Who is Marla?


Barely two years after the Detroit riots, Amy Rae (Marla), was born in Kalamazoo, MI, and placed in foster care.  I learned of her birth name only because it was left on a hospital formula record given to me when we brought her home.  As her mother, I saved this information and named her Marla Victoria after my mother.  Her adoption took place six weeks after birth from Homes for Black Children in Detroit.  By law, the delivery record follows only the birth mother. The foster care record showed excellent health.  In speaking with the former Director of Homes for Black Children, following Marla’s death from Situs Inversus Totaliss,  I learned Marla was the only child ever placed with a white family in the history of the agency, implying in some way this must be part of her “other” heritage.


Marla found her birth parents when she was in High School with the help of the paper I saved for her.  She located both her parents and visited them.  She built a friendship with her birth father and had a date with him to celebrate her birthday just three days before she died at home in Michigan.  She never married and had no children.


When I first met Marla she was a serious infant with a furrowed brow and the look of an old soul.  She screamed when water got in her ears.  She walked early and was very smart and funny.  She loved to run and talked as fast as she ran.  She wanted to be a singer, but was completely tone deaf.  Yet she would jump up from the dinner table, grab a glass, use it as a microphone, try to sing and made us laugh ‘til our sides hurt.  She ran track, studied ballet, and grew to be a very beautiful young woman.  She graduated from Ann Arbor High School, MI, joined the Air Force, where she attended college for two years and became an Air Traffic Controller.  The Air Force was the first to diagnose her with situs of the heart when she flat-lined an EKG in a physical for promotion.  She went on to serve in the Persian Gulf and was discharged hoping to pursue her career as an Air Traffic Controller in the private sector.


President Reagan’s decision to terminate 13,000 air traffic controllers who went on strike at the direction of their union, PATCO, on August 3, 1981, when they refused to return to work, would make this impossible.  Marla had to change her career path and went to work for Ford Motor Company until she passed away on August 18, 2009, with mental and physical complications from Situs Inversus Totalis. Her autopsy report states cause of death as “undetermined.”  The report lists the organs that were reversed but says nothing about the brain.  The Medical Examiner reported to me “the brain is only included in an autopsy if a crime has occurred.”