Finding Hannah

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Finding Hannah

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Posted: 11/19/2012
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

/images/stories.asp?i=20121119140315.0.jpgFinding Hannah -Kellie Walls Sharp

If you know me, then you know that I had a baby when I was 17 years old in the middle of what would have been my senior year in high school. I graduated through correspondence courses at the University of Tennessee Knoxville because I was in college level classes (surprise! haha, academically I'm actually not stupid). I went back to school in February of 1985 because my parents wanted me to graduate in a cap and gown which, by the way, would aid them a little in erasing 1984. Luckily, I transferred to a High School in Campbell County, Tennessee where the kids were very excepting of someone starting a new school so close to graduating like I did. They were country & very redneck, and I say that with absolute respect.

I met my friend Allison in LaFollette and she's still just that, my friend. She's also probably the closest thing to family I have other than members of the one I created myself. I thought she deserved being mentioned because she's been right here the entire 25 years of searching. I have had more nervous breakdowns on that girl than I care to number. She's managed to love me despite the craziness of my family. See, I'm one of those people who come with baggage of the human kind... and a lot of it. We moved to LaFollette within 3 weeks of when I told my parents I was pregnant. I was six months pregnant when we moved in. From that day until about six weeks after she was born, I was inside of that house. I left for doctor appointments but, I had to carry a pillow in one hand and, the trash in the other, in order to hide my stomach from our neighbors. We'd moved all that way to keep anyone from knowing about my baby and, they didn't want the new neighbors knowing either. All I did was eat, sleep, and worry. I can't write about the birth just yet. I'm working on a book and, it's a slow process. To write about it is to relive it in your head, repeatedly, and I don't want to relive it right now.

Then, she was here... On the drive home from the hospital, I laid down on my side in the back seat of the car (I just needed to cry). I was young and stupid but, I wasn't so stupid that I didn't realize that every time the wheels on my parents Lincoln turned, I was getting further and further away from my baby. I physically ached for her and, my body knew she was gone. I wasn't allowed to acknowledge her in any form especially in front of my father, Cliff. When he heard me crying from the back seat, he slapped my leg really hard and told me to, "Sit up before he stops the car and gives me something to really cry about." I guess he felt that having your daughter taken from you at birth and given to strangers wasn't enough to cry about. When I walked in the kitchen door, I was finished with living. I know most people can't understand that a 17 year old kid would spend a second of their life thinking about ending it but, I was ready to leave or just stop being. The feeling in the house was so oppressive it almost had a smell to it. I walked in my bedroom & there next to my bed was a sleep-n-play playpen... with a beautiful little 6 week old baby girl laying in it. My niece, Heather, was born just six weeks before Hannah. My sister and I were pregnant at the same time. She was 8 years older than me and married but, she didn't want a baby... how ironic is that? She also was the first one to mention the word adoption and, I told her as soon as she said it that it was a pretty smart move to get rid of my baby since she knew we'd all be busy taking care of hers. Even at 17 years old her motives weren't difficult to figure out. I picked Heather up, lay down on my bed, and put her on my chest. I was a mother who'd just lost her child for what I thought was forever. Feeding Heather, changing her diapers, & getting up in the middle of the night with her saved my life. The mechanics...the actions...(I'm not sure how to say this) the whole taking over of Heather saved me. I think it also helped me physically because the absent baby symptoms weren't as severe as long as I was in the house with her. Of course I used to pretend she was mine. I'd call myself "Mommy" to her when nobody was around. Believe me, I'm aware of how weird that sounds but, I was one seriously screwed up in the head kid...understandably. When Heather was 2 1/2 years old, her Dad, Paul, got a job with Alcoa City & she moved. I moved here with her because I just couldn't let her be that far away, and quite honestly, I didn't trust my sister to be alone with her. My parents moved to Maryville to be close to Heather too. I met my ex-husband two days after moving here & got married 6 months later. Honestly, I was looking for a way out of my parents' house and he was that ticket. I set out on a mission to get pregnant immediately. I didn't have my first son, Justin, until 5 years later & trust me, it was torture waiting that long. Meanwhile, I took all my "mothering" out on Heather. She had to suffer through brushing her teeth, eating what I cooked (and I was BAD at that at first), and she had to go see Billy Bob every Wednesday on my day off. Billy Bob's was a place to eat pizza & watch mechanical bears sing. I can't remember what the place was really called but, to Heather it was Billy Bob's, & that's all that matters.

