Tacoma Searcher

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

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Gateway to a Better Life

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.

Cod Liver Oil & Orange Juice

J.S.Z. ~ 30.091018

I believe I was kept at the Home longer than any other:  I stayed there until I was 17 months old.  Why I was never adopted out I will never know, but I stayed there in that nursery for nearly a year and a half; until my birth-family finally took me home.

The Salvation Army sent many letters asking for my family to come get me.  One even said, “If (the child) is left here much longer, we fear she will be socially retarded.”  Thankfully, that did not happen.   On the contrary, I think I was given very good care.

When the event of ‘going home’ finally happened, instructions were to “be certain that (the child) has a glass of orange juice every day and takes her cod liver oil.”  I have a small baby quilt some lovely woman made for me while I was there – it is the only thing I have of my time spent at WS, and I treasure it.

I returned to White Shield fifteen years ago.   The place still haunts me.  I have forced myself not to go back.  I stood outside White Shield, looking up at the delivery room – I believe there were two – and thought of my mother, there all alone, no family or loved one with her, so frightened having a baby in her young life.  My heart still breaks for her.

I have a letter written to my family just after I was taken home, saying how much ‘they’ missed (the child) in the nursery and how it seemed so empty without her, and how soon (the child) would forget all about them.

How not so!  I will ‘remember’ as long as I live.  I am so very grateful to be one of the White Shield children: they did so much for me.

– J.Z.S.

Looking for Grandmother

A.K. ~ 50.071219

I would like to find the Grandmother of my children. Apparently she gave birth to a son at the white shield home in June of 1956 or 1957  on or about the 11th.  My children are estranged from their father and his adoptive parents and I would like to find their real grandparents or family so they can enjoy having an extended family.  I live in Portland as do my children.  They would like to have grandparents to share their future families.

Dishes & Ice Cream

Laura M ~ 68.071113

Back in 1968, at the age of 18, my mother gave birth to a baby boy at White Shield in Portland.  She remembers the routine of her daily duties, a dishwasher was her chore she chose to do.  She was in a room with 5 other girls and she remembers that the girls went by their first name and last initial.  She mentioned that they had Sundays off and she and several other pregnant girls would walk down the hill to the market near by and get ice cream cones.  She has never had or attempted any contact with the little boy, but remembers having about a hour to hold and rock him before he was taken away; she watched out the window as they took him to a car and drove off.

Ten years later she had me, and I always wonder what it would be like to have a sibling because I am her only other child.

I write this asking for a few tips, on who I should contact or what website might be helpful to assist me in maybe locating information about the little boy that is my half brother.

Thank you
Laura M.

Happy Reunion

Diane ~ 72.070908

My name is Diane, I am 51 years old and am a birth mother who lived at the Salvation Army White Shield Home in Portland, Oregon in 1972…  I have many memories from my 3 month stay at the home… When I stayed there is was still very secretive.  Birth mothers used fake names (so no one could look us up later), were not allowed to tell very many people where we were (only close family in my case) so my memories seem like a dirty little secret but I know they are real and I have a very big need to let them out… Just to let you know, my son and I found each other 10 years ago.  The reunion has been wonderful in so many ways and we are both thankful that we know each other and know “our story”.

Sincerely,

Diane