1. I was baptized in Quebec City a mere four days after I was born.
It is quite possible that my biological mother did not request or authorize this baptism as most parents will wait months to organize such a ceremony. When I was born in March 1971, officers of the Church and government immediately began pressuring my mother to give me up for adoption. I began my life as proof that my mother had pre-marital sex. Also, and this probably didn’t help either, my biological father’s mother forbade him from being a father. Of course men in those days were not at all antagonized if they abandonned their children. While the Church and society antagonized my mother for having a baby out of wedlock, I followed the path of thousands of other sin babies and stayed in the orphenage. My brown hair, blue eyes and whiteness meant that I could be swiftly placed with a corforming family as far away as Chicago, Il. For six months she exercised her legal right to visit me weekly and then signed the legal papers (under duress) to allow adoption. The next week, I was gone…
2. In October 1971, I was adopted by a defrocked Catholic nun and a physicist.
My adoptive mother was chosen by her father to be the sacrificial lamb of the family… In well-to-do families, one of the kids would become a nun or a priest. After being placed in a cloistered convent at age 16, my adoptive mother was a catechism then French teacher for her entire career. My adoptive father wanted to be an architect. However, his dad decided that he should be a physicist so that is what he got a masters in. He toiled away in a triple-locked top secret lab flanked by American and Canadian soldiers for years. My baptismal paper are totally fake and feature the name my adoptive father chose for me. Which, interestingly enough is just ‘Lynn’ not my real name either. My parents did not agree on what should be my name. It was my father who filled out all the forms for every government service; it was my mother who got custody of me in the divorce; it was a headache!
3. We fought to go to Church,
When I was very little, I remember my brother and I would fight about who got to go to church with our dad. I do not why my mother didn’t do church. In fact most of my memories of being parented only include my father.
4. We did not want go to Church
When I was 7 or 8 my mother gave my brother and I 35 cents and told us to go to church which was about twenty minutes away. Thirty five cents could buy you almost two chocolate bars at the time so we stuffed our faces with penny candy and returned home a few hours later. I never really understood why my mother beat us so hard when coming home. It cost her only 35 cents to get rid of us for almost two hours… It seemed like an excellent deal!
5. We had to go to Church
When we were hanging with the family we had to go to church. The church I attended most is Nativity in Hollywood FLA. My aunt and uncle are practicing Catholics but they were never oppressive or defensive or abusive about it.
6. I had to draw things in a big blue book with a fish on it
In school I was jealous of my friends who were exempt from religion class and went to another class which delved into moralistic studies but was non-religious. Moral is cool because you can debate about it. Catechisme was not cool because it made adults angry when I asked follow-up questions about it.
7. I had my first communion.
I remember little of this step but shopping for my outfit. Shopping for clothing was very important to my mother, in fact, the way I was dressed obsessively in clothing inappropriate for play was often retold to me by other adults in the neighborhood. That and the fact that I apparently looked like Barbra Streisand became a part of my identity. She chose this disco number for me and the picture turned out well enough. Oh and there was a church ceremony and I got a lovely Kodak Pocket Instamatic camera. I remember nothing else, not even the reason why my mother took my camera away shortly thereafter.
8. Confession, penance, whatever they call it
In third or fourth grade we had to go through Penance. For this the local priest came to our school to explain the process of confessing our sins in the scary dark closet for the first time. Abbé Pinchaud explained what a sin was and used a peculiar example to demonstrate what isn’t a sin. He said a boy had come to him to confess that he had snuffed some kitten in a bag. Abbé Painchaud said that this did not conform to the kind of confession he wanted to hear and that we should not confess to something so silly as killing cats. My head exploded at that very moment and I was officially in total disagreement with the Catholic Church. I confessed that I had lied to my mother, which is true, but at the time I was often trying to hack my way out of a beating and had no intention of stopping. So, in theory, I had bullshitted my way through this sacrament.
9. Religious difference was not an option
In fifth grade, we had a French girl in our grade. As soon as people found out she wasn’t baptized, she and her parents were informed that this wasn’t the norm. I felt a little sad when I attended her forced baptism… Message: don’t be different.
10. The Last Stand
In sixth grade came the last sacrament: Confirmation. As I understood it, I would have to stand in front of the Bishop with my grandmother behind me and confirm my desire to be in the Catholic Church. This was great because my grandmother and I spent a lot of time when I was little and I wasn’t getting to see her a lot. Also she was so awesome, knowledgeable and kind that I thought it would make an event I did not want to attend less dreadful. When my mother told me she, and not my grandmother, would stand behind me I was disappointed. On the day of the ceremony I finally decided to tell my mother I did not want to go through with it. Never in my life have I endured such a long hateful beating. After a few hours I was dragged to church. I stood in front of the Bishop shaking and crying as he sighed, said a few things and moved on.
Ever since that day I have wondered, am I a Catholic?