Written by Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
Week 9: At the Courthouse What neat discoveries have you made at the courthouse? Or, do you have an ancestor who spent a lot of time at the courthouse, either as an official or as someone who ran afoul of the law?
It was this week’s challenge that got me to see I have overlooked a valuable resource and it’s time to revisit them. In all honesty I have yet to visit any courthouse for research. This week’s challenge has caused me to reflect and revisit some moments in my own life that possibly needed healing or maybe a better word is Grace. This week’s blog post is of my own personal experience of the first and only time I did go searching that a courthouse.
That a very young age, I always had this ‘feeling’ or sense that I was a little different in our family. I couldn’t explain it. I grew up in a loving home with 3 sisters in mid -Minnesota so to be clear it wasn’t a matter of being treated poorly or badly. To set the story straight from the beginning; The reality is that I was an average teenager growing up in the 80’s. I was bullied from Kindergarten to graduation day in school, in church and organizations that I was in, by those who felt I was not pretty enough. I was anorexic and an alcoholic by the time I hit 11th grade. A failed attempt to cope. I had two parents that were crushed by my behavior and didn’t have the means to handle it.
At a young age, I was intrigued by our family’s history. I asked a lot of questions and the answers always seemed vague and few. I was a senior in high school in 1986, when while cleaning the kitchen I came across a white napkin with my parents names on it with a date. It was the date that caught my eye. It read May 18 1969. I recall wondering what may happened on that date. See, I was born on the 15th of July 1968. I assumed my whole childhood that they were married before I was born. I vaguely remember asking my parents about that napkin. The response was a non answer but enough to make me not think about it to much.
Two children and a marriage later in 1989, I finally got tired of that ‘feeling’ and made a trip to my hometown courthouse. I had decided it was time to check to see if there was a record of adoption. Why did that napkin give that date? Why was I born before that date? The courthouse has a feeling about it. It’s been there since the beginning of time, I’m sure. It has marble floors and pillars. It’s cold and old feeling. On this day I went with my first husband. We walked directly to records. At the time my father was well known throughout town. He served as a sheriff in town. His whole family grow up in this town. The women behind the counter knew him and me. With a shaky voice I asked her to look up my information. She asked, “Are you sure?” I said yes. This woman came back with a small white piece of paper. On it she wrote. Nancy Lee Holtberg adopted Aug 1969 by Mark Holtberg. The man I call my dad today, legally adopted, me as his own. My parents got married in 1969 before my father went to war in Vietnam. I remember feeling, in a flash of a moment, crushed when I read that paper. Today I blame that feeling on a life time of being bullied. It didn’t allow me to see the gift and wonder that being adopted had given me. Instead I focused all on being different and less then. My parents attempted many times to get me to see that it wasn’t a bad thing and that I am loved no matter what. I became more distant and angry. By 1990 I weighed 90 pounds and drank most of the day.
There is a happy ending but it took a life time, so it feels. I ruined my first marriage to my high school boyfriend. I brought chaos and nightmares to my children’s lives. Then in 2011, I meant an amazing woman that listened to me cry and carry on about the horrors of my life. When I was done she asked if I really wanted change? This change would mean to change everything I am and everything I thought I knew. I was broken so I agreed. On July 17, 2011, I quit cold turkey, drinking all day, everyday. This is my sobriety date. I have changed everything about me. I have worked my butt off to heal, forgive and grow. Sobriety is not for the weak. I wear it with a lot of pride. For a short while I lost 30 years of my memories of life but over time regain all of them.
With God’s help I have overcome years of bulling verbiage stuck in my head. I AM present for everyday. I AM a part of my family’s lives everyday. I AM LOVED.