They called Me Bunny
May Anderson Parks
When Bunny turned twelve, she dyed her hair so she would look more like her adoptive parents. When she turned fourteen, she had to lock her bedroom door to keep her adoptive father out. At sixteen, Bunny leaves to find her real parents, from whom she is sure she was stolen. Ingenious amateur sleuthing leads her to a most pleasant reunion.
ISBN: 1-931982-80-5 Trade Paper, $14.95 Sale $7.50
ISBN: 1-931982-79-1 Library Binding, $25 Sale $12.50
Mary Anderson Parks is the author of The Circle Leads Home, a novel. She worked as a lawyer for the Pullyup Tribe, The Seattle Indian Center, and United Indian Tribes of all Nations, specializing in foster care and adoption. She is now retired.
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Somebody stole me from my real parents. Somebody bad. My parents looked and looked and yearned and yearned for me. They looked every damn place they could think of. But I was locked up in the orphanage. And before my parents could find me, Rose and Brad came and adopted me.
That's got to be what happened.
I hate thinking they just plain didn't want me.
Rose and Brad gave me the name Mary Martha. Then they called me Bunny. That's the only playful thing I've ever known them to do. They must have figured out real quick I could never live up to a name like Mary Martha.
"We call you Bunny," Rose's story went, "because you were born near Easter and to us you represent new life, which is what Easter is about, isn't it?" I'd nod and smile, trying to be bunny-like. "Scamper off and play," Rose would say. And I scampered off the way I imagined a small rabbit would. I even turned and grinned at her over my shoulder like Shirley Temple in the movies.
Other kids were comfortable with their parents. They didn't have to try the way I did. I never found it easy to call these tall, thin, flat people Mom and Dad. It got clearer and clearer how different from them I was, and what a disappointment. They blamed my faults on that year before they adopted me. I heard Rose tell the Bible Study ladies over tea in the living room, "I never believed character is formed so early. It says so in psychology books, but until seeing how Bunny is, I never really believed it, you know?"
"She had a whole passel of kids," Rose went on. I sat on the floor with my paper dolls, watching Rose's plucked eyebrows rise over her flowered teacup. "Dropped babies like kittens, can you imagine?" There had been seven of us, I decided. That number held magic, as if we were seven princesses and princes in a fairy tale.
Rose and Brad wouldn't tell me my real name, the name my mother gave me. I was sure she had given me a name. "That's all behind you now," Rose said, when I was old enough to ask. She said it like I was supposed to be glad it was all behind me. Like it was dirty and something to be ashamed of. I always felt dirty around Rose, even after she washed my ears, inside and behind, and every other part of me. "You scummy girl," she'd say, scrubbing hard on my skin. Maybe it was only one time she said that, but in my mind it happens over and over.
My skin is way darker than hers and Brad's. "Bunny tans easily," Rose says, as if that explains everything. My hair is about twenty-five shades darker than theirs, which I'd call blonde, though Rose says with a big sigh that it "used to be nice and blonde." They have light blue eyes and mine are a deep brown that's almost black. Sometimes when I tell people my name, Lundquist, they say, laughing, "You sure don't look Scandinavian." So I prefer to say, "Just call me Bunny." Often when I'm alone I stare into the mirror, wondering who I really am. Rose and Brad sure don't want to talk about it.