Archive for March, 2008

A STORY OF SIX WOMEN

March 28, 2008

Okay this post is going to be a little different. This isn’t about politics or traditional adoption. It will reflect my memories, my thoughts and my emotions. This post is about six women. These women came together at various points in their lives. Its a reunion of sorts. All of us brought together by one man, Frank. Even the youngest of the women are affected by this man because of her relationship to three of the other women. It does have adoption in it. Five of these women were hurt by this one man’s actions.

He was once a husband to two of these women and a father to four of the others. Wednesday night ended with someone hitting a registry. I was able to track the ip address to one woman. I had spoken with two dear friends of mine. We all got goosebumps over it. I spoke with a sister about it. We tracked it down even further to the identity of one of the women involved. I emailed this woman. We later spoke that day. Yesterday was a day of love lost and gained. Yesterday was a day of laughs and tears.

This is my point of view of two mothers and four daughters whose lives will forever be intertwined. Frank is the father that created the mess. Amazingly we all have been friends through out our lives. Our mothers have kept contact with each other. In a very weird way through adoption, the four daughters are sisters. Two of the sisters shared the same name for many years. These two sisters followed the same path. Both are child advocates. Both are equine lovers. One uses them as a form of therapy in her dealings with foster children. The other uses them to give therapy to herself. One of the mothers mentioned that horses have a special spiritual power. As I am seeking my truth, another sister has found hers. Even another is still seeking the truth. The other hides in fear of it. The truth of this situation is something that I will and the others will probably never really know. The youngest does her best to help all of us heal.

The father, Frank, is a child of a man who abandoned his children. Frank in turn abandoned his own children. Somehow with God’s love intervening, it stopped with us girls. I think it was the mothers that saw to it. Frank is now very ill. He is dying. We all wonder if he has had the courage to face his part in this. Somehow I think not. Others have more hope for him. Frank is more worried I think about his intellectual legacy than his paternal legacy. Will he realize his loss with all of us girls? I hope so. I however am not holding my breath.

I have often wondered his affect on me. For years he left me angry and hurt. I will always feel that he replaced me as a daughter. He alone is responsible. I just wish at times that he would own up. Funny how adoption lets folks get away with dodging the truth. Now that I am a parent I have realized that I owe my children truth. We all feel this way. Of course we have all learned this in a harsh cruel way. This little reunion brought a little healing my way. I hope it brings healing to all of us. I hope to hear from the other Amy. We are after all sisters if only in name. I would like to see our names attached in openness and healing.

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ACTION ALERT FOR ILLINOIS

March 28, 2008

Adoption Reform Organizations Statement on Illinois HB 4623 Records Access

We, the undersigned members of the adoption community, urge legislators

to oppose Illinois House Bill 4623. As written, this bill offers some adopted adults the chance to access their original birth certificates, while banning others from accessing theirs.

Illinois adoptees should be treated the same as non-adopted Illinoisans who face no birth certificate access restrictions. We urge legislators to reject the current compromise language of this flawed bill, and to create a new bill that will restore the civil right, rescinded in 1945, of all Illinois adopted adults to access their original birth certificates without bureaucratic restraint or third party interference.

This bill is merely a convoluted extension of the existing mandatory intermediary system. It turns equal access to adoptees’ public records into a question of search and reunion, instead of addressing the civil right of all persons to access their original birth certificates.

Our organizations are united in our concern that the amended bill was not the bill that was posted for weeks on the Illinois legislative web site. This amended bill was not available online until March 13th, 2008, the day the bill passed through committee, making it impossible to present testimony.

“For The Records: Restoring A Right To Adult Adoptees,” a comprehensive study published by

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute examines the issue:

http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2007_11_for_records.php

Access to one’s own birth certificate is not a favor to some, but a right for all.

Sincerely,

Anita Walker Field

Illinois Open Access Coalition

Triona Guidry

Green Ribbon Campaign For Open Records

Opposition to HB 4623 Page 2 of 2

Ron Morgan and Kali Coultas

Day For Adoptee Rights

Pat Marler

Oklahomans for Adoption Reform and Honesty

Marley Greiner

Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D.

