AUGUSTA, Ga.– A follow-up now to a series of adoption stories we brought you 18 months ago called Finding Birth Families.
Sandra Schmieden shared the emotional struggle of -loving- her adoptive parents, but always wondering –why– someone else had given her up.
“Do I have sisters and brothers out there? Is there someone that thinks I died? I wanna know is this person out there looking for me, too?”
Sandra recently found her answers in Pinehurst, North Carolina when she and her birth mother, Becky Martin Warner, were reunited through the online registry, www.adoption.com.
Becky stressed, “I didn’t want to intrude on her life, I knew that I didn’t have that right, but what I wanted to do was let her know that I was open to her finding me and I wanted her to know where did I come from? Who did I look like?”
They recently talked to me about the joy of finding each other after decades of running into brick walls… from a closed adoption 50 years ago here in Augusta, GA.
“And that was the point of the closed adoption- to make you untraceable,” explained Sandra. “And they did a great job!”
Becky agreed, “They DID do a great job! Yeah, and it was for protection in their mind at the time, that they were going to protect the child and that family, and they’re going to protect the mother… not considering the fact that… about the empty hole that stays inside you.”
That ’empty hole’ is what led to our first story with adoptee Sandra Schmieden, in November of 2015.
“You try to find out on your own but records are sealed- or if you go on a website you don’t have anything to research with… so where do you start?”
Sandra’s story started October 18, 1967 at St. Joseph Hospital. She was one of 8 baby girls born there that day, only one left the hospital without a name… and it was Baby Girl Martin. But a slip up in hospital billing after the adoption revealed a name, and Sandra’s father remembered it for the rest of his days.
“Before he passed away he told me that he thought the person’s name may be Rebecca Martin.”
For years, Sandra tried to find matches on adoption registries but got nowhere… until a late-night email alert in April, about a woman in Pinehurst, NC.
Becky read these words: By any chance would your maiden name have been Martin?
“And I thought my heart was gonna come out of my chest!”
50 years of wondering about her baby, of questioning whether she did the right thing. And these answers could come with a press of the send button.
Jennie: “Becky, you’re a mother and a grandmother and you have all this love around you, but somewhere deep inside there’s still that 17-year-old girl that had to give that baby up. Take me back to that time.”
“Well, it was a different time in 1967 and my parents- I had wonderful parents- but there was so much shame associated with a pregnant teenager so they pretty much made the decision for me. But the hardest thing was carrying Sandra for nine months and then not having her.”
The nurses wouldn’t tell her if she’d had a boy or girl, figuring it was best she put it all behind her.
“And it was ripping my heart out and so I asked, ‘How much did the baby weigh?’ and the doctor said, ‘She weighed 5 pounds” and forever I knew I had a little girl somewhere.”
And now she knew THAT daughter wanted to know her, too!
“And within 24 hours we probably knew every detail of each other’s lives! (laughter) It was unbelievable. And uhm, the fact that we got to see each other so soon, I was just coming out of my skin.”
A moment both Becky and Sandra had longed for… and one that came with heartfelt gratitude to a young couple who, in 1967, lovingly welcomed a baby girl into their family… through the gift of adoption.
Becky: “But there is something that I do want to say and that is I will be eternally grateful to Sandra’s parents who took her, and loved her, and look at her: I mean she’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s talented, everything that you would ever dream and beyond that for a daughter. And I’m so grateful for the love and care and opportunities that they gave her and I love them for that.”
And Sandra feels the same love for the family she’s found, including half-brother Michael.
“I felt so warm and like I belonged, I truly felt like I belonged and that’s the most amazing feeling. So I walk in and there’s It’s A Girl balloons!”
“It’s the first Mother’s Day that I’ll be able to say I have a daughter and a son.”
Sandra: “It has truly been more of a blessing than I can ever, ever describe. It’s been the most amazing gift. This has so surpassed any dream I ever had of how wonderful this would be.”
Becky: “Me too.”
The timing makes this an unbeatable mother’s day love story! One of the first things Becky did after meeting Sandra was call Sandra’s mother, Pat. She wanted to thank her for raising the baby she couldn’t keep. Sandra’s children and her 4 grandchildren have met the Warner family…. and Becky’s family and her grandchildren are welcoming their new found relatives, too.
Again, the website that led to their reunion is www.adoption.com
One thing that really made an impression on me in doing this story was a letter Becky posted on Facebook, sharing the news of finding Sandra with her friends. Here is an excerpt:
“I’ve had my bumps in the road, but God has blessed me every step of the way. However, a decision I made 49 years ago changed my life forever and left a piece of me missing. On April 2, I found that missing piece of my soul… she was born October 18th, 1967 when I was 17. My baby girl was adopted by a couple who couldn’t have children of their own. Although I was assured that my baby would have devoted parents and never want for anything, I longed to know her every day since her birth…. Please pray for our family as we navigate this journey. This is Sandra’s journey, so we will follow her lead. Please remember her mom in your prayers. My heart is so full and I am so grateful to be reunited with my baby girl. I believe God had a plan for us and our reunion happened in His time. The wound in my heart is healing and the future looks bright!”
Thursday, May 11th– Becky and Sandra are reunited for the first time since the day Sandra was born in 1967. Sandra went to visit her birth mother two days after they found each other through adoption.com. Since then, they have met each other’s children and grandchildren… and the expanded family is enjoying getting to know each other.
AND meeting lots of extended family!
Wednesday, May 10th– Sandra also has a half-brother. She talks about the eerie similarities they share, saying they are two peas in a pod. They use the same expressions and have already gotten into the habit of texting each other. Sandra has wondered for most of her life if she had any siblings. Michael has know for two years that he had a sister… he just had no idea whether he would ever meet her.
Tuesday, May 9th-– (Note: Becky and Sandra were guests on a special Mother’s day episode of the Jennie show. Watch that segment here.) Becky Warner encourages people who are looking for birth families not to give up. She also says don’t be afraid to reach out. It is so emotional to hear her talk about the choices made for her as a teenager, and how she carried her “secret” for so many years. She is so grateful for the opportunity to know her daughter now.
Monday, May 8th— Sandra and Becky talk about finding out that they have so much in common… physical traits and little quirks.. and it is amazing to them because they have the same genes, but have only just met.
Sunday, May 7th— It’s been five days since Sandra and Becky came to Television Park for our interview for this special report, and a taping of the Jennie show. My heart was so happy for Sandra, having known how emotional this journey has been for her. Nearly two years ago, she was part of a special documentary I presented on the search for birth families and to see that her search has finally succeeded is amazing. Here’s a look at where she was leading up to the eventual reunion with her mother.