MIDLAND DAILY NEWS ARTICLE #1:
SEARCHING FOR A FAMILY
October 3, 2004
"To say I am connected to someone, that I do have heritage, is important to me," Larry Adams said of the wall of photogrpahs in his Midland apartment. Until recently Larry didn't even have a photo of himself as a baby. "Childhood was a blank, family was a blank. Until a year ago I had nothing. It was like my childhood never existed," he said. (Photo by Ryan Wood/Daily News)
Searching for a Family:
Angela E. Lackey , Midland Daily News 10/03/2004
Midlander Larry Adams has very few good memories
of his childhood in foster care.
"My bedroom was a cot out on the enclosed back
porch. ... I was given one meal a day. This was dinner
and it was expected to last me until the following
night. I was not allowed to eat this one meal with the
family. A plate was prepared for me to take out to the
back porch to eat alone." -- "Lost Son? A Bastard
Child's Journey of Hope, Search, Discovery, and
Healing" by Lawrence P. Adams.
This was his last foster care home. On his last
night there, an older teen tried to sexually abuse
him. He wrote that he punched the teen in the mouth
and broke a front tooth out. Adams was 11 years old.
Adams was born Feb. 7, 1950 in Detroit's
Providence Hospital. His unwed mother placed him for
adoption. In spite of at least three prospective
families, he was never adopted.
Instead, he spent about a decade in Wayne County's
foster care system. He was moved 14 times. He
remembers receiving little love or affection from any
foster family except the Monshors.
"I had to sit and think really hard of the
memories of the Monshors," he said.
Mildred and Ernie Monshor were Mom and Dad to him.
Then Mildred Monshor was accused of abuse.
"It wasn't true," Adams said.
He said Ernie would sometimes drink and hit his
wife. The couple were fighting one night and the
authorities were called. Genevieve, one of the
Monshors' adopted daughters, said it was Mildred
"She didn't like Mildred," Adams said. "She had no
idea what she began. ... They used that allegation to
immediately get me out of the house."
The Monshors weren't allowed to adopt Adams.
He said Genevieve, who has had a life of drug
abuse and mental instability, still doesn't fully
understand what she did to him.
However, Ernie Monshor's drinking problem and his
abuse of Mildred could have meant more problems for
Adams. He readily admits he would not have gone on to
college had the Monshors adopted him.
Adams and Genevieve recently made contact. Soon he
was getting letters from Genevieve asking for money.
"I had to break that off," he said.
Adams was a college student when he suddenly heard
from former foster parent Mrs. Wagner. He stayed at
the Wagners Jan. 26, 1955 to Aug. 12, 1955. She said
she had $1,000 from a savings bond for him. She
brought the money to Adams. He writes:
"Mrs. Wagner seemed rather distant and cold. She
would only talk in the lobby of the dorm ... I wrote
her after her visit to thank her for the funds, which
were much needed by me. I never heard from her again."
Adams suspects the Wagners were potential adopted
parents. The Bellmeyers were also prospective adoptive
parents. Adams stayed with this family Aug. 1, 1952 to
Dec. 11, 1952.
He was then placed back at the Monshors.
Adams' first plane ride was to Boys Town in
Nebraska in April 1961. Father Edward Flanagan founded
Boys Town in 1917 for homeless, neglected and
otherwise troubled boys. Boys Town was a wide open
campus with "acres and acres and acres." Girls were
placed there starting in 1979 and the name was changed
to Girls and Boys Town.
The social worker who flew with him refused to
"I was scared as hell and mad," he said.
His first thought upon landing was, "Where the
hell am I?" A priest came to pick up the 11-year-old
boy, saying Boys Town was a "place where you have a
lot of brothers."
A picture shows Adams when he first came to Boys
Town. He's in a white shirt and dark tie, hair combed
neatly. He was standing in front of a wooden door, his
eyes frightened and his shoulders slumped.
Adams didn't realize at first that he would stay
at Boys Town. He expected to be told to pack his bag
and get ready to move.
Physical discipline was not allowed at Boys Town.
The philosophy was if the boy was given the basics,
any discipline problem would take care of itself.
"Boys Town saved me," he said. "It took me a
number of years to realize that. ... I could very well
be in prison or dead."
Each boy had to leave Boys Town by 5 p.m.
graduation day. Adams said more boys were coming in
and the thought was, "We've done all we can." It took
him 19 years after graduation to go back to Boys Town.
He and another Boys Town graduate moved into a
"little dump" in downtown Omaha and got jobs for the
"For $75 a month, we weren't going to complain,"
Adams began looking for family members in the
1980s after the first of three heart attacks. He was
hindered by incomplete records.
"Back then, they didn't have to keep a whole lot
in the records," he said.
Throughout the years, he asked this question --
"Why wasn't I adopted?"
"I know I was somewhat unhealthy," he said,
referring to a bout of whooping cough at 2. There was
no indication of behavioral problems.
There was also no record of his mother's parental
rights being terminated. One record stated he was
briefly returned to his birth mother, while other
records show that never happened.
"I wonder if that could have hindered (adoption)?"
He met his mother in 1986. Adams never told her he
was gay. Then his mother said she rather her son die
of AIDS than be gay. The tenuous connection was
"Once I walked out, she realized she did direct it
toward me. She didn't care," he said. "That was the
last time I ever saw her or talked to her."
His birth sister Claudia was there when his mother
said that. After their mother died, he sent flowers,
but didn't go to the funeral. He thought Claudia
understood. He wrote a few letters to Claudia, but her
letters became more distant.
He tried to reach her two years when he was in
Chicago. He sent her children a Christmas check, which
was cashed. But he heard nothing from her.
He has met many extended family members. He has
become close to some, such as his distant cousin
He has also met 90-year-old cousin Dorothy and
92-year-old cousin Florence. Adams described Dorothy
as "mentally sharp," but with several physical
Adams has four siblings on his mother's side and
one on his father's side -- or so he thought. He later
found out he has another sibling on his father's side,
fathered in Germany during World War II. He wrote one
of his father's sisters about 14 years ago, but she
didn't write back.
He met his father in 1990.
"He admitted to being my father, (but) he always
kept a distance," Adams said. "He tried everything
possible to put me off."
His father's letters became less and less
"I think my father felt guilty," he said. "It
wasn't intended that way."
Pictures, mainly black and white, hang on his
living room walls. A few more are scattered
throughout. There is one of Adams when he was 3 days
Several of his relatives, including Carol,
insisted he had to write and publish a book about his
"Just to shut everybody up, I decided to research
publishers, not thinking I had a chance in hell," he
"I didn't think I had anything to say," he
continued. "I didn't want to sound like a whiner.
Whiners bug me."
He found writing good therapy -- it healed wounds
he didn't realize were still there.
"The more I kept writing, I thought maybe somebody
could benefit," Adams said.
The result was his first book, published by
PublishAmerica. The book is both his story and tips on
finding biological family. His second book is called
"A Voice from the Voiceless & Forgotten ... An
Anthology of a Foster Care System Child Survivor."
"It still seems strange sometimes," he said of
having a family.
Family means spending all night at the hospital
with his 4-year-old nephew, Tracy, recently
hospitalized with a staph infection. It means holiday
meals with Carol and her family. It means going to the
wake when a family member dies.
"That's what family does," he said.
Adams can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book
can purchased at www.larrya.us.
İMidland Daily News 2004
Article Two from Midland Daily News"
SPEAKING OUT FOR OTHERS