Adoption Counselor, Author, “Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness”

Melissa Holub, Ph.D.

President-Elect Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology

Carol Schaefer

Author, “The Other Mother: A Woman’s Love for the Child She Gave Up for Adoption”

Sally Howard

Author, “Finding Me In A Paper Bag”

Erik L. Smith

Sandy White Hawk

Executive Director, First Nations Orphan Association, South St. Paul, MN

ADOPTION IS A CHANGING

March 28, 2008

Maybe they are finally listening to us. Maybe we have those being caught at their own greed. I just know that adoption is changing. I feel the winds of change. I just don’t know which direction that it is going.

Recently there has been news of deaths of two Russian adoptees. One of which was adopted by a Russian American. From what I hear, Russia is looking to close adoption again until laws are in place to protect Russian adoptees in other countries. I do believe agencies here in the United States need to be examined more closely. The adoption industry in the United States regulates itself. There is no federal nor state level regulation. This all adds up to corruption, coercion and deception. It hurts not just the adoptive parents and the natural parents but ultimately adoptees. We are the ones that pay the ultimate price. Do I believe adoptive parents need to go through more thorough investigation? Yes I do. They are given a gift of a raising someone else’s child. It is a very serious choice. It is not a right. It is not a privilege. Its huge responsibility. They are held up to a much higher standard that they must honor. To be honest it is not the adoptive parents that I am after in this post. I hold the adoption agencies and attorneys responsible.

Just in today’s news alone, there are several articles with adoption corruption. Lisa Novak along with her husband operated the Claar Foundation was arrested today. This woman wrote a bad check to a Guatemala adoption agency. She is robbed adoptive parents both of their dreams and their money. I ran across a story of a woman adopting from Russia. She had custody of her son all of a few hours only to have her son die. The world needs to start treating children more than products. Every country in the world needs to support children. Children are our future. They are not a commodity to bought and sold on someone’s whim. They have rights just as the adults do. I fight for those rights daily. Another story out of Florida states a woman faked her pregnancy with an adoption agency. She was charged with theft of $5,000. Honestly the adoption agency should have tested her first thing before giving her a dime.

I have been lucky in the folks that I have met in my path. I met an adoption agency executive director recently via email and phone conversations. To be honest, this woman has got it right. She may not be able to enforce all open adoptions but she does give it her all. She left a comment on my blog recently. One of the ways to hold agencies accountable is by requiring openness in adoption. The relationships are up to the adults granted. Requiring openness. This reassures the adoptive parents that there is not any coercion This reassures the natural parents that their children will have contact with them and that those children will be raised right. I have spoken with quite a few of this agency’s adoptive parents and a few of the natural parents. I am impressed. It takes a lot for me to be impressed. There is a concept that another natural mother and I discussed. Just because a natural mother relinquishes doesn’t mean she stops being a mother. Its nature. Its God’s will. Whatever you want to call it, once a mother gives birth, she is always always a mother. She is just as much a mother as an adoptive mother is a mother. This applies to the natural fathers and adoptive fathers in this world. There needs to be transparency in adoption.

The movie Juno is another hot topic. Its upset the members living adoption. I can see why. It disregards the heartache and trauma of natural parents. It totally ignores the adoptee’s future needs. It slams adoptive parents as being needy and greedy. It doesn’t represent the truth in adoption. Here is a letter from a blogging friend of mine that was posted in USA Today.

Juno’ out of touch with sacrifice, suffering of adoption decisions

Robin Westbrook – Sanford, Fla.

It is painfully obvious that the young woman who wrote the screenplay for Juno is not really in touch with the full experience of surrendering one’s own flesh and blood for adoption. If she interviewed young women who have gone through this process, then she probably met a lot of women in denial (“In Juno, adoption pain is left on cutting room floor,” The Forum, March 19).

