Saturday, December 19, 2009

last call, gate number 2...

I sometimes wonder how much of our lives are destined by our names.

Does being named 'Nancy' determine what kind of car I drive, people that I'm friends with or type of dogs I own?

Would another name change the person that I am today? How I think? Who I know? How we interact?

I was adopted at birth.

I never wanted to be one of those people on the talk shows that dwell on 'who their parents are'. My parents were wonderful parents. I always felt loved and well cared for. I never wanted for anything and overall had a very, very nice upbringing.

My parents waited a long time for children.

I have a brother 4 years my senior.
He's adopted as well.

I believe that we were fortunate in having a better upbringing than some children because my parents really 'wanted' us. No oopsies, no mistakes, no Irish twins. They applied to adopt children because they weren't able to have any of their own and then they...waited.

It took several years before my brother became available. He was also adopted at 3 days old. My parents almost immediately applied for a second child. I came along 4 years later.

My brother when told he was going to have a baby sister built a place for me to stay.
It was outside, next to the dogs house.
He wanted me to stay dry if it rained.

I was about 3 or 4 when my mother told me I was an adopted child.

We had this big upholstered rocking chair in our living room; green nubby fabric worn thin from love on the arms. I was sitting on my mothers lap with her rocking me cradled in her arms. She said, "I'm not your real mother. You're adopted."

Yeah, right mom. And my brother is from Mars.

Oh...he IS from Mars. Silly me. (Sorry there Charles's, ol' boy...I couldn't help myself.)
Seriously though, I was like, "No. YOU'RE my mom. You'll ALWAYS be my mom."

And that is about all that we ever talked about it. Not that she or I didn't want to. We just...didn't. No need to really. Why?

Sometimes when I would be asked questions at the doctors office I would wonder..."Does high blood pressure run in my family?" But other than medical questions, I rarely think about it.

I DID get upset when listening to Howard Stern one morning. He kept going on and on about how adopted children weren't wanted by their 'Real Parents' and that's why they were adopted. I wanted to call in. Let him know what I thought. I thought that had his own parents known what an asshole he'd turn out to be, they might have given him up as an infant. Of course, from what I understand, they felt that way most of his childhood. As you can tell, I'm not a big Howard fan. Some are, I'm not one of them. And his statements didn't help his case any.

Once when traveling to the Abacos in the Bahamas I forgot my passport at home. I knew exactly where I left it. On the butcher block in the kitchen. I called a friend when I got to Miami to have them overnight it to me as my flight to the Hope Town was in the morning.

I relaxed, had a nice room service dinner, set out my travel clothes for the next day and slept well. The next morning I called down to the desk to ask if UPS had delivered my package. They informed me that Yes, UPS had been there, but No, there was nothing for me. We called UPS and found out that my package had gotten misplaced and was now somewhere in Tennessee. That wouldn't do me any good when my flight was boarding in 2 hours.
So I called my mom.

She faxed down every piece of paper she had to identify my existence. She faxed her passport, her birth certificate, my birth certificate and my adoption papers.

Prior to that moment standing in the lobby of the Intercontinental hotel, I'd never seen them before.

I had been previously named by my birth parents. Marsha.

I now had in my hands my previous name. Complete with middle and last name. With this information I could easily track down my birth parents. Find out what the story is/was. But I felt no need. I felt no anxiety, no remorse for another life, no wanting to confront. What I felt was relief. Relief that my name was Nancy. Not Marsha Dee Wallner. That didn't sound right, feel right or have the same cadence of my own name.

I wonder if I had grown up with the name Marsha, how different would I be from the person I am today? I can't see myself answering to the name Marsha. It just fit. Me.

And then I think of my good friend Melissa. Beautiful, funny, witty, kind. With 3 lovely children and 1 loving husband.

And my neighbor Melissa who also has 3 lovely children and 1 loving husband.
And an old school friend named Melissa. Who also has 3 children and 1 husband.
If my name had been Melissa...would I have 3 children and a husband?

Is this coincidence that everyone that I personally know with that name seems to have marital bliss? And gorgeous offspring?

