Adoption Central - Adopted Long Ago

Berniece is a bright and resourceful woman and became a successful businesswoman. (She turned 99 on March 15, 2000.) But jobs were hard to find in the 1930s; particularly jobs paying enough to support five children. That is why four of us were farmed out to other families.

Here's what happened. My oldest sister, Marvel, went to live with our Uncle Jim Hofmann, an Episcopal priest. It wasn't long before she married and began a family of her own. The next oldest, Jimmy, lived several years with his paternal grandparents on a farm near Silver Lake, Kans. When Jimmy left home, he became a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Dorothy, the third oldest, stayed with Berniece, who remarried in 1938 and moved to Peoria, IL. The next in line was Jack, who was adopted by the Hall family of Topeka. I heard family members speak of my "cousin Jack" as I was growing up, but I did not meet him until I was nearly 50 years old. We are now close friends and, although we miss not having grown up together, we feel like brothers.

As a baby I spent a lot of time at the grocery store with my grandparents. When Grandpa died, my uncle Henry's family -- Henry, Bunnie and Dee -- stepped in as my babysitters. It seemed only natural to everyone involved that I should become their son when our family had to be broken up. In the summer of 1938 they wanted to bring me on a family fishing vacation. At that point, Henry and Bunnie thought it best to formalize the relationship. Adoption meant there would be no question of responsibility in case of medical emergencies. Berniece worked in Topeka by then but was not in a position both to work outside the home and care for a three-year-old. She readily agreed. My adoption was recorded at the Probate Court of Wyandotte County Kansas on June 13, 1938.

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