I was in Juno’s shoes more than 45 years ago, and giving up my baby for adoption was no laughing matter. The movie should have shown an older, wiser Juno about 18 years down the line, her face etched with grief and regret.

The young women of today have access to birth control and to legal, medically safe abortions. If they decide to carry a pregnancy to term, then why not go all the way and take total responsibility by raising the child? When I meet young women who are pregnant, I try to help them find the resources they need so they can keep their babies. The ones I have helped are glad they kept their babies and have turned out to be exemplary mothers who also completed their educations. Juno is a mockery of the pain that millions of women have endured. It certainly didn’t deserve an Oscar.

Pain is missing

Jill Schoer – Superior, Wis.

Thank you to Jean Strauss, who wrote the Forum piece about Juno. In 1983 I was 19, a sophomore in college and unexpectedly pregnant. Like Juno, I made the decision to carry my daughter and to go through the adoption process. I did everything I could to disconnect myself from what was happening to my body — to not fall in love with the child I was carrying. I gave birth but chose not to hold my daughter, fearing I would not be able to follow through with my decision. I left the hospital determined to move on with my life. In reality, as Strauss stated, I was broken and changed forever.

I was hopeful that this movie would reflect the reality of adoption and the pain of relinquishment. There were subtle moments in the movie when I saw Juno’s pain — but not enough. I hope there is a time when Hollywood finds a way to depict the reality of adoption from a birth mother’s perspective. I have a happy ending: My daughter found me four years ago. But a clear understanding of the pain caused by adoption for birth mother and child is important to ensure healthy futures for everyone.

Its time to demand changes in adoption. I hope that every adoptive parent, every natural parent and every adoptee will step up and make those changes. Its time for all of us to hold adoption agencies and attorneys accountable.

ANONYMOUS COMMENTER

March 27, 2008

Don’t you just love those? They have the balls to say something negative about natural parents but they don’t have the balls to identify themselves.

Here is the comment:

Come on. More children die at the hands of their own birth parents than adoptive parents. We have adopted twice. Once domestically and once from China. What would you change? You speak in general term of how aoption laws should change? Why don’t we also change the laws for birth parents, if they are meth addicts, should we sterilize them. If they have commited a crime should be sterilize them and take away their children. Adoptive parents go though very thourough examination. Will there be problems, yes, but to make a blanket statement such as yours. I disagree. Do not assume that all adoptions are like these. The vast majority of adoptive parent are loving caring people. Do not use the exception to try and prove the rule.

My first question to you is how did you adopt domestically. Did you do a voluntary domestic adoption? If that is the case, you know that the mother took care of her own health. She thought enough of herself and her child to place her with you. By the way, did you think of your child’s needs? Did you get the OBC in both cases? Did you get as much information as possible for your child to be able to research his/her own heritage? Somehow I bet that you didn’t. That is probably why you went with a China adoption the second time around.

Besides the fact that the comment ticked me off, you do realize that adoptive parents and foster parents are supposed to be held to higher level. It is a betrayal of a child’s trust when the natural parent does abuse. Then you go to the foster and the adoption side of things. When they abuse and they kill, its double betrayal. Its twice as bad. Its not only the child’s betrayal but the natural parents’ trust as well. Ultimately, it is the adoption agency who should also be faulted. That is what my point was. Explain to me why Holt International Services made a comment to the Korean Newspapers.

IN MEMORY OF ANOTHER FRIEND

March 27, 2008

I am praying for this man’s family and friends. Please do the same. Hopefully this will be the last death for a while. I can’t take this kind of crap anymore.

VERNON (Special) — A 38-year-old local man was fatally injured in an accident at the Waggoner Ranch late Wednesday afternoon.

Wilbarger County Justice of the Peace Gene Morton said fellow workers at the ranch found Ricky Don Anthony Jr. pinned between a tractor and a gate near the helicopter barn shortly before 5 p.m. The area of the ranch where the accident occurred is just off U.S. Highway 183 about 15 miles south of here.

