“Crazy Tree, Crazy Apple” ¬†a direct quote from my mother.

The same mother who cultivated the crazy apples. ūüėÉ

Because I was adopted I never really felt like I had a place anywhere. I drifted through life very aware that I was alone. This reality prompted me to start building my family tree on Ancestry.com. I began with basic information that I had pieced together over the years. It wasn’t much but thankfully I was able to get more information from my little sister. As the years rolled past I would add information here and there but usually it was nothing more than a passing thought. That was until one day I receive a message from someone who was looking for her dad’s biological family. It turned out that her father was my uncle who had also been adopted as a young boy. The ancestry fever was ignited in me at that moment. I became obsessed with finding out more about my family and where I had come from. I knew all along that I was Native American and Polish but nothing beyond that. Before I knew it I had located several members of the Kasper clan and I finally started to feel like I was a part of something bigger. Even though I had never met them I knew I belonged and this fact calmed my obsession with the family tree slightly. That was until I submitted my DNA for testing. I was chomping at the bit while I waited for the results. I already knew who my parents were so I’m not really sure what I wanted to know. Maybe it was because I had attempted contact with someone who I was positive was my cousin and was rejected. It didn’t really hurt me or really shock me that his response was “We never heard anything about her.” Therefor I didn’t exist to him. That was his answer to the young lady I contacted as a go between since he would never respond to me personally. His answer only made me want to stand tall and prove it to not only him but to the rest of the Kilgore clan. I would not be silent and invisible any longer because I am a Kasper first and we roar! Within a few weeks my DNA results were in and I was so excited to see the results that linked me to so many different people. I’m currently trying to make all the connections as I search through the thousands of very confusing hints and facts and it’s safe to say my fever is renewed. (I’m not entirely sure that the fever ever went away.) All of what I have written up to this point now brings me to what has been rattling around in my crazy head for some time now. Some of you may or may not know that I spent several years in foster care and other various juvenile facilities. Those years were some of the most heartbreaking years of my life but also the most life changing for me. I learned things I shouldn’t have but never learned any lessons. So as I’m going through the DNA results I start to fill in the gaps of my family tree. I’m excited to follow the path of my ancestors but then my heart begins to feel heavy again. It’s strange how simple names or words can affect everything you have felt up until that point. The names of the people I was adding weren’t so familiar but the locations were. Menomenie, Escanaba, Rapid River and the most heart wrenching for me was Poplar, WI. These are just a few of the places that I lived in foster care or in a group home. I know it’s silly and unrealistic but I often wonder to myself how come no one knew? I’m sure it was written all over my face that I didn’t belong. Did you walk past me on the street or bump into me at a store? I was so close to my blood relatives yet I was completely invisible to them. I was just another juvenile delinquent in the eyes of everyone around me. How could they have ever known though? No one on my paternal side even knew I existed. It’s not fair for me to be upset with them when I was just a mere ghost floating aimlessly through life. I still can’t help but fantasize that maybe if someone had known they might have saved me and my life would have been very different. It’s weird what you learn through your family tree and how it can affect you. For now I will remain Kasper the unfriendly Ghost as I hang from my crazy apple tree.

Kelly Kasper ‚̧ 2017


Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) 

An anxiety disorder in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment (e.g. a parent, caregiver, significant other or siblings).

¬†I was a Preschooler when the person I depended on for all my basic needs was taken away from me. After a few years of adjustment with my new family I was ripped away yet again and given to another family. Then at age fourteen my relationship with my two siblings was forever changed. I was on my way to a new home yet again. I suppose I could have adjusted if I hadn’t lost so many important people from my life in such a short time. There was nothing permanent or even long term in my life. I actually became quite adept at sabotaging most situations in my life. I had very few friends and literally no family in sight. I figured out a few years back that it was easier to avoid relationships then form them. At the same time I find myself struggling with loneliness. The few close friends that I do have I am very possessive of. They are mine, all mine and it is difficult for me to share. If I don’t hear from friends I start to imagine they have abandoned me. But my true fear of loss and separation became clear to me when I found it difficult to throw away empty containers and boxes. I could easily make up the excuse that I could use it for something. I thought for many years I was being frugal by recycling used items. Eventually I was forced to face my “collecting” habits head on when my Husband started making jokes about my cardboard forts in the corners of my bedroom. The first time I had to break down a stack of boxes and throw them out, I actually had a slight panic attack. That is when I knew for sure that it wasn’t about reusing or recycling, it was about holding onto even the simplest of things. When you lose so much in your life it becomes easy to develop habits of hoarding. Now you know why I am SAD.

