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.