Maybe I should start wearing red like other Nancy namesakes. Maybe I should Google prominent successful people with the name of Nancy and see what connects them. Or maybe just change my name. To Melissa.

I talked my way onto that flight to the Bahamas without my passport. They allowed me on but couldn't guarantee that I could pass through customs once there. They asserted that there was a high probability the Bahamians would turn me away and I'd be returning to Miami to wait for the proper documentation. I succeeded in talking my way through customs onto the Island. I had to stay until my package caught up with my travels. I would not be able to return to the States without it.
But that's okay, it's gorgeous there in Hope Town.

I had a wonderful place to stay, and I fit into the local climate and settled into the pace of the Islands. I really didn't want to leave. As far as I was concerned, UPS could take all the time they wanted to deliver my passport. But all things come to an end and one day while sitting on the pier, enjoying the local food and cold beer, a dingy pulled up to the dock.

"Are you Nancy?" he asked me.

"Yes. I am."

He then handed me a brown UPS box. My passport had finally arrived. 3 weeks to the day that I arrived, it was now about time to go home. To the states.

Our hostess on the island name was Grace.

Nancy means grace.
So I was already home. In a way.

But I wonder...had I been Marsha, would it have been the same? I think not.

That just wouldn't



  1. Who cares if they are not your real parents. They are as good as one, and a good one too.. =)

  2.'re lucky. I was adopted too, but that didn't turn out so well. But that's great that your parents turned out to awesome people by the sounds of things. (:

    Howard Stern is a bitch btw. He annoys the hell out of me. I hope I never actually met the guy face to face.

  3. What a great post. I used to think names could shape us...I'm also a Nancy, and I used to think that limited me to being reserved and cautious-- traits I didn't especially like about myself. If only my name were... Cassandra? Alexis? even Kate, or Elizabeth... Then I met my husband, who helped me take risks and be just a bit more Kate-like. But really, more fully Nancy.

    You definitely would have been shaped by different circumstances growing up as Marsha. But the huge love of your adoptive (and real) parents meant that you almost certainly have become more fully yourself. By whatever name.

  4. Beautifully written. At least your brother made a place for you. When my sister came home from the hospital, I tried to talk my mom into taking her back because she was loud. Still is to this day, come to think of it...

  5. Beautiful. Feeling wanted and loved are key elements in a positive childhood, and those gifts were clearly there for you. That's what counts. p.s. Howard Stern can be such a dunce.

  6. You know what, Shakespeare was absolutely right! What is in a name, really??! Who cares if your name is Nancy or Ruth-May or Melissa? It shouldn't affect who you are inside. In fact, I don't care if you suddenly decided to go by She-Who-Has-No-Name or f8hasit, as long as you're still you!

  7. How very introspective....I like this post.

  8. I'm adopted too. I hate the phrase "we're not your real parents because we adopted you." No. Because they adopted you, they are your real parents. Real parents are the ones who change your diapers, feed you, raise you, and drive you to school. Real parents buy your Christmas and birthday presents, and give you college tuition money. Real parents make you pancakes and waffles and let you bring your laundry home to was. Other people may have birthed you, but that doesn't make them your real parents. Real parents are the ones that have their arms around you, and around whom you can put your own arms.

  9. Why did your mother use the term "real mother?" I am so glad we now call the adoptive mother, the mother, and the birth mother just that.

  10. Thank you for putting up this very personal post. I really, really enjoyed it.

  11. Hey Nancy, names are important, and do shape us. I think that's why we've seen a determined and occasionally moronic trend towards "interesting" names in recent years. But those chasing a dream of having adventurers, models and rock stars for kids have forgotten that we're far more strongly shaped by the people that raise us, and the home we live in. Your mom did good, and would have done as well if you were Martha, Marsha, Minnie or (even) Melissa. And I'm glad to know you, so thank her for me, won't you? ;> Indigo

  12. @Chess - I loved this comment. I think I may quote you on it...several times over. Thank you.

    @Indigo - Yeah, my mom was one of those people that I'm better to have known. I actually started crying when thinking of her at dinner tonight. I'm sure the waitress was a little curious as to why her patron was silently weeping at the table...but hey, it happens. Thanks for your kind words!



