by Dr. Iain
It is not often this column has two subjects, but this
is a special story. It is the story of the struggle of women against the
iniquities of society, or how human nature will triumph. It is also a
story that highlights the bond between mother and child - a mystical bond
that men will find difficult to imagine - but it is a very real bond, and
Nancy Hunter was featured in this column a couple of
years back. A frequent visitor to Pattaya, she was a forthright and
fiercely independent woman, divorced and left with two children which she
raised by herself, never losing her faith in herself nor her own personal
religious faith, and a woman who helps others through her work in special
education programmes and in the Special Olympics for individuals with
Looking at her life from the outside, she had all the
hallmarks of a successful mother and career woman, yet she had kept part
of herself hidden. "On Tuesday, I received two life-changing phone
calls - ones that I’d been praying for all my adult life. The calls were
about, and then from, a daughter I’d been forced to give up for adoption
when I was a 19 yr old teen."
Nancy continued, "After a search that lasted ten
years, a very determined young woman found me - found her birth-mother. As
it did once before very long ago, my life changed forever with those calls
on Tuesday, but instead of being an event filled with sadness and guilt
and hopelessness, my heart was full of joy and love and unbelievable
Those of you who can hearken back to the ‘70’s and
before, will remember the shame of illegitimacy. Nancy had to live that
shame. She continued, "Back in the early seventies a young girl wasn’t
‘allowed’ to keep her baby - she HAD to, for the ‘best for the baby’,
give it up. I knew then and carried with me every day, that for me it was
the wrong decision. But I’d already let my parents down - it was the
only thing I could do to ‘make it up’ - that was to follow their
insistence that I relinquish my rights to the baby. It was horrible,
tragic and my life’s burden."
It certainly was, as Nancy said, tragic. This is a
basic denial of the human psyche. "The expectation in my family was
that ‘it was over, it never happened.’ I was expected to go on and
never think about the child I’d given up. My parents had told me ‘my
life was over’ and I was so determined to prove them wrong, that I
focused on getting my degree." She certainly did that, graduating
with the highest honours, despite missing the start of the semester.
But it did not, nor could not, just end there. There is
that magical bond. I asked Nancy if she would look at children over the
years and wonder about her own first-born? "Did I look at kids at
certain ages and think ‘I have a daughter that age?’ Oh, yes. Every
single year, particularly around her birthday. I tried to imagine a face,
but it was so difficult. I tried to think of typical developmental
milestones and consider what she was experiencing and how she was
changing. I wondered about abilities, talents, personality, braces.
Everything. And everyday."
However, the adopted young girl was also wondering
about her birth-mother, and upon reaching the age of majority began her
own search into her personal past. A past which had details denied to her
by state statutes, laws and regulations promulgated as being, once again,
in the best interests of the adopted children. And once again, denying
Leslie Roman-Zupek spent ten years to break the system.
Meeting apparently insurmountable obstacles, she persevered, whittling
away and following changes in state laws in America that might give her a
chance to see into the records - her own records!
Even as the strict regulations were being eased ever so
slightly, the adopted woman was still not allowed to petition the courts
herself - it had to be done through an intermediary. In this case, a woman
called Kathy working in a state agency. As Leslie and Kathy worked
steadfastly onwards, Leslie began doing her own internet searches, having
found that her genetic mother’s name was Nancy and her surname began
with an "H".
There was one more piece of information needed - Nancy’s
state of residence - and this was an important piece of the puzzle
uncovered by Kathy - Nancy lived in Texas! Leslie punched in Nancy + H +
Texas and the search engine produced my Pattaya Mail article,
complete with background details which fitted in with the jigsaw pieces
Leslie had already found. From there, having found her mother’s surname,
she was able to find a telephone number. The stage was set. Kathy was
primed with the information and rang.
Again, in Nancy’s words, "Kathy called me here
on Tues afternoon saying, ‘Is this Nancy Hunter born August 16, 1951?’
I thought it was an old classmate joking around or something, so I
responded ‘yessssssss.’ And she paused. Then I heard Kathy take a
breath and say, ‘Does the date January 22, 1971 have any significance to
you?’ And it was like I’d just been hit in the heart with a huge
mallet. - I burst into tears and could barely get out the word ‘yeesssssssssssss!’
She then said, "Well, the young lady with that birth date has been
searching very long for you and would like to meet you."
They have now met and renewed that mystical mother
-daughter bond. 32 years later, Nancy is really being a ‘new mother’
again, and there are adjustments to be made, as all new mothers find out.
Nancy’s two children also have to adjust to the fact that they have an
elder sister. Leslie has to adjust to the fact that she now has two
mothers. That forced adoption ‘in the best interests of the child’ is
still playing havoc with human lives, but at least this time the people
involved have options.
Nancy’s final words, "My life is so full now, I feel like a
different person. A complete person. How very blessed I am." Nancy it
was always a pleasure to know you, and I am honoured to have played a
small part in this human story. Thank you for allowing me to print this
second chapter in your life. (Dr. Iain Corness)