Woman finally finds answers about her time at Lake Bluff Children’s Home
Updated: November 10, 2011 5:47PM
Have you ever considered that there are people who unexpectedly enter our lives to teach us something, provide needed closure, or are put before us for a reason that we could have never anticipated, yet in hindsight feel like our alignment with them was somehow predestined?
Linda Windes of Ringgold, Ga., feels that way about Lake Bluff’s Kraig Moreland.
Moreland, best known in our community for the 14 years he’s owned and operated the well-loved youth sports organization in Lake Bluff, New Vision Athletics (“NVA” to us parents whose children learned sports and good sportsmanship under Kraig’s guiding hand) has indeed been following a “new vision” since early winter of 2009. Those who are lucky enough to attend the premiere of Kraig’s film documentary about the Lake Bluff Children’s Home Saturday evening at the Raymond Moore Auditorium of Lake Forest High School (Raymond Moore spent years as a child at the children’s home) know that Kraig has been on a quiet mission to bring closure and personal history back to the many adults who spent their childhoods at the orphanage, eight red brick Georgian buildings that took up an entire block in downtown Lake Bluff.
Linda Windes, who spent three months as a baby there before being adopted, counts herself as one of the grateful recipients of Kraig’s efforts to answer many questions she’d asked herself each year on her birthday.
“I found out I was adopted when I was in the fourth grade, and at first I usually thought more about my birth mother than I did about the orphanage. I don’t think it actually occurred to me that I had been in an orphanage at that point, just that this lady had given me away, and wondered why she hadn’t wanted me,” Linda explained to me in a recent interview. “On my birthday each year, I would have the simple thought, ‘I wonder if she’s thinking of me while I’m thinking of her.’”
The Lake Bluff Children’s Home was not a true orphanage because in many cases the parents were alive but simply could not care for their children due to financial or other reasons, so brought them there to live. Some parents visited their children on “Visitation Sundays;” others not at all. Moreland’s film interviews those who agonized while watching children waiting and hoping for their parents to visit, only to be disappointed Sunday after Sunday.
“I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like those three months I was at the home -- who was holding me, who was feeding me, did my mother ever hold me,” Linda said.
Kraig Moreland was able to provide answers to some of Linda’s most heart-wrenching questions when he visited her home in Georgia in April of 2010.
Linda had mentioned being adopted as a baby from the Lake Bluff Children’s Home in a blog she wrote on her 60th birthday, and news of Linda made its way to Kraig, who was already researching a short documentary he was working on to spotlight the home and its history.
“I soon realized I had answers and photos for many of the things this woman had blogged about and wondered about all her life,” Kraig said. “How could I not help, when I knew I had the answers to so many questions she had asked year after year.”
Moreland was able to present Linda Windes with a video of interviews with actual employees and adult children of employees who were coincidentally Linda’s main caregivers. Kraig put faces to the kindly women who worked in the babyfold at nights and rocked and held Linda. Yes, Linda was held and lovingly cared for. She was finally able put a face to the women who held her for the first three months of her life.
“A kind man named Kraig walked through my front door with a map of sorts, the journey my young, unwed birth mother took toward my relinquishment to the orphanage, and subsequent adoption.”
Linda also discovered that her birth mother named her Linda Irene. Her adoptive parents then named her Linda, not knowing that was her original birth name. “Irene” was coincidentally the name of Linda’s adoptive mother.
Through Kraig’s work, Linda also learned that her birth mother anguished over releasing her for adoption, taking over two months to sign the papers. Her mother did want something better for her than she could provide, and as Linda added, “I finally know that the decision to give birth to me and to give me up to the hope of that better life was from a place of love, not abandonment.”
Kraig’s documentary tells the story through the voices of those who lived and worked at the children’s home. The film is being gifted to the Lake Bluff History Museum, and will be available for purchase in the coming months. Kraig explained, “What has happened in the process of researching and contacting countless people to tell the story of the home has led to the reuniting of old friends and staff. I’ve been able to reconnect kids who were at the orphanage for many years of their lives and who had lost track of their friends - many of which were basically their only family growing up.”
Kraig said that this journey led him to nothing short of serendipitous connections, taking him to interview 30 adults who once lived at the home, who now reside all over the country.
Indeed, the gift of Kraig Moreland’s film reaches much farther than the confines of the charming historical museum in downtown Lake Bluff. Linda Windes sums it up best. “Because of Kraig, almost all of the blanks have been filled in. A greater gift has never been received.”
Learn more at www.LakeBluffHistory.org.
Lake Forester columnist Maria Malin can be reached at email@example.com