  13. Hi Nancy, Indigo said everything that I wanted to say. He has it spot on. I am greatful to have the name that i do as it is rare (I do have to spell it for everyone though), but I would still be me by any other name, much like shakespeare's rose (ta Fierce).

  14. ps. it's Deidre - (pr. Dee-dree)

  15. Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! Not having to have heard that all your life is proof enough that Nancy is a rockin' name.

    As far as "why" some people choose to put their kids up for adoption, I know of son's girlfriend, who is now 18, but was 16 when she had her daughter, put her up for adoption simply because she knew someone else could give her child a better chance at a better quality of life. I commend her for that.

    Have a great holiday. NANCY!!!

  16. There is no birth or death with love . . .
    it is eternal, always was, always wil be. You have been loved and wanted before you existed. Wonderful, thoughtful and funny post. Thank you for sharing. As for names . . . it's a topic of conversation I have had with friends before. Names and the feelings that go with them can be pretty deep and revealing. I didn't used to like mine, but after my mother died, she had the same name, I began to love it.


  17. The first Christmas my husband and I were married, my boys asked Scott to adopt them and started calling him Dad. The adoption process was long and stressful. The boys knew that their last name would change. But my oldest son asked if he could change his first and middle names (my ex had picked his name) and my youngest ask if he could keep his first and middle names (I picked his name). We told them both yes. My oldest changed his first name to the nickname that I called him since birth and his middle name to my maiden name. It was a perfect fit. Instinctively, my son knew what his name should be. Also, every year we celebrate the day we all got the same last name.

    I think Nancy suits you!

  18. Thanks for the warm fuzzies. This is so heartwarming. :)

  19. I personally like the name Nancy (as its mine too!) I was named after my aunt Nancy. She is a very special person. :)
    Your vacation sounds heavenly- what a great place to get stranded!

  20. I'm with Chess! If there is anything to learn from life these days it's that families come in so many forms, and it's the love that binds them together.

    When I was 8 years old I desperately wanted to change my name to Marsha. Imagine!

  21. Lovely post...thanks for sharing.

  22. Awesome post! And as if I needed another reason, I really freakiing hate that ignoramus, Howard Stern!!

  23. I love this story. Very insightful. Both my mother and best friend were adopted and have similar feelings to yours, in terms of their birth parents, although neither likes to talk about it. It was so interesting to read your point of view.


  24. Oh geez, I knew a Marcia growing up. You are SO not like her. You seem more like a Charlene to me. :-)

  25. I like to think that we change the sound, the meaning, the very essence of our names by who we are, rather than the other way around. You have made Nancy belong to you, giving it your life. Marsha is just some hollow ghost out there. Just like your mom is your mom by virtue the lives and love you shared.

  26. This post confirms my love for you. I want to yell it from the rooftops that I love you. Not in a here's a ring let's spend the rest of eternity together type of love. More like a, you really have it together and we are on the same page kind of love. I am not adopted, and wont pretend to understand how that works in the mind of any human being. But I am the son of an absent father who can either play the victim,(please feel sorry for me because my father played the Houdini act on my mom and me) or learn from the mistakes of others, and without squeezing lemon juice into my own eyes make a sweet and tasty glass of lemonade. It seems to me that your glass of lemonade has just the perfect amount of ice and a sprig of mint to sweeten it up just right. Good for you, NANCY!

  27. My husband was also adopted at birth. I encouraged him to find his birthparents after we married, and he did. It connected a lot of dots (history, genetic, and health-wise), but we're not emotionally very close to his birthparents or biological siblings. I almost wish I hadn't pushed him to find them. His REAL mom has always been his adoptive she always will be.

  28. I can't imagine you ending a post with the name all.

  29. Yeah, the "real" parents are the ones there every day, every night, and long distance when you don't have your passport.
    This is a beautifully written and lovely post. You wound up with the parents you were supposed to have, no?

  30. What a lovely post! And I cracked up where you said on Howard Stern "I thought that had his own parents known what an asshole he'd turn out to be, they might have given him up as an infant." Funny stuff. Thanks for sharing such a great story.

  31. "I sometimes wonder how much of our lives are destined by our names."

