Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ellen's Story: A Tale of Adoption

New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed into law Tuesday a bill to allow adopted children to obtain their birth certificates without first securing a court order ( The ability to find out information about a natural parent brought to mind the story of Ellen, one of our dearest friends from our time in Connecticut back in the 1970s.

While in college in the 1960s, Ellen had a child out of wedlock. Neither she nor the father wanted to wed, so the baby girl was placed for adoption with Catholic Charities. Several years later, after Ellen had married and had told her husband and their two sons about the daughter she had given up, she advised the charity she would be open to meeting her daughter should the girl ever seek her out.

Twenty-four years after her birth, the girl approached Catholic Charities, which reconfirmed Ellen's willingness to be contacted. When they met, Ellen was amazed at how much she resembled her natural father. In addition, the girl was an accountant; her father had been an accounting major in college. Turned out, she had been placed with a lovely family that lived near Ellen’s home. During their initial meeting, Ellen told her she was her birth mother but that the woman who raised her was her real mom.

Her daughter asked where her father was. Ellen said they had not been in contact since her birth but that she knew where his family lived. She found his family in a phone book of his home town. When Ellen called, a woman answered. Ellen asked for him, but was told he didn't live there anymore. The woman said she was his sister. 

Ellen identified herself as a college friend. The woman recognized Ellen's name. Her brother had told the family all about her and their child. She then told Ellen that he had served in Vietnam, had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, had overcome it, and was now a counselor for veterans similarly afflicted. In fact, she related, he was about to go to Russia from his home in California to counsel soldiers affected by PTSD from their tours in Afghanistan. He was to make a stopover at JFK Airport in New York in a few days.

They had a satisfying reunion at the airport.  

Her private past now almost completely public, Ellen had one more revelation to make. She had never told her mother, a religious Catholic, about the daughter born 24 years earlier. She needn’t have worried. Her mother lovingly accepted her into their family.