Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume Three)
A Promise Pending
The night I first brought Audrey home, I promised, if she were still with me when she was grown, I would try to find her mother for her.
I have kept every promise I have ever made to this little girl, save this one. And now she is grown.
Where do I begin?
Come with me now as we discover the path to Audrey's biological siblings together.
Eugenia S. Hunts' Work Is Copyrighted
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No one has permission to copy or use this article other than for presentation on this Squidoo Website.
Her Most Prized Possession
Audrey only had one thing left from her past. She had carried with her always a small, heart shaped frame containing the photo of a young, dark haired girl sitting outside with two other children.
She talked openly about this little girl, who was her half sister, Holly, and how much she wanted to find her someday.
During all the turmoil of running away as a teen, I always knew she would be returning home because she always left the little picture behind. It became my solace as well. I always looked for it each time she was missing, breathing a sign of relief, as I saw it on its place on the shelf.
I felt that Holly must have been the one Audrey turned to as a small child, when in need of a mother. Her older sister had filled the void for her when her mother was unavailable due to the drugs or her time spent in jail.
Photo: The little picture of Holly that Audrey carried with her thoughout her life.
Hope Is Like The Sun
Photo From Little Frame
"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us."
The Search Into Her Past
A Friendship Of Purpose
When Audrey was in Junior High School, I heard that her first adoptive mother was working near our home. I thought about it for several months and decided to follow my intuition. I felt there must be some thread of need in this woman to help the child she had once called her own.
One afternoon, just before Christmas, I strolled into the store as though I had no idea she would be there, showing surprise when she saw me across the isle. She had seen me in the courtroom twice so she knew whom I was immediately.
I walked to her, saying hello and commenting on how nice it was to run into her. She asked me how Audrey was doing and I gave her some of her school information and started small talk about this and that. That first day, I did not bring up the subject I was so in need of discussing.
As the weeks passed, I made a point of stopping by to say hello until she felt more comfortable with me. Sometimes she would take her break and we would sit together at the Snack Bar and share a few moments of our individual lives. Eventually, I was able to bring up Audrey's past and start asking questions, filling my head with any information I could get from her.
On one such afternoon, she mentioned an old boyfriend of Audrey's natural mother's by name. I made a mental note, writing it down once home, and filed it away with other tidbits for future reference. It was a vital piece of information because Audrey didn't know for certain what her last name had been when she lived with her biological mother.
A few weeks later, the woman quit her job, due to medical reasons, and I lost contact with her.
Photo: The Snack Bar where we met and shared our lives, and a child, for a short time.
Coming Of Age
A Need To Know
When Audrey returned home to live with us at the age of nineteen, I realized it was now time for me to keep the promise I had made to her on that first night.
I again contacted my friend in South Carolina who had helped to bring Audrey home from Wisconsin. Cathy and I decided together exactly how this should be handled.
First, I went online and into the New York registry. After entering the name of the old boyfriend of Audrey's biological mother, I found three in the state of New York by the same name. I wrote three identical letters, addressing each to one of the names on the list.
After placing them in their individual envelopes, I addressed each one, using Cathy's address in South Carolina as my return address. I put all three in a larger envelope and mailed them to Cathy. She then mailed them out from South Carolina for me.
I mailed them in this way to ensure the path leading to Audrey would not be found unless I wanted it found.
Photo: My Dear Friends, Gerald and Cathy
When In Doubt
"When life is uncertain, place your concerns, with certainty, in Him."
Reaching For The Future Through The Past
I have a story to tell you and I hope that you will please just read my letter first before discarding it.
To begin with, this really doesn't involve you in any way except for possible knowledge of what I am seeking. I want nothing from you personally and I want you to totally understand and believe that first and foremost.
In January, 2000, as a foster mother with the state, I received into my care a little Caucasian girl of eleven years old. She was placed with me after being removed from her adoptive home of five years due to abuse suffered in that home. There were no records sent with this child. Her adoptive parents had destroyed all of her past records. Therefore, all the information I have is from her memory of her first six years. The person I hope you to be is a person she remembers as being there for her when she really needed someone as a little girl.
The child was removed from her mother after the mother was arrested for stealing, as far as the child remembers. To my knowledge, there were five children all together, each receiving different placements. She has no medical records of any kind and, as you know, this is an important factor to anyone's life and future.
I have been able to secure some of her past school records from New York so I know she was placed first into DCF as Audrey Lyn xxxxxx but that last name was later changed to another by DCF. Her birthday is March xx, 19xx, and she was born in xxxxxxxx, New York, out on Long Island, according to her altered birth certificate. She remembers her older sister, Holly (of whom she has a small photo which is her most prized position) and a little brother named, Chucky. She said she thinks her mother's name is Barbara but she isn't certain. She also remembers being told that her grandmother died the year after she was removed, around 19xx, when she was seven.