I had Justin on January 13, 1992. The pregnancy was normal but, the delivery wasn't. I was in shock! I had no idea that labor was painful. I remember wanting to hurt really bad with Hannah. I wanted to hurt so I'd never forget a second of giving birth to her, and I wanted to hurt kind of as punishment to myself. I had a lot of guilt over what my parents were doing and, in a weird way, I felt like I was going along with their plan because I didn't run away, get arrested, and get brought back. Even at my age now, I wish I would have run...and run and run. Even when they brought me back, (and trust me, Cliff wouldn't have stopped till he did) I think the guilt would have been less. I thought of the pain of labor as something I deserved. I had no pain with Hannah. I have no idea how a person can give birth to an 8lb baby with no pain but, I honestly had zero from beginning to end. I even had an epidural that was painless. I never felt the needle or anything else. After 48 hours of miserable back labor, Justin was born. I heard one nurse & Justin's Dad, Phil, say "it's a boy!" then I heard Phil ask in a nervous yell... "What's wrong with him?" They wrapped Justin up in a blanket & this nurse ran out of the room with him under her arm, holding him like a football. I started screaming... literally screaming at that nurse to bring my baby back. He had aspirated the amniotic fluid & collapsed one lung. The other lung was only working at 25% and was almost full of the amniotic fluid. They let me see him from a distance before they took him by LifeLine to Children's Hospital in Knoxville. I was in the hospital in Maryville where we live. Another nurse had run at me with a shot to put me out fast & I woke up in a dark hospital room with no baby. There I was... again... having just given birth, and no baby. I got up, got my clothes on, and left the hospital AMA which is Against Medical Advice. They'd given my son a 20% chance to live & he wasn't leaving the world without me at least getting to hold him once. When he was 3 days old, they told us he was going to live but, he'd have brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his brain at birth. Justin left the hospital 3 weeks later & by the time he was 3 years old, he could read as well as an adult. His preschool teacher had someone from The University of Tennessee give him an IQ test and he scored 3 points shy of genius. Was it a miracle? Of course it was. When Justin was almost three months old, I went back to my ob/gyn for my postpartum check-up. That's when they told me I was one month pregnant with Josh. I had actually told Phil, on April Fool's Day that I was pregnant just to freak him out because we had a 2 month old baby and, the joke turned out to be on me because I really was. Josh was born on December 22, 1992 in the same year as Justin. I had an 8 week break from it but, I was basically pregnant for 18 months, kind of like an elephant. Labor with Josh wasn't as bad as Justin but, it still hurt like hell...like it's supposed to. The worst part was having the experience with Justin fresh on my mind but, everything was normal. So there I was... Heather was 8, Justin was 11 months, & Josh was a newborn....and there was no relief from missing my little girl. I knew right after everything had calmed down with Justin that the pain of losing Hannah...missing her...was never going away. I was young & stupid & I thought I could replace her by having another baby. You can have 50 babies and never replace one with another. I know that for certain.

When Justin & Joshua were 4 & 5, I left Phil to start over again. All he and I did was fight, ignore each other, and we didn't laugh together... ever. I was letting the boys grow up in the same type of environment I grew up in myself, but to an extremely lesser degree. Even though I believed my ex when he'd tell me I'd be alone forever, I was willing to take that chance. I wanted to love somebody the way I'd loved Dwayne, Hannah's biological Dad. Phil and I needed out of our current living situations when we met and, our marriage was successful when you calculate in what we'd both gained in ten years from it...we each loved our jobs, we had two very cool little boys, and we had financial independence from our families. The fights were getting too severe for the boys to forget them from one to the next and, they would act nervous if one of us even raised our voices. Plus, the older I got, the more I'd fight back.