Kelly Blake 2017

In the Beginning

When I made the decision to become Wife and Caregiver I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. I knew there would be lots of sacrifices on my part. This Relationship would prove to be the biggest challenge I would ever have to face. When we were married, we lived in town. After the first year we made a joint decision to move from our little townhouse. There were several factors involved in this decision but we felt it was for the best. A friend of mine was keeping a watchful eye out for a new place for us because this move was fast sending me into a frenzy. There were so many things had to be taken into account. Most people can simply look at location, size and price. We had to factor in Wheelchair access and bathroom space amongst other things. Eventually my friend spotted a little hole in the wall in a neighboring town. Time was running out on our current lease so I knew I had little choice but to find a place quickly because I can’t really be homeless with a Disabled husband. We contacted the owner and made a deal. I thought at first that this would be just the peace of mind that we wanted. We are now approaching the end of our second year out here. The first year was busy, the kids lived with us most of the year and although that was extremely stressful it was nice having company. I’m not sure if people really realize that when you are a live in Caregiver, your job never ends, so any little break from the monotony helps a lot. After the kids left and the friends faded I started to really feel the affects of being isolated. Each day I sink a little bit further into the pit of depression. I thought moving out here would be great even though we didn’t have a reliable vehicle at the time. After our first year we were lucky enough to get approved to buy a van and I thought for sure we were finally catching a break. I would soon find out exactly how wrong I was. When we bought the van we had high hopes of paying it off and converting it into a wheelchair van. Someone we relied on for medical transportation had told us that it would only cost a couple thousand to convert. We eventually found out that this was very wrong information. The cost of a conversion is at least Ten Thousand dollars. Ten Thousand dollars that we will never have. So now here I am in my second year of isolation, with no real hope for anything better.

The Stand Still
When we moved to a more isolated area I said I could deal with it as long as we got a vehicle to get back and forth to town. I know that even though I enjoy my privacy, I also need socialization. So now I sit here staring out the same window everyday with tears in my eyes. I never thought my life would come to a complete standstill at Forty-Five. I see life happening all around me and it dawns on me that I won’t ever have that life. I see people fishing, swimming, vacationing or even just hanging out with friends and it hurts. I understand I made this life choice and my love for my husband is no less than it was the first time I realized I loved him. I just never expected to live my life in isolation and I am truly not sure how much longer I can actually do it without losing myself completely. Everyday I feel myself getting more depressed and bitter and I don’t want to be that way. So I guess for now i’ll just sit her staring out my window daydreaming and trying to remember what it was like to actually have a life.
Kelly~ 2017

It was May 13th, 1977 when we took our road trip to Poplar,WI. I was only Five¬†and a half years old then. Road trips are always exciting but this one felt different somehow. We were going to visit someone from what I understood but I wasn’t exactly sure why our mother wasn’t with us. The only thing I was sure of was I had my hard pink suitcase that carried all my little belongings. We eventually arrived at a quaint little A-Frame house with a large St. Bernard. The family seemed really nice and very happy to see us. Before I knew it, the car that had brought us to the house backed out of the driveway, and left us behind. They never did come back for us, and nobody ever brought our mom. Once I was old enough to understand I learned that the house we were brought to was called a Foster Home.

Foster care: A¬†system in which a¬†minor¬†has been placed into a¬†ward,¬†group home, or private home of a state-certified¬†caregiver, referred to as a “foster parent”. The placement of the child is normally arranged through the government or a social service agency. The institution, group home or foster parent is compensated for expenses.

Foster care started as a result of the efforts of Charles Loring Brace.

Brace believed the children would do best with a Christian farm family. He did this to save them from “a lifetime of suffering” *Nordmark, Oliver. “Orphan Train History.”¬†: REVEREND CHARLES LORING BRACE. N.p., 09 Feb. 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.