    For me, a lot. I Googled my name a few times. Writers, painters, musicians, a chairmaker, and once I found a hot-tub installer. The next governor of Nevada (where my family and I plan to move in the coming year) could be Rory Reid.

    I am a writer. I'm co-writing my first book (essays that speculate on what various actors might have done with their careers had they not died, such as John Belsuhi and James Dean), which will be published in January 2011. After I'm done with my share, I'm signing up for online courses through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in pursuit of a bachelor's degree in professional aeronautics, and hopefully a career at an airport afterward.

    I have a name that means either creative pursuits or unique careers. I can't be a Rory outside of those. I've always liked that.

  32. This is really insightful. Thanks for sharing this. It's hard to see you as anything other than a Nancy - although I do still call you f8hasit in my little head sometimes. :)

  33. If you change your name to Carlos, you'll have a pile of nude woman clawing over themselves to have at you. I know from experience.
    This is a great post, Nancy.

  34. @Dee - or Diedre, I've always liked the Deidre. I almost named my daughter that! Her middle name is Morrigan. When you say it , it sounds like Morgan, but it's not. Mor-ei-gan. :-)

    @Theresa - You HAD to bring up the Brady thing, didn't ya'! But that's what I think everytime I look at that name! I think that adoption is a wonderful thing. It worked for me and my brother!!! Good for your son's girlfriend. That is VERY commendable. Happy Holidays to you and Chris as well! :-)

    @ John - The feeling is quite mutual! :-)

    @OneWomansThoughts - I love your comment. And I LOVE YOUR sounds just so romantic. Name envy? Yup. Check.

    @Pine Lakes Redhead - that is the coolest thing I think I've ever heard. Fabulous. YOU are one very thoughtful mom. They are very lucky boys.

    @Carlos - You continue to be a source of inspiration for me to live up to. :-)

    Thanks to EVERYONE for their thoughtful comments!!!!

    (aka: Marsha)


  35. What a great story. My Dad wanted to name me Heidi (Um, no Dad. That would not have worked for me.) And my mom wanted to name me Billie (my Dad's name was Bill) and thankfully he vetoed that. I think Julie is perfect for me....

  36. I once asked my Dad why I was named Nancy. I didn't care for the name. He said to me "I named you Nancy because your Mother wanted to name you Wanda." I said Thanks Dad. Changed my opinion of my name. I'm not a Wanda...not that there's anything wrong with Wanda...

    I thoroughly enjoyed your post and all of the responses.

    Happy New Year.

  37. What a wonderful story...your love for your mom and the name she gave you!!

  38. My folks were going to name the new baby -
    Nancy for a girl
    Bruce for a boy
    I was four at the time and "Nancy" made me think of a basket of flowers.

    We got a Bruce...

  39. Thanks for the briiliant post :) After I was born I had no name for three months. It took that long for my parents to choose my name :) lol I really like my name though so I'm glad they took their time :)

  40. Beautiful post, Nancy!

    howard stern is an idiot. (I can't even bother to cap his name) Everything he says/does is to incite a reaction. Fortunately, there's that little "off" button.

    I don't think I know anyone named Melissa...or anyone named Marsha, for that matter.

    For what it's worth, I definitely think you're a Nancy.

    Either way, you're a keeper!

  41. I knew a girl called Nancy once. If you're like her, then you're OK.

    Mind you, Great Auntie Marsha lives in an enormous house by the sea and drives a Ferrari

  42. Wow, I'm just blown away by your story. And when I look at that beautiful photo of your mom, with the sweetest smile in the world-- a loving mom, like straight out of central casting-- I love her, too! You two were blessed to have had each other. What a happy ending to what might not have been such an idyllic life! Blessings all around, no? You gave us all a gift by sharing this with us.

  43. My best friend's name is Nancy. She is a lovely person with a warm and loving heart. I somehow suspect, you too have these wonderful qualities. Happy Holidays...blessings to you and your daughter.

    ps - room looks amazing.

  44. I love this post, you have such a great way with words! And your parents sound so wonderful, it doesn't matter if they didn't create you, they loved you and that is the only important thing.