I was a single mother of two for an entire 22 days. I moved out of Phil's on August 7th and I met Jack on August 29, 1998. I would have married him that man the very next day because I knew I'd met the love of my life. They say you "just know" and, I swear it's true...you really do "just know." We got married that following March and eight months later, Jack caught a bad case of "baby fever" from being at the hospital when my little sister had her first son. Getting me pregnant has never required a lot of effort except with Justin and, I had little Jack almost 9 months to the day after my nephew was born. Little Jack was to be my last baby. When I was pregnant with Justin I felt sorry for him because I didn't believe for a second I could love him the way I love Hannah...I was so completely wrong. When I was pregnant with Josh I felt sorry for him because I thought I there was no way I could love him as much as I loved Hannah, Heather, & Justin... I was totally wrong again. By the time I had little Jack, that thought never crossed my mind. I knew how I was going to love him. I also never let the thought cross my mind that having yet another baby was somehow going to make me forget my daughter. Hannah was almost 16 years old when little Jack was born. Nothing was erased...nothing hurt any less. I didn't miss her any less & I'd carried her with me every step of my life. I spoke to her out loud every day, several times per day. I was with a man who would let me talk about her & how much I missed her without Dwayne being a factor in the conversation like he was with Phil. Jack understood it was my daughter I missed, not my high school boyfriend. He let me have as many nervous breakdowns as I wanted & he has never once said something cruel to me regarding the adoption. My ex ended most arguments with "at least I don't give my babies away." I tried to tell him it was making me hate him every time he said it. Jack just let me be miserable when I needed to be miserable. I was never one of those mothers who only dragged out the hospital baby pictures of my little girl on her birthday. I went through that lost every hour of every day and, I had since the second I left the hospital. I'd do weird things like, if a plane went over my house that was really loud, I'd wonder if she saw that same plane go over her house. When I'd hear thunder, I'd wonder if she could hear it too. Then after I met Jack I finally got to say those things out loud. Have you ever seen a full moon over the Smoky Mountains or a full moon over the river in Townsend? Well, it's something to see... it's beautiful! I never thought for a second that Hannah was seeing that too. I would cry to Jack because it was just so sad to me to think that she'd never see that moon over those mountains.

Her brothers knew they had a sister named Brittney, which is what I named her. We talked about her all the time. I even knew before I met her which one of my kids she was like. I have no idea how, but I really did know. I even told him this several times as he got older. I eventually got to the point where I could talk about her and not cry. But, at night, when all the kids were asleep and it was time for me to go to bed, I had a ritual. I would stand in the hallway outside of my bedroom in the dark & tell her goodnight and that I loved her. It's hard to make another person understand this but, it's like I could feel her hovering over my shoulder, my left one to be exact. I carried her with me...she tagged along for every move I made. I used to lie in the bathtub, the bed, or any quiet time I had from her brothers, and I'd try to make her feel me thinking about her. I'd tell her I loved her and try to make her feel it with my mind.... like a crazy person would. I think feeling her there so strong is why I always had this enormous fear that she was dead. It was like I had a ghost, or just a presence, that was always with me. I understand it better now. You will too if you read all of this.

Before the internet, searching for a child placed for adoption consisted of going through vital records at the library or, snooping through what books you can get away with snooping through at the city/county building. The problem with that is most libraries & courthouses don't have birth indices they'll let you go through past the 1930's or so. And, newspapers are hard to go through to look for birth announcements when there are a million newspapers out there. Plus, I had no idea where she was therefore, I had no idea which paper her announcement would be in. Then, I had to go to each individual county's library to find that county's newspaper. It was ridiculous. But, in 1997 my sister got the internet in her home. That's when the real searching began.