Morton said Anthony was last seen at around 3 p.m. He said it appeared that he had gotten off the tractor to open a gate. The tractor was on a slight slope and apparently the brake failed, causing the tractor to move forward crushing Anthony. Morton said the tractor was still running.

Morton said the death was ruled accidental. Deputies from the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident.

WHEN WILL THE AGENCIES BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS IN THESE CHILDREN’S DEATHS?

March 27, 2008

Four Korean Adoptees Murdered in U.S.


Gov’t Working to Encourage Adoptions
Korea Criticized for ‘Exporting’ Orphans
‘Reversible Adoption’ Sparks Int’l Outcry
Woman Charged With Killing Adopted Korean Child

Four adopted Korean children were killed by their adoptive father in the state of Iowa in the U.S. The children had been born to unwed mothers and were abandoned a week to three months after they were born.

According to the local press in Iowa, the four adoptees, Ethan (10), Seth (7), Mira (5), and Eleanor (3), and their adoptive mother Sheryl Sueppel (42) were found dead in their two-story home in Iowa City at 6:30 a.m. on Monday. Authorities believe they died of blunt force trauma.

The adoptive father Steven Sueppel (42) was found dead in a wrecked and burning Toyota minivan that had crashed into a concrete abutment in the median of a highway some 14 km east of town.

The Sueppel family is seen in this handout family photo. Steven Sueppel, a former bank executive facing trial for embezzlement, beat to death his wife Sheryl and the couple’s four adopted children in Iowa City, Iowa, before killing himself by ramming his car into a highway sign post, police said on Wednesday. /REUTERS

Police on Tuesday said Sueppel killed himself after slaying his wife and children, and that it was Sueppel himself who made an emergency call directing officers to his home.

Police believe Sueppel killed his family and himself because of the pressures of an impending trial for embezzlement and money laundering. Court records show that Sueppel was indicted last month on charges of stealing about US$560,000 from Hills Bank and Trust in Johnson County, where he was vice president and controller. His trial was scheduled for April 21 at the U.S. District Court in Iowa.

The adoptions of the four children were arranged by Holt Children’s Services. An official with Holt said the four children were born to different unmarried mothers.

According to Holt, Ethan, Seth and Eleanor were abandoned by their mothers as soon as they were born. Carrying their one-week-old children, the three unwed mothers visited Holt and asked that their babies be adopted overseas.

Mira was three months old when her birth mother visited Holt. “That means Mira’s birth mother must have agonized for three months about whether she should raise Mira alone or abandon her for adoption,” the Holt official said.

The children were adopted by the Sueppels in different years — Ethan in 1998, Seth in 1999, Mira in 2002, and Eleanor in 2005.

Having adopted four children, Steven Sueppel was once called a “humanitarian” by the local press. His wife Sheryl taught at an elementary school until 2001.

Holt Children’s Services said, “Holt International Children’s Services investigated and found that the Sueppels were a very good family when the children were adopted. They had no criminal records. Mr. Sueppel’s parents and brothers had decent jobs.”

The Sueppels and their children attended a church service nearby their home on Easter evening. “The Sueppels were very dedicated to raising their children,” said a shocked church official. “I can’t believe that such a thing has happened.”

How many seriously have to die before we all start demanding changes in adoption? How many children have to be hurt before the adoption industry is held accountable for their actions in the placement of these children? I really want to know. If we don’t clean our shit up here, Americans are not going to be allowed to adopt internationally. Other countries are getting concerned about our adoption practices. Sadly here is two other stories where a Russian children have lost their lives as well.

BEL AIR, Md. — A Harford County couple has pleaded guilty in the starvation death of their 8-year-old adopted Russian son.

Forty-year-old Samuel Merryman of Whiteford, and his 45-year-old wife Donna, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree child abuse resulting in death.

Their son Dennis died in January 2005 at the family’s home near the Pennsylvania state line. At the time of his death, he weighed 37 pounds. An autopsy concluded he starved to death.