  45. I'm sorry I haven't been over for awhile, but what a great post to come back too.

    You sound like you were so lucky to have a family like the one you did. The fact that you have no natural urge to locate your own biological parents is testament to that.

    You know who your family are and that’s enough for you.

    Great post....Nancy.

  46. Wow... what a story! I've often wondered the same thing; what would things be like if I had been named differently? Mike is pretty short, simple, and to the point - guess it kinda fits my personality. You're right, though - I don't see you as a Marsha. ;)

  47. I loved this post, Nancy! What a wonderful story of the love your parents gave you! You are truly blessed!

  48. Well Nancy, i think Nancy is a fine name. Trust me. My folks named me Ivera-Lillian and now i have to go with very short versions of it to be identified. 'Vera' or 'Lily'. Whats important is the love your folks musta had in their hearts when they gave you the name. And i am sure it was and still is more than a truck load.

  49. Well, I know a Marsha & you are nothing like her! I know a few Nancys but each one is different & the Melissas I know are nothing like the ones you know. Maybe it's Michgan. I know a lot of people with same names & they are all very different. I also know someone with my name & she is different from me,too, But I have to admit, I AM an original. LOL. And you are as well! (((HUGS)))

  50. Beautiful post Nancy. It is a great testament to love and parenting. Thank you for sharing.

  51. U know wat, I loved your post. Don't know why but you made me feel happy. I felt happy inside... Content, maybe.

    Thanks nancy.

  52. What a great post! Interesting thoughts...

    I changed my name when I was thirteen (VERY awkward first name, switched to my second name when we moved to a new town the summer before 8th grade). As someone who's had the benefit of living with 2 different names, I think that what you are called *does* have some bearing on who you are...or at least who you *feel* you are, and that's a big part of the picture, isn't it?

  53. This is a great post. You're right about names, they sometimes form who you are.

    Marsha reminds me of the Brady Bunch, but think of all the other names that speak for themselves - Tiffany, Muffy, Buffy, etc..

    I don't listen to Howard Stern. I respect that he has really created an amazing empire and is in therapy, but he's not my cup of tea.

  54. I think the important thing is knowing that your birth mother wanted a better life for you than she could give you.
    That's love.

    And knowing the parents who raised you wanted you more than anything in the whole wide world must be a pretty damned good feeling, no matter what sort of conflict the whole "being adopted" thing may have brought to you.

    I have a few cousins who were adopted at birth, and I always envied the way they were wanted by their mothers. You could see it in their eyes.

    I think adoption is the most beautiful, caring, selfless thing in the whole wide world.

    I could go on about this forever.

  55. Not to get too far off topic but, I'm the "Follower of Note?" Thanks so much Marsh...Nancy. This means a lot to me , but I hardly feel worthy. You're the best.

  56. Frankly, I like you just as you are, not more marsha-like, or Melissa-esque...I think you are one hell of a Nancy..and perfect "just as you are".

    Have a Merry Christmas luv,

  57. Your "real" parents were the people that adopted you.

    Howard Stern is an idiot of the 1st degree.

    Hmm... We find some identity in our names - but you do have a most interesting take on it. And I'll agree with HeatherLynn - you've done the name Nancy good... and its been good for you.

  58. Nice post! I still like Nancy more than Marsha! If there was no Nancy here, we could not view the awesome blog on line! Destiny depends on yourself, not ONLY related to names!

    May you and your family have a joyful Christmas and a fruitful New Year!!! Merry Xmas!!

  59. I really like your blog. I am a first-time visitor, but I observe every site I submit a comment to. I have a humor blog myself, which I hope to be a top place for people to come and laugh. Life is hard enough and you sometimes need to just sit back and laugh a little.

    I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread traffic around to each. Keep up the good work. You can contact me by simply placing a comment on my site.

    Happy Holidays!


  60. Well, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet......

    My family calls me Patty, as do some of my close friends, but once I had turned 40, I introduced myself as "Pat". I remember liking the name "Tricia" as a teenager and thinking I should change my name to that.

    There are many reasons a mother gives her child up for adoption, and I think LOVE has a lot to do with it. If she can't raise that baby for whatever reason, she knows it's best to give the baby up for adoption.


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