Will the Real Cathy Please Stand Up?

Last fall our local SPCA offered free adoptions for any cats over 3 years old.  The shelter was housing too many animals and they needed to find a way to encourage people to adopt.  The ad on their facebook page was the small incentive I needed to head over and check out the cats.

The shelter was filled with people in varying stages of becoming adoptive parents for a new pet. I was excited to find the cage with a beautiful Persian cat I saw listed on the website.  A technician led me to my potential pet explaining a problem they encountered with her.  She had been returned after an adoption with an infection in her paws where she had been declawed.  They didn’t think she would ready for adoption for a while.

Disappointed I began to wander the cat area until I saw a beautiful black cat with the biggest green eyes.  I knew this was going to be my cat.  As they took him out of the cage and handed him to me, I felt the tension in his body.  It wasn’t long before he relaxed and began to purr as he curled into a ball on my lap.

His paperwork completed, we began our trip to his new home.  I loved everything about him except his name-Johnny.  That just isn’t a good cat name.  I was hoping to name him something like Chewbacka or Dooley.  I wanted something with character; not just Johnny.   I thought for a time about changing his name, but decided he was going through enough trauma without trying to take away something that might create more confusion.  I comforted myself by saying he was named after my fantasy man, Johnny Depp.

I wrote about my daughter organizing  old pictures and papers for me in a post.  As I came downstairs yesterday, she told me she found something in the paperwork.

“Mom, I found your old shot records.  They have your real name on them.”

She knew the story my mother told me a few years ago about my real name.  She told me that when my grandmother adopted me when I was 4, she changed my named to Catherine.  My name was Carol Lynn and they called me Lynn until that time.   There were comments by others, pictures, and a note that led to some confusion about her story.  I wanted to get a copy of my original birth certificate but with adoptions that is a long and arduous task.

“Mom, here are the records.  Your name was Carolyn Ann.”

There it was in black and white.  I looked at it, touched it, and felt an odd connection to the words on the paper.  This was my name on paper.  I was Carolyn Ann, nick named Lynn.  I felt as though I found a piece of me that had been stolen so many years before.  My family has many secrets and lies are more common than the truth.  My birth certificate is one created after the adoption.  It shows my name as Catherine Ann, born in Charleston, SC.  I was actually born in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

I wonder if anyone thought about a little 4 year old girl and the trauma she was facing.  My mother left to protect my brother and I and try to give us a better life.  My father was taken from my life at time as well.   My brother was sent to live with other grandparents many states away.   I wonder why it was so important to take away my name and my identity when I needed it most.   I wonder why no one was as concerned about me as I was for a lonely, black cat named Johnny.

This blog post is part of NaBloPoMo.  The theme for November’s NaBloPoMo is blogging for blogging’s sake.

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16 thoughts on “Will the Real Cathy Please Stand Up?

  1. Wish I knew how to make a Similey face with one lone tear from an eye. A bittersweetness to it all. A story for many to hear, for more to share. I am so happy to be a part of it. Watching Bones the other night gave me another look at how having identity can effect some, the importance in it. Shakesphear wrote ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ and thought that may be true, How would the rose know it not to be a lily without the name of rose. I love you.

  2. Wow… such a thing to happen to one as young as you. How awful to have your name changed like that, I can’t imagine what that does to you.

    My mother changed the name of her adopted dog from Jackson to Baxter. I thought it was ridiculous, but she wanted him to be all hers. She’s crazy possessive like that, though.

    Many hugs…

  3. Oh, that’s so sad. And Carolyn Ann is a beautiful name. Sometimes parents just don’t think from the perspective of a child, and it’s always important to do that. Especially through a difficult time. Perhaps that’s the very reason you couldn’t bare to change Johnny’s name.
    PS-My middle name is Ann also, and Johnny Depp is my favorite actor… Soooo handsome. ;)

  4. Up until we find out about your name change I was still considering that poor declawed Persian cat. Why do people do that? Such cruelty. And then your story has its own cruelty. Powerful tale, told well. The juxtaposition of the cat adoption and your own and the name change… wonderful. How very strange that must have been for you – then and now. Johnny is very lucky that you chose him.

  5. I really like how the story of Johnny transitioned into your adoption story. It seems such a mystery and you wonder if there were good reasons…what could they have been. I think it’s special, as well, that your daughter found your true birth certificate. Does it feel like the piece of a puzzle?

  6. What a moving story and great post. I wonder why they felt so compelled to change your name. Surely that can’t be an easy thing to do. I really want to hug the four year old you.

  7. Pingback: Connections | Cathy's Voice Now

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