I would sit at her computer for 3 hours searching and it would feel like I'd only been there for 10 minutes. I got the internet in my own home in 2000. From that day on I searched every single day. I figured her brothers got part of my time every day and, she should too. After all, she's every bit as much my kid as they are. I thought it was fair (and still do). I registered everywhere on the internet. I mean that too. If there's a site I'm not registered on then it's one of the fly by night newer ones that are popping up everywhere, and are pretty much useless. I'd been warned by one the owner of one of the larger registries that I had too much information about my daughter's birth online and, that someone could use that information against me somehow. Well, I wish I'd listened.

On April 8th 2010, I got an email from a girl who was claiming to be my daughter. She told me she lived in New York and, 17 hours after I talked to her on the phone, I hand my airline ticket in my hand to go see her. My cousin, Michelle, went with me. She and Jack knew the entire time that this girl wasn't mine but, they also knew I was in crazy, psycho mode and, they stood out of my way. Jack and I have had sole custody of Justin and Josh since they were 10 and 11 and their dad moved away so, he couldn't go with me. He was so grateful for Michelle and her going to New York with me...we both will always be grateful for that. I knew the girl wasn't mine when I hugged her. I don't know how to explain it, it's just a Mom thing but, I knew. Michelle finally said it out loud on the plane as we were flying home. As soon as we got back to Tennessee, I started digging for information....so did Michelle, Justin, Josh, Heather - all of us. I was on auto-pilot. I was living like I'd found my daughter and at the same time I was spending about 8 hours a day on the computer trying to find out who she really was. That's totally insane and I'm fully aware of this fact. On April 28, 2010 I found out what I already knew, she wasn't mine. I totally collapsed.

I went from 25 years of living without my little girl, to having my daughter in my life...to losing her again in a matter of three weeks or so. I curled up in the fetal position and went to bed for about a month. I even went two weeks without searching for Hannah, and I'd never done that in the entire 12 years I'd been searching on the internet. I spent some time finding out who this crazy girl was. Michelle even found her on the internet (all over the internet actually) blogging and video blogging about being a mother. That's gross. We also found out that she had a Clay Aiken obsession & according to the internet, she spent a significant amount of time stalking the poor guy. One internet NYC police site says she was arrested for stalking him. That's the kind of crazy we were dealing with. I found several Facebook pages she'd made & realized that anybody could put anything they wanted to on Facebook. That's how I got the idea to make a page dedicated to finding my daughter. I made the page on May 9, 2010., other's Day. The title of the Facebook page is "December 1, 1984 Looking For My Daughter." I didn't publish it until May 11th. I was going to publish it two days earlier but, it was Mother's Day... I didn't want to depress all my friends when they read my story so I held out till that Tuesday. It was a BIG deal publishing that page. The jig was up. The world knew, and yes, I was waiting for my father to show up at my house & shoot me or something. I guess I had around 300ish friends from Halls in Knoxville. Those were the people my parents had moved us away from. I had not just my regular friends but, friends from Campbell County on my page, people Cliff went to church with were on there...I had added people intentionally just to get my information out there for people to see. I have a friend named Kris. She's also my friend on Facebook. Kris goes to church with my father. She went to my page and clicked the "Like" button. My story had really gotten to her because she knew us, all of us, personally. She had told a friend of hers about my trip to New York and, her friend sent me a request to add me to her friends list. I accepted. Her name is Brenda. Brenda also goes to church with Cliff and, she works with a lady named Bonny who's also a Facebook friend of hers. When Brenda clicked on my page it showed on Bonny's page that Brenda had 'Liked' my page. The picture I used for the page was one I'd been given at the hospital by the adoption worker, just a Polaroid snapshot. Bonny saw the picture and she knew she was looking at her niece. Bonny is Hannah's aunt and my page had made its way to her through Kris & Brenda. She saw it the very day I posted it but, when she got home from work, she couldn't find the page again. Sixteen days later, she re-found it.

