Bittersweet Ending to Cheryl's Search

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Bittersweet Ending to Cheryl's Search

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Posted: 9/26/2010
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

When I was born in Ohio, in 1946, my real father was already married. My mother and I left for California; she wanted to start over where no one knew us. My mother remarried and I lived my young life with my mother and a physically, verbally, abusive stepfather. I had no siblings or relatives to connect too. I was not married and became pregnant at the age of 19 and went into hiding until my baby was born. I gave her up for adoption at the Orange County Hospital in 1966. Several years passed before I was able to tell my mother about the pregnancy, or that I had given up a perfect, healthy baby girl who I named Carmel.

Some people say that they moved on relatively quickly after adoption, but the process was very difficult for me. I have never married and Carmel is my only birth child. I have always thought about her, but had no knowledge on how to find her, until I found Search Quest America. I am 64 years old and my mother is 88 years old, it is just the two of us. I decided that it is time to find my daughter, before time runs out and we both pass away.

I contacted SQA for the first time on April 2, 2010 and immediately felt comfortable and confident with each member of the staff as I came in contact with them. Susan contacted me to confirm all the information and kept me updated throughout the search. About 3 weeks later, Susan found her alive and well, living in California. Her name is Tina.

Unfortunately, Tina was very difficult to reach. Susan wrote her this letter:

"Dear Tina, Please allow me to introduce myself and tell you, briefly, why I am writing to you today. My name is Susan E. Friel-Williams and I am a licensed investigator with Search Quest America. We are a firm that specializes in helping people who are in search of a missing friend or family member. As such, I am contacting you on behalf of my client, Cheryl, who is searching for her biological daughter. I have tried to reach you several times by telephone, and did speak to you once, briefly, when you were on your way to work. When I called back there was no answer. I have talked to a young man at your telephone number a couple of times and left my name and number hoping that you would contact me shortly. Since you have not, I am writing you this letter.

My client, Cheryl, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on June 3rd, 1966 in the Orange County Hospital in Santa Ana, California. Cheryl was 19 years old at the time of her baby's birth, and was not in a position to provide adequately for her daughter. She placed her baby for adoption through a local agency. This baby, whom she would have named Carmel, is Cheryl's only child which means that for many years she as worried about her child and hoped that she was safe, happy and loved by her adoptive family.

Tina, I know that when I initially contacted you, you did not believe that you were the correct party that I was searching for, however, I did determine that Baby Girl Miller, mothers maiden name Doe, become Tina M. Smith. If you are she, and did not know that you were adopted, I am very sorry that someone did not tell you sooner. Cheryl's intention was not to upset you in any way by contact, but was an effort to hold out her hand in friendship with a prayer that you would take it.

As investigators, we are not able to access sealed adoption records, however there is a reference tool that we are able to utilize that allows us, through a process of elimination, to narrow our research down until we have the right party.

Please give me a return call discuss your wishes regarding a potential reunion with Cheryl, who has never stopped loving you since your adoption occurred."

I waited through April and May for a response, and my optimism slowly diminished. I was devastated, wondering if perhaps Tina was angry with me for my decision to give her up, or had been given false information about the circumstances of her birth. I decided that come what may, I would respect her wishes, but I prayed fervently that she would be open to a reunion. On June 2, 2010 I received this letter:

"Dear Cheryl, I apologize for taking so long to respond to Susan's letter, but I needed time to collect my thoughts and express them without regret.

I've always known that I was adopted. Some people may feel unwanted or struggle with who they are, but not me! I have an AMAZING life! I was blessed to have been adopted by two of the most wonderful people in the world. They have devoted their lives to providing me with unconditional love and endless opportunities. I had a childhood that most people only dream of--a nice home, fun neighborhood, cool parents, pets, countless vacations, a great education, and most of all a loving family!

My blessings have continued into my adult life. I have a fabulous husband, 2 sons I adore and a great dog! I am healthy, lead an active social life and work part-time. But most of all I love being with my family. I thank God every day for the riches in my world! My parents are still involved in my life and I realize even more the sacrifices they have made. All that I am goes back to the fact that I was adopted by two incredible people. I owe so much to them!

To pursue a relationship with my birth mother just seems wrong; almost like I'm not being loyal to my parents or minimizing all that they have done for me. That may sound crazy, but I don't want to hurt them or jeopardize what I have. I hope I'm not being disrespectful because I am extremely grateful for the sacrifice you have made. I thank you for the gift of life and for having the insight to know you couldn't care for me. I have no negative feelings, only gratitude! I hope you'll understand.

Maybe in the future I will think differently, but for now this is the decision I have made. Please no further contact."

To say that I cried many, many tears when I received this letter would be an understatement. My emotions were so jumbled I can't hardly put them into words. I was grateful that Tina had such a good life. I could tell she is loyal, educated, well-spoken, and a caring person. I rejoiced to think that I have 2 grandsons, but the gut wrenching sorrow that I will never be a part of their lives immediately followed. I am relieved to know that she harbors no negative feelings towards me, but was so hoping for a photograph or to hear her voice just once over the phone. I still have hope that these things may come in time.

I wanted to share my story, though it is personal and private. I do not regret my decision to search because I have gained peace of mind to know that Tina is safe and happy. There really was no way to be prepared for this outcome. If you are reading this I hope you will send a prayer our way, so that maybe someday I will be able to embrace my baby girl again, even just once. If you are a fellow birth mother in the middle of your own story, please find consolation in knowing you are not alone, and the courage to accept whatever outcome your story may have, even if it is bittersweet.

Client ID# 274990

(Written by Mica Burton on Cheryl's behalf.)
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