My name is Kathy. This story begins in 1971 when I was 20 years old. I was a young nursing student, looking for my way in life. Like many girls my age, I was caught up in the "free love" of the 60's and 70's. Unfortunately, this was a time of difficult access to birth control methods, and my activities soon caught up with me. Although I became pregnant in my home state of Nebraska, I only realized I was pregnant when I was far away from my parents living in California with a friend while her husband was in Viet Nam. My parents were very upset, my father hardly spoke to me. My mother quickly took the situation in hand, sending me to a place in Omaha.In those days, these places were called "unwed mother's homes". Mine was the Booth Salvation Army Home, and was my "jail" for the next 4 months. I stayed in California until I was about 5 months pregnant. I was secreted away so no one would know my location. The shame I had brought on my family was too great to allow anyone to know. My mother even went so far as to forward all my mail to California, in order that no one in my small town of 600 would know exactly where I was. I didn't have a chance to speak to my baby's father in person about the situation. I had to write him a letter from California, and although sympathetic, he was unable to help me. Of course, in my parent's mind, there was no other option other than relinquishing my baby for adoption. That's when I began to undergo 4 months of daily, systematic conditioning by Catholic Social Services, the Booth home personnel, and of course, my parents, all designed to erode my self esteem and convince me that I could not parent my child. They told me that I was "selfish to keep" my baby; that I "wouldn't be able to provide" for her; that she "deserved 2 parents"; that "it's for the best", that I would "forget", etc., etc., etc. One of the visiting priests told me that I must relinquish my child "to atone" for my sin or face eternal damnation. They told me "the best thing for my baby was to put her up for adoption."
They told me I would "get over it and be able to return to my "normal life."
They told me "you'll forget this baby and go on to have other babies when you are married."
They told me "IF I really loved my baby I'd want her to have a mother and a father, IF I really loved my baby I'd do the right thing, IF I really loved my baby I'd put her up for adoption."
They told me surrendering my baby is an "expression of how much I love my baby."
They told me I had to give my baby to people "more fit and more deserving."
They told me my baby "needed a two-parent family."
They told me I was "unfit as a mother."
They told me I was "unfit to be a mother because I was unwed"; and because I was too young.
They told me I would be "inadequate as a mother."
They told me I "could not fulfill my baby's needs."
They told me adoption is "thinking about what is best for my baby."
They told me that adoption is "putting your baby's needs first."
They told me keeping my own baby would be "selfish."
They told me if I keep my baby then I "really didn't love" my baby.
They told me there were "no other alternatives."
They told me "my baby doesn't need me anymore."
They told me "you have no other choice."
They told me that if I didn't surrender my baby to atone for my sin, I would go to hell.
They told me not to come home with "that" baby.
They told me that keeping my baby would ruin my life.
They told me that no man would want me with a baby.
They told me that I was "used goods" but that if I gave up my baby, nobody would know, and I could "pretend" I was a virgin.
They told me that I "made my bed, now I had to lie in it" (during labor).
They told me that my baby "deserved better" (than me, her own mother???).
They told me that if I kept my baby, she would be called a bastard on the playground.
They told me I would have other babies.
They told me to only think about what a great gift I was giving some poor infertile couple and how happy they would be.
Finally believing the propaganda, and feeling as if I could never again gain forgiveness from my parents, I eventually signed the papers. I lost the long battle for keeping my baby, and despite the fact that I was not a teenager, I was forced to lose her.
But I'm getting ahead of myself! I was 5 days overdue, with false labor every night for hours, and then I had a long 29 hour labor with forceps for the final part of the birth. Now, many years later, I believe I needed to hold on to my baby just as long as I could. I didn't want to let her go. It might have also been the lack of care during my labor. Since they didn't allow my parents with me, I was completely alone for the majority of it. Hour after hour, I lay there, watching the clock crawl along. The nursing staff made it a point to let me know how much I deserved the pain.
She was born on January 5, 1972, at 6:47 PM a beautiful, tiny little girl, and I loved her at first sight. She only weighed 6 lbs. 3 oz. I named her Jessica Ann. Each time I held Jessie, I told her that I loved her and promised her I would find her again some day. During the pregnancy, I knew I needed to "communicate" with her in the future somehow, that I had loved her and thought of her. While I was in the home, I crocheted her a tiny sweater and hat, which I made the social worker promise to have her wearing when she went to her parents. Surprisingly, the social worker followed my instructions, and "Jessie" (now Corry) still has the set today!
The agency told me that my life would go on. I felt as if my life had ended. After months of brainwashing, I signed the papers when my baby was 5 days old, through eyes full of tears. I remember looking at my mother, just before signing, hoping against hope that she would say, "No, keep her! We will help you! The heck with the old busy bodies in town". She didn't say it, and I signed, hardly able to see the paper I was signing. When we got home, my mother told me "we will never speak of this again." Three weeks later, I turned 21. Thankfully, the societal pressure against single parenthood is now largely gone.
