, they would never know the history of this place.
The surrounding area today shows the economic distress that still is prevalent throughout greater Detroit. Some homes are kept tidy, while many others, as well as apartments, are showing decay.
I wrote about my feelings returning to the place where I came into this world more than five decades ago. I felt a mixture of exuberance and also sadness seeing the place on earth when I came into being.
One cannot undo one’s past. It is the foundation upon which one build’s an identity and place in the world. I am glad I have reconnected with my roots after all of these years.