On May 27th 2010 at 1 am I got up from sleeping to go to the restroom. I'd left my computer on, and I accidentally moved the mouse getting out of bed. The little red flag was up telling me I had an email on Facebook. I swear I started to just check it the next morning and, I normally would have. I went to the restroom and got back in bed. I clicked the button on my remote to switch my television back over to TV mode. Something in.my stomach told me to check that email. I grabbed the mouse and clicked on the email. My bedroom computer is hooked up to my flat screen television so, I could see the picture next to the person's name fairly well. I just remember thinking "what a beautiful girl." The subject line of the email read "Dec 1, 1984." Just exactly like that. The first sentence almost gave me a heart attack (literally!) By the second sentence, I knew. Here's the email: I am 99% sure I am the daughter you are looking for. You gave me a gold locket with a butterfly on it with your picture, and my biological father's picture in it. You also wrote me a letter on pink stationary. My middle name was something French that iI cannot remember how to spell. My mother sent you a message on your site. Her name is Kay, and she posted her phone number on your site as well. Hannah! I slid off of my bed into the floor and I was yelling for Jack to wake up. I scared him to death. I said "Oh My God Jack. -Oh My God Jack. -read that...read that" he said he already had and to calm down before I actually did have a heart attack. I asked him to click on the picture because I just couldn't. At this point I was still in the floor...my back to the screen. I really and truly couldn't look. I was so afraid of it being another crazy person who looked nothing like me. I heard the mouse click... I heard his breath catch...then I heard him clapping his hands and he said to me" turn around Babe... turn around Babe and look at how beautiful our daughter is!"

I was actually getting angry at him for being so excited and sure when I still couldn't turn around and look and, that's really stupid because I had never told another living soul about the locket I'd left for her at the hospital...there's no way it could be anybody else but her. I asked him if he knew for sure it was her and he said "yes, I'm sure, .I'm positive because she looks exactly like her Momma." I turned around; I was looking at my daughter. This beautiful creature I had created was right there in front of my eyes.
It was over. With the click of the mouse, my search was over. I wish I could take the feeling that came over me and bottle it up. It was what coming back from the dead would have to feel like. I had this warm, almost hot feeling go through the center of me like when you take your first drink of alcohol. I looked at her date of birth on her Facebook page and, it read December 1st... just like that. It didn't have the year but, it said December 1st. Next, I looked to see where it said she lives and it felt like somebody slapped me in the side of my head with a brick. It read Maryville, Tennessee. I would have liked to have seen my own face when I read the words Maryville, Tennessee. I don't know how I got through that part. Shocked isn't the right word. Dumbfounded isn't either. I'm not sure there eve IS a word to describe how it felt to realize she was right here. She'd been right here almost her entire life. I'd soon learn that she had moved here at the same time my parents had moved us here. She was just one and a half years old and, they had unknowingly moved us 1.8 miles apart...driveway to driveway. The area where they lived in Maryville is about in the middle of the town so, almost every single time I left my house, I passed her street. Her house was visible from the main road too. I had sat at the red light next to the playground at her elementary school and watched the kids playing for years...she was one of those kids playing. When I picked my niece up from school every day, she was out there too waiting for Kay to pick her up. She was sitting in the same classroom with Heather, two desks away. Heather knew exactly who she was. She was crowned homecoming queen while I sat with her brothers and Jack watching. I feel so very guilty about not recognizing her and, I don't know how I didn't because she's the perfect mix of me and Dwayne. She heard the thunder I heard and, she'd been seeing the mountains with a full moon hanging over them the entire time. I snapped out of my trance, and I ran as fast as I could to her brothers' room yelling "I found your sister...I found your sister!" At the time, Justin and Josh had a friend, Corey, who was living with us. I went through their bedroom door at a dead run and, the bench to their drum set was behind it. It went flying like a missile and barely missed Corey's head. We all woke up little Jack and told him I'd found her. He was sound asleep but, sprang to his feet and started jumping up and down and clapping his hands. We went to mine and Jack's bedroom so they could see her. I don't know how much time went by but, we all sat there on my bed together just staring at her face in silence-we'd cried ourselves into this quiet haze. I think we were all in shock actually.

