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vTHE JOURNEY continued from page 9 “What I said was, ‘You don’t know me, but I am pretty sure you were there when I was born 42 years ago today in Granada Hills, CA.’ I had practiced that line a million times and wanted her to have an out if this really was a bad connection for her to have. When she said, ‘Shawn Marie’ I knew and said, ‘Are you my biological mother?’ She said ‘Yes’ and we were both crying.” Getting the Call Jane calls Kelly’s birthday a “wonder day.” She spent every one of her daughter’s birthdays wondering what she looked like, how she was doing and where she was. Over the years, she made peace with the fact that if she didn’t hear from her daughter, it meant that she was fine and had a good life. She left it to Kelly to make the call if she wanted to reconnect. Jane clearly recalls the details of the phone call she received that day. “It is hard to put in to words how I felt. Elated, emotional, excited, blessed, etc. It was Kelly’s 42nd birthday and of course I had thought about her all day. But words cannot express how I felt when the person on the other end of the line said, ‘You don’t know me today, but I am 98% sure you gave birth to me 42 years ago today in Granada Hills, CA.’ I of course screamed and said, ‘Is this really Shawn Marie?’ and she said, ‘I know you are my biological mother because you know my birth name.’” Jane couldn’t wait to share her news with those around her, including her co-workers. She called Denny Everson, a co-worker and friend, with her exciting news. Surprisingly, he explained to Jane that Jan had her own story of choosing adoption for her first-born daughter. Jane and Jan began sharing stories and support for each other and soon a close bond was formed. Jan & Theresa’s Story Jan was a young adult working her first job in a small rural hospital laboratory. She was in love and was discussing marriage with a young man, but when Jan realized she was pregnant, those plans changed. She knew she would have the love and support of her family, but felt that she needed to make this difficult decision on her own. With a lot of praying for guidance and reflecting on her own childhood, she knew she wanted her child to have the love and experiences of both a mother and a father. That’s why she chose adoption. Jan chose not to see her baby girl, knowing she would never let her go if she did. “The only thing I saw was the back of her head, actually, the top left side.” She had dark, curly hair. This memory became engrained in her memory. When she explained how later, during the birth of each of her three daughters, the memory flooded back to her and she made the connection to her first born, her voice cracked. Theresa’s feelings about being adopted were much like Kelly’s. She always knew she was adopted, her parents were very open about it. She doesn’t think she even understood it until the fourth grade, when she realized that her brother, of Mexican descent and also adopted, had different skin color than she did. 10vHERVOICEvMAY/JUNE 2017 She recalled having similar questions as Kelly about what her biological family looked like. She always wanted to look like someone because she never looked like anyone in her family. When she later had her own children, she was astonished to see that her children had some of her traits. The thought that someone in the world looked like her was extremely surreal. “Every time someone told me that I looked exactly like someone they knew, I wondered if I was related to that person,” she said. Finding Theresa Jan, like Jane, always thought about her first-born daughter, especially on her birthday. Though she wanted to look for Theresa many times, she felt she had given up those rights. Instead of looking, she prayed they would find each other someday. Jan and Denny’s daughters, Kim, Shanda, and Angie have known about “her daughter in California” for many years and have encouraged Jan to find her. The last time was on Thanksgiving 2014 and as usual, Jan said the time just wasn’t right. The youngest daughter, Angie, apparently felt differently and on December 11, 2014 with a quick online search found Theresa. As Jan explained, Angie counseled with Denny, Kim and Shanda on how they would tell Jan that Theresa had been located. Denny and Angie met with Jan the next day to tell her, but before any words were spoken she already knew and said, “You’ve found my daughter.” “They shared her name (I didn’t name her. I felt that was a privilege her parents should have), her picture (I had never seen her), her address, where she worked, and pictures of her husband and two little girls! I had always prayed that she was alive, happy, and healthy. Those prayers of 41 years were answered in an instant! I now knew more about Theresa than I had ever hoped to know!” Jan took the numbers and went for the phone. “I knew if I was ever going to have an opportunity, this was going to be it,” she explained. Her family, shocked that she was calling right away, whispered behind Jan as she moved to another room to call. Jan called Theresa’s office number, which was a main switchboard line. She confidently asked for Theresa, sure that she would get patched through immediately. The operator on the other end explained that they have over 4,000 people employed and asked if Jan knew which department. The operator worked with Jan to narrow it down to the right person and put her through. When she got through to Theresa, she got her voicemail and said, “Theresa my name is Jan, I’m pretty sure that name will sound familiar to you. I know Dec. 7th is an important day in your life, it was an important day in mine as well, and I’m calling to wish you a belated happy birthday. So here are my phone numbers, I hope you will call me back, but if you choose not to, I want you to know I’ve always loved you and always will.” She hung up the phone and with so many emotions running through her, she fell apart. She didn’t notice her nervousness until after she hung up, several questions running through her head. What if she didn’t call back? What would Jan say if she did call back? Waiting….and Waiting It just so happened that Theresa didn’t get that message from Jan because she wasn’t at work that Friday. It made for an agonizing weekend for Jan and Denny, Jan pacing and circling the kitchen island, trying to focus on wrapping Christmas presents but not remembering what to write on the labels while Denny continually questioning her whether she heard back from Theresa. They waited….and waited…. and waited.

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