I’ve been thinking about this project a lot lately – mostly out of guilt because it has been laying nearly dormant for quite a while now – and I know that it’s time to get back to the work at hand. I won’t bore you with the gory details of my hiatus, just suffice it to say that I’ve made some pretty big changes to my life and lifestyle in the last few years, and those changes have really monopolized my time and attention – in a good way. However, this morning, one of my daughters jolted me to action: she had posted a thread on Reddit about my Adoption Reunion and sent me the link so that I could reply to some of the questions. One of them really hit a chord with me:
Has the reconnection (with her birth family) caused any major changes mentally to your mom or grandma?
Honestly, it changed everything for me, in ways I never could have imagined. Every Thing. Clear down to my core self-image. I like who I am now. It sounds so silly, but that’s a big deal – to like the person you are, and not need other people to validate you, your abilities or your choices constantly. It made me so much more confident, and clear about who I am and what I want in this life. It’s been 7 years now since my reunion, and in that time, I’ve gained the courage to make some huge, critical changes in my own life. My daughter (who posted this thread) probably doesn’t even know how profoundly my reunion affected me, and consequently her and her sisters. I’m writing a book – working title is Little Circles.
There’s a lot more to my answer than that, but that’s the nutshell version. I know that it took me a number of years to be able to see the changes my reunion made to me, and likely I will continue to see changes as time goes on. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this experience either, so I thought it would be good to pose the question here:
How has your reunion with your birth-mother/family changed you?
Alexis W. ~ 68.100908
My sister, Patricia Jean Perkins gave birth to a son at White Shield of Portland in 1968 or 1969. I did not know for a few years about her having this child and giving him up for adoption, but when the same man, James Amauba, got her pregnant the second time, she did tell me about the first pregnancy. At that time she also told me that part of the program was that she was not supposed to see the child when it was born; but she did see the child and it was a beautiful boy. She told me that a very nice couple supposedly adopted that child and one of them was a doctor and either had connections in Africa or was going to be in Africa for a while (the paternal father of the child, James Amauba, was an African).
When she got pregnant the second time by the same man, she was determined to keep this child. This time I found out about the pregnancy and supported her in any way I could. She finally told me about the first child when the second son, Aaron, was born. After that, I would find her outside many times over the years looking up at the stars and telling me “he was up there.” She and James had 5 children (including Aaron). My sweet sister just died at the young age of 62. James was deported back to Africa many years ago and Patty raised those 5 children all alone and they are all wonderful marvelous people. All she wanted was to know that her first son was OK and that he knew she loved him deeply.
Can anyone help me reunite this family? I have tried all the on-line avenues and they are a hoax, they all want your money and offer you no information. I sat with my sister as she died and I have to find this child. He needs to know he has a chance to meet 4 sisters and a brother and that his mother loved him more than he will ever know. How in the world do you chase a dream and the unbelievable commitment I have made to my sister? Any help would be so appreciated.
Thank you so much ~ Alexis Warner
Susan R. ~ 87.100603
I was in White Shield. In 1987. I had a roommate, her name was Jackie. She had a son named Tyler. There were many young mom’s there at the time I was there.
I would really like to get in touch with Colleen, she had a son named Steven (Stephen). I would like to reconnect with her and others that were there at the same time I was. There was another young mom there. Her name was Ruth. We both were from the same town. Before we went into White Shield. I believe there was a girl named Sheila, she had a girl. I think she named her Chantel. This was a long time ago. And I am trying to remember who I can.
Susan's baby, Sam
I truly would love to get in touch with my old counselor from White Shield. His name was Keith B Baker. Married to Jill M Carter Baker. They had two boys and a one girl. Natasha. I think was her name. It would bring me great pleasure in reuniting with some girls and staff from there. I hope someone will see this. And recognize that they were there, when I was.
I have often thought of the babies in the daycare. As us girls would go to school. Take turns in the home with different chores. Attending a group therapy class. That the home had on sight.
Susan, Sam and grandson, Eli (1st boy in the family in 23 years!)
I was there with my son. His name is Samuel. After leaving the home. I ended up putting Sam up for adoption. I have to say it was the most toughest decision one had to make. It was better off for him. I could not offer him nothing but my love. My family members were never supportive. They still are not till this day. Anyway, 5 years ago, I was reunited with Sam. And he actually just moved back home with me after us being apart for 20 years. We kept in some letters and photos over the years. But I had a hole in my heart the entire 15 years we where apart. Before I got to see him again. I cannot tell you the VOID it has filled for me.
Please if anyone remembers me, or the people I have spoken of. Please let me know. If you know them still today. I really want to be reunited with the girls that shared the home with me at the time.
"All my kids with me. I adopted two and had three." ~Susan
You may contact Susan by email at anybodyinthere71(at)msn(dot)com.
Teresa ~ 61.100508
I have to say that any digging, no matter how slight, into my adoptive past is usually done with an equal mixture of interest and dread. I have often thought about the White Shield home, imagining it as something along the lines of a dark, awful orphanage (think Jane Eyre). I imagined strict, nun-like disapproval of the young girls and women who found themselves pregnant and in need of a place like White Shield. However, I just finished reading your story about your visit, and it has eased a burden on my heart that I have carried for my birth mother.
I was born Mary P., (now Teresa) at White Shield in 1961. I was at the Home for three months before I was adopted, from what I understand. I always wondered if my birth mother and I were in the same building for at least part of that time.