Under the plea agreement, charges of second-degree murder and related child-abuse charges were dropped.

The Merrymans are to be sentenced April 15.

TOOELE, Utah (AP) – The adoptive mother of 3 Russian children has been charged with murder in the death of 1 child and both adoptive parents are charged with abuse in the neglect of another.

Court documents show a 14-month-old infant died March 7 after suffering a skull fracture which an autospy said was the result of blunt force trauma. The infant boy had been with his adoptive family less than a month.

Police say the child’s adoptive father told them he thought the child had taken a fall.

Tooele County prosecutors have charged Kimberly Emelyantsev with one count of murder. A second-degree felony charge of child abuse was filed yesterday.

Fyodor Emelyantsev was also charged yesterday with third-degree felony child abuse.

The charges stem from the condition of a 4-year-old adopted child whom doctors say was malnourished and severely dehydrated.

Both parents are being held in the Tooele County Jail. Their next court date is March 18.

WELCOME SAMANTHA MYERS

March 24, 2008

Hello Samantha,

My name is Amyadoptee. I have been following Shawn’s story for quite some time. In fact, I met Shawn and his family a few months ago. I speak with his mother regularly. Her number is in my speed dial. I will call her about this as well. I have a picture of Shawn and Hunter on my desk. Why? To remind me of the fight that I must continue until the wrong to him and many others is corrected. To keep people like you and LDS Family Services from ever doing something like this EVER AGAIN.

This is the comment she left behind. I think she thought that I did not review the comments and it would be posted without any notice on my part. Presenting Samantha Myers.

ex girlfriend of Shawn Mcdonald:
first and for most we need to get one thing straight a jury who had never met Shawn decide the placement of hunter, these were people who had never met him if he was such a good man that he claims to be then why does he not have hunter or his OTHER son Deagon that he SIGNED HIS RIGHTS OVER ON or his 4 year old daughter that lives with me that he rarely pays child support on and abandoned for a year!!!!! oh and the rest of his family abandoned for a year also!!! so maybe every body should step back 4 a minute and look at the factors that are pointing to this so called ” DADDY OF THE YEAR”

Let me address your comments in full. Of course the jury didn’t decide the placement of Hunter. The placement of Hunter should have never occurred. Courtesy of you and Eric Larson, you saw to it that Hunter was placed without his consent. As far as I am concerned, he is a good man. Lets see here. You think you are the Mother of the Year. I think not. Did you put your daughter in a closet when she has spilled something or done something a child does? Didn’t Shawn discuss that issue with you? From what I hear anyway, you were also brought in front of a family court judge who was going to award custody of your daughter to her father. Lets not forget the tape that was recorded about the so called abandonment. You hid your pregnancy from him. You also hid your daughter from her father for close to a year as well. Forget child support. You intentionally hid both children from their father. You intentionally placed a child without the father’s consent. Lets also discuss that you don’t even want to recognize Hunter as your son.

Lets also discuss Eric Larson, the social worker from LDS Social Services. The agency was fined a hefty $100,000 for their part in concealing Hunter from Shawn Hunter. Oh and that tape. It spilled it out very well for the court didn’t it. Shawn has not lost custody of his son. This adoption is not even final. Is Eric Larson supposed to start his probation soon? Two years wasn’t it? Right now its just a conservatorship over Hunter. Shawn is not going to back down. Don’t worry he will have custody of Hunter.

There is excellent documentation of child support. I have seen those as well. I know that you lie. In time, all will be proven. Its a shame that you can not placed in jail for lying to the courts. Maybe I will suggest it the McDonald family. Its called perjury. Keep pushing it girl. I have friends. You should be called an adoption industrialist.