Little Jack was the first to speak and, he said "let's go get her!".... Bless his little heart. I explained that I'd have to wait till a decent hour and call first and, after digging through everything we could find on the internet about her, the boys went back to bed for a while. I didn't. Since I'd seen Maryville, Tennessee on her profile, I had this anger building up inside of me. I needed to hit something and, I needed to scream...at God. I went outside, grabbed this hard, plastic bat of my son's, and I beat the bar on the side of our trampoline until the bat was destroyed. I was so mad that I hadn't looked right here under my nose. I had never been more angry at my parents in my entire life. I hated them...my mother included.

When we left the hospital, I went 2 hours north, she went an hour south, and I never in a million years associated Maryville with her. Feeling her all over me, all the time, made complete sense now. She wasn't a ghost, but at times she was just within a few feet of me. I called my therapist and, we had a 4:30am session. Thank God for that man. He was helpful but, he was in shock like the rest of us. At this point, the adrenaline had started to subside and I needed to sit down. I moved to the bathroom floor, turned out the light and locked the door, phone in hand waiting for it to ring. I had sent my phone number to Hannah and told her, or Kay, to call as soon as they got the email and, that I didn't care what time they called. I wanted my Mom because you just want your Mom when you're that scared but, I was too pissed off at her to call and, I was too pissed off at God to pray.

At 7:33 am my phone rang and, my heart felt like it fell out of my ass. I'd sat there in the dark scared as hell that I was going to hear the words "I've had a great life but, I just want left alone." I answered and said hello...it was Kay. She said "Kellie?"... I said yes. She said, "This is Kay."...I said I assumed that's who it was going to be. She said, "Well Kellie, we've been waiting for this day for 25 years!." : ) She had to do almost all of the talking because I broke down into a sobbing mess of relief and, I could barely verbalize anything at all. The shock got worse while Kay talked about Hannah. I think we talked for a long time actually and, she told me facts about Hannah's life...stuff I'd missed. I thanked God, finally, inside my own head for the fact that she was alive, healthy, and wanted to know me. Kay hung up the phone and, she said she was calling Hannah at work right then to tell her I had answered the email and, that I wanted her to call me. Kay had already told me that she barely gets reception on her phone because she works so close to the mountains so, I didn't know when she'd call me but, I knew the next time my phone rang, it was going to my daughter on the other end.

I can honestly say that I never believed for a minute that I'd ever find her. Of course I didn't let it keep me from trying but, never for a second did I believe I'd find her. When you see the worst possible thing happen over and over again, you start to expect it. My phone rang. I ran to the bathroom so I could be alone and I think I even said out loud "My daughter is making the phone in my hand ring." I answered and she said my name in a voice which sounded exactly like my own. I was hearing her talk, it was Brittney..it was Hannah. She said she wanted to see me and, I said I wanted to see her too. I asked when and she said, "right now." We agreed to meet at her house and, I hung up, got my shoes on, and headed toward the door. All three of her brothers and Jack were following me as if they were going too. I told them all that I wasn't trying to be mean and, I promised to bring her back with me but, I was doing this alone just like that night in my hospital room the last time I'd seen her. They all understood...even little Jack and, he was only 9. I got in my car, I think I took the Tahoe, and I called her for directions. We talked almost all the way there and, it was less than a 10 minute drive. I hung up when I pulled onto her street. My legs were shaking so hard I almost couldn't push down the gas pedal. Have you ever almost had a car wreck and got that feeling right after it happens? That was the feeling only it was about a million times stronger than I'd ever felt it. I pulled into her driveway, got out of the truck, and it felt like I was really tall...and drunk. There's a bend at the end of her sidewalk. When I came around that corner, I saw her at the door through the glass. She open the door very fast and very hard, and she ran at me : ) We met with me still at the sidewalk....and I hugged my daughter... I hugged my daughter and smelled her hair. We stood there and held on to each other for a long time. It was so powerful & yet it was just Hannah and me feeling that power. Every few seconds we'd both pull back and just stare at each other...both crying of course. One of the times she pulled back I saw something around her neck, it was the locket. I was hugging my daughter who was wearing the locket I'd left for her over 25 years ago at that hospital, and it was real. She was no longer this 8lb person I've carried around in pictures in my purse for 25 years. She was Hannah, and she looked just like me. I've got three boys who you wouldn't even think I'm related too by our looks and, here was this person that actually looked like me. I don't know how to explain the feeling of looking at your daughter's face and seeing your own, especially when you get it all at once and not gradually like most Moms do. There are no questions about her being mine. It was over...I was hugging Brittney...Hannah. It was meant to be Hannah. We went inside and she had all kinds of photo albums waiting on me. It hurt to see what I've missed but It was worth the hurt to get to see it. We talked so much...trying to cram all those years into a few hours isn't easy you know.