We lived in this Foster Home for a couple years while we waited for our mother to come for us.This is something that never happened. They told us that she showed no real interest in getting us back with her so they ruled our case as Abandonment. We were eventually put on a list for Adoption. At age six I never even knew there were differences between us and the family that we lived with. I wasn’t even aware until I was Adopted that I was “Native American”. I just thought I was a kid, like everyone else. I realized later on just how wrong I was.

Transracial Adoption: Placing a child of one racial or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another racial or ethnic group.

When you adopt a baby, do you take on responsibility for fostering the child‚Äôs connection to the culture or cultures of origin your baby leaves behind to join your family? Or do you just try to integrate that child into your own family’s lifestyle and culture? Having been born part Native American I should have been privy to my family’s history and culture. Instead I was raised in a Lutheran household with parents that were from Finnish and German descent. Never the wiser that I had lost a lifetime of culture because of my Adoption. I came from a proud nation of Chippewa Indians. I learned about my family and culture on the internet. I was the poor little Indian in a white person’s world. I am not necessarily Anti Adoption, but I am most definitely Pro Education. I believe in the preservation of culture. I am not against Transracial Adoption if culture and heritage is taught and preserved. I have been angry all of my life because I know nothing of my family or culture except for what I find on Google. Forty years of culture lost even after the¬†The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) was established. Even after 1978, Native American children were placed in Non Native homes.

So to recap, In 1977 I went on a road trip, and that’s where I lost my ID.

Kelly Kasper ~Blake (2017)

Depression ~ A common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

Depression: The result of fighting a War against things I don’t want to remember ~Kelly Kasper

I don’t know what it’s like to physically drown, but sometimes I imagine how it might feel. To Drown =¬†submerge or flood.

When I am a on a LOW I often feel like i’m drowning. Submerged in emotions and flooded with sadness. Struggling in a sea of darkness, forever reaching for a helping hand. Searching for an air hole to breath out of. I wish I knew how to swim a lot better, but i’m great at treading water so I am able to stay afloat. What I have learned over the years is that I must always stay aware of myself. I don’t always recognize right away when i’ve reached my low, but when I do I take note of triggers. Recognizing triggers and being aware of yourself is the best way to fight self destruction.Depression affects so many people. It has the ability to destroy so much. Self awareness is your best ammunition.

Kelly Blake ~2017

Quadriplegia: paralysis of all four limbs; tetraplegia

~Tied up with an invisible chain

Shower day

As I stretch and place my feet on the floor, I blink the sleep out of my eyes. There are days I wish I could sleep as long as my brain would allow me. Instead I glance up at the clock and realize that I have already spent too much time laying around. You depend on me, without me you can’t begin your day.I often reflect on all the things in life that people take for granted. The gentle placing of their feet on the floor and the ability to stand and walk into the bathroom to turn on the shower. Things are very different for you dear husband. I roll you onto one side and then the other so that I can place the sling underneath you. I position the Hoyer with it’s legs under the bed so I can put the sling straps onto the hooks. The Hoyer works just like an engine hoist. I carefully raise the arm of the Hoyer, gently lifting you off the bed.

Once you are lifted enough to clear the bed rails of your hospital bed, I then maneuver the Hoyer to strategically place you over your shower chair. All the while being very aware of ¬†your Colostomy and Catheter. Once you are sitting as comfortably as you can I must wheel you through the house to the bathroom that is actually connected to our bedroom. We call this the “Nuts and Butts” parade. Through the living room, up the ramp to the dining area and then down the hall to the bathroom. We are unable to enter the bathroom from our bedroom due to someone’s ass backwards setup of the the toilet which is directly in front of the doorway, blocking wheelchair access. We start your shower with a good soak and a brushing of your teeth. You get a good scrubbing from top to bottom and then we reverse the process back to the room and into the bed. Once you are lotioned up and dressed I must Hoyer you one last time into your wheelchair. This entire shower process takes at least one and a half to two hours. Next you get your water, pills and coffee. Now I can finally take a moment to fill my favorite spot on the couch and plan for the next round of duties. I challenge each and everyone of you to imagine yourself having to get your partner ready every single day before you begin your own day. Imagine how much earlier you would have to get up or how much later you would be getting to bed. As the caregiver of my husband, I cannot just think of myself, I am responsible for another human being. As a caregiver, my job is never done.

~Kelly (2017)

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