Aug 2, 2006

Slightly Incredulous (and Wonderful) Adoption Story

Many years ago, a fine Catholic couple decided to adopt a child. They had one daughter, but no more babies were being born. Both parents wanted more children and so they were told by a doctor friend that he had a young girl patient who was about to give birth. The doctor said another family wanted a girl to adopt, and he asked the couple if they wanted the baby if it was a boy. They easily said yes.

The young girl was a student at a public college and had become pregnant. She quickly broke up with the young man who never knew his intimacy had produced a child. The girl kept her pregnancy a secret from her family for most of the nine months. And she made excuses for not going home or meeting her parents for the last couple of months of pregnancy. So the parents never knew they had a grandchild.

In the meantime, the girl began dating another fellow and decided to marry him. She successfully hid her pregnancy and the man never knew his bride-to-be was pregnant with another man's child! The girl and her fiancee were married within a month or two after the baby's secret birth.

A healthy baby boy with dark hair was born and was immediately embraced by the couple who were delighted to have a new son. Within about a month, the couple were much surprised to learn they were expecting another baby. A little sister was born to join her big brother who was still less than a year older.

Naturally the two children grew up as wonderful playmates and eventually became close confidants to each other. As the boy grew up in the small town, friends and acquaintances noted his intelligence. He especially loved to farm and ride motorcycles.

The boy was told at an early age that he was the one specially chosen by his family. When he was about 16, his parents showed him the newspaper engagement announcement with his birth mother's name and picture. The resemblance between the birth mother and the son was very clear. The young boy told his younger sister that someday he wanted to find his birth mother, but he did not tell his parents of his desire.

The young man decided to become a doctor and so began his college years as a pre-med student. In his freshman year, he told his girlfriend (now his wife) that he had been frustrated in locating his birth mother. Apparently, everyone identified in the engagement announcement had either moved, changed their name, or could not be located.

The girlfriend noted that the engagement announcement said that the young woman was a member of a sorority, and she said that sororities always kept good records of their past members. The young man persuaded his girlfriend to make the call to the sorority house of the birth mother. The girlfriend explained she was a friend of a past sorority member and wanted to contact her, and she gave the maiden name of the birth mother to ask for the current address. The sorority's answer was a city in Florida.

During Christmas break, the young man and two of his close friends planned a ski trip to Colorado. Whether they really planned to go to Colorado, I do not know, but they drove east from Kansas, with the parents believing they were driving west.

The address in Florida was an apartment building with balconies. It was evening when the boys identified the apartment of interest and saw a woman on the balcony. She walked back inside, and the young man and his two friends discussed how best to approach her.

Initially, the young man thought that he would give his birth mother a choice on whether she wanted to see him or not. The plan was for his two friends to knock on the apartment door and hand her a note that read: "I am the son you gave birth to 18 years ago, and I understand that your life may be quite complete at this time. I would like to meet you, but if you believe a meeting is not good for either of us, then I will understand. If you do want to meet me, call my motel at xxx-xxx-xxxx."

On further discussion, the young man reasoned that if his birth mother said no to the invitation to meet, then knocking at the door to give her the note would be all the opportunity he would have to see her. So the young man decided to deliver the note himself. When the woman answered her apartment door, he handed her the note. The woman appeared quite nervous and reluctant to take the letter, but it was pressed into her hand. [The woman was afraid she was being dragged into an apartment tenant fight.] The young man quickly left to return to the boys' motel room which they had previously rented.

When the boys arrived at their motel room, the phone inside could be heard ringing. Terribly eager to catch the phone call which they knew had to be from the birth mother, they finally unlocked the door to reach a silent phone. However, within a few minutes another call rang. The young man answered it and was relieved and delighted to hear his birth mother invite him and his two friends to her apartment. I was told the two of them talked most of the night, with the two other boys returning to their hotel room to sleep after the long trip from Kansas.

One of the most interesting parts of this story is what the birth mother told her son. He asked his birth mother if she ever expected to see him again. Her answer was that she was a volunteer at an adoption agency. Occasionally she would be told by a pregnant girl, "You don't know how difficult it is to give up a child!" The birth mother would respond, "Yes, I do know because once I gave up my son for adoption." Then the girl would frequently counter, "But you'll never see your child again." The birth mother said her answer was "Yes, some day he will come knocking at my door."

The young man told his parents and two sisters of his meeting with his birth mother. I spoke with the father not too long after the first meeting in Florida, and asked him what his reaction was. With the most beautiful statement I could have ever imagined, he responded happily, "The family just got a little larger!" This very generous man meant it too, because every year he and his wife invite the birth parents, and the half-brother to their son, to their home for a special time. And most of the time, they come. In addition, all of them were invited to their son's large wedding with many, many guests.

How did the birth father know about his son? Well, the young man asked his birth mother and she told him the name. A little searching and he was found. Needless to say, the birth father was shocked, then delighted to learn of his son. The birth father has another son (the half-brother) and was now divorced.

The birth mother is a professional who also is divorced. She was the only child of her parents, and both were now dead. Moreover, she had no siblings and was quite alone in the world. The son she gave up for adoption was now her only close relative. The two of them speak regularly by phone and they see each other about once a year.

The young man's mother was initially concerned that she might lose the affections of her son because of finding his birth mother. That never became a problem, and their son and his family visit them regularly.

P.S. The young man is now a prominent physician who is regularly invited to give talks to other doctors all around the country. Adoption saved his life, and through his subsequent professional skills, the lives of many, many others. Once he told me that his adoption story should be written, and now it has.


Anonymous said...

I'm not writing this to criticize anything you have written but legally, it was fraud for the birth mother to hide the existence, birth and adoption of the baby from the biological father. This fact could have placed the adoption in jeopardy. Without the birthfather's consent and notice he may have been able to sue for custody years down the road.

I am just saying that to any potential birth mothers and adoptive parents it is imperative to make sure the birthfather terminates his rights.

Just sign me BTDT.

Anonymous said...

Your legal argument is absolutely correct, anonymous. But the system allows women to scam it with impugnity. It's all about "choice" - for women only.