Her memories of those first years are pretty bad but I feel her adoptive family did more damage than those first six years did.
Once my husband and I heard Audrey's story, though we had four grown children of our own, we adopted Audrey ourselves. She is now 19 years old, finished High School with straight As, still lives at home and is absolutely beautiful, though troubled. She really needs to know her past, what happened to her mother, and medical records for the future. I have waited until now, though I had this small piece of information, because raising Audrey has been difficult for both she and I. Therefore, I wanted her to have a chance to level out her life some before digging up the past. She is not aware, at this time, that I am writing this letter, though she has ask me to do so when I felt it was time.
I hope you are still with me, sir, and understand why I am writing you. If you are possibly the gentleman of her memories and have some information about her mother or her sister, Holly, please write to me at: Audrey's Mom, xxxxxxxxxxx, South Carolina, at your earliest convenience. If not, I will assume that you are not this person and will move on in my search.
Thank you for any help you may be able to give and for your time and cooperation.
The Key To The Door Of The Past
In October Of 2007, A Man Received A Letter And Placed A Call Immediately To A Little Girl's Sister.
Just eight days after the letters were mailed, Cathy called me in tears. Audrey's sister, Holly, had called her that morning from New York.
Holly had been looking for her little sister for years and the call came on her twenty-third birthday. What a wonderful gift the call was for her.
As soon as Cathy gave me her number, I called Holly and we talked several times that first day. She told me how she had gone from school to school with her mother, visiting on parent's night, looking at every face of the children there, hoping to see her little sister. They had celebrated her birthday every year even though she wasn't with them.
When Audrey got home from work that night, I sat down and slowly began to explain my steps of the past week. When I finished my story, I handed her a note containing Holly's phone number and the names of her four nieces and nephews. She just sat and stared at it in disbelief. I took her to the computer where I opened photos I had received from Holly and, as she looked at them, huge tears began to roll down her face.
She went to the phone, dialed the number, and for the next three hours, she and Holly shared the missing fourteen years of their lives with words, giggles, and tears.
I was so astonished to have found Audrey's sister in the state of New York so quickly with only one person's name as a source. I truly believe it was the proper time and God was ready for Audrey's family to be found.
This stranger, who had meant so much to the equation, called Audrey and I several times in the next few weeks, so happy to know she was found.
Five weeks after receiving my letter, he died of an accidental drug overdose. Had I waited longer to begin my quest, we might never have found Holly, whose last name we did not know.
Photo: Audrey's Sister, Holly
A Strange Position In Life
By Eugenia S. Hunt
Life, as the mother of an adopted foster child can be a strange position. You have all the feelings of love and concern for this child in your care that mothers are supposed to have. They did not grow under your heart, however, you find that they have been growing inside it every day. Though this child is very familiar to you, they are also very disconcerting in the way they behave or perceive the world, due to background and genetics that are foreign to you.
You find that you not only share them with the rest of your family, but you must also share them with some unknown being somewhere in a world of memories you aren't a part of.
And then, in the blink of an eye, they are grown and you find yourself on the edge of a cliff, preparing to jump into that foreign world, searching for clues to their past. You realize that you are searching for clues to a mother you will someday have to share your child with.
I now find myself at that point and beyond. Last week, I found my child's natural family, have talked with their biological mother, laughed with her, shared with her, and been caught between my child's happiness and my own unfounded fears. This choice to search was made by me and me alone. I am not sorry that I have made the effort, and I am not sorry that I have made the contact. I love my child, and this is best for them. But the fear still threatens me because sharing the child is difficult and I have an unfounded fear of the possible loss of what the two of us have built. It has been a difficult path that we have walked together, and now that the job is done, I must share my success with someone who wasn't a part of the hard work.
However, when I look at the other side of the coin, I see a woman who, due to many poor choices in her life, has lost almost fourteen years of her baby's life. And now, she must share this baby with another woman whom the child calls its mother. I am sure that she has many fears as well, and finds it hard to finally find her baby, only to have to share her with another. I am sure she has the same unfounded fears of her lost relationship with her baby. She has missed being there to share the path to adulthood.
We must make this a positive experience for our child, treading very carefully, protecting each other and, above all, protecting our child. It is our task to remember that this child has enough love in her heart for both of us, and never expect her to compare or choose either side as more special than the other.
It is a strange position, and I am learning more about myself with each passing day.
Growing, Not Under My Heart, But Within It
Neither bone of my bone,
Nor flesh of my flesh,
But mine, just the same.
