I Am No. 36

I Am No. 36

Melanie Haggard

When I was around 7 years old, I was dropped off at the Albertinum Orphan Asylum located in Ukiah, California. It was operated by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose as an orphanage and a boarding school.

The School operated from approximately 1895 till the late 1960’s.

Sad Little Girl in White Dress

There is usually strong feeling of abandonment when families split up. There are wounds in the heart that need healing especially in those of the children. When the love from a parent is void, the child grows up with a feeling of detachment and a lack of security. There is also a sense of guilt and shame which often is acted out by rebellion in one form or another; I experienced just that.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.”
-Luke 4:18

My parents divorced when I was quite young, my mom struggled, she was working, going to graduate school to get her degree and had detached herself from my sister and I. It was hard for her to make ends meet. I remember groceries being left on our front porch a few times. We never knew who had left them for us.

When I was in the second grade, my mom told us she was not doing very well and needed to take us somewhere, safe, to be taken care of while she recuperated; that is when she dropped my sister and I off at the orphanage.

The moment our mom turned around and walked away, my younger sister fell to the floor screaming.  I was a “stuffer,” so nothing came out of me! I am ashamed to say that I was embarrassed by my sister’s open display of emotions.

Though I felt rejected in the orphanage, it was still doable, regular meals, set bedtimes, I don’t remember the schooling or what we were taught. One incident that stands out is when we had clean laundry returned to us. There would be a nun between the dorm and the restroom, calling out what we thought were our names, but it was a number. I was Number 36 and my sister was Number 32.

My mom did come and visit us once in the orphanage, and made a comment: “Why hadn’t you written? I would have come sooner.” I was seven, and we didn’t have access to paper or stamps. No one asked if we wanted to write to our mom. Shortly after, she came and took us back home.

I remember a time when I was around twelve, my dad, sister, and I attended a Billy Graham Crusade and went forward. Billy Graham spoke in a way to all like we were the least of these, the children, and it gave me hope. I had come home happy, but my mom was not happy for us. Because we were raised up in a religion that was harsh and structured, and what Billy Graham was teaching didn’t match up, mom decided we needed to throw out all the children Bible study material and what we had brought home with us. We were not rebellious, but we did what our mama said.

Back home, things were still the same, we were poor, we struggled, and eventually I rebelled, even at Catholic parochial school. There was a girl there who was full of anger, I watched her, the other students left her alone, so at 15, I started hanging around her and unwittingly she mentored me; and I became just like her; full of anger. I became suicidal and eventually a runaway.

“And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
-Acts 2:21

My hope was shattered. I didn’t get into drugs and alcohol, but I sought love in all the wrong places, and went through guys. It wasn’t until my mom found me and took me World Convention, a non-denominational church service where all different countries were praising God together.

There was a couple in the elevator, who glowed, who told me to go outside and to see the glory of God. I did and outside I felt loved at the first time in my 22 years of life!

Today, those that have severe trauma are drawn to me. I help them as I speak life into their souls, telling them who they are in Christ and give the hope!

The whole, powerful story of “I Am No. 36” will be included in a book of hope stories, “SHUT-UP! HE Did What!”