I grew up believing this was my family. In those days the prevailing wisdom taught parents not to talk about adoption. My older cousins knew I was adopted, but cooperated in never telling me about it. One of my schoolmates also knew about my adoption and tried to tell me on several occasions. It seemed far-fetched to me, so I always assumed she was just teasing. Grandmother Hofmann came for extended visits once or twice a year and talked around the edges of my adoption but never spoke directly about it. I remember how she used to tell me, with a twinkle in her eye, that I was very special. She made me feel special.
My sister Dorothy suffered real emotional scars from the family breakup. She was old enough to know the details of what happened but felt helpless to do anything about it. She became essentially an only child and was denied the opportunity to help mother her two little brothers. She felt lucky to have been able to remain with Berniece but guilty at being the only one to survive the family's split. Jack and I have often assured her that we also were lucky to have landed in loving and nurturing families. At a certain point Berniece wanted me returned to her, but Henry and Bunnie refused. I recall thinking that I was going to Aunt Berniece's house for a visit one summer when I was about 11years old. Years later Henry told me about the incident: Berniece sent Dorothy to Kansas City by train to accompany me back to Illinois. Henry and Bunnie fabricated a pretext to prevent the visit because they feared that Berniece wouldn't let me come back home without a battle.