Long Lost Mother

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Updated: May 10, 2021 



Updated: May 10, 2021 

Reunion Stories

Long Lost Mother


Posted: 5/3/2009
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My mother called me this morning for the first time. "Hey baby, I'm your long lost mother!" she said. I really didn't know what to say. She did most of the talking. She opened up like a fire hose--telling me everything I ever wanted to know all at once.

"I never wanted to give you up. But I had to." She had 2 other children and was divorced, and this was the early 60s. She was struggling financially as a single mother. She met a man and planned to get married when she got pregnant with me. No one knew she was pregnant and about a month later, he left her. She didn't know where he went and when I asked her about him all she would say was "he was scum; he was a rat." When she found out she was pregnant, she left her other two children with her parents and came Mississippi where I was born. One day when she went to see her doctor, he convinced her to give her baby up for adoption. He promised her I would go to a good family and be well cared for. My adoptive mom worked in his office and she adopted me.

Loretta thought about me over the years but it was a private adoption and she thought she would never be able to find me. My adoptive parents didn't want her to have any contact with me growing up. They took me away the moment I was born and she never even saw me.

So she went back to her life trying to raise her kids. Life went on for both of us until I got sick in my early thirties. I had a lot of problems we couldn't explain and one day my mom approached me with a manila envelope. It was my original adoption papers. She thought it might help to find my mother and get my medical history. I knew that was a great sacrifice for my mother. She loved me so much she was willing to risk losing me, even though she had adamantly refused to talk about the adoption over the years in fear I would search for my birth mother and replace her.

It turns out my mom was friends with the attorney who drafted the adoption papers. Most people don't get copies of the adoption decree, but my mom got a copy and kept it all those years. I was grateful for the information, but at the time I wasn't in a place in my life to search for her, so I let it go.

Ten years later I started getting sick again, and this time I decided to find her. I never knew my birth mother's name until I read the adoption decree. Loretta Smythe Staley. I repeated it over and over again in my mind, trying to picture the woman behind the name. I had often thought about my birth mother when I was younger, but I never talked about it or asked questions because I didn't want to hurt my adoptive parents.

First, we got a court order to open the rest of the files for medical reasons to see if there was anything else in there. You aren't allowed to take the papers out of the courthouse, but you can walk in and they open the file and let you read it. The day I read the papers I was ill and didn't digest much of the information. But I knew her name, and a few other details, so I contacted a private investigation firm.

My first search started with a company out of California, but they didn't find anything. They let me linger for 2 years, like a carrot just out of reach, and then sent me a letter saying that my case was closed because Loretta Smythe Staley was a fictitious name and there was no one in the United States by that name. I was devastated. I had been waiting for 2 years with the hope that they would find something, and then my case was closed and they couldn't give me one shred of information about her. I was back to square one, and out several thousand dollars.

Then a few months ago a friend of mine saw Troy The Locator. At her insistence, I put in a request at the website. I kept submitting requests until finally I got a call back from Patty at Search Quest America. I started talking to her and one thing led to another and here we are. And it was definitely worth it! I first signed the papers in December and by April I received the phone call I had been waiting for.

Julie explained that she had found my mother, and had spoken with the man she lived with. Unfortunately, she had a brain aneurism four years ago, and she has good days and bad days. She's not quite the same woman she was, but she has lucid moments when her old self starts coming back again. Gordon says she wept when she found out I was searching for her. She called on one of her good days.

It turns out there are no medical skeletons in the family closet. I don't have any answer for the problems I've been having, but I do have answers to all my other questions. I just got off the phone with her and if you ask me how I'm feeling I don't know what I would even say.

We talked for a long time, and when she said "I have to go," I started crying. When she said those words something snapped in me and I felt like she was saying goodbye forever. But she said "don't get upset because I have to go. Now that you have taken the time to find me, I'm here and I'm not going anywhere. I won't lose you again."

She and Gordon are going to arrange everything for me to fly to Tennessee in June. I have been telling everyone, if you are serious about your search and you have exhausted all your resources, put some money aside and do it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

After all is said and done, I'm happy I searched. Ever since I started 10 years ago I have wondered about it. I want to say I'm happy, but I don't know how I feel, really. I'm glad that its over and I don't have to wonder anymore. But I don't know what to do now or what the future holds. I am excited to see photographs of her and find out if my three daughters favor her.

But I still haven't told my adoptive parents that I searched. How will I tell my mom I found her, and will it break her heart? What will I say when I see her in person? I can't figure out why I'm still crying, as I type this. I think it's a relief to finally know, but I'm scared it won't turn out like I've always hoped it would. But I'm praying it will,and I will try to have faith and be patient in the whole process. At least I know she always loved me. Denise.

(Written by Mica Burton on Denises behalf.)

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