While at the home, I also got to know the OB/GYN residents from the University of Nebraska, who did the deliveries at Booth. One of these doctors offered me a job as her nanny, and to accompany them on their next residency rotation to Honolulu. Feeling like my life was pretty much at an end anyway, I went along as nanny to their 3 year old daughter. Little did I know, my whole life was about to change.
We arrived in Hawaii about 2 1/2 months after I left my baby. I was certainly in post partum depression. I wanted to be alone. One evening, about 10 days after our arrival, I went to a movie alone. I was not used to reserved seating, and ushers who showed me to my seat, and as I looked down the row of seats filled with sailors, my heart sank. Of course, I was seated next to one. His name was Ben. To make a long story short, this sailor became my beloved husband of now 28 years.
Ben and I in Hawaii
As the years went by, I thought of my baby daily, especially on her birthday, of course. These were very depressing days for me, and I often called my friend, the only one who knew about my baby, crying my heart out. Ben and I did have more children. First, a son Jon, who was born on January 4, of 1975, then another daughter Sara, who was born May 1, 1977. I went back to school to obtain my Bachelor's in nursing. Eventually I received my Master's degree as well. I became a Certified Nurse-Midwife, building a clinic for pregnant teen moms for 7 years. I had a stake in those young girls, and each of those teens I delivered was me (over 400), and every one of their babies was my own lost baby. I tried to give them the support and understanding that I never received when I lost my baby girl. Every year I thought about my lost daughter, and wondered if she was happy and healthy, and what she was doing now. I wondered if she thought about me and the huge sacrifice I made for her or if she hated me for relinquishing her.
When she turned 20, I contacted the adoption agency, Catholic Social Services, to see about searching for her. They told me that the law in Nebraska forbade any contact until the adoptee was at least 25. They gave me information on how much it would cost for them to search. I never called them back, feeling like I would wait until she was 25. It just didn't feel like the right time yet to search. I waited 5 more long years before starting my search, and it's a good thing I did.
By the time I began my search, the internet was beginning to be a wonderful tool for finding lost people. I immediately found hundreds of websites that dealt with adoption and searching. I found literally THOUSANDS of people were searching for adoptees and birth parents. I was thunderstruck by the numbers! I joined an email group of birth mothers, SUNFLOWER BIRTHMOMS, and finally I found other women who had gone through the pain and anguish that I had. What a relief to finally be able to talk about my experience, and all the feelings we endured over the years! My healing began with this group. They were not only my support as a birth mother, but also were enormously important in my search. Each little thought and suggestion, slowly, slowly brought me to my baby again. Finally, one day, while talking to the social worker at CSS, she slipped, and instead of referring to my baby as Jessie, she said, "Corry". I KNEW MY BABY'S FIRST NAME!! "Thank you" I began to cry, and couldn't wait to get off the phone. Quickly consulting all my resources on the internet, I found my beautiful daughter about 2 weeks later. The search had taken about 9 months all together, which seemed appropriate.
I called her the next day. She was shocked and delighted, but just a little scared. We talked for about 3 hours that first weekend. My baby was a grown woman, a doctor! Corry was just beginning her career as a veterinarian in a small town in Arkansas. She had grown up for the most part in Missouri. We began an email correspondence that lasted 5 months. Then, in February of 1999, I was finally able to hold my baby again! Both of us were nervous and I was practically numb. I couldn't stop staring at her. I just drank in the sight of her....her hair....her eyes....her ears...her smile....just everything about her. All I wanted to do was touch her and hold her. I never wanted to lose her again. Corry was understandably a bit fearful of me and what I wanted of her. I was a stranger to her, and it would take time for us to become close.
Our second face to face meeting was in Arkansas in July of 1999. What a beautiful and wonderful person she has become! My little Dr. Corry runs a no-nonsense veterinary clinic. This visit was much more relaxing, and we were both much more comfortable. To see her in her own environment was very insightful. I got to meet her animals (a dog, 2 cats, and 7 horses!), and I even got to see her in action as Dr. Corry! She is so tiny and sweet! We went shopping in a little tourist town, and watching her shop, slowly I am learning all about my little girl. What a blessing to know her and be part of her life again!
Us in Arkansas
We had a third visit in October 1999. We are finding we are so much alike, both liking medicine, both interested in breeding (myself with humans, and Corry with horses!), both like to sew, both play piano (she even has the same piano book that I do!) and we both sing, both love yellow roses, and both even chose the exact same confirmation name of St. Teresa, the Little Flower! This visit was even more comfortable, since the shock has worn off a bit. She got to meet Sara for the first time during this visit. Both girls have always wanted a sister. We continue in a regular correspondence via email and phone. We can talk together easily, though our phone bills are outrageous! Lately, she has begun to share her writing with me. Yes, and she's a writer, too! That's my girl!