Little Jack had a baseball game that night and Hannah wanted to go. We were in the car on the way back to the house to meet her brothers before the game when she first started crap with me about my hair & how it's "not 1984 anymore"...that was really weird. The boys had never given a flying flip about my hair. I loved it. We got to the house and she met her brothers, Jack, and it just so happened that my niece, Kellie, and my nephew & his wife, Tyler & Whitney, were in from Oklahoma. It was the first time I'd seen them since they were babies too. The night before, when they left from Oklahoma to come and see me, there was no Hannah. I know it was meant to be that they were here for that. All these people at one time who are a part of me - in the same room together. I still can't get over it. It's just amazing to me. The timing was perfect. We all went to the game and little Jack played his best that night. I watched him keep looking over at her. I've sat at that ball field for 14 years and watched Jack coach all 3 boys...but, that night I was there with all of my kids. I was sitting there with all of my kids. That was kind of hard to wrap my head around. So many things were going through my soul...good things. I knew I was going to bed that night knowing where ALL my kids were for the first time since it had all began 25 years earlier.

UPDATE 2012: Well, it's been over two years now since I found my daughter. In that short period of time, I can honestly say that she's become the best friend I've ever, ever had. We still live just a few minutes down the street from each other. Living so close has separated us from other reunions I've either assisted with or, made happen myself. You just don't meet people in our situation and, i don't know anyone who's as close with their birth Mom as Hannah is with me.

I KNOW HOW LUCKY I AM and, I'm fully aware of what God knew from the start. I see, perfectly, the timing of it all. It's pretty dang amazing to look back on a 25 year long nightmare and see precisely why you've been where you've been and, why you've been with who you've been with so that you could end up where you needed to be. I absolutely include February 25, 1984 in that statement too. If I went back in time and, had to do it all over again while knowing what I was getting ready to go through I'd still do it. I know why God set it up for me to be free of my family before I ever found her...and I'm so very, very thankful He gave me the good sense to tell her brothers about her at an age so young that they have no memories of life without knowing she was somewhere out there. I used to start a lot of sentences to people who are still searching with "when i found Hannah".. Now, i start them with "when Hannah came home." That's what it was for our family.. she just came home. If you're still searching and, you take nothing else from my story, please take this: tell your kids the truth. Tell your husband the truth. Just tell the truth. It changes everything. It makes your kids brothers and sisters and not just people who see each other occasionally and who are really awkward around each other. The truth is what makes these kids we didn't get to raise our kids. At this point, I'm pretty sure there's nothing Hannah doesn't know that her brothers do about our lives.... every story, every secret, everything that embarrasses each of us, every password, and every door key, every, well everything. Your life with your son or daughter doesn't have a thing to do with their life with the parents who raised them. Yes, we got lucky and Hannah has had great parents. She had the Dad I'd always wanted for myself and, bless her heart, now she's stuck with THREE sets of parents. We work because we all have something in common, we all love our daughter.

Even though finding your baby means finding an adult, you're still finding one of your kids and, your kids come first-bottom line. Me and Hannah... we argue sometimes. Mostly because she's the most hard headed human alive and, I drive her nuts because she has to report in like her brothers. I gripe at her because I want her to meet someone nice and have a granddaughter for me but, she eats outta the hot fudge jar and leaves her dirty spoons on the sink so, I guess that's about even. We find our kids when it's time for us to find our kids and, trust me, I used to want to slap people who said that to me. But that's it. That's OUR story!
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