A birth mom speaks
EDITOR’S NOTE: In a two-part series, one local man’s search for his birth mother has an incredible result. Part one ran Thursday. In part two, the birth mother tells her story.
NEGAUNEE – Back in 1970, Judith Wanichek was young and afraid.
“I was 18 when I got pregnant. I was terrified when I found out,” she said in an email. “In those days, it was terrible and girls were treated very badly by just about everyone. Abortion was illegal – not that I would have done that – but I wasn’t given the option.”
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Judy was the youngest offspring of older parents.
“My dad was about 42 when I was born and my mom was 39,” she said. “I was my dad’s only child. I have five half brothers and sisters.”
She gave birth to a baby son on March 29, 1970 and brought the baby, who she named David, home. The baby’s father was not in the picture, by his own choice. Judy has not seen him since 1971 nor heard anything of him since then.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to give David up,” Judy said. “I did try to keep him but I had no education, no job and I wanted more for him. I wanted him to have what I couldn’t give him.”
So through Catholic Social Services, she allowed her infant son to be adopted.
“I wondered about him. All the time,” she said. “You wonder about every holiday. As the years went by, I wondered about his education, was he married, did he have any children. Was he happy?
“Was he even alive?
“You never know,” she said. “You just pray that you did the right thing. I got on the computer a few times looking at websites trying to see if I could find him, but I didn’t have much info myself, and then I thought I wasn’t going to intrude on his life. If he wanted to find me, he would have a better chance.”
Four decades after she allowed her baby to be adopted by a family who could better care for him, Judith Wanichek Adams, who now lives in Indianapolis, received news that changed her life.
Her son was searching for her.
When contacted by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Judy immediately filled out the paperwork which allowed the agency to provide her son with her contact information.
That information went to the Negaunee home of David Bond, The Mining Journal’s creative services director. He was the son Judy loved so much, all grown up, with a family of his own.
He received the contact information on Friday, Jan. 31 and his wife, Amy – who also works at The Mining Journal – urged him to reach out to his birth mom.
“I kept bugging him and he said on Monday he’d do it,” Amy said. “On Monday, he came into my office at work, asking if I had brought Judy’s email address with me as he had left it at home. I had it.”
David said, “On Feb. 3, that Monday, I emailed her with a couple of pictures. I just wanted to say hello.”
Judy, who works as a phlebotomist, received the email and responded as soon as she could when she had time on the computer that night.
“When David contacted me, I was thrilled,” she said. “You think about this kind of thing, but you never believe that it will happen.”
Judy and David soon were talking on the phone. And all of the Bonds became Facebook friends with Judy. And with many of her family members as well.
“Facebook has been wonderful,” Amy Bond said. “We knew what she looked like before we even talked. And she saw her son for the first time on Facebook.”
David Bond said, “Judy said she had never been on Facebook much until now. Now she checks it whenever she can.”
Judy Adams went to tech school after her 25-year marriage ended in divorce in 2005.
“I have one son, Allan, and three beautiful granddaughters, Jillian, age 6, and the twins – June and Amie – 20 months,” she said. “I was working at a big hospital in South Bend, Ind., but decided to move to Indianapolis to be closer to Allan and his family.
“All of the rest of my immediate family lives in Wisconsin,” she said. “Mostly around Milwaukee.”
David said he’s already found out where he gets his high cholesterol from: Judy’s side of the genetic pool. And while medical history was part of the motivation, it wasn’t the only reason Bond decided to look for his birth mother.
“Literally, it was a personal challenge to do this, to accept that the outcome might be bad,” he said. “In the back of my mind, I knew at the age of 43, I had less of a chance of finding her, just by the odds of nature.”
Amy said, “And we found out she wondered about you. It’s human nature to want to find all of this out, where you come from. Those of us who know our birth families take it for granted how lucky we are to know what we know.
“People who give their children up for adoption deserve a medal,” she said. “They deserve a thank you because it has to be the most gut-wrenching decision you can make in your life.
“I said thank you to Judy,” she said. “I hope she knows how much we appreciate that.”
David added, “Just by talking to her, she knows now she made the right decision. There is no doubt in her mind.”
One of the first photos Amy Bond sent to Judy was of David’s adoptive parents, Bill and Jo-Ann, who are both now deceased.
“I took photos with my phone of a photo of Bill and Jo-Ann holding the kids, Dave and his sister (Mary Jo),” Amy said. “I wanted Judy so see that shortly after she gave him up, how happy they were, because of her.”
There have been many poignant moments already.
“Judy told me she was glad they’d kept my name, ‘because that’s what I have called you all these years,'” David said.
Judy and David do plan to meet.
“I think maybe this hasn’t hit me as much as it will when we meet,” David said. “I have a bit of mental instability in knowing I will lose her too some day but I know now life is worth taking risks. We’ve gained so much more.”
For Judy, the experience of being reunited with her son after four decades has been healing.
“Finding David and his beautiful family has given me more life,” she said. “It has filled a hole in my heart I’ve carried for 43 years. And it has renewed my faith.”
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.