As far as Deagon is concerned, I have even seen the court case on that one. It was coercion to the hilt. You know it too. You know that the grandfather in his case was doing everything he can to have Shawn arrested. Isn’t that what you are trying to do now? You think that you can get away with it. Nope its not gonna happen. Aren’t the Hess’s relatives of your current boyfriend? Yes I even know their names. Be careful honey you ain’t gonna rain on this parade. I trash you before you do. By the way this little comment will be forwarded to Shawn’s attorneys. Maybe they will include you in the lawsuit as well. Yep I know about that one too. Careful girl you are on the wrong turf to be starting stuff.

DO YOU KNOW THESE PEOPLE?

March 22, 2008



These are the folks that have Evelyn Bennett. If you know who they are, leave a comment.

THE MORE I THINK ABOUT THIS

March 21, 2008

Seriously, the more I think about Jill Ekstrom’s situation, the more I think that something just stinks. Judging from who I have hitting my blog, the more I think that her situation was a pure setup.

I have the LDS Church hitting this blog. I have folks in Orem, Utah hitting this blog. So why would they be so interested in an independent confidential intermediary? I know that she was on the Utah Adoption Council. I know that she is the founder of Utah Finders. Everyone knows that I can’t stand confidential intermediaries. However, to follow the money trail in this story makes one wonder why the police would do a sting operation on a confidential intermediary. What does she know? Has she seen the records of what these folks have done? Why else would they be so interested in her enough to get a sting operation against her?

With all the fathers fighting for their children, one would wonder why they are investigating her. Why aren’t they investigating them? Is that why they are googling her name so much because of her connection to them? To read these articles you get a sense of fear in this woman. I do know that her life and the lives of her children have been threatened. I know that the Sheriff who arrested her thought it fit to hit her hard enough to cause injury to her neck. She now has to have surgery on her neck.

The fathers fighting are Matt Tenneson, Cody O’Dea, Joshua Simmerson, and Brynden Ayre. All four of these fathers are facing Larry Jenkins. Three of these fathers are fighting one agency. One agency ~ American Center of Choice owned by James Webb. James Webb owns an Allstate insurance company in California. Another father, Shawn McDonald, is fighting LDS Social Services in Texas. All three agencies are connected to each other. Matt Tenneson is fighting LDS Social Services in Idaho.

All LDS Social Services/Family Services agencies are members of the National Council For Adoption. Larry Jenkins and another attorney now involved in this wicked mess, Dale Dorious, are members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This web is getting more and more complex. American Center of Choice is in Orem, Utah. The LDS Family Services in these cases are located in Carrollton Texas and in Idaho. Larry Jenkins has an office in Idaho.

What connects them all to Jill is the Utah Adoption Council. Larry Jenkins, James Webb, and Dale Dorius are all on this Utah Adoption Council. The other oddity is the confidential intermediary bill that flopped earlier this year. Was it because of Jill or was it that these folks don’t want their secrets revealed?

Interestingly enough, I have heard many more horror stories from natural parents who were coerced, lied to, and deceived by LDS Social Services and their umbrella of agencies. So I have to wonder why all this about one little ol’ CI.

Jill Keep fighting. We all know the truth.

A REUNION STORY

March 20, 2008

HELENE ELLIOTT

Babilonia and Gardner’s bond survives off ice

Legendary ice-skating team shares affinity that incorporates their changing identities. Their status as the last U.S. pair to win world title, in 1979, wasn’t threatened at this week’s competition in Sweden.

Helene Elliott

March 20, 2008

Since 8-year-old Tai Babilonia reluctantly took the hand of 10-year-old Randy Gardner for the first time 40 years ago in Culver City, they have been defined by their figure-skating partnership.

They were Taiandrandy the five-time U.S. pair champions, capable of great athleticism and grace.

Taiandrandy the 1979 world champions, a feat no U.S. duo has matched and none came near at the World Championships this week in Sweden.

Most memorably they were Taiandrandy the tragic victims of misfortune, favored to win gold at the 1980 Olympics but forced to withdraw when Gardner was hobbled by a groin injury.

Their disappointment became part of their shared history as they went on to perform in shows, collaborate on a book and support each other through crises and everyday life.