You did not grow beneath my heart,
Instead, you grew within it.
The First Contact In Fourteen Years
Severed Relationships Restored
During the following week, Audrey received a phone call from her biological mother, Barbara. She called from where she was being incarcerated for ten months. It was apparent by the sound of her voice that Audrey was nervous but wanted to talk to her. She had many questions that needed answers.
At the same time, I began to take cautious steps toward this strange relationship with a woman so very different from myself. During our first conversation, she related to me how grateful, and yet surprised, she was that I had searched for Audrey's family myself.
Holly and Audrey immediately began to plan a visit. Holly decided to fly to Florida the third week of October for eight days. Neither girl could contain their excitement and it was infectious.
The day Holly was to arrive, Audrey and I drove to the airport together. Audrey was so excited, she almost skipped across the floor of the baggage area, searching the crowd for someone who resembled the photos she had seen of Holly.
Suddenly, the girls were in an embrace, laughing and talking at the same time.
I stood back for a while to give them time. And I also felt Holly needed time to adjust to my being there. However, as soon as she spotted me, she reached out for me, embracing me. She thanked me over and over for finding her.
The three of us walked together back to the car and, by the time we had shared dinner, were talking as though we had known one another much longer than the two short hours.
As the week progressed, I was able to share with Holly the life she had lived and some of the pain she, too, had endured. She talked openly and easily of her past and seemed glad to share it with me. I found her to be kind and loving with a gentle spirit unless confronted. Holly, a mother of four, and an LPN, had worked very hard to better her life.
We traveled, one morning, to another part of Florida where another sibling lives with his father's mother. He has lived with his grandparents since infancy. He is the little boy Audrey remembered as Chucky.
Now, 16, Chuck and Holly had been communicating and had visited in New York. Holly wanted to share this reunion with him as well. His grandmother welcomed us with open arms and the three siblings began a new life as family.
We now know there are six siblings with different fathers. Holly has found the four oldest but the two baby boys were adopted from the hospital and she has no hopes of finding them.
Photo: Audrey, Chuck (brother), and Holly
Plans For The Future
Holly remained with us for ten days, reluctantly returning to New York and her family.
Before she left, she began discussing her plans to move her family to Florida so that she and Audrey could live close and become a family once again.
By the following summer, her plans were in place and in August, 2008, they were permanently relocated.
Holly found a new job quickly and the family settled in to their new life. Audrey was so happy to have them close and to be able to get to know her niece and nephews.
The girls were quick to include us in their new lives together. Holly and her family were with us in our home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and our other children really enjoyed our time with them.
"To Get A Glimpse, From Within,
Of Whom This Child Could Be,
Would Reach The Depths Of Mind And Soul,
And Bring Us To Our Knees."
When Eyes Were Filled With Wide Eyed Wonder, Their World Was Whole.
Audrey and Holly Have Now Come Full Circle.
Photo: Audrey, 5 and Holly, 8
A Familiar Stranger
Audrey And Her Biological Mother Are Reunited
In February, 2009, Barbara was released from her incarceration and she, too, moved to Florida. By this time, she and I had been writing to each other for some months and I had sent her various Christian books on life change and enrichment. Barbara had also been reading others from the Prison Library. She felt she was ready to make a life change for herself.
The night she arrived in Florida, I met her on the Interstate so that she could follow me to Holly's apartment where Audrey was spending the night. The girls did not expect her until the next day so we had devised a surprise.
As the door opened, Holly burst through with screaming excitement as her mother and I entered.
Audrey stood quietly at first, observing, finally going over and hugging this familiar stranger. It had been fifteen years since she had seen Barbara. She didn't have much to say that first night. She seemed uncertain. Audrey needed time to take it all in as reality and she still had many unanswered questions. In time, she began to relax and ease into the new relationship.
Barbara talked to Cathy that night on the phone. She wanted to thank her for the part she had played in helping to find Holly and her. She made a vow to Cathy then that she would never do anything to hurt Holly or Audrey again.
Once Barbara was settled into her apartment, Audrey acted on my suggestion that she move in with her biological mother so that they would have time to get to know each other. Audrey was nearing her twenty-first birthday.
Audrey lived with Barbara for a month before finding her own apartment where she still lives on her own.
Their relationship was not quite what either expected but they have come to terms with that and are working toward what is personally in the best interest of each woman.
Barbara has worked hard to change her life and is very proud of her progress and so am I. It is my hope that Barbara will see inside herself as the special person she was meant to be and strive for that goal. Only over time, will we see whether or not she is capable of the permanent change desired by all.