I have always been grateful for my birth mother’s selflessness (hopefully by her choice, but most likely she didn’t have much of one), and guilty that she was forced (as she was from back East, I am assuming she was ‘sent away’) to spend her pregnancy and childbirth in a bitter, hostile environment.
To find out that she was in a place that, although not a perfect one, seemed to be at least not the awful, fearful place I had always imagined it to be is such a relief to me. Hopefully she made friends with some of the other young women there, and had their support and love.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – for adoptee, first parent, and adoptive parent alike, a day that stirs up a complex stew of emotions. It is also, coincidentally, my first mother’s birthday, and with that in mind, I thought it appropriate to share with you a little window into my own story – a portion of the first contact that I had from her, sent June 2, 2006 – shortly after my sister and I found one another. The subject line of her email…Checking In.
“Now how is that? Checking in. Like I have known you all your life. Knowing maybe not; but you have been with me all your life. You just didn’t know it.
… I am so thankful to know you are alright and that you have a good life. When I found out you were going to be born, the most important thing to me was that you had a wonderful, happy childhood, with two parents who would love you as long as they lived. I knew I would love you always but I didn’t know if I could give you that happy childhood so I did what I thought I could to ensure you what I had always wished I could have.
I remember just like it was yesterday, the day you were born and the 30 minutes they let me hold you before they took you away. You were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Like a porcelain doll. Your tiny hands and feet and your angelic face. You have always been with me…”
Receiving that email changed my life, and I am so grateful to my first mother for her inner strength and her kind heart, both of which I like to believe I inherited. I share this very private message with you today because I know that it is one silently repeated every Mother’s Day by thousands of birth mothers throughout the world. “You have always been with me…”
I wish you peace, hope and great love this holiday.
Renee ~ Founder, The White Shield Project
Share your story.
Stephen F. ~ 40.100416
I am trying to locate Martena Esther Jones (my birth mother) or my surviving siblings. I was born in the White Shield Home of Portland, OR on October 25, 1940, and my birth name was Philip Stephen Jones. At that time, Martena’s residence was listed as 305 E. 18, Salem, OR. She was 20 years old, and born in Seattle, WA. The 1930 census listed her as living in the residence of Archie and Louis Robbins, Caraline E. Close, Frank M. Cronn, Dorothy M. Cronn, Sylvia B. Cronn, and Joseph E. Cronn. I am looking to reconnect with my family.
Please forward any information concerning my family to 202 Bonham St., Nocona, TX, or my email address – email@example.com.
[Contact information is included with permission.]
Caitlin M. ~ 60.100322
Dear Friends, What a wonderful project –
I lived at 3115 NW Thurman in the 1960s, and when we were kids we used to see the beautiful pregnant girls taking walks. Our house has the fountain on the corner, just over the bridge. It was many years later that I had any idea how important it was that this home was available to them. In my own family, getting pregnant meant staying home, regardless of marriage. And though some girls were there for other reasons, many seemed to be there to hide out. Well, what a beautiful place to have a baby. So peaceful and surrounded by nature’s beauty.
I am also doing research on the house we lived in, and have come to a crossroads because I need to find out some information about Pearl Thompson, a maid/cook at the house in 1910 – 1920? for the Elrod family. she may have had a child, and it crossed my mind that she might have delivered the child at the White Shield’s Home. has it been long enough ago for you to release any information about this? The child may have been born in 1916, or 1917, and died six months after birth. The child’s name may have been Martha Thompson, and I do not know if Pearl was married. She was 19 years old in 1910.
Many of the records in Portland were destroyed by fires and floods. I would appreciate any assistance that you may have. I cannot locate your history anywhere, so I do not even know if you were operating between 1910 – 1920. Have a wonderful day.
Note: The White Shield Project is primarily concerned with The White Shield Center in Portland, Oregon. However, when comments or inquiries from individuals associated with other White Shield locations is received, they will included and listed under “Other WS Locations.”
Marylynn A. ~ 50.100213
My name is Marylynn Ayers, I was born Ester Mary Hinkley on December 28, 1950 in the White Shields Home in Tacoma, Washington.
I just learned a week ago that my mother Viola Pearl Hinkley was a resident of WSH when I was born. I think she may have already passed on, but would love to know something about her.
I have searched and wondered for years about my first family and now I have one of my own daughters working on this search trail.
Marylynn (Ester Mary Hinkley) Ayers
Esther S. ~ 87.100208
I gave birth to my first child in 1987. I was 16. I still cry when I think about White Shield. Not because I gave my child up for adoption: we stayed together. I think the tears flow because of the way my life changed on the day of my child’s birth. White Shield was like a gateway for me into a better life. I was shown another way. Even though I struggled with Whites Shield’s strict rules, I began to see hope for my life and the life of my baby. I had run away from my family, friends, and school and was living on the road when I found out I was pregnant. White Shield gave me that moment in time to “get a grip.” I woke up on Feb. 2, 1987 to another life who has been beside me for 23 years. No, it was not easy being a teen mother. My dreams shuffled so fast that the old lifestyle had to go. This time of year brings memories of one birthday that changed the world…as I understood it. I respect White Shield for holding a space for us.
Kym P. ~ 79.100130
This is a picture of myself [left, standing] and my daughter Amanda (who I relinquished at birth in April 1979) with her adoptive parents [standing], and my mother.