Time and a serious neck problem that drove Gardner to undergo surgery in September have led them to acknowledge that their skating days are over. Their bond, however, has grown to incorporate their changing identities.

“We’re branching out in all these different directions,” Babilonia said, “but people want us to be Tai and Randy, and we always will be. Just not on the ice.”

Babilonia, long recovered from substance abuse problems that fueled her 1988 suicide attempt, is the mother of a 13-year-old son, fiancée of comedian David Brenner, a Special Olympics volunteer and designer of a line of skaters’ clothing.

Gardner, who turned 50 in December, is a choreographer and coach and, in a larger sense, is still discovering who he is.

Gardner learned by chance 10 years ago that he had been adopted, sending him on a five-year search for his birth mother. He found her and learned she had conceived him when she was 17 and was raped by a family friend.

While he assimilated that — and learned he had a half-brother and half-sister — he told Scene magazine two years ago that he is gay, a peek into a part of his life he had always kept private.

Now, he’s working on a book about his life and evolution of his new, separate self.

He always wondered if he had been adopted because he didn’t resemble anyone else in the family, but the parents who raised him — now deceased — never discussed it.

“I found my birth certificate had been altered and the search agency I was working with told me that’s usually the sign of an adoption,” he said.

His search of court records uncovered a name, Dottie Baca, and an address in Idaho. He sent a letter to her home and it arrived while she was at her job as a grocery checker; her husband called her at work to tell her about the mysterious missive.

She told him to open it because they had no secrets. Years before, she had told him about the baby and the pregnancy that was deemed so shameful in that era that her mother ignored it and her father stopped speaking to her.

“He opened it up and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s your son,’ ” she said.

Gardner told her he wanted no money, just information about his family.

“He sent two pictures of himself, one at 7 or 8 and another 13 or 14, but he said nothing about skating,” she said. “I sat down that night and wrote a letter and sent a picture of us and he called me.

“Then he wrote a letter and told me he’s a performing athlete, and I didn’t know what that was. One day I woke up, and you know those moments when you’re not quite awake? It just came to me and I said, ‘Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, that’s who he is.’ “

She had seen the duo skate but had no idea he was the son she had given up before she could hold him or name him. They met in San Jose while he was on a business trip.

“He looks a lot like me around the eyes,” she said.

“I’m extremely glad to be back in his life and I’m extremely happy for all that he achieved. I never could have given him that.”

Gardner is still becoming accustomed to all of this.

“It’s been emotional,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to start a relationship with my birth mom.”

They keep in touch sporadically, and Baca said Gardner and his partner, Jay, plan to visit her next month. Besides a 47-year-old son and 45-year-old daughter, she and her husband have two children they adopted after fostering them.

“The funny thing is people say he looks just like my husband,” she said.

“I’m just glad he’s doing as well as he is. I did a lot of praying for him for a long, long time.”

Babilonia and Gardner were haunted for years by their missed Olympic chance, but they got some closure when they performed at Lake Placid during the 25th reunion of the 1980 U.S. team.

They had not skated at that rink since the night they pulled out of the Games and were loathe to awaken old sorrows. Through some gift, their old unison and artistry were theirs again, and Brenner, who knows something about entertaining people, was astounded by the ovation they got.

“I saw the crowd absolutely leap to their feet in unison as if they’d gotten an electric shock,” he said. “I’d never seen a crowd reaction like that.

“And the amazing thing was most of those people were crying. I’m just glad I was there.”

Babilonia maintained her poise until Gardner, zipping up her next costume, told her the performance had allowed him to feel for the first time that he belonged to the U.S. team.

“That did it for me,” she said. “That’s all I needed to hear.”

It was the last time they skated as a pair. It may be the last time ever. They’re fine with that.

“It was the perfect place,” Babilonia said, “to say thank you and good night.”

But not goodbye.

Helene Elliott can be reached at helene.elliott@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Elliott, go to latimes.com/elliott.