As for Audrey and me, our relationship has improved over these months and she has come to appreciate me in ways she never did before. Her need to find her biological mother was great but sometimes the romantic memories of such things are not the reality of them. Audrey now understands why the Department of Children and Families removed her from her family. However, she is now ready to resume that relationship, with strength in her own character.
This realization has helped Audrey to put her past and what she has been through into prospective. I pray that she will, in turn, be able to put her life on the proper path to insure a brighter future.
Audrey knows that this is not the end of the story but simply the beginning.
Photo: Taken of Barbara the night she arrived in Florida.
Child Of My Heart
By Eugenia S. Hunt
Not a child of my womb,
But my child, in my heart.
She will always carry
Myself, in part.
No matter the path
She chooses to walk.
I'll be here to listen,
Waiting to talk.
We may not always
See eye to eye,
But when she hurts,
It is me, who will cry.
My love is as deep
As she needs it to be,
Wherever she is,
Is that part of me.
Where They Are Today...
Both Holly and Audrey continue to progress. Holly has returned to New York to pursue her continued education, working toward her RN License. Audrey decided, in September 2011, to move back to New York as well and start fresh. It has been the right choice for her and her life is finally falling into place. She works hard, supports herself, saves her money and is happily rekindling her relationship with her sister and getting to know her nephews and nieces. I feel great pride in both the girls!!
Please continue now to Volume 4...My Letter To My Daughter
And you will now find in Volume Five the story of Audrey's quest and success in finding her biological father.
And Hear About Her Nieces And Nephews
My Book For Sale On Amazon - Just click below to purchase or to find another selection.
Who Is Mom To The Zoo?
Born in the small town of Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1950, I was the oldest of two, five years my sister's senior. It was a wonderful place to grow up where the entire town raised its children. I was always surrounded by people who loved and looked out for me. I graduated from High School with the same people who were in my kindergarten class. At 58, my childhood friends are still my friends. I feel so fortunate to have known such a childhood.
After college, I worked at Clemson University until May 1972. At that time, I married and lived in Glyfada, 22 miles from Athens, Greece for two years...via USAF. We then moved to North Dakota for another two years before returning to South Carolina.
We divorced after 16 years and two children. I married my best friend two years later and moved to Florida in 1988 and together we have raised my husband's son and daughter and my son and daughter...one federal officer, one pastor's wife, one sixth grade school teacher, and the other, after working for Florida Power and Light since age 19, is now with AT&T. In 1996, I adopted my step daughter. We are blessed with four grandsons and one granddaughter.
In 1999, we became foster parents with the Children's Home Society and had a number of children under our roof in the next 5 years. In 2001, we adopted a 13 year old girl, whom we first met at the age of 11, and is now 21. I also have spent more time in a courtroom than I care to think about, fighting for the rights of the children in our care. In 2004, I turned in my license so that I could be a full time Mom to our special needs daughter and keep our infant granddaughter five days a week while her mother was teaching.
Bill, my husband, is a retired USAF Air Traffic Controller. He is now working out of the country, on Ascension Island, with Computer Science Raytheon, as their chief controller, contracted out of Patrick AFB, Florida. This enables him to continue to do the job he loves, air traffic, and aid the military. He flies in and out on furlough and I handle things here at home. I jokingly call myself a Single Married Woman.
Actually, I am a retired Accountant/Credit Manager, now a housewife, where I enjoy writing, singing, piano, and sewing. I have had numerous poems and short stories published and have sung in churches and for church organizations for years, as well as weddings, a couple of variety shows, and even at my daughter's, and later my son's, weddings, one of the hardest things I have EVER done. We are members of a Baptist church where I am a soloist and sing in the choir. I am also a member of the Women's Bible Study Group and work on the Mission's Committee.
And, last but not least, we have two singing dogs. Raven is a thirteen year old Skipperkee/Chow with bucked teeth and attitude and Whisper, our nine pound poodle, who thinks himself a Doberman.
I have been Mom To The Zoo since the morning after our wedding. My friend, Lee, who was staying with our four children and two dogs answered the phone from a sound sleep, "Hunt Zoo, Zookeeper Speaking."
My life has involved many changes and avenues that I would never have dreamed of and has given me challenges that I never thought I was equal to. But, I have found that God has a plan and, if you follow His lead, you can handle anything he puts in your hands. However, you have to first learn to listen to Him. No matter what we want from life, it must come in His time. He has given my husband and me more than we could have began to imagine back in high school and we have found that what we thought was so important for our futures back then was nothing to what we have done so far. At 58, I have learned from our foster children, to look forward to the future and the next challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. If they can trust and love us after what the world has dealt them, we can surely tackle whatever lies ahead with ease. Life is a series of learning experiences and I continue to find life to be both a challenge and a joy which grows with each passing year. I learn more and more about myself with each passing day!