Sara and Corry
For the 4th visit, I flew again to Arkansas, in February, 2000, only a year after our very first meeting. Again it was only a weekend visit, but how fun to see her home items and get ideas for future gifts. Corry became engaged to Michael, and they are planning a wedding for November. They laughed and teased me that I only wanted to look Michael over, and this was the true reason why I came! The truth was I would take any opportunity to get to know her, and bask in her presence! The more I get to know her, the more I love her, and am amazed at how much she is like me. I am learning that heredity is a very strong element indeed! My excuse for this visit was to help her pack for a big move to Missouri for a new job. I loved playing the role of "mom" with her, and although I can not be her "mom" any more, I will always be her loving mother. I gave her many talents and attributes. I gave her genius intelligence, compassion, and beauty. Most of all, I gave her life. She is the woman she is because of me AND because of her adoptive parents. Neither is more important than the other.
Corry and I attend a family wedding.
Our 5th visit took place in June of 2000, when Corry & Michael traveled to Colorado for my son Jon's wedding. Our family has grown so much in such a short time! Corry fits well into my own family, all of my siblings and mother being quite short. Our relationship continues to develop, and we have both gotten over the shock of the initial meeting. A reunion is very much uncharted territory, and both of us are feeling the water to figure out how to navigate and fit each other into our lives. I have met her parents a few times now. Then being at her brother's wedding was a dream come true. I couldn't have been happier! Check out "More Pictures" for a visual inspection of Jon's wedding and see for yourself!
Corry's first Christmas celebration with us.
Corry and I have been through some trying times in her life. I have given her support through a failed engagement, through a trying marriage and subsequent divorce. Now, in 2005, Corry is getting married again and seems very happy. We attended the wedding reception in Arkansas in June 2005 and once again participating in her happy day. Corry had her first child, a son, Noah, born in February of 2007. I was present at his birth and was able to assist Corry with learning to breastfeed. Our relationship continues to evolve as we both learn about each other and revel in the miracle of reunion.
Corry and her new baby
ORIGINSUSA Join this national organization working to promote natural family preservation, justice, education, and support for people separated by adoption.
Why BIRTH mother means BREEDER Why calling the adopted child's first mother these derrogatory names only perpetuates the disgrace and shame.
First Mothers Group Warm, loving email support group for first mothers who lost children to adoption during the "baby scoop era" (1950 - 1980)
I WISH I HAD KNOWN.... Information I was not told about adoption, and becoming a mother forced to surrender her own child.
ADOPTION MYTH & FACT Some very common misconceptions regarding first mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents
Sunflowers First mother information and email support group, loads of links and love
Birthmother Research Project Research by Judy Kelly on the long term impact of relinquishment on mothers
Seven Core Issues in Adoption Lifelong issues that face those involved in adoption by Sharon Kaplan and Deborah Silverstein.
International Soundex Reunion Registry Largest Reunion Registry and it is Free!
Booth Memorial Hospitals Web site made by a mother with information on obtaining records from those who lost babies through the Booth Salvation Army system.
Salvation Army Booth Maternity Homes Direct link to the Booth Unwed Mothers Homes information site.
Issues Facing Adult Adoptees Common issues faced by some adult adoptees.
What They Knew But Ignored Effects of adoption on mothers and adoptees.
Wake Up Little Suzie A New Zealand conference on the exploitation of mothers and newborns, and named after the book by Rickie Solinger.
The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier A short synopsis of the book by Nancy Verrier, an adoptive mother who writes about her research with adoptees and newborn grief and loss.
Birthparent Grief Phases of grief in mothers of loss.
Statistics on the Effects of Adoption Effects on adoptees and mothers.
Effects on the Mental Health of Birth Mothers What they knew and didn't tell us back as far as 1956.
We have the right to know if our surrendered child is alive and well.
We have the right to possess records of surrender, relinquishment, consent to adopt, termination of parental rights and hospital records pertaining to ourselves and our child.
We have the right and obligation to provide full knowledge to our child of their origins, ethnic and religious backgrounds, their original name and any pertinent medical and social details.
We have the right to personal contact with our adult child, as all other humans. We have the right to update our medical and social history for our child.
We have the right to live without guilt toward our child. We have the right to give back or let go of any shame caused by our pregnancy and our child's adoption.
We have the right to love our child as all other parents. We have the right and obligation to show our feelings.
We have the right to become whole and complete people. We have the right and obligation not to violate the dignity of all people in the adoption circle and to carry our message to all parents who still suffer.
~ Author Unknown
This page was last updated June 15, 2009
Beneath the pale moonlight
Someone's thinking of me
And loving me tonight
Somewhere out there
Someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another
In that big somewhere
And even though I know
How very far apart we are
It helps to think
We might be wishing
On the same bright star
And when the night wind
Starts to sing
A lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we're sleeping
Underneath the same big sky
Somewhere out there
If Love can see us through
Then we'll be together
Somewhere out there ..
Out where ..
Dreams come true.