This is the story of a baby born to a high school junior, a 17-year-old, who makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives the infant up for adoption. That’s what a new friend of ours did years ago. Her name is Jan and she lives in rural Augusta with her husband Tom.
The couple moved from Chesterfield to a house with acreage 12 years ago. Both are retired, Jan formerly a nurse and Tom a lawyer. They have two adult children, Mike, and Katie, both of St. Louis. Katie and her husband just had a new baby named Henry.
But Mike and Katie aren’t Jan’s only children.
In 1971, she gave birth to a baby girl. She was in a relationship she didn’t want to continue, and Catholic to boot, so Jan was advised by her family to offer her baby for adoption through Catholic Charities. All Jan ever knew is that her little one went to a “professional family”; she wasn’t told their names or their locale. “Basically, that event in my life was buried for 46 years,” Jan said.
But every year on June 14th, the baby’s birthday, Jan would think of the child and wonder what had happened to her. “But never once did I think I’d meet her.”
What Happened Next
A couple unable to conceive adopted Jan’s baby, naming her Kirstie. As so often happens this baby issued in another bundle of joy. Two months after Kirstie was adopted, Suzanne and her husband J.C. discovered they were pregnant. A little boy was born, and a girl followed him up, completing the family.
Kirstie enjoyed a happy childhood in a supportive and loving home. But she always wanted to find her birth mother, a venture her adoptive parents encouraged, never feeling threatened by Kirstie’s curiosity. Twenty years ago when Kirstie was making plans to get married, she tried to locate her biological mother, but that door seemed locked tight.
Kirstie’s breakthrough came from Jan’s family. Three years ago her mother, sister Julie and son, all of Arizona, sent saliva samples to “23andMe” hoping their DNA would provide clues to their ancestry, something many people are doing these days. With this program, results can be kept private or made public — Jan’s sister and son chose the latter.
Oh, Happy Day
On Kirstie’s birthday in June, Julie received an email from an address she didn’t recognize, so she didn’t open it. But her son did, and advised her to take a look. Kirstie had written after seeing Julie’s results on “23andMe.” She’d also submitted a saliva sample and said she believed she was Julie’s niece.
When Julie contacted Jan to see if it was OK to give Kirstie her email address Jan was in “absolute shock.” Tom, not wanting his wife to be crushed if Kirstie wasn’t her daughter, urged Jan not to “jump to conclusions.” But there were too many similarities not to — Kirstie was born in the same hospital where Jan had given birth, and on the same day. Naturally, Jan swung between cold-stone fear and jubilation about this shocking revelation.
When Kirstie emailed to see if they could meet, they decided on getting together in a park. Jan was sure she was going to be a “blubbering mess.” But four days later when mother and daughter saw one another not a tear was shed. As they embraced, Jan found herself looking into the face of a woman that Tom later said looked just like Jan at the same age.
Coincidences have abounded as the two continue to bond — Kirstie and Jan lived only 10 miles from each other all those years, and Kirstie continues to teach in the Rockwood School District where Jan’s other two children attended school.
Jan and Tom knew they were going to have their first grandchild in September, but couldn’t have imagined having two more in a year, Julia, 16, and Preston, 14, Kirstie and her husband Dale’s children.
To further enlarge the clan, Kirstie found her biological father in St. Charles. With no grandchildren of his own, Jim is thrilled to take on a role he hadn’t enjoyed before — the combined family met at Kirstie’s son’s soccer games and got together at a celebration at Kirstie’s on Christmas Eve.
It will be quite a 2018 for Jan, Tom and Kirstie — both in joy and number considering that Jan and Tom’s family has doubled and Kirstie’s has tripled. And though Kirstie lost her adoptive mother Suzanne to cancer in October, she’s found Jan, who says she hasn’t stopped smiling since she got the email from a baby whose grown into an adult daughter she looks forward to getting to know. Already they’ve discovered they have many common interests.
Now Jan’s other daughter Katie has a sister, and a niece and nephew who can’t wait to babysit for little Henry, now Suzanne’s husband J.C., has even more family to help ease the sorrow of his wife’s passing. The blessings of this love story continue to multiply and play out.
We just never know what miracles this life has in store for us.