What I found in the Morning Advocate broke my heart—a picture of a baby held in the arms of a Baton Rouge police officer. The headline, on March 16, read, “Tot Abandoned Here Is Put in Hospital for Observation.”
I could barely breathe as I looked at my picture plastered on the front page of the newspaper. The caption underneath the photo stated, “ABANDONED BABY BOY—Mrs. Essie Bruce of the city Juvenile division holds a blond, blue-eyed baby boy after he was found abandoned on a stairway landing in an apartment house on North Boulevard. Police are attempting to find a new home for the child and to determine the identity of his parents.”
I stared at the article in disbelief. There was no mention of a church. I had been found unexpectedly by a lady named Mary Bonnette, on the stairs in her apartment building.
Stunned, I searched for more articles and found a headline on April 19 that read, “Teenager may be the mother of abandoned tot.” This article indicated that a fifteen-year-old had been picked up for vagrancy in New Orleans and may be the mother of the abandoned infant.
An article on April 20 stated, “Nab Father of Child left here.” It reported that Earl Van Best Jr., twenty-eight, of San Francisco, had been arrested for abandoning his two-month-old son in Baton Rouge.
I realized the newspaper had it wrong. I had not been two months old.
I had been only four weeks old when my father abandoned me.
Slowly, I got up from the microfiche machine, collected the articles I had printed, and made my way to my truck. I got in, started the engine, and steered it toward downtown Baton Rouge. I knew North Boulevard well. I had driven on that street many times.
I had not been left in a safe haven by people who had loved me but simply couldn’t care for me. I had been thrown out like the trash, left there to be found or not.
An intense feeling of rejection washed over me as I looked for the address the paper had listed: 736.